Anxious-avoidant trap


Humans with anxious attachment will know this story well— You’re in a relationship. You are crazy about the person, but you also question every minute how they feel about you. You fight constantly because what you really want is more intimacy and they refuse to give you an inch. You push. They pull. There might be a time of closeness, but ultimately your partner will pull away and the cycle will continue. This is the anxious-avoidant trap.

Humans with anxious and avoidant attachments are drawn together like moths to the flame. Now, the anxious-avoidant trap is super common because each attachment pushes the right buttons for the other. Our brain chemistry is set up as children as are our models for relationships aka attachment styles and we will continuously seek out situations that keep us in the same brain chemistry and attachment style until we become conscious enough to heal them. So, the anxious person and avoidant person in their subconscious brains are both thinking, “THIS IS LOVE” and it will feel very hard to break free.

The rub is the human with anxious attachment wants intimacy and will do everything in their power to get and create it. The human with avoidant attachment will feel very threatened by the need of intimacy from their partner and will therefor retreat. This will mean neither partner is able to feel secure because each unknowingly bumping into the others insecurities. Humans with anxious attachment will get activate their attachment style to help them get closer to their partner and the human with avoidant attachment will deactivate their attachment (shut down) to distance from their partner.

You’ll know if you are in an anxious-avoidant trap if you’re experiencing the following:

  • the relationship is on a roller coaster— there isn’t a steady calm to the relationship. Instead their will be moments of highs when the avoidant partner is totally available and the anxious partner isn’t activated so they feel safe. However, this won’t last very long and the avoidant partner will pull away and the cycle will continue.

  • this isn’t always the case, but in some anxious-avoidant traps the avoidant gets their feeling of independence and power from the anxious partner feeling “needy”.

  • You don’t feel stable. The anxious-avoidant trap type of relationship CAN last, but it will also mean there will be no security for the anxious partner and a lot of dissatisfaction.

Now, that we know what it is what do can you do if you find yourself in one of these situations? First, take inventory of the relationship and your partner. Are they someone you truly want to be with and do they want the same things from life as you? Do they what you’re looking for in a partner? If so, this dynamic can 100% shift, but it requires a lot of dedication and work from BOTH partners. Both of you will have to work on becoming earned secure and becoming earned secure will help each of you recognize your triggers, insecurities and unhealthy patterns. I strongly advise to not take this on alone and work with a couples therapist to guide you through this work as a couple. How do you get to that solution? Communication. Have a heart to heart with your partner, have them read Attached, tell them how you feel and ask if they are willing to work on the relationship. If yes, suggest couples therapy. If not, I would advise it’s best to cut your loses and walk away and you yourself start working with someone to help yourself work towards becoming earned secure. If they say, but still refuse to go to couples therapy or therapy on their own or do any work on themselves, than I also advise cutting your loses and walking away.

If you have an insecure attachment style and want to work on becoming more secure, I look forward to reaching out for a session.