Dating an individual with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style is not impossible, but it is challenging (especially for an anxious-attacher aka an individual with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style).
A healthy relationship is possible when both parties understand their own attachment style going into the relationship, are actively working on themselves and their wounds, and can express and communicate their needs in healthy ways to one another.
A healthy relationship is not possible however when either or both persons don’t know their attachment style AND are an anxious and avoidant pairing because subconsciously at a core level the anxious person is so desperate for love, intimacy and connection, while the avoidant is also longing for love and security in a relationship but is so afraid of rejection and pain that they have a great tendency to avoid getting too close altogether.
If an anxious and avoidant are in relationship together this is when they begin the push and pull dance of intimacy. This is a rollercoaster of emotions mixed with protest behaviors and insecurities from the anxious-attacher and distancing and dismissing from the avoidant.
If you are an anxious-attacher, know this: we have a tendency to want the relationship to move faster into love and deep feelings in the dating phase than an avoidant would or is ready for. Individuals with an avoidant attachment style need time to warm up to you, to build their feelings of trust and connection with you. Anxious-attachers have the beautiful quality of being so open, warm, and ready to connect from years of learning, connecting and honing this innate skill. Avoidants generally don’t have this skill naturally built it. It takes them more time to open up, to be vulnerable and share with you their deepest secrets.
Keep also in mind that it’s not up to the anxious person to convince, persuade or push the avoidant into having bigger feelings faster or to comitting to the relationship sooner.
Even in the very early days in the dating phase of a relationship there’s a difference in how an anxious verus an avoidant wishes to connect and communicate. Where an anxious person would like to talk to and connect with their dating partner every day, if not throughout the day, the avoidant-attacher would be easily comfortable with every couple of days to few days- and the intensity of the connection doesn’t have to be grand either.
This can set alarm bells off for the anxious-attacher in the dating phase, making them think that this person is no longer into them, or that they’re seeing other people. Even though it may not be the case!
This is when we begin to push them for more connection; expressing to them in subtle or overt ways that we feel the connection has changed, that they have changed and we demand to know and understand why.
Unfortunately this reaction does the exact opposite of what we want– it pushes our partner away.
The more we push, the more they pull away. And so begins the cycle.
What is our role here in an anxious-avoidant relationship if you find yourself in one?
First, ask yourself:
- Does this person have the ability and will within them to work on themselves and their own fears of intimacy? (Later on… are their actions showing me that they are working on it, too?)
- Can I express my need for closeness and connection in a way that still respects their need for space and time to warm up in the relationship (I’m referring to if you both are in the dating phase)?
- Can I provide this space and patience that this person needs to warm up to the relationship and to build their feelings in their time (and not mine) while still taking care of my own needs?
It’s very important here to be super clear with yourself on what your non-negotiable needs are in the beginning stages of relationship, as well as what you are and what you are not willing to tolerate. You must first and foremost honor yourself.