Can A Relationship Between Partners With Secure And Anxious Attachment Styles Work Out?

When looking for insights into your relationship habits, attachment theory can be one of the most useful tools. According to the theory, people form attachments to those closest to them that typically fall into one of four different patterns: secure, anxious, avoidant, or disorganized (per Psychology Today). These patterns, called attachment styles, are often influenced by past relationship experiences.


Secure attachment is the most common, with an estimated 50% of people falling into this category. That still leaves around half of the population, which is why it's not surprising for a secure partner to find themselves dating someone with a different style, like the anxious attachment style, for example.

However, secure and anxious types tend to look at relationships differently, almost like having two separate maps. This can lead to conflict, misunderstandings, and even breakups. The good news is, there's still hope for these pairs. Here's what each type brings to the table and how they can make their relationship work.

Characteristics of secure and anxious attachment styles

People with a secure attachment style bring stability to their relationships, according to HelpGuide. They view intimacy as a fulfilling part of life, though they don't rely on it to get all their needs met. Secure types tend to communicate clearly, offer emotional support, and try to work through issues with their significant other.


People with an anxious attachment style, on the other hand, experience more insecurity in close relationships. Psychiatrist Dr. Yalda Safai explained to Verywell Mind, "When it comes to romantic relationships, people with anxious attachment desire connection and love. However, at the same time, they find it difficult to trust people creating overwhelming insecurity about their relationships. As a result, behaviors such as jealousy, possessiveness, and constant need for reassurance become common in these individuals."

Anxiously attached types may become preoccupied with the relationship, prioritizing it over other responsibilities and friendships. This can sometimes feel overwhelming to the securely attached partner, who likely balances their relationship with other outside interests and goals.


Anxious partners can learn secure attachment

Secure and anxious people may view relationships differently from one another, but that doesn't always have to be a bad thing. Anxiously attached individuals can learn a lot from their secure counterparts — they may even become more secure themselves. Attachment style can change based on current circumstances and that being in a relationship (particularly a healthy, secure relationship) can lower anxiety levels.


This is likely because secure partners can offer anxious partners the constant reassurance they need. Over time, the anxiously attached person can learn to offer trust, speak up about their needs, and regulate emotional reactions on their own (via Medical News Today).

However, there is a limit to how much support secure people can offer. "The secure attached partner will be able to provide the security and assurance the anxious attached partner needs, but they might struggle to do this on a long-term basis, and their energy may run out," couples counselor Holly Roberts told Cosmopolitan.

Secure-anxious relationships can have high levels of commitment

Securely attached people can bring a lot of balance and stability to relationships, but anxious partners have a few hidden strengths of their own. One of them is their tendency to be deeply committed to long-term love. The Attachment Project calls this devotion a "relationship superpower," adding that people with an anxious attachment are the least likely to give up when facing relationship issues.


This loyalty can be a plus for a secure person looking for a serious, deep connection. It's worth noting, though, that anxiously attached people's commitment can sometimes be to a fault. "There is a speed in the anxiety that can drive the need for things to happen and for a relationship to be established quickly," trauma-informed and humanistic therapist Rachel Nguyen shared with HelloGiggles. This approach can start to look a lot like love bombing and won't work for secure partners who prefer to take things slow.

How secure and anxious partners can make it work

A relationship between people with secure and anxious attachments can work out, though self-awareness is key, says Saba Lurie, a licensed marriage and family therapist. "What's most valuable about attachment styles is being able to recognize them in ourselves, not necessarily in our partners, and to be conscious of when our attachment style is being activated so that we may be thoughtful and intentional about the choices we make," Lurie explained to Salon. Learning to make better choices can take time and deep inner work, particularly for the insecurely attached partner. Medical News Today notes that therapy may be necessary to fix an anxious attachment style, especially if it's negatively impacting the relationship.


There are steps the secure partner can take to improve the relationship too. The Attachment Project suggests discussing each person's needs and then establishing boundaries that protect these needs. They also urge securely attached people to be consistent in the relationship, offering regular support and keeping their word when making a promise.

Finally, remember that attachment styles can evolve, and even an anxious partner can become secure over time. With effort, old habits can be replaced with healthier coping strategies. However, if one or both partners refuse to work on themselves and the relationship is causing distress, it might be time to break things off.