The Attachment Style Series: Avoidant Attachment
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5 min read
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In this part of the Attachment Style Series, we’re taking a closer look at the avoidant attachment. This attachment style is also referred to as dismissive attachment.
For a general introduction or a closer look at the other attachment styles, check out my other posts!
What is Avoidant Attachment?
When you are primarily avoidantly attached, this means, surprise, surprise - you’re very avoidant. People with a predominantly avoidant attachment style tend to not be very anxious, and instead, feel very uncomfortable with closeness. They value their independence and freedom over everything. Oftentimes this attachment style comes with the inability to trust others, let alone depend on them.
In relationships, this can mean that their partners would like them to be more vulnerable and intimate than what they are comfortable with.
Where does Avoidant Attachment come from?
Avoidant Attachment often develops in early childhood. When children do not receive sensitive responses to their needs from their parents or caretakers, this can increase the likelihood of developing a predominantly avoidant attachment style.
Children rely on their parents to have their needs met. When this desire for closeness is repeatedly rejected, it can cause the child to suppress their need for comfort when they are upset or distressed.
They might also learn to self-soothe, and develop the idea that they can only rely on themselves in times of need. Because of that, they find it incredibly difficult to ask for help or support form others.
This type of attachment style can cause serious difficulties when trying to form close relationships later in life.
What are the Characteristics of Avoidant Attachment?
The characteristics of predominantly avoidantly attached people are:
- Don’t like to talk about their emotions, avoid conflict until it builds up, and then they explode with pent-up feelings
- Withdraw in difficult situations and try to cope alone
- Feel like partners are clingy, when they simply want to get emotionally closer
- Have feelings of high self-esteem while viewing others negatively
- Value their independence, can’t depend on a partner or let their partner fully depend on them
- Intimacy signals a loss of independence to them, so they prefer being alone
- Focus only on their own needs and comforts, neglecting those around them
- Very self-sufficient, stoic, controlled
- Emotionally distant, avoiding intimate relationships, and if in relationships, keep partner at arm’s length
- Non-emotional, and reacts well in times of crisis
- As parents, not attached and emotionally unavailable, children tend to also develop avoidant attachments
How can you prevent an avoidant attachment style?
To prevent your child from developing a primarily avoidant attachment style, it is important to be open and sensitive to their needs and feelings, while motivating them to express their emotions and wishes.
The parent should also let the child know that they are safe and that they care for them, both, through their words and their actions.
When a parent feels like they have difficulties fulfilling their children’s needs, and are at a loss with parenting, there are coaches or mental health professionals who specialize in helping with exactly that.
How can I heal my avoidant attachment?
If you feel like you have a predominantly avoidant attachment style and are wondering how to heal from it to become more securely attached, there are many things that can help you!
First of all, congratulations on taking the most important step, which is awareness and a willingness to change. This is the biggest obstacle for many.
Therapy, counseling, or coaching can all be great options for learning how to heal.
If you want to try to work on it yourself, Inner Child Healing can do wonders. The important thing when healing from avoidant attachment is that you understand how your parents responded to your needs as a child and how this has shaped your current emotions or patterns. Inner Child Healing allows you to do exactly that. Not only will it bring awareness to memories that might have been suppressed, but it will also show you how to work through those things and grow from them.
Explaining Inner Child Healing would go into a whole other post (and I might do one in the future), but if you are interested, send me an Email with the subject line “Inner Child Healing” and I will provide you with some helpful resources that allowed me to dive into this topic.
Nothing is “wrong” with you
If you realized that you are avoidantly attached, that does not mean anything is wrong with you. It only shows you parts of yourself that need some healing.
Becoming aware of our own patterns is a huge step towards being fully healthy, but that does not mean you should beat yourself up over identifying a pattern you don’t find ideal.
What I found most profound, is the realization that all of our behavior mechanisms and patterns stem from that little kid inside of us that learned to protect him/herself when their surroundings wouldn’t let them be safe.
Once you develop this compassion for yourself, it will be so much easier to approach your healing journey in a gentle, loving way. Plus, it will make it a lot easier to have empathy and compassion with others once you see the scared child behind their actions and behaviors.