Why Are Different Attachment Styles Attracted To Each Other (Even When It Causes Stress In The Relationship)

Did you ever wonder why opposites attract or why you are attracted to certain people in general? You may find that you can’t stop being attracted to one type of person, and sometimes it even causes stress in relationships. You may even wonder, “Why can’t I just stop?” Where do attachment styles figure into attraction?, or Are different attachment styles attracted to each other?

What Are The 3 Attachment Styles?

The pattern in which you connect, or don’t connect, with your partner developed in childhood based on how your primary caregiver bonded with you. The most common attachment styles are secure, insecure-anxious and insecure-avoidant.  

People with secure attachment styles are able to connect with another person and not feel threatened by closeness.  Securely attached people usually had primary caregivers who were reliable and competent. These individuals have foundations of trust and therefore will be able to be present and available for their partner.

Insecure anxious individuals are usually more moody, clingy and anxious in relationships because their caregivers were not reliable for them. People with this attachment style fear abandonment. If you feel a push-pull feeling in your relationship (“I want to be close to you, but I don’t want to be close to you”, you may be with a partner who tends to be an insecure anxious partner.

Insecure avoidant partners were usually raised in homes with less attention and interaction from the primary caregiver. Instead the focus in the home was on performance (such as doing well academically or in sports). They became independent at an early age. As a child, they were praised for playing quietly and taking care of themselves. As adults, they pride themselves for being independent  and like their alone time. This can be attributed to many factors, but very significantly, they have difficulty with transition and want and need space to allow change to settle. These individuals often exhibit certain consistent behaviors; for example, they tend to avoid conflict, which sometimes leads them to stretch the truth and leave out information when communicating with their partners. They also fear being trapped in a relationship.  

Which Attachment Styles Go Best Together?

Two securely attached partners will not create undue stress on their relationship, due to the similarity of their attachment styles, and they know how to care for each other. 

In fact, any attachment style will go well with a securely attached partner, because secures are good at connecting and caring for their partner. The insecurely anxious and avoidant will be attracted to the securely attached partner because the insecure partners really would like and instinctively seek a reliable, consistent, caring and dependable partner. Sometimes the insecure partners may adapt and become more securely attached as they learn in relationships like these. 

You can think about it this way: imagine insecure-anxious on one end of a line and insecure-avoidant on the opposite end of the line, with secure attachment in the middle.  Overall, you may have a tendency to drift toward the middle. 

Do Opposites Attract?

You may love watching movies where opposites attract and love wins out. In real life, opposites do often initially attract, but sometimes they can’t understand and work out their differences. 

Although, as previously stated, people tend to seek securely attached partners, I have found something interesting as a couples therapist.  In fact, I would estimate that 80% of my couples are made up of one partner who is insecure-avoidant and one who is insecure-anxious. 

You may wonder why such different attachment styles are attracted to each other. This attraction is based on partners being attracted to a partner that somehow triggers the memory of a wound from childhood. This attraction people experience years later, as adults, is rooted in  the hope that they will receive the love that they didn’t get when they were a child. 

Both insecure partners want love, but unfortunately, they may not know how to be there for their partners in a loving and caring way. This will lead each partner feeling unloved like they did when they were a child. Couples repeat this pattern over and over every day in their relationship without knowing it. They don’t know how to be there for each other like their partners need. 

For example, while the insecure-anxious partner may need their insecure-avoidant partner to talk things out when they are in a fight, the only thing the insecure-avoidant partner wants is to end the fight and get out of the room. The more needy the anxious partner becomes, the more they  want the avoidant partner to stay and provide love and assurances, the more the avoidant partner feels trapped and attacked. 

This situation is a LOSE-LOSE situation for both partners.

If the couple does not learn how to navigate conflict differently, it creates more stress, hurt and pain in the relationship.  

When partners with different insecure attachment styles are attracted to each other, they will need to learn how to take care of each other during fights and disagreements in order for their relationship to last.

Which Attachment Styles Are Not Compatible

After the honeymoon part of the relationship dies down, you will be able to more clearly observe whether or not your partner is emotionally available to connect and how they deal with conflict. As the relationship moves into the next stage of commitment, you will be able to determine if you are compatible. 

Those with insecure attachment styles will need to learn their partners’ fear, worries, insecurities and challenges. 

But remember – any attachment style can be compatible with the other attachment styles.  

Why are different attachment styles attracted to each other is a question that many people ask. Understanding attachment styles helps you understand how people with different attachment styles can bond and stay together, even when it causes stress in the relationship 

Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:

ADHD & Relationships

4 Ways ADHD Affects Marriage (Plus How To Insulate Your Relationship From The Stress)

Coping Skills You Need If Your ADHD Partner’s Inattentiveness, Distraction, Or Lack Of Focus Is Hurting Your Marriage

How To Discuss Relationship Problems Without Fighting

How Often Do Couples Fight And Should You Be Concerned?


Lisa Rabinowitz

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a certified Gottman therapist working with couples in the US and internationally. Lisa has worked for many years with couples who have both diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. Her certifications and experience uniquely qualify her to support couples with relationship challenges that often feel insurmountable. Please reach out for a free 20-minute consultation with Lisa today.

Related Posts

2631 Housley Road #1132
Annapolis, MD 21401

Still Have Questions?

Send a Message

By submitting this form, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via the internet. Please feel free to hold any confidential information you think I need to know until we connect.