Attachment Types and Their Partner’s Attachment Type

It is a logical question to wonder who typically dates who in the attachment world. Anxious-preoccupied (APs) attachment types usually lean towards fearful-avoidant (FAs) or dismissive-avoidant (DAs) partners due to their own subconscious patterns of belief. However secure partners are typically a great fit for an AP who can help balance their need for constant reassurance without blatant rejection. Conversely DAs largely prefer anxious partners as it reaffirms their subconscious beliefs while simultaneously giving them the attention they desperately crave but cannot acknowledge, even to themselves.

DAs rarely end up with other DAs or even avoidant leaning FAs as there is no one driving the relationship to stay together. Secure individuals do well with DAs as they understand and respect boundaries well and are comfortable giving space with the DA needs to go into their cave for awhile. APs and other APs are a very rare combination. The two anxious partners often repel each other and find it difficult to build chemistry. The needs of the one anxious partner usually supersede the other, pushing the other to become more avoidant, if the relationship is to proceed. FAs depend on the side they swing to. It may go without saying, secure individuals tend to be the best fit for all disorganized attachment types.

There can be some really beautiful unions that come together when both people learn and recognize their attachment style AND choose to work on themselves.

Healing and Attachment Theory

Attachment theory, once known, cannot be unknown or unlearned. It is, for those of us who have found it, like the holy grail of relationships. It can explain the WHY behind so many dysfunctional pairings and can provide a framework for how we can heal ourselves within or outside an intimate partnership. I find it quite common that many anxious preoccupied or fearful avoidant (leaning anxious) attachment types will often want to learn more about their partner’s style than their own, in a backwards effort to “fix” the problem.

APs tend to want to rush this process in the beginning and become “better” so their partners are more likely to stick around. Ironically, the more secure many APs become, the less they will need their partner and the more alone time they crave. Often, the phenomenon of APs becoming DAs is experienced by those going through attachment reprogramming. However, it is not a true transition to DA as it is an equilibration of what has been self-abandonment for a lifetime. Once APs learn to no longer self-abandon, the opportunities for a healthy relationship become endless with a willing partner.

In reality, the only real solution to repairing your attachment style is rewiring it by repetition + emotion (Thais Gibson, 2022) for yourself. We have to understand our own unmet needs, identify the emotion behind them, and then find ways to meet those needs using healthy strategies.

It’s most difficult for DAs or FAs leaning avoidant to begin this practice as they are usually the ones most disconnected from their emotions and thus the work requires patience and understanding from their partners, as it may not come as easy to them. But they DO heal and they are able to love, connect, and practice vulnerability but they have to do it on their own timeline.

Attachment theory is a powerful tool for understanding the dynamics of relationships – both romantic and platonic. It can help us to understand why certain pairings may be more difficult than others, as well as how we can improve our own attachment style by learning to meet our own needs in healthy ways.

Ultimately, it is up to each individual person to take responsibility for their healing process and choose partners who are willing and able to support them on that journey without enabling unhealthy behaviors. With awareness, patience, and self-love, all attachment styles have the potential for deep connection with another human being; they just need the right environment in which those connections can grow.

 

Writer: Michelle Leary
Writer: Michelle Leary
March 2, 2023

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