The love avoidant + love addict relationship

How to make it work

Back in August, reader Hiba left a comment asking,

“I am currently in the depths of processing my current relationship. I would be identified as anxious attachment type and her as avoidant attachment type… 
The main question which plagues me at present is: why do i constantly feel hopeless about this?… Why is it that i feel that the insight has not so much offered a path to convergence but rather to divergence?… Can an avoidant/anxious couple have a truly emotionally safe, comfortable and satisfying relationship where they can each let their guard down? Or is such a pairing a lost cause?”

The short answer is: it’s not necessarily a lost cause. But there are certainly a lot of reasons that for it to feel that way — and a number of disclaimers to make it work.

First of all: the addict + avoidant pairing is incredibly common

Far more common than either like-kind combination — i.e., love addict + love addict (who would only suffocate each other) or love avoidant + love avoidant (because who would hold it together?)

People who are well into either of these groups are usually suffering with — and compensating for — some kind of emotional or mental pain, and they are attracted to their “opposite” type because it can feel as though it balances it out.

A pursuer’s superficial desire is to have someone to pursue. 
A distancer’s superficial desire is to have someone pursuing them.

For this reason, they often find each other.

But can the pairing work?

Short answer: “maybe.”

On the upside, “maybe” only really depends on two factors, and they’re both very simple. On the downside: that doesn’t mean they’re easy.

  1. Where you each fall on the addict/avoidant spectrum; specifically, how “far away” each of you are — not from each other, but from a healthy, secure center.
  2. How much honest work you are each willing (and able) to do on yourselves.

In some cases of extreme emotional or mental imbalance, if the person is lost to themselves, the relationship will be lost as well.

In other cases, they may be just lost enough not to make honest efforts, or — perhaps worse — think they are making honest efforts that are actually self-sabotaging or toxic.

Outside of these two hurdles, however, it can work…

It won’t work if: you only focus on “how different we are in terms of our needs,” “the baggage we carry,” what either of your parents are like or what issues they “caused,” or “accepting” that your partner either “rejects” or “pushes for” a level of intimacy or independence that conflicts with your own.

But it can work.

How to build a truly emotionally safe, comfortable and satisfying relationship

The number one thing to understand in making this relationship work is:

“The solution is not for the love addict and love avoidant to move towards each other. The solution is to both move towards being more secure.”

We typically only talk in terms of “love avoidant” and “love addict,” but there are actually four quadrants.

Addict: positive view of others, negative view of self (low self esteem.)

Avoidant: positive view of self, negative view of others.

The anxious avoidant: toxic and truly lost creature whom we won’t cover at this time.

The secure person: positive of view of both self and others.


The solution for the addict is not to become “more avoidant.” The solution is to develop a more positive view of self (self esteem.)

And the solution for the avoidant is not to become “more attached .” The solution is to develop a more positive view of others.

This is the solution to making it work — and both people have to make honest, healthy efforts at getting there, and be close enough to it that their efforts aren’t lost to the universe.

If all of those things happen, you can both find peace of mind together.

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