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Fearful Avoidant Attachment: What This Means In Relationships

Fearful-avoidant attachment is a mix of craving closeness and fearing it. Dismissive-avoidant attachment is when one partner feels they don’t need the relationship and often withdraws from intimacy. The four attachment styles in relationships were first identified by psychiatrist John Bowlby in the 1950s. He found that infants who were securely attached to their mothers were more likely to thrive than those who were not. The good news is that no matter what childhood experiences you or your partner have experienced, you can create healthy relationships. It sucks because I see/hear from others that he’s doing all the stuff with her that he gave me such a hard time about.

When a child cannot escape the anxiety coming from the environment nor be soothed by the parent, they can develop fearful attachment. A great deal of attachment style is reinforced by others’ behaviors. If you can work together, you may be able to relearn attachment more easily. You can only be a supportive partner who understands their fears and triggers. This is inevitably very confusing for the partner and for the fearful-avoidantly attached individual.

However, you are aware that such an expectation requires a solid justification. Find someone more secure and work on your attachment style in the meantime. It’s ok to express your needs in a calm, nonjudgmental way. If she isn’t open to that or says she is but continues to be inconsistent, then it’s time to reevaluate the relationship. Anxious types tend to focus on the other person, so try focusing on yourself and speaking your needs before you write someone off.

But usually, when you’re dating someone with disorganized attachment, things will feel different than they ever did before. Even more difficult is the fact that disorganized attachment patterns do not seem logical or coherent. It is thought to form in childhood and carry over to romantic relationships in adulthood. If you’re a dismissive attacher, then just because you think your partner is being clingy or needy doesn’t mean that’s an objective fact.

Bowlby argued that people develop working models of attachment relationships in childhood that they carry throughout their lives. These working models influence the way people behave in and experience adult relationships. The fearful-avoidant individual may gravitate toward the aloof, distant style of the dismissive-avoidant individual.

Your partner may complain that you don’t seem to need him or her or that you’re not open enough, because you keep secrets or don’t share feelings. In fact, he or she often appears needy to you, but this makes you feel strong and self-sufficient by comparison. But if the relationship is threatened, you pretend to yourself that you don’t have attachment needs and bury your feelings of distress. Alternatively, you may become anxious because the possibility of closeness no longer threatens you.

Don’t take it personally

Compulsive people-pleasing and a need for approval can lead to apologizing for everything and anything, or becoming overly docile and agreeable to avoid disagreement. They might struggle to make sound decisions as they seek validation from outside sources which leaves them feeling powerless and disempowered. Pursuers need to become more responsible for themselves and distancers more responsible to their partners. Distancers need to uncover their vulnerability, honor their need for love, set boundaries verbally, and learn to receive.

Consider reaching out to a therapist

They do this not because they don’t feel the same way about you, but because the intimacy combined with their own positive emotions and love for you got too scary. And you don’t want to be in a relationship that affects your own attachment style. Considering they avoid negative emotions by flight, they might not stick around long enough to know how you feel. However, a contributing factor to this is their upbringing and earlier experiences of self-expression. When faced with negative emotions, they respond to them by flight. Children who do not have these needs met, on the other hand, are quite the opposite.

If you are dating someone with an avoidant attachment style, relationship bliss isn’t necessarily doomed. You just have to understand that their wiring is different from yours, and that they require lower levels of intimacy and closeness than people with secure/anxious attachment styles. If you’re more anxious, you likely need consistent, constant communication, however, someone with an avoidant attachment style is comfortable with minimal communication.

I’m not saying anybody is unlovable, but our attachment styles are one way that we often block love without meaning to, and make it difficult for other people to love us. Any sort of behaviour that resembles the behaviour from their caregiver that developed this attachment style in the first place. Everyone has a particular way they speak to their partner whether it’s the tone of their voice or a certain nickname they use. At their core, avoidant partners tend to believe that no one will ever meet their needs. They expect that others do not want them to thrive or will not allow them to be themselves.

A lot of the same traits from childhood can carry over into adulthood, such as having high anxiety and difficulty trusting others. Oftentimes, fearful-avoidant attachment is common for those who have experienced abuse or trauma in their childhoods involving their caregiver. It is not uncommon for fearful-avoidant people to establish boundaries and rules to protect themselves from potential risks of being hurt in relationships. They might isolate themselves, become defensive easily, and hide how they truly feel from their partners, which can lead to separation and distance between the two.

It is perfectly possible to have a great relationship with someone who has a dismissive avoidant attachment style. However, if you have a different attachment style to your partner then it can take work to get it right. To them, the feeling of support means their wants are being fully heard out, and that you care enough to understand them as they are. No matter what they choose to do, they want to feel like they are being unconditionally understood by the other partner. They never want to feel as if their emotions are being misunderstood, or that their motives, feelings, desires, or choices are ever questioned.

These types of connections are often just too detrimental. So for the best scenario, people with avoidant attachment style should stick to their own. As should those of us with secure or anxious attachment styles.