The two least compatible personality types are the anxious and avoidant, research finds.
A person who is avoidant wants to avoid getting too attached to the other person.
Around one in four people has an avoidant attachment style.
However, a person who is anxiously attached tends to have wildly varying feelings about the relationship from one day to the next.
Around one in five people has an anxious attachment style.
The researchers explain how this affects people’s behaviour:
“Anxious people react by clinging to their partner and caring for them compulsively, while avoidant types react by evading their relationship.
Their philosophy is that ‘it’s better not to have than to have and to lose’.
These people also have more problems in the area of intimacy.”
For the study, 211 people in Spain were surveyed as to their attachment style.
Attachment styles analyse how people respond to threats and problems in their personal relationships.
Dr Javier Gómez Zapiain, the study’s first author, said:
“It is very interesting, from the perspective of a couple, to see how styles of affection combine within the relationship.
The most explosive combination occurs when one of the partners in the couple is anxious and the other avoidant.
This combination has more likelihood of ending up with the couple seeking help, or even breaking up.”
The results showed that people who felt secure had the best relationships and found it easy to give and take affection.
The anxious and avoidant found it the most difficult.
Dr Gómez Zapiain said:
“Our results show that insecure people (anxious-ambivalent) tend to be compulsive in their care for their partners, while people prone to avoidance tend to be controlling and to exhibit greater conflict in their sexual desire.”
Being flexible is the key to supporting your partner, said Dr Gómez Zapiain:
“Each partner must have the ability to support the other when they are feeling down and need emotional support.
Similarly, they must be able to place themselves in what we call a ‘position of dependency’, in other words they must be able to recognise their own need for support and to express this in times of anxiety.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Anales de Psicología (Gómez Zapiain et al., 2011).