Is it possible to maintain a relationship when one person is "anxious" and the other person is "dismissing"?
At the start of a relationship, an “anxious” and a “dismissing” individual (see attachment styles) may work pretty well together, for several reasons.
To begin with, most people are on their best behavior at the start of a relationship—hiding their true feelings and insecurities while trying to make a positive impression. Also, anxious individuals are more likely to put in more effort (e.g., phone calls, messages, planning things to do, etc.) than dismissing individuals, so both people sort of get what they want. Anxious individuals get to feel needed and dismissing people get to have a relationship without putting in too much work.
But in the long run these two attachment styles cause more problems than good.
For starters, both individuals are likely to act in ways that make their partners worst fears come true.
An anxious individual who is dating someone with a dismissive attachment style, is more likely to become more anxious over the course of time. As dismissing individuals put less effort and energy into the relationship, anxious individuals are more likely to experience feelings of abandonment and rejection. Such feelings only create more anxiety, fueling an anxious individual’s worst fear—namely, that they are NOT loved.
From a dismissing individual’s point of view, dating an anxious individual can also be unsettling. Dismissing individuals fear intimacy and commitment—the very two things that anxious individuals crave. As such, dismissing individuals often feel smothered (suffocated) and overwhelmed.
As a romantic partner's fears become more intense, they get often played out in counterproductive ways: more arguments, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and negativity. As partners become more critical of each other, relationships become less rewarding and other people become more appealing.
Without learning how to talk about such problems in a constructive way (see talk about problems), or without the help of counseling, it is difficult for anxious and dismissing partners to act in ways that create a healthy relationship (see healthy relationships).
See more common questions.
Do you have a general question you’d like to ask?
If you are dealing with a specific problem, please see ask an expert.
Truth About Deception – back to our home page.