Avoidant dismissive attachment style
How Attachment Styles Affect Adult Relationships
love & friendship
Struggling with relationship problems? The cause may be the attachment style you developed with your primary caregiver as an infant. Here’s how to recognize insecure attachment and build stronger, healthier connections.
What is attachment?
Attachment, or the attachment bond, is the emotional connection you formed as an infant with your primary caregiver—probably your mother. According to attachment theory, pioneered by British psychiatrist John Bowlby and American psychologist Mary Ainsworth, the quality of the bonding you experienced during this first relationship often determines how well you relate to other people and respond to intimacy throughout life.
If your primary caretaker made you feel safe and understood as an infant, if they were able to respond to your cries and accurately interpret your changing physical and emotional needs, then you likely developed a successful, secure attachment. As an adult, that usually translates to being self-confident, trusting, and hopeful, with an ability to healthily manage conflict, respond to intimacy, and navigate the ups and downs of romantic relationships.
If you experienced confusing, frightening, or inconsistent emotional communication during infancy, though, if your caregiver was unable to consistently comfort you or respond to your needs, you’re more likely to have experienced an unsuccessful or insecure attachment. Infants with insecure attachment often grow into adults who have difficulty understanding their own emotions and the feelings of others, limiting their ability to build or maintain stable relationships. They may find it difficult to connect to others, shy away from intimacy, or be too clingy, fearful, or anxious in a relationship.
Of course, experiences that occur between infancy and adulthood can also impact and shape our relationships. However, the infant brain is so profoundly influenced by the attachment bond, understanding your attachment style can offer vital clues as to why you may be having problems in your adult relationships. Perhaps you behave in puzzling or self-destructive ways when you’re in a close relationship? Maybe you repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over? Or maybe you struggle to form meaningful connections in the first place?
[Read: What is Secure Attachment and Bonding?]
Whatever your specific relationship problems, it’s important to know that your brain remains capable of change throughout life. By identifying your attachment style, you can learn to challenge your insecurities, develop a more securely attached way of relating to others, and build stronger, healthier, and more fulfilling relationships.
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Attachment styles and how they shape adult relationships
Attachment styles or types are characterized by the behavior exhibited within a relationship, especially when that relationship is threatened. For example, someone with a secure attachment style may be able to share their feelings openly and seek support when faced with relationship problems. Those with insecure attachment styles, on the other hand, may tend to become needy or clingy in their closest relationships, behave in selfish or manipulative ways when feeling vulnerable, or simply shy away from intimacy altogether.
Understanding how your attachment style shapes and influences your intimate relationships can help you make sense of your own behavior, how you perceive your partner, and how you respond to intimacy. Identifying these patterns can then help you clarify what you need in a relationship and the best way to overcome problems.
While attachment styles are largely shaped by the infant-primary caregiver connection, especially during the first year, it’s important to note that the strength of attachment is not based solely on the level of parental love or the quality of care an infant receives. Rather, attachment is founded on the nonverbal emotional communication developed between caregiver and infant.
[Read: Nonverbal Communication and Body Language]
An infant communicates their feelings by sending nonverbal signals such as crying, cooing, or later pointing and smiling. In return, the caregiver reads and interprets these cues, responding to satisfy the child’s need for food, comfort, or affection. When this nonverbal communication is successful, a secure attachment develops.
The success of attachment isn’t impacted by socio-economic factors such as wealth, education, ethnicity, or culture. Neither is having an insecure attachment style as an adult reason to blame all your relationship problems onto your parent. Your personality and intervening experiences during childhood, adolescence, and adult life can also play a role in shaping your attachment style.
Types of attachment
Beyond categorizing attachment as secure or insecure, there are subsets of insecure attachment which give us four main attachment styles:
- Secure attachment
- Ambivalent (or anxious-preoccupied) attachment
- Avoidant-dismissive attachment
- Disorganized attachment
Secure attachment style: what it looks like
Empathetic and able to set appropriate boundaries, people with secure attachment tend to feel safe, stable, and more satisfied in their close relationships. While they don’t fear being on their own, they usually thrive in close, meaningful relationships.
How secure attachment style affects adult relationships
Having a secure attachment style doesn’t mean you’re perfect or you don’t experience relationship problems. But you likely feel secure enough to take responsibility for your own mistakes and failings, and are willing to seek help and support when you need it.
- You appreciate your own self-worth and you’re able to be yourself in an intimate relationship. You’re comfortable expressing your feelings, hopes, and needs.
- You find satisfaction in being with others, openly seek support and comfort from your partner, but don’t get overly anxious when the two of you are apart.
- You’re similarly happy for your partner to rely on you for support.
- You’re able to maintain your emotional balance and seek healthy ways to manage conflict in a close relationship.
- When faced with disappointment, setbacks, and misfortune in your relationships as well as other parts of your life, you’re resilient enough to bounce back.
Primary caregiver relationship
As someone with a secure attachment style, it’s likely your primary caretaker was able to stay engaged with you as an infant and effectively manage their own stress as well as calm and soothe you when you were distressed. They made you feel safe and secure, communicated through emotion, and responded to your changing needs on a regular basis, enabling your nervous system to become “securely attached.”
Of course, no parent or caregiver is perfect and no one can be fully present and attentive to an infant 24 hours a day. In fact, that’s not necessary to establish secure attachment in a child. But when your caregiver missed your nonverbal cues, it’s likely they continued trying to figure out what you needed, keeping the secure attachment process on track.
The strong foundation of a secure attachment bond enabled you as a child to be self-confident, trusting, hopeful, and comfortable in the face of conflict.
Secure or insecure?
Some people may identify with some but not all of the characteristics of secure attachment. Even if your relationships tend to be stable, it’s possible that you have specific patterns of behavior or thinking that cause conflict with your partner and need to be actively addressed. Start by seeing if you relate to any aspects of the following three insecure attachment styles.
Ambivalent or anxious-preoccupied attachment style
People with an ambivalent attachment style (also referred to as “anxious-preoccupied,” “ambivalent-anxious,” or simply “anxious attachment”) tend to be overly needy. As the labels suggest, people with this attachment style are often anxious and uncertain, lacking in self-esteem. They crave emotional intimacy but worry that others don’t want to be with them.
How ambivalent attachment style affects adult relationships
If you have an ambivalent or anxious-preoccupied attachment style, you may be embarrassed about being too clingy or your constant need for love and attention. Or you may feel worn down by fear and anxiety about whether your partner really loves you.
- You want to be in a relationship and crave feelings of closeness and intimacy with a significant other, but you struggle to feel that you can trust or fully rely on your partner.
- Being in an intimate relationship tends to take over your life and you become overly fixated on the other person.
- You may find it difficult to observe boundaries, viewing space between you as a threat, something that can provoke panic, anger, or fear that your partner no longer wants you.
- A lot of your sense of self-worth rests on how you feel you’re being treated in the relationship and you tend to overreact to any perceived threats to the relationship.
- You feel anxious or jealous when away from your partner and may use guilt, controlling behavior, or other manipulative tactics to keep them close.
- You need constant reassurance and lots of attention from your partner.
- Others may criticize you for being too needy or clingy and you may struggle to maintain close relationships.
Primary caregiver relationship
It’s likely your parent or primary caregiver was inconsistent in their parenting style, sometimes engaged and responsive to your needs as an infant, other times unavailable or distracted. This inconsistency may have left you feeling anxious and uncertain about whether your needs in this “first” relationship would be met, and thus provide a model for your behavior in later relationships.
Avoidant-dismissive attachment style
Adults with an avoidant-dismissive insecure attachment style are the opposite of those who are ambivalent or anxious-preoccupied. Instead of craving intimacy, they’re so wary of closeness they try to avoid emotional connection with others. They’d rather not rely on others, or have others rely on them.
How avoidant attachment style affects adult relationships
As someone with an avoidant-dismissive attachment style, you tend to find it difficult to tolerate emotional intimacy. You value your independence and freedom to the point where you can feel uncomfortable with, even stifled by, intimacy and closeness in a romantic relationship.
- You’re an independent person, content to care for yourself and don’t feel you need others.
- The more someone tries to get close to you or the needier a partner becomes, the more you tend to withdraw.
- You’re uncomfortable with your emotions and partners often accuse you of being distant and closed off, rigid and intolerant. In return, you accuse them of being too needy.
- You’re prone to minimize or disregard your partner’s feelings, keep secrets from them, engage in affairs, and even end relationships in order to regain your sense of freedom.
- You may prefer fleeting, casual relationships to long-term intimate ones, or you seek out partners who are equally independent, ones who’ll keep their distance emotionally.
- While you may think you don’t need close relationships or intimacy, the truth is we all do. Humans are hardwired for connection and deep down, even someone with an avoidant-dismissive attachment style wants a close meaningful relationship—if only they could overcome their deep-seated fears of intimacy.
Primary caregiver relationship
An avoidant-dismissive attachment style often stems from a parent who was unavailable or rejecting during your infancy. Since your needs were never regularly or predictably met by your caregiver, you were forced to distance yourself emotionally and try to self-soothe. This built a foundation of avoiding intimacy and craving independence in later life—even when that independence and lack of intimacy causes its own distress.
Disorganized/disoriented attachment style
Disorganized/disoriented attachment, also referred to as fearful-avoidant attachment, stems from intense fear, often as a result of childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse. Adults with this style of insecure attachment tend to feel they don’t deserve love or closeness in a relationship.
How disorganized attachment style affects adult relationships
If you have a disorganized attachment style, you’ve likely never learned to self-soothe your emotions, so both relationships and the world around you can feel frightening and unsafe. If you experienced abuse as a child, you may try to replicate the same abusive patterns of behavior as an adult.
- You probably find intimate relationships confusing and unsettling, often swinging between emotional extremes of love and hate for a partner.
- You may be insensitive towards your partner, selfish, controlling, and untrusting, which can lead to explosive or even abusive behavior. And you can be just as hard on yourself as you are on others.
- You may exhibit antisocial or negative behavior patterns, abuse alcohol or drugs, or prone to aggression or violence.
- Others may despair at your refusal to take responsibility for your actions.
- While you crave the security and safety of a meaningful, intimate relationship, you also feel unworthy of love and terrified of getting hurt again.
- Your childhood may have been shaped by abuse, neglect, or trauma.
Primary caregiver relationship
If your primary caregiver was dealing with unresolved trauma themselves, it can lead to the intense fear associated with a disorganized/disoriented attachment style. Often the parent acted as both a source of fear and comfort for you as an infant, triggering the confusion and disorientation you feel about relationships now. In other cases, your parental figure may have ignored or overlooked your needs as an infant, or their erratic, chaotic behavior could have been frightening or traumatizing to you.
Causes of insecure attachment
There are many reasons why even a loving, conscientious parent may not be successful at creating a secure attachment bond with an infant. The causes of your insecure attachment could include:
Having a young or inexperienced mother, lacking in the necessary parenting skills.
Your caregiver experienced depression caused by isolation, lack of social support, or hormonal problems, for example, forcing them to withdraw from the caregiving role.
Your primary caregiver’s addiction to alcohol or other drugs reduced their ability to accurately interpret or respond to your physical or emotional needs.
Traumatic experiences, such as a serious illness or accident which interrupted the attachment process.
Physical neglect, such as poor nutrition, insufficient exercise, or neglect of medical issues.
Emotional neglect or abuse. For example, your caregiver paid little attention to you as a child, made scant effort to understand your feelings, or engaged in verbal abuse.
Physical or sexual abuse, whether physical injury or violation.
Separation from your primary caregiver due to illness, death, divorce, or adoption.
Inconsistency in the primary caregiver. You experienced a succession of nannies or staff at daycare centers, for example.
Frequent moves or placements. For example, you constantly changed environment due to spending your early years in orphanages or moving between foster homes.
Getting help for insecure attachment
If you recognize an insecure attachment style in either yourself or your romantic partner, it’s important to know that you don’t have to resign yourselves to enduring the same attitudes, expectations, or patterns of behavior throughout life. It is possible to change and you can develop a more secure attachment style as an adult.
Therapy can be invaluable, whether it’s working one-on-one with a therapist or with your current partner in couples counselling. A therapist experienced in attachment theory can help you make sense of your past emotional experience and become more secure, either on your own or as a couple.
[Read: Finding a Therapist to Help You Heal]
If you don’t have access to appropriate therapy, there are still plenty of things you can do on your own to build a more secure attachment style. To start, learn all you can about your insecure attachment style. The more you understand, the better you’ll be able to recognize—and correct—the reflexive attitudes and behaviors of insecure attachment that may be contributing to your relationship problems.
The following tips can also help you transition to a more secure attachment style:
1. Improve your nonverbal communication skills
One of the most important lessons gleaned from attachment theory is that adult relationships, just like the first relationship you have with your primary caregiver, depend for their success on nonverbal forms of communication.
Even though you may not be aware of it, when you interact with others, you continuously give and receive wordless signals via the gestures you make, your posture, how much eye contact you make and the like. These nonverbal cues send strong messages about what you really feel.
At any age, developing how well you read, interpret, and communicate nonverbally can help improve and deepen your relationships with other people. You can learn to improve these skills by being present in the moment, learning to manage stress, and developing your emotional awareness.
[Read: Nonverbal Communication and Body Language]
2. Boost your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to empathize with your partner, communicate more effectively, and deal with conflict in a healthier way.
As well as helping to improve how well you read and use nonverbal communication, building emotional intelligence can help strengthen a romantic relationship. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’ll be better able to express your needs and feelings to your partner, as well as understand how your partner is really feeling, too.
[Read: Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ)]
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3. Develop relationships with people who are securely attached
Being in a relationship with another person who also has an insecure attachment style can make for a union that’s out of sync at best, rocky, confusing, or even painful at worst. While you can work through your insecurities together as a couple, if you’re single it can help to look for a partner with a secure attachment style to help shift you away from the negative patterns of thinking and behaving.
A strong, supportive relationship with someone who makes you feel loved can play an important part in building your sense of security. Estimates vary, but research suggests that 50 to 60 percent of people have a secure attachment style, so there’s a good chance of finding a romantic partner who can help you overcome your insecurities. Similarly, developing strong friendships with these individuals can also help you recognize and adopt new patterns of behavior.
[Read: Dating Tips for Finding the Right Person]
4. Resolve any childhood trauma
As discussed above, experiencing trauma as an infant or young child can interrupt the attachment and bonding process. Childhood trauma can result from anything that impacts your sense of safety, such as an unsafe or unstable home environment, separation from your primary caregiver, serious illness, neglect, or abuse. When childhood trauma is not resolved, feelings of insecurity, fear, and helplessness can continue into adulthood.
Even if your trauma happened many years ago, there are steps you can take to overcome the pain, regain your emotional balance, and learn to trust and connect in relationships again.
[Read: Emotional and Psychological Trauma]
Authors: Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Jaelline Jaffe, Ph.D.
Last updated: November 15, 2022
Avoidant Attachment Style: Causes and Adult Symptoms
Referred to as anxious-avoidant in childhood, the avoidant-dismissive attachment style is one of the three insecure adult attachment styles identified in psychological literature.
Parents who are strict and emotionally distant, do not tolerate the expression of feelings, and expect their child to be independent and tough might raise children with an avoidant attachment style.
As adults, these children appear confident and self-sufficient. They do not tolerate emotional or physical intimacy and might not be able to build healthy relationships. What’s more, in the workplace, they are often seen as the independent, ‘lone wolf’. It is, however, possible for these individuals to change and develop a secure attachment style.
We will cover the most common questions around avoidant attachment:
- How does attachment form in early childhood?
- How do children develop insecure attachment styles?
- What specifically causes avoidant attachment in children?
- What are symptoms of avoidant attachment in adults?
- What are relationships with avoidant adults like?
- Can you change an avoidant attachment style?
- How to heal from avoidant attachment?
How you form relationships as an adult depends on your childhood
Have you ever wondered why some people do not want to depend on or truly connect with anyone, even when in a relationship? Most of us aim to build strong relationships throughout our lives.
We are ‘hungry’ for love and affection. Why? Because emotional intimacy has many advantages. Namely, we are able to share our thoughts and feelings openly, we receive support and reassurance, we feel heard, appreciated, valued, and consequently, we feel calm and safe.
Emotional closeness can provide us with a feeling of stability – we are not going through life alone; we have someone to rely on. If we feel safe and valued by others, we are also able to maintain a higher self-esteem and a positive outlook on life.
If you are someone that needs to have close relationships and wants to rely on others (and have others rely on you), you have probably wondered why some people lack these basic human desires. How do they even make it work?
The truth is, this is most often not a conscious choice. The way we form relationships as adults has a lot to do with the way we formed our first social bonds as children with our caregivers.
Attachment theory is well-known and researched in the field of Psychology. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby and his attachment theory shed light on and explain this phenomenon.Four adult attachment styles were categorized based on his theory:
- Anxious (also known as preoccupied)
- Avoidant (also known as dismissive)
- Disorganized (also known as fearful-avoidant)
How do children form secure attachment in early childhood?
Attachment theory suggests that our early relationships with our caregivers (in childhood) set the stage for how we build relationships in the future (in adulthood).
The behavior of our caregivers is the first example of social interactions that we are presented with. It thus becomes informative of how relationships work.
Are other people going to take care of me? Can I trust them? Can I rely on them?
When raising a baby in a secure environment, where the caregivers are emotionally available and responsive to the baby’s needs, the answers to these (subconscious) questions will probably be yes. This is what we call a secure attachment.
How insecure attachment develops in childhood
However, when the child perceives that their basic and emotional needs are not met, they will have a hard time trusting people. Social bonds might be perceived by such children as not safe or stable. This is how a child forms an insecure attachment.
Let’s get back to that person you know, who is self-sufficient and does not (want to) rely on others. Based on attachment theory, we would categorize his or her attachment style as an insecure attachment style. It is known, more specifically, as avoidant/dismissive.
How do children develop an anxious-avoidant attachment style?
The development of an anxious-avoidant attachment style in a child has much to do with the emotional availability of their caregivers. The caregivers do not necessarily neglect the child in general; they are present.
Nevertheless, they tend to avoid the display of emotion and intimacy and are often misattuned to the child’s emotional needs. Such caregivers are reserved and seem to back off when the child reaches out for support, reassurance and affection.
The caregivers are likely to become more distant as the situation gets more emotionally dense. They might become overwhelmed and want to get out. This is when their unavailability would be most evident.
The child expresses a need for closeness, but instead of receiving it, they perceive that the door is shut in their face. Parents whose children become avoidant might not only avoid expressing their own feelings.
They might also disapprove of and not tolerate any notable display of emotions from their children, regardless of whether it is negative (sadness / fear) or positive (excitement / joy).
When such display of emotions occurs, caregivers can become angry and try to disrupt the child’s behavior by telling the child to toughen up. The parent expects the young child to behave independent, serious, and reserved.
Being raised in such an environment is likely to cause an avoidant attachment style. Most often, the caregivers have this attachment style themselves. Since the parent was raised that way, they pass it on, unintentionally, to the next generation.
Symptoms of avoidant attachment style in adults
Adults with the dismissive / avoidant attachment style seem to be pretty happy about who they are and where they are.
They might be very social, easy-going, and fun to be around. In addition, these individuals might have a lot of friends and/or sexual partners. Generally speaking, they are not alone or lonely.
Avoidant adults tend to be independent. Their self-esteem is high and they do not rely on others for reassurance or emotional support.
Such individuals might invest in their professional development and are likely to build up their confidence on each personal success. They seem to be in control.
How does an avoidant adult behave in relationships?
For avoidant adults, social interactions and bonds remain on the surface. In order for a relationship to be meaningful and fulfilling, it has to become deep. That’s when you would ‘hit a wall’ when dealing with avoidant attachment style and relationships.
These individuals will let you be around them, but will not let you in. They tend to avoid strong displays of closeness and intimacy. As soon as things get serious, dismissive/avoidant individuals are likely to close themselves off.
At this point, such people might try to find a reason to end a relationship. They might be highly annoyed by their partner’s behavior, habit, or even physical appearance. Consequently, they start drifting off and distancing themselves from the partner. Adults with this attachment style believe that they do not need emotional intimacy in their lives.
This is a direct result of their upbringing. Their caregivers showed them that people cannot be relied on. Whenever they sought emotional support in the past, it was not provided. They simply stop seeking or expecting it from others. It’s as if they have ‘turned off the switch’.
To the avoidant adult, emotional closeness and intimacy are often off the table
From the outside, an adult with an avoidant attachment style might look confident, strong, and together. This does not mean, however, that this person is not suffering or making those around him/her suffer.
To the avoidant adult, emotional closeness and intimacy are often off the table. Not because they will not reap benefits, but because they do not know how.
Either way, not being able to build a deep, meaningful, and long-lasting relationship can be painful for people with this attachment style. It can also be heart-breaking for the ones who love them.
Furthermore, having an avoidant attachment style as a parent is likely to affect your child’s attachment style. If you have it, you will probably pass it on.I may have avoidant attachment… now what?
If you recognize the dismissive/avoidant attachment style in yourself or you realize you are dating someone with avoidant attachment style, what can you do?
The key is to admit and realize that the ‘switch’ on emotional intimacy has to be turned on. This might be challenging and require a lot of effort.
What do I feel? The avoidant adult needs to start paying attention to the emotional and physical sensations that come up around (emotional) intimacy. Self-reflection might help one make sense of and analyze existing patterns.
What do I need? Another essential step is exploring, understanding, and eventually expressing emotional needs.
What should I do? At some point, the avoidant adult might be able to start working on building closer relationships with people. They could follow a step-by-step approach to letting others in and responding to the emotional needs of close ones.Can avoidant adults change their attachment style?
Obviously, working with a therapist on this pattern would potentially be the most beneficial way to move forward with earning secure attachment. If that’s not an option for you, we have online courses for you to move forward.
Either way, if you want to change your attachment style, you need to put effort in it. Whether you are working through it with a close friend, a therapist, or a book, consistency and effort are fundamental.
If you prefer to go the route of a workbook, we recently released our first series of attachment style digital workbooks.Avoidant Attachment Workbook
If you feel distant and disconnected in your relationships and often withdraw from contact, this workbook might just be the step you need to take to begin your journey to positive change.
Our avoidant attachment style digital workbook includes:
- 199 pages & 32 practical exercises
- How avoidant attachment affects you in over 10 different areas of life
- 8 case studies on avoidant attachment
- Groundbreaking and up-to-date research on avoidant attachment
- Section recaps and areas for reflection
Empower your Instagram newsfeed
If you liked this post and want to learn more about attachment theory, then we recommend following The Attachment Project on Instagram. We regularly post content to help you make sense of attachment theory in various contexts.
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Ainsworth, MD, Bell, SM.(1970). Attachment, exploration, and separation: Illustrated by the behavior of one-year-olds in a strange situation. Child Development, 41(1), 49-67.
Bowlby, J.(1982). Attachment and Loss: Volume 1 Attachment. 2nd ed. New York: Basic Books.
Mikulincer, M., Shaver, P.R. (2007). Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change. Guilford Press.
How different types of affection affect our relationships and what to do about it
If you choose a partner from the wrong category, the union is unlikely to be strong.
We are all programmed to be attached to other people. That is why the child cries when he is separated from his mother for some time. But depending on the behavior of loved ones in our childhood, personal experience and other factors, each of us forms our own type of attachment. It affects not only our relationships, but also ourselves.
What are the types of attachments
For people of this category, it is absolutely natural to love and care for someone. They are able to form a close bond with another person without worrying about petty misunderstandings.
"Reliable" accept partners as they are and treat them with respect. They do not play games or use manipulation, but openly talk about their successes and failures, needs and feelings. In addition, such people are attentive to the desires of a loved one and try to fulfill them.
“Reliable” people also have stable self-esteem, so they calmly perceive criticism and competently cope with conflicts. Instead of heating up the situation, they try to solve the problem, forgive a loved one or apologize.
People with this type of attachment desire closeness and are able to maintain close contact. Their main problem is elsewhere. They are afraid of being abandoned, and for the sake of maintaining relationships, they forget about their own desires and needs in order to please their partner. But as a result, they feel unhappy.
Anxious are fully occupied with relationships and are always "connected" to a partner. At the same time, they may worry that he wants intimacy to a lesser extent. This type takes everything to heart and gives a negative connotation to any comment of others in his address, expecting the worst.
To get rid of anxiety, such people begin to manipulate their partner. They deliberately move away to get attention and hear that they are needed. "Anxious" can react emotionally, do not answer calls, provoke a loved one to jealousy and threaten to break up. In addition, this type is quite jealous and tends to often call or write to a partner, even when he asks not to do so.
It includes two subtypes. The first - "disparaging" - is able to easily "cut off" difficult emotions. Narcissists and those who are used to suppressing their feelings fall into this category. The second - "scared" - wants close relationships, but is afraid of them and does not know how to trust.
In general, avoidant people avoid intimacy because independence is more important to them. Of course, this does not mean that they do not like close communication at all. It's just that for them there is a certain line that should not be crossed.
In relationships they are independent, rely only on themselves and do not like to talk about their feelings. Avoiders defend their freedom and try their best to delay the moment when they have to make any commitments. And when people with this type of attachment still start a relationship, they keep their distance, notice even the smallest flaws in a partner, nostalgic for a free life or dream of an ideal union.
"Avoiders" react sharply to any attempts to control them or restrict their freedom. In such situations, they begin to distance themselves again: flirt with others, make rash decisions, and also ignore a loved one, his emotions and needs. The partner may complain that they feel unwanted, and also that the "avoidant" is not open enough and does not share his secrets and experiences.
Often a person with an avoidant type of attachment considers his partner to be clingy, and against this background, he is even stronger and more independent. He doesn't worry about the end of the relationship. However, when a crack appears in a couple, the “avoiders” pretend that they do not need any connections at all and “bury” their feelings even deeper. At the same time, people with this type of attachment have the same need for intimacy as others - it is simply suppressed.
It is also called ambivalent or disorganized. This attachment variant combines the anxious and avoidant types, respectively, and is commonly found in survivors of abuse. Such people crave love, intimacy and care, but are afraid to enter into a relationship. They are afraid of the prospect of rejection. At the same time, they believe that they are unworthy of good things.
How Type of Attachment Affects Relationships
Even the most independent of us are surprised when we notice how dependent we become when we enter into a romantic relationship. This happens because an intimate relationship subconsciously stimulates our type of attachment and we begin to either trust a person or be wary of everything that happens.
To better understand how everything works in a couple, you can analyze the type of partner's attachment and start with his relationship to intimacy. Does he try to meet your needs or aggressively respond to your requests? Does he say that he is uncomfortable, or does he take a step forward and then distance himself? Self-confident people will not play games, show intractability, refuse to compromise.
Anxious and avoidant often form codependent relationships. Each of them does not understand their needs and the needs of the partner. That is why they are drawn to each other. Both types are rarely interested in "reliable" people, simply because healthy relationships are unfamiliar territory for them. And an alliance with someone who has similar problems confirms their fears and feeds the belief that they are not good enough for love.
Another feature of the “anxious” is that they quickly enter into a relationship, instead of pausing and analyzing how a potential partner meets their requirements. They focus on similarities with another person, idealize the chosen one and ignore possible problems. At the same time, the “anxious” forget about their needs and do not know how to properly build communication with a partner.
This is precisely the reason why the anxious type converges with the avoidant one. When the "avoiders" begin to move away, the experiences of the "anxious" intensify. They confuse their longing and anxiety with love, not realizing that in fact the problem is not in them, but in the inaccessibility of a partner. And unfortunately, whatever they do, they can't change it. "Anxious" spend more and more energy on maintaining relationships, afraid to face the truth. And the “avoiders” need someone who will look for meetings with them. It helps them meet their emotional needs.
In addition, in contrast to the reliable type, "anxious" and "avoidant" do not know how to resolve conflicts, but instead begin to defend themselves and attack the enemy. Without conflict, impulsive behavior, and "chasing" an unavailable partner, unreliable types sink into depression associated with past relationships.
How to Change Your Attachment Type
Although most of us don't change our attachment type, it can be adjusted to make us feel more comfortable. Psychotherapy or relationships with a “reliable” partner help with this.
Changing the type of attachment is also inextricably linked with overcoming codependency. This can be done in a few steps:
- Get rid of the feeling of shame and work on self-esteem. This will allow you not to take everything to heart.
- Start expressing your opinion more assertively.
- Learn to notice, respect and express your emotional needs.
- Be honest - stop playing games and manipulating others.
- Practice acceptance of yourself and others.
- Stop overreacting to little things. It is difficult, but possible, if you identify the main triggers and find out the mechanism for their appearance.
- Take care of yourself.
- Practice conflict resolution and compromise.
"Anxious" need to take responsibility for themselves and learn not to rush at the initial stage of the relationship. And for the “avoidant” - take responsibility for a partner, deal with their weaknesses, learn to respect and accept their need for love, and build boundaries.
This is especially true for the "anxious" and "avoidant" who have recently come out of a codependent relationship. With this development of events, both types may think that if they open again, they will find themselves in an even more dependent position. Actually this is not true. A healthy attachment to another person, on the contrary, helps to become more independent. It provides a reliable and solid foundation for studying the world.
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There are 4 styles of attachment that affect how you behave in a relationship
Have you ever wondered why in a relationship you are always the one who tries to save them? Or why, if you do not receive expressive signals of interest from another person, you immediately lose interest in him?
Author Kluber To read 4 min. Views 4.6k. Posted on
There are four basic attachment styles in a relationship: secure, anxious/concerned, dismissive/avoidant, and fearful/avoidant.
These styles explain why you behave in a certain way in every way.
For example, in people with anxious attachments, part of the self-esteem is based on the approval of the partner. Whereas individuals with dismissive attachments downplay the value of emotional connections.
If you find yourself in a pattern of behavior that you don't like, you can always change your attachment style with some effort.
Have you ever wondered why in a relationship you are always the one who tries to keep it going? Or why, if you do not receive obvious signals from the other person that they are ready to enter into a relationship with you, you immediately lose interest in him?
Attachment theory, which has been around since the 1960s, will help you answer these questions. It is about the fact that a person's attachment style is formed in childhood in the process of relationships with parents / guardians. This style then carries over into adulthood, exerting a powerful influence on all relationships built.
Below you will find descriptions of the four styles of attachment:
People with a secure attachment style feel good both in relationships and when alone, although they usually prefer company. They enjoy needing someone else as well as being needed (i.e. they maintain interdependent relationships).
Securely attached people find ways to be independent in their relationships while maintaining a strong sense of closeness.
They can sometimes feel jealous, but, nevertheless, they usually trust their partner, so they feel quite relaxed inside the relationship.
Finally, these people demonstrate respect for both their partner and themselves in relationships.
People with anxious attachments value their partner/potential partner highly, but much of their own self-esteem is based on whether or not they receive approval, attention, and care from their partner.
For example, the classic: “When we are together, I feel great, but when we are apart…” This style of attachment suggests that its owner is the person who constantly clings to the relationship.
He is also the one who always initiates conversations about the direction in which these relationships are moving, tries to find out how his partner feels in them, etc.
When this person is faced with rejection, it only strengthens the attachment even more. He flies like a moth to a flame.
People with this attachment style value themselves highly and often express a desire for independence. They are able to downplay the value of love relationships and view people in need of romantic companionship as insecure or not self-sufficient.
Faced with rejection, they distance themselves almost immediately.
This group seeks and runs from romantic relationships at the same time. More specifically, fear/attachment avoidance is born from a strong desire for a lasting partnership, as well as a deep distrust of people and relationships in general.