5 Signs of an Anxious-Avoidant Relationship

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be taken as relationship advice. Please reach out to a relationship counselor or other professional for help. 

An attachment style is a way we build our perception of security in a relationship. While there are several different attachment styles, in this article, we’ll be focusing on the anxious-avoidant problem. This specific dilemma focuses on the combination of a person with an anxious attachment with an avoidant partner. Anxious attachment generally comes from a place within a person seeking closeness and intimacy. They try to avoid rejection and abandonment to the point where it interferes with their relationship. An avoidant person, on the other hand, seeks a level of emotional distance that conflicts with their anxiously attached partner. Relationships are hard to navigate if both partners have different and conflicting desires (Cotton 2020). However, people in such relationships often do not realize it, so in this article, we’ll be covering five signs of an anxious-avoidant relationship.

1. Feelings of suffocation

An anxiously attached person may feel an intense need to be close to their partner. They will seek out ways to get closer and will feel on top of the world when progress is made. However, the avoidant partner over time may start to feel overwhelmed by their partner’s intense desire. While the anxious partner wants closeness, the avoidant seeks distance. Too much closeness can cause the avoidant to feel suffocated (Benson 2019). 

2. Feelings of abandonment

While feeling suffocated is associated with the avoidant partner, abandonment is more of an issue for the anxious partner. The avoidant requires a level of independence and emotional distance from the other. This is problematic as it goes against what the anxious partner is working towards; to be closer. They may feel that their efforts aren’t paying off as well as it had before and that their partner is slowly drifting away (Benson 2019).

3. Feelings of a one-sided relationship

The anxious partner may feel that their relationship is one-sided and that the other partner isn’t putting as much effort into the relationship as they are. This issue can be especially prevalent during a conflict; one partner wants to get closer and work through the problems whereas the other wants to keep their distance. This may lead to an issue where one partner antagonizes the other (Benson 2019). 


4. Feelings of Instability

Either partner may feel that their relationship is unstable. For the anxious, they feel that their partner is becoming distant and uninterested. On the other side, the avoidant may feel that their partner is too clingy and high maintenance. Neither side can get what they want out of each other causing a mutual feeling of dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, this can become increasingly toxic and cause the couple to lash out at each other for being who they are. This feeling of instability is persistent whether it be during a rough patch or a highlight (Benson 2019).

5. Emotional Toxicity 

An anxious-avoidant relationship is considered toxic. The couple wants something different out of one another and may find themselves fighting over meaningless topics. They may antagonize each other and place the relationship problems on one another. These problems never get better over time and seem to only get more and more severe. The couple’s needs are incompatible with one another making it extremely difficult to solve their problems (Benson 2019), (Buffalmo 2020).

Toxic relationships are difficult to navigate and may be hard to identify once you’re in one. It is important to know that there are many types of toxic relationships and anxious-avoidant is only one of them. It is important to reach out to someone you trust if you suspect you’re in one of these relationships.

Like this article? We have it available as a video as well.


  • Benson, K. (2019, May 8). 6 Signs of a Toxic Relationship. Retrieved from https://www.kylebenson.net/toxic-relationship-2/
  • Buffalmano, L. (2020, June 3). Anxious Avoidant Attachment: What Is It, How to Fix It (W/ Examples). Retrieved from https://thepowermoves.com/anxious-avoidant-attachment/
  • Cotton, J. (2019, February 27). The Challenges of Anxious-Avoidant Relationships -. Retrieved from https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/the-challenges-of-anxious-avoidant-relationships/

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