One of the most common patterns I see in clients who are struggling with dating is that they’ve had a history of dating partners with an incompatible attachment style. Typically, the pattern involves a relationship between a Love Connector with an anxious attachment and a Love Resister with an avoidant attachment.
These opposing Love Styles are drawn like magnets to each other, but unfortunately, the relationship rarely ends in a fairy tale ending. The opposing attachment needs of each partner serve to create distance instead of increased connection as the relationship grows.
How opposites attract….or, repel each other.
The Love Connector’s anxious attachment, as you may recall, has a strong need for intimacy, connection, and reassurance. As they reach toward their avoidant, Love Resister partner to fulfill these needs, the Love Resister usually perceives this as being too needy, clingy, or suffocating, thus pulling away.
This distancing increases the anxiety in the Love Connector’s anxious attachment, which can lead to an increase in anxious behaviors meant to pull the Love Resister back in, which, as you can guess, only increases the Love Resister’s discomfort. Some of the anxious behaviors can even become dramatic, and can include things like withdrawing, incessant texting or calling, threats to leave, and attempts to make a partner jealous. These behaviors, while designed to bring the Love Resister closer, only create more distance and conflict.
Over time, the Love Connector will feel perpetually anxious and unfulfilled, wondering why their partner isn’t meeting their expectations for commitment and intimacy. They often feel like they aren’t good enough for this type of partner to love them, as the distancing reinforces this feeling.
The Love Resister will withdraw and feel a sense of anxiety that they are being suffocated, or limited in their independence. As you can see, this combination can become a painful cycle that likely ends the relationship at some point.
What can you do if you are caught in the anxious-avoidant relationship?
If you are currently in a relationship, the ideal situation would be for you BOTH to learn about your Love Styles, and how your attachment based thoughts, emotions, and behaviors manifest in each of you. Awareness is key. Once you are both aware, you can learn to monitor your attachment issues, communicate with each other, and work to reduce your attachment related instincts that might work against the success of your relationship. You may benefit from working with a couples therapist or coach who is trained in adult attachment issues.
If you are single, and realize you’ve have a pattern of dating your opposite Love Style, the best way to create massive change and success in your future relationships is to stop dating partners with an opposing attachment style. It would be beneficial for you to learn how to identify Love Stabilizers with secure attachments. This style is the most stable, and can help you feel less reactive in your attachment related thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Can you change your attachment style?
Remember that attachment is hardwired into our brains, and is really a survival mechanism. It can be difficult to change, but we now know that our brains can be rewired. Awareness is key. Focus on learning about attachment, and how your own style manifests in you and in your relationships. This can help a great deal in improving the quality of your relationships.
Research has shown that our attachment styles remain fairly consistent into adulthood. However, the good news is that with awareness, personal growth experiences, or therapy, people can make changes in their primary attachment style and learn to feel more comfortable with intimacy.
If you’d like to learn more about your attachment style, and how to identify these styles in partners, you can visit here to learn about my 4 Love Styles courses.