February 6, 2024

Communication Between the Anxious and the Avoidant

By Josh Wei
Mental Health & Wellbeing

As a therapist, my journey in helping couples navigate difficulties of attachment styles has unveiled the significant impact these patterns have on relationships. Attachment styles, deeply rooted in our early experiences, often become the silent influence in relationships. In this blog post, we will delve into the significance of attachment styles in couples and explore practical strategies to foster understanding. Let’s focus on two key communication strategies.

Active Listening

Communication is crucial for all relationships, and for couples with differing attachment styles, active listening serves as the bridge for understanding and connection. Encouraging partners to engage in active listening involves not just hearing words but interpreting the underlying emotions and needs.

I believe in the importance of creating an environment where both partners feel heard and validated in my therapy sessions. For anxious attachment individuals, active listening reassures them of their partner’s commitment, while avoidant attachment partners benefit from the space to express themselves without feeling overwhelmed. By fostering this skill, couples lay the foundation for a deeper emotional connection that overcomes the obstacles set by differing attachment styles.

One concept that I often bring up is the idea of “mirroring” one another. I assign each partner the role of either the speaker and listener. While the speaker is expressing themselves, the listener’s objective is to repeat back what they heard to confirm that the speaker is understood. The listener essentially “mirrors” back to the speaker what was shared. After the speaker feels understood, the roles switch.

Expressing Needs and Boundaries

One of the most common challenges in relationships involving different attachment styles is the misinterpretation of needs and boundaries. I often work with couples to express their needs and establish healthy boundaries. This involves creating a safe space for open conversations about each partner’s emotional requirements.

Anxious attachment individuals often crave reassurance and closeness, while avoidant attachment partners may prioritize independence and autonomy. By facilitating these conversations, couples can identify common ground and develop strategies that honor both sets of needs. This process not only builds understanding but also promotes a sense of security within the relationship.

Boundaries can easily be misunderstood as a way to keep people apart. However, I believe that healthy boundaries keep people close. When communicating boundaries, it is helpful to address the need as well as how the boundary will be enforced. That way both people in the relationship are on the same page as to what they can expect. Boundaries help partners understand each other for the health of both the relationship and the individuals.

In romantic relationships, understanding and navigating attachment styles is a journey toward deeper connection and fulfillment. By focusing on communication strategies such as active listening and communicating boundaries, couples can overcome the challenges posed by differing attachment styles. My mission is to empower couples with the tools to build resilient, secure relationships that honor each partner’s unique emotional experiences.

Written By

Josh Wei

Ready to set up your first appointment?

If you haven’t been in touch with us yet, you can get started by filling out our intake form.