People with an anxious attachment style have a conscious fear of abandonment and a subconscious fear of intimacy.
People with an avoidant attachment style have a conscious fear of intimacy and a subconscious fear of abandonment.
I know, crazy, right?
Anxious folks felt abandoned as children, either physically or emotionally, so their fear of abandonment is visceral – wired into their nervous systems by the relational trauma of their childhood.
And yet, because of their abandonment, they typically don’t have much experience with healthy closeness!
So anxiously attached people are compulsively driven to seek connection with others. However… because they don’t know how to do that in healthy and appropriate ways, they date people who will never expect healthy closeness from them (avoidants).
It’s the perfect way to convince yourself, “I totally woulda nailed this intimate relationship, but it’s my partner’s fault for not showing up!”
Bulletproof alibi? Yes. Strategy for satisfying connection? No.
And while anxious attachers learned in their formative years that they desperately needed others to love them, avoidant attachers learned that others couldn’t be trusted to love them because of the abuse, enmeshment, control, and unhealthy closeness they experienced as kids.
Connection literally was not safe for avoidants, hence the conscious fear of intimacy. However, because safety is not just the absence of threat but the presence of connection, avoidant folks sense deep down that they require some kind of relationship with others.
So avoidantly attached people are compulsively driven to seek autonomy and independence. However… because some part of them deeply yearns for connection, they date people who will never abandon them (anxious types).
Anxious and avoidant partners are amazingly well-suited for accommodating each other’s dysfunction. Their dynamics are endlessly fascinating to me.
If you wanna learn more about mutually dysfunctional relationships and how to stop having them, I’m leading a workshop today, June 11th, called “Healing Your Insecure Attachment.”
It’ll be deep and thorough with plenty of live Q&A time. Hope to see you there! And if you can’t attend live, you can still register to receive the replay and workshop materials.
Details and registration here.