There are many different types of dysfunctional relationships. In codependent types of relationships, a common pattern of behavior that can be found is the anxious-avoidant trap. I explain this pattern in full detail in my book, "The Marriage and Relationship Junkie,"and once you know the trap, it is easy to see. Let's take a look...
The dynamics of the anxious-avoidant trap are like a push and pull mechanism. These are both attachment styles, and they are on opposite ends of the spectrum from each other.
The anxious partner in the relationship moves into the other person. They are the partner that wants attention, needs intimacy and feels that it is only through emotional and physical closeness that this person feels satisfied and content in the relationship.
The avoidant, as the name implies, wants to move away when he or she is feeling threatened by being crowded or pushed in a relationship. This is threatening, and it often seems to these people they are being overwhelmed, overloaded and consumed by the anxious person. They feel they have lost their sense of self, their autonomy, and their own individual identity, as the anxious partner seeks to move ever closer.
The signs you can look for to see if you are in an anxious-avoidant trap include:
At some time, which may take hours or days or even much longer, there is a reconciliation. However, the avoidant is already a bit more distant, which quickly triggers the anxious partner to repeat the cycle, thus creating the anxious-avoidant trap.
Over time, the cycle becomes longer, and the reconciliation becomes shorter in total duration. Interestingly, in a 2009 publication in Psychological Science by JA Simpson and others, a study found that both of these attachment types have very different ways of remembering the conflict, with both types remembering their own behavior more favorably after conflict based on what they needed in the relationship.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a Certified Transformation and Recovery Coach and the leading Psychotherapist on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab and Sex Addiction. She helps people find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re a love addict or sign up for a 30-minute strategy session. She is also the author of “The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking your Obsession.” Sherry maintains a private practice and is a sought after online dating and relationship coach. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com.