Avoidant Attachment Style: Common Pitfalls That Reveal the Issue

Over the course of your life, you’ve found that relationships aren't easy.

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Even when you know that the person you’re dating is crazy about you, something seems to hold you back. And it affects how your relationships progress.

The result? Relationships that are rocky, distant, and which often end.

Why does this happen?

You may be inhibited by an avoidant attachment style—a psychological condition in which fear takes a front-and-center role, whether you are aware of the fear or not.

How can you determine if you've developed an avoidant attachment style? Consider some of the common pitfalls that can reveal the issue.

Unwilling to Make a Commitment

Being afraid of or unwilling to make a commitment is often a first sign. Maybe things started off well between the two of you. Yet, when it comes time to decide whether what you have is serious or not, you back off. Why?

Emotional Distancing

If you have an avoidant attachment style, you may be accused of being emotionally distant or detached by those trying to get close to you. This manifests itself in several ways.

For example:

  • Seeming to be cold, disinterested, or closed-off

  • Never relaxing or letting your guard down

  • Stonewalling when topics regarding the relationship arise

  • Disengaging when things get emotionally charged

  • Believing that you would have it easier if you were alone

With avoidant attachment, it is as if there is a giant wall present between you and almost anyone that tries to connect with you. This wall is thick, formidable, and extremely difficult to break through. While it develops out of a need for protection, it certainly hinders connection.

Issues with Trust

You likely have a very hard time trusting others. For you, trust is not something that is given freely. Why is that? Your idea might be that trusting someone else sets you up for failure (or so you believe).

Most likely this happens because of prior traumatic experiences (whether they are big “T” traumas like near-death experiences, or smaller “t” traumas like a well-meaning but misattuned parent). At some point in your life, you may have gotten the message that developing an attachment to another person can be dangerous. That if you trust someone, they will eventually betray that trust or you will somehow be hurt by having trusted them.

Why bother offering that trust in the first place if the result will always be that you'll get hurt, right?

What Can You Do to Make Changes?

Avoidant attachment is ultimately based on fear. The origin for this fear most likely stems from some part of your history, wherein you developed your earliest foundation for relationship dynamics. Yet, it dictates how you approach relationships in the present.

If you have an avoidant attachment style, though, does that mean you are doomed to a life of loneliness? No. It doesn’t have to be this way at all. Although it won’t be easy, it is certainly possible to understand more about what dictates your relationship style and move toward a healthy, secure attachment.

Avoidant attachment occurs because it is a learned condition. Either one or many experiences from the past taught you that being emotionally open and vulnerable is just too dangerous. Yet, at the same time, since it's a learned behavior, that also means that the behavior can be unlearned.

By actively engaging with an experienced therapist, it is possible to get to the root cause for your avoidant attachment style and find a solution that will allow you to fully experience a rewarding relationship in which both you and your partner feel securely bonded and connected to one another.

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Learn more about how I might help you address your attachment issues, understand the origin of your fears, and support you on your healing journey. If you would like to make an appointment for a free 20-minute phone consultation, please contact me today.