The Challenges of Anxious-Avoidant Relationships – Free Ebook

There are so many ways to be unhappy in love,
but one kind which modern psychology has given

particular attention to are relationships,
very high in number, in which one of the parties

is defined as avoidant in their attachment
patterns – and the other as anxious. Attachment

Theory is the term given to a set of ideas
about how we love and the role of childhood

therein originally developed by the English
psychologist John Bowlby in the 50s and 60s.

It divides up humanity into three categories
according to our varying capacity to behave

with confidence and trust in relationships.
Firstly, there are those who are securely

attached, who had reliable and good childhood
experiences and now expect to be positively

treated by those they love, fortunate types
who are capable of empathy and generosity

– and communicate with honesty and directness
about their needs. Around 50% of the population

is assumed to be securely attached. This leaves
two fascinating deviations from health, caused

by some form of early parental letdown and
trauma: the first kind of attachment pattern

is known as Avoidant, the second as Anxious.
What makes things even more complicated and

very combustible is that Avoidant and Anxious
people are frequently drawn to forming couples

(it’s part of their pathology) where their
varied emotional quirks contribute to an especially

fraught combination. An Anxiously attached
person in a relationship will have the characteristic

feeling of not being properly appreciated
and loved. They would – they tell themselves

– like so much more closeness, tenderness,
touch and sex – and are convinced that such

a union could be possible. The person they
are with, however, seems to them humiliatingly

and hurtfully detached. They never seem to
want them with as much intensity as they offer

them. They are hugely saddened by their coldness
and distance and gradually fall into moods

of self-loathing and rejection, feeling unappreciated
and misunderstood, as well as vengeful and

resentful. For a long time, they might keep
quiet about their frustrations until eventually

desperation erupts. Even if it is a very inappropriate
moment (perhaps they and their partner are

exhausted and it’s past midnight), they
won’t be able not to insist on addressing

the issues right now. Predictably, these sort
of fights go very wrong. The anxious lover

loses their calm, they exaggerate and drive
their points home with such viciousness that

they leave their partner convinced that they
are mad and mean. Related image A securely

attached partner might know how to soothe
the situation, but an avoidant one certainly

doesn’t. Tragically, this avoidant party
triggers every insecurity known to their anxious

lover. Under pressure to be warmer and more
connected, the avoidant partner instinctively

withdraws and feels overwhelmed and hounded.
They go cold – and disconnect from the situation

only further ramping up the partner’s anxiety.
Underneath their silence, the avoidant one

resents feeling, as they put it, ‘controlled’;
they have the impression of being got at,

unfairly persecuted and disturbed by the other’s
‘neediness’. They may quietly fantasise

about going off to have sex with someone else
completely, preferably a total stranger or

of going into the other room and reading a
book, but probably not one about psychology.

It helps immensely to know that this is not
your relationship only, it’s a type and

there are – quite literally – millions
of them unfolding on the planet at any point.

Even better, the causes of the distress, which
feel so personal and so insulting, are in

fact general phenomena, well studied and mapped
by sober researchers in lab coats. The solution,

as ever, is simply knowledge. There is an
immense difference between acting out on one’s

avoidant or anxious impulses – and, as would
be preferable, understanding that one has

them, grasping where they came from and explaining
to ourselves and others why they make us do

what we do. We cannot – most of us – be
wholly healthy in love, but we can be something

almost as beneficial: we can grow into people
committed to explaining our unhealthy, trauma-driven

behaviour in good time, before we have become
overly furious and hurt others too much – and

apologising for our antics after they have
run their course. There are few things more

romantic, in the true sense, than a couple
who have learnt to tell one another with wit

and composure that they have been triggered
in an avoidant or an anxious direction, but

are doing everything they can to get on top
of things – and hope to be normal again

in a little while.

Love is a skill that we can learn. Our relationships book calmly guides us with calm and charm through the key issues of relationships to ensure that success in love need not be a matter of good luck. for more be sure to subscribe to our channel and turn on notifications.

Leave a Reply