Why Avoidant and Anxious Partners Find It Hard to Split Up

Why Avoidant and Anxious Partners Find It Hard to Split Up


There is a certain sort of relationship that
is alternately passionate, fiery and painfully unfulfilling – and that tends to puzzle
both outsiders and its participants; a relationship between one person who is, as psychologists
put it, anxiously attached and another who is avoidantly attached. There is, in such
couplings, a constant game of push and pull. The anxiously attached party typically complains
– more or less loudly – that their partner is not responsive enough: they accuse them
of being emotionally distant, withholding, cold and perhaps physically uninterested too.
The avoidant lover, for their part, stays relatively quiet but in their more fed-up
moments, complains that the anxious party is far too demanding, possibly ‘mad’ and,
as they put it pejoratively, ‘needy’. One person seems to want far too much, the
other far too little. Image result for william eggleston The unhappiness unfolds in a cycle.
At the start, the anxious partner loves the avoidant one with great intensity – but,
in time, also growing frustration. The dissatisfaction grows ever more intense until, eventually
one day, fed up with so much seeming rejection, the anxious partner overcomes their fears,
decides they need something better and tells their lover that they’re off. At which point,
the avoidant party undergoes a complete seachange. Their greatest fear, that of being engulfed
in love, disappears at a stroke and reveals something that is normally utterly submerged
in their character: a fear of being abandoned. Wholly liberated from the threat of being
engulfed (the anxious one may by now have packed their bags), the avoidant one gives
free reign to all their reserves of pent up romanticism and ardour – which feel utterly
safe to bring out, now that there seems so little danger of reciprocation. Despite their
fury, the anxious person hears the honeyed words and forthright promises, and – after
some initial doubts – can’t help but be won over. The formerly distant partner appears
to have become, in the nick of time, as they’d always wanted them to be, a warm soul. There
is no reason not to return: after all, it’s not that they didn’t love this person, it
was the feeling they weren’t loved back that was making things impossible… For a time, there is bliss – and it seems that the couple
are headed for long-term happiness. Liberated from their anxiety around engulfment, the
avoidant partner gives free expression to love; liberated from their fear of abandonment,
the anxious one is left feeling secure and trusting. But soon enough the problems return.
Things become, as it were, too nice for the avoidant partner. It seems the anxious one
isn’t going to leave them any more, they’re just going to stick around and seek ever greater
closeness – and so the old fear of engulfment returns. They have no option but to start
to pull away again and get distant, which gradually proves intolerable once again to
the anxious partner. Within weeks or months, the pair are back in the same situation. Fierce
arguments are back: the words needy and cold are once more in circulation. It’s time
for another crisis and another threat of departure. It may go on like this for years, or a lifetime…
From the outside, it is almost funny. From the inside, it is hellish. There are a few
ways out: the avoidant party can realise, and learn to tolerate their fear of engulfment.
The anxious party can grow conscious of their unnatural pull towards unfulfilling people,
refuse to go back after a crisis and seek a future with more secure and reassuring sorts.
Or, yet more hopefully, both partners can acquire
the vocabulary of attachment theory, come to observe their repetitions, gain some insight
into aspects of their childhoods that drive them on – and learn not to act out their
compulsions. They can learn the games they are unconsciously playing – and then, to
the relief of all who care for them and to the redemption of their relationship, refuse
to play them any longer. Our book Sorrows of Love helps us handle the inevitabel sorrows of love. If you enjoyed our film, please subscribe to our channel and click the bell icon to turn on notifications.

100 Replies to “Why Avoidant and Anxious Partners Find It Hard to Split Up”

  1. Such a lot of similarities with my ex…I was the anxious one and she was literally everything I wanted – good heart, sweet, beautiful, sexually attractive, caring, independent, drawing closer and closer to God, someone I would have loved to have children with etc. but the distant thing was killing me. I have my faults, I don't want to play the victim game here but I just felt that I am not getting the time and effort from her side. on the 10th of February 2018 I had an anxiety attack and from there on things never were the same again. I felt like I was being eaten from the inside and it's like we had to break up and the worst part is that I NEVER EVER WANTED TO. She started showing more intent and she was longing for me and I was longing for her but I couldn't get my heart to receive and accept her…I wish nobody has that feeling of losing someone you actually care about and there's NOTHING you can do about it…and now she wants nothing to do with me

  2. I feel Anxious partner when is frustrated wants to leave the avoidant..But may be then the commitment , responsibilities and duties come in first , that's why he is pulled again n again and is still sticking to the avoidant.

  3. Say no to being a punching bag. People like this aren't worth your time. Even if you did work through the issue, they will cheat behind your back. Some people just aren't capable of loving someone else other than themselves.
    Get out before it's too late.

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  5. I have been married to my wife for two years with no idea she was cheating. Suddenly i started noticing changes in her behavior. I confided in a friend who convinced and introduce me to a hacker [email protected] . com he was able to hack into my wife mobile phone(whatsapp,gmail,icloud,facebook, twitter,snap chat and others). You can also send him a whatsapp messages +1 937-815-1491.

  6. This was how my bf and I used to be, he being the anxious I the avoidant, until one day, by some odd miracle, roles switched and I became the anxious and he became the avoidant. Now I'm getting a taste of my own medicine, karma sucks y'all

  7. Why does this completely describe me and my ex who i have just decided to be with again! Damn you School of Life and your accurate observations of the human condition!!!!

  8. I think I’m the anxious partner 😞 I love attention, be loving to me, give me compliments, put it down in the bedroom lol. But when my partner (the avoidant one) seems Iike I’m asking for too much. And I just feel stupid. It would be like this for weeks until I’m just done being ignored and emotionally unsatisfied. When I’m finally ready to leave. He comes back and gives me “love” everything is all nice and I can tell he is trying but the cycle comes back again 🙁

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  10. As an avoidant and creative person, I’m perpetually wary of others trying to place responsibility for their happiness on me while I work on my projects. I’d also argue there’s an objective reality to this

  11. This describes my situationship completely. I am the avoidant one, who is constantly seeking refuge from engulfment. the other person is clingy, not giving any individual time or space to me or themselves & this is not healthy to me

  12. Its not fair to say that the anxious one should move on because the avoidant is unfulfilling. Nothing is wrong with cherishing individuality & space without allowing someone to overwhelm you. Whose to say the anxious one isnt the issue?

  13. I came back to watch this again because this guy keeps sucking me back in with his sweetness… and for a short while I was feeling secure. I needed to be reminded not to invest anything in this.

  14. Wow this perfectly describes my relationship that ended a month ago. 3 or 4 times over our year and half coming to the almost break up point. Everything being fantastic for a few weeks or month. Then repeat. Except this time it was for real for real. Her as the anxious one has to do this for her own mental health. And it's taken this momentous event for me as the avoidant one to really dive deep and better myself. The point this video makes about fear of being too attached instantly changing over to the ultimate fear of abandonment is like a look directly into my soul. I've got some work to do so I dont fuck it up with the next wonderful person to come into my life 🙁

  15. I am currently with an avoidant and I am of course the anxious partner. After having talked to him and explaining my need for more affection he has made an effort, though not a lot, in approaching me with kisses and hugs first. He is not the romantic type that will shower me with constant affection like I would have dreamed as a young woman, but as I matured I've come to realize that this type of man that I dreamed of does not appeal to me as it did before. Especially given my father is this type of man with my mother. I have also learnt to not be overly affectionate and overbearing, I learnt to give him space so that he may approach me first at his own time which was very important. It's not perfect but I am very happy, he has really opened my eyes and shown me how my initial ideals of love might have been immature and even unappealing. There is something very honest and attractive about a man who is not a "romantic" for lack of a better word, just simply realistic. I'm sure more improvement will follow along the years if we keep working on it slowly and patiently with continued communication.

  16. 2 years of anxious-avoidant, my self-esteem can't take the withholding cycle. I want to matter again, I was worth the hard work, I'm done.

  17. My ex (avoidant) boxfriend used to say: "You're either a whole duck or a half duck. I'm a whole duck." For me it was so hurting b/c he indirectly told me that he thought I was a half duck. I think the scientific words avoidant and anxious descripe those two things better and are more respectful.

  18. This is exactly the relationship I just got out of, from the nature of the inception ("talking" for a beautiful but frustratingly non-committal 6 months until I decided to sleep with someone else, then she panicked and "settled" with me because she didn't want to lose my presence in her life) to the tough decision to end it so she isn't tasked to love when being smothered by someone who's less than perfect is her ultimate fear and I'm not tasked with the deep heartbreak of intermittent rejection by the one person who is supposed to be dependably there for me (other than myself, I guess).

    I know I am attracted to people who I feel are out of my league, and it's something I really need to fight against in my future relationships. She wasn't out of my league–I just allowed myself to be demeaned by someone who was never really ready, willing, or naturally inclined to love me the way everyone deserves to be loved. Because I'm into that, I guess.

    Oh, and by the way–we ended it when she convinced me there was no point in continuing the relationship when her doubts persisted after a couple years of dating, and I deserved better than her. Hah. I didn't even have the self-worth to be the one to explain that to myself…It's rough, man, but I know I'm better off working on myself and being open to the world now.

  19. 2:33 you know, that good ol’ moment of your gf taking one of her boobs off and you both playing volleyball with it, like a happy, loving couple.

  20. I'm in this type of relationship now. She's a wonderful woman. She actually ends it with me because she feels bad, and the pressure is too much for her.

    I need to do some work on myself.

  21. So basically the good girls (anxiously attached) fall for the bad boys (avoidantly attached) while the nice guys (securely attached) are left last.

  22. Or we can stop referring to the DSM as bible . Instead of looking up their newest terms that’s been added to the newest volume they can instead look up how political the psychological community is as a whole. On the lower and even mid levels of the psychological communities hierarchy there ARE ppl that truly care. Sadly, at the top of the pyramid exists an elite few who create the DSM newest addition. They add illnesses, as well as delete them. This is done due to their connection to politics and cultural Marxist pressures that they must conform too. Or worse yet, agree with this agenda.

    In a nutshell the psych elite control illnesses which enter the DSM and the ones that don’t. Therefore, modern psychology should be ignored due to its hypocrisy. Even though there are many legit illnesses . But until we remove these ppl at the top who have an agenda we must dismiss everything as BS.

    We, as YouTube watchers should know the difference between a ‘pushed’ station that is in bed with the enemy opposed to a station with a 10th the viewers because it doesn’t agree with THEIR version of the world….. OR, worse yet it may have already have been banned altogether. Aka ….. Modern day …… Book burning !!

    Please educate yourself further on this topic For the handful that know exactly what I’m talking about read my rant as 101 truth seeker knowledge. For the ones that are still having difficulty escaping the ‘societal matrix’ I have to realize that I’ve only touched the surface. And no, I don’t feel I’m more intelligent than u. Quite the opposite. The one thing I’ve discovered (CONSCIOUSLY !!) is that for the time being we still live in the INFORMATION ERA. We can access information that only Kings and queens only had access to at one time. God bless,

  23. It’s been 8 years……and now I’m pregnant 🤰🏽.
    This is a never ending cycle. 😢……I’m falling out of love. I can not do this for a life time. I WONT. I refuse.

  24. You just described every single relationship I've had spot on. I'm working on myself as an avoidant and connecting with my feelings and how to communicate them better. Everything's a progress and you can always learn something new and improve if you truly want to!

  25. I have reason to believe I may have both anxious and avoidant behaviors, and I'm currently on round 2 with a very tight nit avoidant. It makes opening up for both of us pretty impossible. I begin by saying my side but when I do he is deterred by it and doesn't say much, or if he does, he doesn't give much detail. We know we love each other greatly, that's never been our issue. I just start getting that anxiety all revved up and it's all down hill from there.

  26. Yes i know the truth now [email protected] OR HACKGOODNESS on instagram is right man who can help in getting access to any social media account without leaving any traces they charge less and they work fast contact them and be happy.

  27. 3:48 yeah…that's not happening with an avoidant partner that simply cannot communicate needs for an understanding to occur. I wasted five years trying for that lost cause. Better to bury the love for that person and walk away with dignity before they feel "smothered" by your want of normalcy and blindside you with heartache and pain. Some people just don't deserve your efforts…these broken, confused people are certainly among them. Don't waste your most valuable asset, time, wishing that you received the affection and emotional fulfillment he/she reserves for the unthreatening pets in your home.

  28. To those of you Avoidants that feel this video is biased:

    The anxious partner IS unhealthy too and may at times overstep personal boundaries…they're both insecure with similar fears but different responses. However, one demonstrates something far more unhealthy than the other….can you guess who it is? The one that recreates their developmental trauma in the familiar, known adversary of abandonment and neglect as a sort of inoculation with every withdrawal in a self-absorbed fashion. They trample all others underfoot around them, especially the one that cares most about their welfare (the anxious partner that puts their partner's needs and identity before their own: unhealthy enmeshment). So sorry to hurt your feelings but it's the truth of the matter. One acts on the need for reassurance and validation in a nobly fallible effort to grow their relationship…the other recoils in indifference, fear, or disgust with their efforts to do so. Therefore, the latter is seen as undeserving of the attention and affections by the evaluation of outsiders looking in. Rightfully so. Where the anxious partner needs to learn how to love themselves…the avoidant not only needs to learn how to love themselves but also how to love others.

  29. another thing to consider is if the avoidant is also being avoidant with other relationships. this will become very unattractive to the anxious because it confirms what they experience. furthermore if you are too avoidant in other relationships it begins to come home with you. there is definitely a balance to be struck because anxious outside relationships also make you avoidant with your love due to time constraints. wish I had known all this before i hurt my wonderful anxious partner. she was able to develop her identity and detach herself from my identity. I am crushed but hopeful I can now navigate this in the future.

  30. My avoidant called me needy, um, needlessly. It stung and I felt the need to ask her who needs help with their bills every month. That said, I had to look at my neediness. I worked on my core issues in therapy and ACoA, and now rarely act out. Still, she has no idea how distant and un-affectionate she can be. She’s completely unaware that this is her style, her problem now. I’ve left her a few times, the love bombing begins anew for a short time, and then it’s biz as usual. At least my side of the street’s clean and I know I’m choosing to tolerate the situation for now.

  31. I've been in an on and off relationship with an avoidant for the last 6 years. It's an emotional roller coaster. It's like nothing is enough and the good happy times don't last long at all. It's also so difficult to let go, but it's a must. They cannot offer you long term happiness or commitment. It's a big waste of time and energy.

  32. I don't know if I'm the avoidant or the anxious. Roles change for me and my partner. But definitely there is a push and pull that is happening. I hope everything will be okay, for us both and for our son.

  33. This video explained all my past relationships down to a T. I've just now come to realize how avoidant I am. Working on it.

  34. It's hopeless being with an avoidant who acknowledges their issues and how they affect you, but does nothing to work on them. The little affection you are shown only decreases with time, and you are left clinging to the few scraps of affection you do get as proof that they still love you. Since they don't open up to you, they can't bond with you emotionally and start taking your efforts to connect with them for granted. A power balance is established heavily in their favour, and a one sided relationship ensues. Any attempt to communicate about it is met with deflection or flat out stonewalling. You could start out as a secure person, and by the end become an anxious and dependant mess. Please do not seek a relationship if you are emotionally unavailable and unwilling to change or put in effort, it is borderline mental torture for the other person.

  35. I want to send this to my friend because it kinda describes us but all the videos say "partners" and that would be kind weird because we're friends sooo

  36. It kind of seems like avoidants are selfish and don't care about their partner when they think they already have them. It's not true, you don't know how hard it is to open up your real self, how terrifying it is to realize that someone is getting too intimate with you, that you'll most likely end up getting hurt, that you'll be carrying the responsibility of another's heart and love, you're scared you'll screw it up. It is not easy, we're just as scared.

  37. This is exactly why I'm no longer be there for you whenever you feel like you need Me, Ema. Btw Youtube reccomendations are killing it I tell you!

  38. I feel like Ive gone through periods of trying to be an avoidant to match the affection I was getting but then they get confused and upset ? Love is complicated and messy y'all.

  39. I am doing some research on attachment and smartphone use of people currently in romantic relationships. if you would like to shed some light on that as well, you are very welcome to participate in my survey 🙂 https://ww3.unipark.de/uc/Smartphone-Communication-in-romantic-Relationships

  40. After years of this kind of relationship, I also have turned into kind of avoidant.
    I lost my feelings, including libido, ha!
    I avoid people or friendships.

    If I split up with my husband, then I will stay single for the rest of my life, because you never know what kind of sickness people have until they get closer to you.
    I, myself am not mentally healthy either, but I try so hard to change that instead of denying as my husband does.

    Due to my struggling I just don't want to cause any trouble to the happy and healthy people.
    They are as beautiful as they are, happy and satisfied.

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