There are three primary attachment styles in dating – Secure, Avoidant, and Anxious. While people tend to display one predominant style, most people fall somewhere on a continuum from avoidant to secure to anxious, and it can look different when interacting with different people (e.g., dates, parents, or friends). We’ve written about this quite a bit and you can find out what kind of attachment style you have by reading this blog post. However, it’s not only important to identify your own default attachment style, but it’s equally important to understand the attachment style of the men or women you date so you can better decode the dynamics you experience as the relationship unfolds.
Here are some behaviors to look for to help you identify whether someone you’re dating might be anxious, avoidant or secure.
Daters With An Anxious Attachment Style
Anxious daters most likely want more frequent and consistent contact and communication to ease their anxiety about the evolving relationship. Both their frequency of contact is more regular and their length of contact more sustained than other attachment styles. They may also tend to prefer back-to-back dates or extended dates that might even last all weekend. They often ask “when can I see you again” while you are still enjoying time together to ease anxiety about the time apart between contact.
When anxious daters discuss your relationship, you might find them using words like “us” and talking about the future faster than those who are secure or avoidant. Because they are quicker to envision how a future with you might look like, they begin to merge worlds quickly, perhaps introducing you to family and friends very soon into dating. They tend to share very personal stories and challenges right up front, especially those related to past relationships.
If you notice these behaviors in yourself or the person you are dating, you/they most likely have an anxious attachment style. In this blog post, you can understand further how an anxiously attached person might impact your experiences of the relationship. Sometimes, these connections will burn out quickly as they start out hot and heavy but not not with enough of a foundation for the relationship to sustain long-term.
Daters with an Avoidant Attachment Style
In contrast, those with an avoidant attachment style typically take longer to open up, and may be perceived as mysterious or closed off. Instead of sharing personal stories right off the bat, they tend to open up more several months in – sometimes even years – when they have built more trust and confidence in the relationship. Sometimes it takes extra probing for them to share more about their past experiences or feelings.
They may be less committal to “next time” as they tend to be more skeptical and protective in relationships. They might hold off bringing you into their home or into gatherings with their friends. It generally takes longer for them to respond to messages or commit to plans. It might be more difficult to form a strong bond with an avoidant person. You might find yourself guessing about their feelings and intentions. You might not feel like a priority. Dynamics like emotional unavailability are most likely evident.
It’s important to note that avoidant daters can be a little more difficult to identify to the untrained eye. Whereas, some avoidantly attached daters appear as described above, for others, they might appear anxious or even secure at first. They might prefer closeness, plan frequent dates, and talk about the future quickly, but it is short lived and inconsistent. As the avoidant dater begins to feel vulnerable, conversations and commitment get more serious, and follow-through is expected (usually around the two to three month mark), avoidant daters might begin to look less secure and more avoidant, causing a great deal of confusion for the other person.
In this blog post, we dive into some of these avoidant relationship dynamics to help you better understand what you might experience in dating this type of person.
Daters with a Secure Attachment Style
As you can imagine, those who are securely attached fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. They more appropriately bring people into their lives and reach relationship milestones along a timeline that is unique to the relationship at hand. They desire connection and consistency, but also value individual time and interests. They allow a developing relationship to breathe as it unfolds.
Rewind to the beginning when we noted that attachment styles are on a continuum, and that some securely attached daters were formerly anxious or avoidant, but with the help of therapy (yes, therapy can help you become more securely attached!) or a secure attachment relationship, they have become more secure. However, it’s possible that as conflict arises, they might default to their former style momentarily – preferring closeness or distance to cope. Within a relationship that seeks to practice secure attachment behaviors, security can be restored through communicating and honoring each others’ attachment needs.
By attuning to these various approaches to connection, you’ll learn a tremendous amount of information about your potential partner’s default attachment system.The team at Center for Shared Insight is equipped with the expertise to support your relationship challenges. We help guide your understanding and support your decision-making as various relationships unfold in your life. Contact our team for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you deepen your understanding of yourself throughout the dating process and beyond.