The Mating Grounds

Anxious Avoidant Relationships: Can Love Conquer Opposing Traits?

Anxious Avoidant Relationship Attachment Styles: Can They Work? Are you in a relationship where one person craves intimacy and the other avoids it like the plague?

Welcome to the world of anxious avoidant relationships. In this article, we explore why these attachment styles develop, the characteristics of each, the challenges they present, and how to make it work.

Understanding Attachment Styles

Attachment styles develop in childhood based on the relationship with the primary caregiver. A child who experiences support and trust from the attachment figures is likely to develop a secure attachment.

On the other hand, if the primary caregiver is unresponsive, the child may develop anxious or avoidant attachment styles.

Anxious Attachment Style

People with an anxious attachment style tend to be more clingy and needy. They crave intimacy and attention, seeking constant reassurance from their partner.

They fear being abandoned or rejected, leading to an intense need for closeness.

Avoidant Attachment Style

People with avoidant attachment style are self-reliant and value their independence. Their fear of intimacy leads to a reluctance to share emotions and a tendency to avoid or distance themselves from their partner, mistaking it for keeping their independence.

Challenges in Anxious Avoidant Relationships

The dynamic created by these opposing behaviors can be toxic. An anxious partner can smother and drain an avoidant one, while the avoidant partner may be dismissive or critical, leaving the anxious partner feeling neglected.

This can lead to a toxic cycle where the anxious partner becomes more needy and clingy, making the avoidant partner feel even more suffocated. Can Anxious Avoidant Relationships Work?

It is challenging but not impossible for this type of relationship to work. It requires understanding and effort from both partners.

Some things you can do to help create a healthy relationship include:

Understanding Attachment Triggers

By increasing self-awareness of attachment triggers, one can recognize when negative patterns are emerging, which can lead to avoiding or limiting those patterns.

Healing Childhood Wounds

People with anxious or avoidant attachment styles have unresolved issues from their childhood. Therapy can help individuals address those issues and provide tools for fostering a healthy attachment style.

Communication Is Key

It’s essential to communicate openly and regularly with your partner. An anxious partner should learn to express their needs and feelings in a non-confrontational way, while an avoidant partner should learn to share their emotions to prevent any feelings of neglect from their partner.

Building Trust

Building trust through small gestures like kindness, showing emotions, spending time together, and attempting to make each other happy can go a long way in developing a healthier attachment style.

Signs of Love in Anxious Avoidant Relationships

If you’re wondering whether love can blossom in this type of relationship, the answer is yes. Although both partners will feel love differently, there are signs to look out for, such as:

Willingness to Spend Time with Each Other

Partners will begin to find joy and comfort in their company as they develop feelings for each other.

Small Gestures of Love

Sending a text, grabbing coffee, filling up the gas tank, or running an errand are ways one can show their care and love.

Sharing Personal Information

This includes opening up about vulnerabilities, past experiences, and long-term goals.

Physical Affection

Physical intimacy can be challenging to achieve in an anxious avoidant relationship, but it is a sign of emotional progress.

Attempting to Bond

Couples begin to engage in shared hobbies and develop common interests.

Introducing Each Other to Friends and Family

Introducing one to relatives or friends is a sign of commitment and seriousness.

Confiding in Each Other

Sharing secrets and admitting vulnerabilities with each other is a sign of trust.

Showing Emotions

Displaying vulnerability by sharing emotions and appreciation is a significant step in developing a healthy attachment style.

Attempting to Please Each Other

Partners will do things to make each other happy as love begins to blossom.


In conclusion, anxious avoidant relationships can work, but it takes effort, understanding, and commitment from both partners. Recognizing triggers, building trust, and healing from childhood wounds are essential components of a successful relationship.

By actively working towards positive growth, couples can move from opposing behaviors towards a more balanced and healthy attachment style, leading to a loving and fulfilling relationship.

Strategies for Making an Anxious Avoidant Relationship Work

An anxious-avoidant relationship can be a challenging dynamic to navigate. Partners in such relationships can often find themselves struggling to connect and form a bond with one another.

However, with dedication and effort, there are strategies that can help these relationships work. In this article, we explore some of the strategies that couples can use to make their anxious avoidant relationship work.

Accepting Responsibility for Relationship Problems

It’s important for both partners to acknowledge that they are responsible for their relationship problems. Often, partners can fall into a trap of blaming each other for issues instead of taking responsibility for their role.

By taking responsibility for their part, both partners can work together to address and resolve problems.

Being Empathetic Toward Partner

The avoidant partner may struggle to connect emotionally, while the anxious partner craves intimacy and reassurance. Understanding each other’s needs and fears can help create empathy and trust in the relationship.

The avoidant partner may need to learn to let their guard down and let their partner in, and the anxious partner may need to learn to give their partner space and respect their need for independence.

Communicating Needs Effectively

Healthy communication is essential in any relationship, especially in an anxious avoidant relationship. Partners should learn to communicate their needs and fears clearly and calmly, listening attentively to each other’s concerns.

Effective communication can build a stronger bond between partners and help avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Recognizing Triggers and Practicing Self-Care

Anxious-avoidant relationships can be emotionally charged, with both partners reacting to triggers from their past. Recognizing the triggers that bring up feelings of insecurity or fear can help partners avoid negative patterns.

Practicing self-care such as self-calming strategies and self-soothing techniques can also help change the negative dynamics of the relationship.

Prioritizing Time Outside of Relationship for Both Partners

Maintaining separate interests and hobbies can help partners in an anxious avoidant relationship. It’s essential to make time for oneself to help establish and maintain a sense of identity.

Each partner should strive to maintain their independence while working towards a meaningful connection with their partner.

Practicing Positive Affirmations

A positive self-image is essential for both partners. By practicing positive affirmations, couples can increase their sense of worthiness, expand their self-esteem and feel more secure in themselves.

This can lead to greater emotional stability within the relationship.

Recognizing Potential Traps and Taking Steps to Avoid Them

In an anxious avoidant relationship, it’s not uncommon for protest behaviors such as the silent treatment or distancing behavior to arise. Partners should recognize these traps and take steps to avoid them.

This can include reaching out to a couples’ therapist, practicing open communication, or setting boundaries with each other. Not Taking Partner’s Behavior Personally

An avoidant partner may distance themselves emotionally or physically, while an anxious partner may cling or demand more intimacy.

Neither of these behaviors should be taken personally. Instead, redirecting the focus to constructive communication can help avoid misunderstandings.

Being Patient

Couples in an anxious avoidant relationship should practice patience when it comes to building a connection. The avoidant partner may require more time to feel comfortable opening up, while the anxious partner may need to slow down their pursuit of intimacy.

Taking things slowly and steadily can lead to a stronger bond.

Learning About Attachment Styles

Learning about attachment styles can help partners understand the root of their behaviors. Author Stan Tatkin has developed the Wired for Love program, which offers insight into understanding anxious and avoidant attachment styles.

This awareness can help create empathy and improve communication within the relationship.

Allowing Partner Freedom

Avoidant partners need time away to process their thoughts and feelings, and anxious partners need time to ground themselves emotionally. Allowing your partner the freedom to explore interests separately can be beneficial for both partners and lead to a healthy balance within the relationship.

Understanding What Makes Each Partner Feel Loved

All individuals have different ways of feeling loved and valued within a relationship. Recognizing and respecting each other’s needs can lead to more meaningful expressions of care and affection.

For example, an anxious partner may need more verbal reassurance, while an avoidant partner may express love through actions and touch.

Fixing Unhealthy Relationship Behaviors

Anxious avoidant relationships can be unhealthy, leading to patterns of mistrust and hurt feelings. By identifying and correcting negative behaviors, couples can create a healthier relationship dynamic.

This can include working on effective communication, establishing clear boundaries, and setting relationship goals together.

Seeking Counseling to Work Through Childhood Wounds

Childhood traumas and attachment insecurities can lead to unresolved pain and fears within adult relationships. Couples may benefit from seeking counseling to help work through these issues together.

Therapists trained in attachment therapy can provide tools for healing and help couples build a secure attachment style.


Navigating an anxious avoidant relationship takes effort and understanding from both partners. The strategies mentioned can help create a healthier dynamic within a relationship by building trust and effective communication.

By cultivating empathy and prioritizing emotional safety for each other, anxious avoidant partners can deepen their connection and build a fulfilling relationship. In conclusion, an anxious avoidant relationship can be a daunting and challenging dynamic to navigate, but with the right strategies, it is possible to build a strong and fulfilling relationship based on mutual respect and understanding.

Both partners need to communicate effectively, understand their attachment styles, and practice patience and empathy towards each other. Recognizing and addressing relationship problems, prioritizing self-care, and seeking counseling to work through childhood wounds can pave the way to creating a healthy relationship.

By taking these steps, couples in an anxious avoidant relationship can build meaningful and lasting connections, leading to a happier and more fulfilling life together.

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