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The Avoidant Attachment Style In Relationships

Does dreaming about someone telling you that they love you make you wake up in a cold sweat? If so, you might have an avoidant attachment style.

If commitment, intimacy, and closeness aren’t your thing — even when you really do like someone — this may be a result of your attachment style, not a reflection on how much you care.

Avoidant Man
How to Fix an Avoidant Attachment Style

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

  2. What is an Avoidant Attachment Style

  3. What Causes Avoidant Attachment?

  4. What are the Signs of Avoidant Attachment?

  5. How Do You Stop Avoidant Attachment?

  6. Conclusion

Key Takeaways

  • Definition and Characteristics: Avoidant attachment is an insecure attachment style where individuals avoid emotional intimacy and prefer independence, significantly impacting their relationships.

  • Root Causes: This attachment style often originates from childhood experiences, such as disengaged parenting or discouragement of emotional expression.

  • Overcoming Strategies: Strategies to move towards a secure attachment include practicing emotional expression, exploring past experiences, stepping out of comfort zones, learning about others, and seeking therapy.

What is an Avoidant Attachment Style?

The avoidant attachment style is a member of the insecure attachment category. Attachment style describes the ways that people connect with one another in both platonic and romantic relationships.

Those who have an avoidant attachment style want to steer clear of emotional pain, and they do so by closing themselves off to connection with others. They find it difficult to become emotionally intimate with others. They’re often seen as highly independent, to the point where they cannot incorporate others into their lifestyle.

What Causes Avoidant Attachment?

While there are many causes of avoidant attachment styles in adults, most of them trace back to childhood. As hypothesized in attachment theory, young children learn how to relate to others from their caregivers. As babies and young children develop their understanding of the world, they internalize the relationships they experience and see around them.

When parents aren’t particularly engaged in their child’s life, this may lead to an avoidant attachment style in adulthood.

Parents may discourage their children from expressing their needs through crying, talking, or reaching out for things — they may even do this through punishment, perhaps a punishment that doesn’t make sense to the child. This teaches children that relationships aren’t trustworthy or that they often result in rejection, pain, or punishment.

What are the Signs of Avoidant Attachment in Relationships?

Because of each person’s individualities and situations, not all avoidant behavior looks the same. However, here are some of the more common signs of avoidant attachment:

  • Preference for Solitude: They like to be alone and in their own routines. Having an avoidant attachment style doesn’t mean that they don’t ever want to be around others — many people with avoidant attachment styles are extroverts and enjoy social gatherings. However, they don’t mind being by themselves. If they aren’t in a relationship, they aren’t upset. That means that they can do their own thing without interference.

  • Difficulty Expressing Emotions: They have a hard time talking about or expressing their emotions. When they are in relationships, sometimes it’s difficult for them to share how they feel. Even if they really like their partner or partners, they might not be able to put it into words. Intimacy is built off of vulnerability, which is something foreign for them.

  • Withdrawal from Connection: They withdraw from connection without explanation. Sometimes, people with avoidant attachment styles will end a relationship without a reason why. They might be protecting themselves from an assumed rejection, even if that’s an incorrect perception. In their minds, becoming close with someone leads to pain or discomfort, which are not feelings they want to experience.

  • Negative View of Others: They have a negative view of others. While people with avoidant attachment styles have high self-confidence (thanks largely to their independent streaks!), they might not think highly of other people. You’ll find them complaining about other people or judging them unreasonably.

These behaviors are often done unconsciously — attachment styles are automatic and occur without thought or decision, rather they’re a way of living instead of a choice. People with avoidant attachment styles aren’t bad or self-centered people, instead they’ve learned to adapt their lives around their emotional worlds. They might even be as confused as you are about some of their behaviors!

How Do You Stop being an Avoidant Attachment?

There are ways to change your attachment style, making it lean more towards a trusting, secure style. To stop your avoidant attachment style, here are a few things to try:

  • Practice Expressing Your Feelings: One of the hardest things to do when you have an avoidant attachment style is to tell someone else how you feel. Whether you know how you feel you just don’t know how to talk about it (or you don’t want to talk about it!), or you aren’t sure exactly what you’re feeling, find a way to explore your thoughts. This could be through journaling, painting, talking with an old friend — anything that gets you the practice of looking inward and sharing what you find.

  • Take a Journey Back in Time: Spend some time thinking about your upbringing and the way that you were raised. You might learn something from your memories, such as why you prefer to connect with people the way you do.

  • Go Outside Your Comfort Zone: If your comfort zone doesn’t include other people, challenge yourself to leave this comfort zone. Get to know one or two people on a deeper level. Even when you start to feel like you would rather be alone, see if you can continue to engage with them. While doing this, pay attention to how you feel and ask yourself why you feel that way.

  • Learn More About Other People: We know that you’re self-sufficient, but what do you know about other people? Getting to really know someone else is a great practice in empathy. Where did they grow up? What kind of music do they listen to and why? Who do they admire? By learning more about other people, you might find that they are trustworthy.

  • Get the Support of a Therapist: It might not sound like the most fun thing, opening up to a stranger, but working with a therapist to better understand your relationship tendencies may help you develop a more secure approach in the future.

To conclude, healing from avoidant attachment can be a challenging journey, but it's one that's worth taking. By recognizing the need for change, exploring the root causes of your attachment style, and engaging in self-awareness and personal growth activities, you can begin to develop more secure and fulfilling relationships.

Remember, change takes time and effort, but with persistence and support, you can create the meaningful connections you desire.


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