Forming healthy relationships with an anxious attachment style


Forming healthy relationships with an anxious attachment styleLast week we explored what an anxious attachment style looks like in the context of intimate relationships. Today, we explore options for developing healthy relationships if you know, or your partner has this attachment style.

What happens when the person that you are in an intimate relationship with does not fulfill your attachment expectations? What if you have an anxious attachment style and are with someone with an avoidant attachment style?

Being anxious means thriving on intimate supportive relationships that are stable and long lasting. You may be aware that uncertainty and emotional unavailability in your relationship generally lead to a miserable existence.

Paradoxically, people with anxious attachment styles often date people with avoidant attachment styles. This is primarily because of the law of numbers. Although people with avoidant styles only make up 25% of the population, they are often more available since they tend to end their relationships more frequently. Securely attached people, who are more compatible partners for those with anxious attachment styles, will usually already be involved with someone in a long lasting relationship.

If you have an anxious attachment style and are single, the worst thing you can do is follow common dating advice. Advice that says ‘don’t make yourself too available, don’t care too much, act mysterious etc…’ can do more harm than good, even though this type of behaviour will usually make you more attractive, especially to people with avoidant attachment styles.

However, following this advice may also mean misrepresenting yourself. By not being true to your genuine needs and feelings it encourages you to ignore your needs and let the other person determine the amount of closeness in the relationship. In the end, this type of behaviour is not sustainable.

By the time you reveal yourself as you truly are, it will be too late because you may have already attracted someone with an avoidant attachment style.

So what can you do that will work for your attachment style?

Here are six methods for you to explore:

  • Acknowledge and accept their true relationship needs.
  • Let your partner know that you need security within a relationship.
  • Begin to assess potential partners based on their ability to meet your need for a secure relationship.
  • Learn to recognize and rule out avoidant prospects early on (see below for ways to find out a person’s attachment style).
  • Use effective communication to express your needs rather than using protest behaviours (calling incessantly, making your partner jealous).
  • Try the abundance philosophy. Acknowledge that there are many people in the dating pool and it is sometimes necessary to meet several different people before settling on one particular person.

What if you already have a partner with an avoidant attachment style?

If you have already chosen a partner who is not consistently available and displaying avoidant behaviour the situation can become more difficult. If your partner is unwilling to allay your need for intimacy then it is necessary to change your expectations. One option is to let go of the idea that your need for intimacy will and should be met. This means compromising and choosing to let go of the dream of being truly intimate with your partner. However, this compromise is in no way reciprocated and is entirely one sided.

Alternately, you can make the tough choice to leave the relationship and find a better fit. For those that are at that point and who want immediate support on managing anxiety, and developing healthy relationships, visit us at We have health and wellness resources on developing healthy relationships and 24/7counselling services available.

Based on original content from Lise Allen, Counsellor in Calgary, Alberta.


Tags: , , ,