If you want to understand what’s an avoidant attachment, you are on the right article.
By the end of this post, you will know what’s an avoidant attachment, how people become avoidant, what are real-life examples of avoidant attachment, and, finally, how to overcome an avoidant attachment.
- What is Avoidant Attachment
- Mental Biases
- Avoidants Aren’t Really Independent
- Avoidant Attachment Examples
- Avoidant Drawbacks
- Overcoming Avoidant Attachment
- Don’t Confuse Avoidant Attachment With…
What is Avoidant Attachment
In a nutshell, avoidants want to avoid too much intimacy in relationships.
Their attachment system works the opposite than for a secure and anxious type: when someone gets too close, they feel the need to get away.
And that includes of course their relationship partner, who can sometimes end up becoming their biggest threat for the simple fact of being so close.
Here are the major mental blocks of an avoidant attachment type, which the literature refers to as “deactivating strategies”.
And on the right are a few examples of how that plays out in the avoidant attachment type.
|Black & White Bias||
Avoidant With other Attachments
We spoke about the Avoidant Attachment Style in the overview of the four attachment styles.
Avoidants rarely end up in relationships with other avoidants and some authors, like Amir Levine, claim they become somewhat less avoidant when dating a secure attachment.
It’s not uncommon for avoidants to end up with an anxious. When avoidants pair with an anxious, they form the toxic anxious attachment trap.
It’s a type of dysfunctional relationship with lots of drama and lots of up and downs. I welcome you to check the article so you will know what you need to avoid.
Avoindat Goes For Impossible Relationships
Sometimes avoidant attachment types will go for long distances and other hopeless relationships. It’s often an unconscious choice so that they never have to deal with encroachments on their personal space.
Avoidant is More Likely to Cheat
Avoidants tend to enjoy sex without commitment more than other styles do (Seligman, 2002), albeit that doesn’t necessarily mean they do have more sex.
When in a relationship, avoidant attachment types are more interested in individuals of the opposite sex.
This “interest” also translates to a higher incidence of infidelity among avoidants (Dewall et al. 2011).
In some studies, up to twice as much as the other attachment styles.
On the flip side, they are less likely to develop strong feelings for the affair partner (Allen, Baucon, 2004).
If you want to understand the unpleasant phenomenon of cheating a bit more also check the following
- How to overcome infidelity
- How to prevent cheating
- How to forgive a cheater
- Why people cheat
- Emotional infidelity: what is it and how it happens
Avoidants Aren’t Really Independent
We all have a fascination for autonomy and independence. We admire people who don’t need anyone else, and hence the avoidant attachment style might provide appeal to many of us.
However, studies prove that avoidants aren’t really so independent after all.
To begin with, avoidants are as happy to be accepted by others as anyone else to be accepted and their happiness increases when they know they will be socially successful (Carvallo, Gabriel 2006).
And, under highly stressful scenarios, they actually behave like anxious attachment style types (Amir Levine, Attached).
Avoidant Attachment Examples
There are many examples of avoidant attachment in the movies. They make for a lot of excitement -to watch- and big emotional swings.
Check the article on the anxious-avoidant trap for a few more video examples on top of the ones here:
#1. Moving Away
Here’s a typical avoidant: Mr. Big from Sex and The City.
Not exactly a great relationship, right?
Typical avoidant: moves away and regains emotional distance
What makes him avoidant?
When Carrie proposes to move to Paris, he doesn’t want her to move “for him”. He feels the tightening circle of responsibility closing in on him and has to break free.
The “relationship” he wants is the avoidant utopic relationship. It’s a relationship where he can move any time he wants, wherever he wants, without considering the impact on the partner.
Carrie is right when she says that it is about them and not about work. She’s not fully correct though in believing it’s fear that prevents him from getting close.
It’s not so much fear, but more of a “reverse attachment” whereby every avoidant needs to push back to preserve their space.
Avoidands will miss their partners once they have regained distance. At this point, they will seek to reel their partners back in, only to need distance later on. And there goes the carousel again.
When Mr. Big says “I don’t wanna talk about this anymore”, that’s stonewalling behavior right there.
#2. Craving Intimacy… When in Need
Mr. Big again, a perfect example that avoidants also want intimacy. But in special situations, often when they’re down in the gutter and need a help up.
When in need an avoidant can look like he’s healed. But it might be just temporary.
Overall, avoidants tend to be lower power than secure types.
Their closeness can be mistaken for power, but it’s just a front.
Says positive psychology founder Martin Seligman:
- Avoidant lack of confidence, especially in social situations
- Avoidant regard people with suspicion, guilty until proven innocent (bitter cynicism, not positive cynicism)
- Put greater emphasis on achievement than relationships
- Keep people and partners at arms’ distance
- They don’t disclose, they don’t tell you how they feel
And they are also worst at assertiveness, an all-important communication skill:
Based on Hanks, 2016
Overcoming Avoidant Attachment
To have a happy relationship -and happy life-, you need to overcome the shortcomings of the avoidant attachment style.
Here are the steps:
1. Work Around The Limitation
Have you learned how the psychology of avoidance?
Once you become aware of your deactivating strategies, you must ask yourself whether or not your thoughts are real or if they are exaggerated by your avoidant tendencies.
Are the imperfections you start noticing real deal breakers or is it that you’re overplaying them to distance yourself?
Mental blocks also include fantasizing about sex with others and thinking she’s pathetic for being so needy.
Work around them
Once you’re aware of your mental blocks, work around them.
For example, when you feel the urge to pull away, explain what’s happening to your partner. Tell her you need time on your own… And that you will be back more energized to spend time together.
As a matter of fact, to help your partner understand, let them read this same article.
2. Associate Avoidance to Weakness
Knowing the science of avoidant attachment is also helpful.
And here’s what the science says: avoidant attachment types also need intimacy. But they repress it subconsciously.
And as we’ve seen studies show that when a big upset happens in the avoidant attachment type’s life, they become insecure.
And that’s another reason to strive for a secure attachment.
3. Drop Cool
Some avoidant attachment types think it’s cool to be an avoidant because it makes them stronger.
As we’ve seen above, it makes you weaker. And only hurts the people around you.
Here’s an example of avoidant hiding behind the mask of coolness:
Until you realize there is nothing cool in being avoidant, you will never truly emotionally mature
4. Associate A Secure Attachment to Strength
A solid relationship with a secure emotional attachment will make you stronger and more confident.
Secure attachment types are stronger than avoidant ones, and part of it is because of the solid foundations they have with their relationship.
Instead of the quest for autonomy, look for a partner with whom to establish a secure attachment.
5. Find a Secure Partner
Secure partners have the power to make the anxious and the avoidant attachment types also more secure.
You will recognize secure types because they play little games and talk straight.
6. Drop The Idea of “The One”
Avoidant attachment types often look for mistakes in their partner as a subconscious excuse to move away. And then they tell themselves she wasn’t the one.
There’s no such as thing as “the one” who is perfect. Understand instead that you’re an active participant in making the relationship as good as it can be.
7. Get Closer Indirectly
It’s easier for avoidants to get closer if there’s a shared task in between. For example, intimacy while cooking dinner and eating together is easier than sitting on a couch and hugging without doing anything.
So you can ease your way in with shared activities.
Don’t Confuse Avoidant Attachment With…
While emotionally unavailable is mostly neutral and cold, avoidant are capable of intimacy… Until they subconsciously block themselves. And while emotionally unavailable stays on an even keel, the avoidant goes through cycles of missing and then pushing the partner away.
And while as*holes tend to be confident and not care about their partners, avoidants come in all shapes and sizes.
They can be confident, but also shy and un-confident. And they can also actually care about their partner.
But still unable to provide on the intimacy level of the relationship.
Avoidants are uncomfortable with intimacy and constantly need to defend their space.
They subconsciously repress their needs for intimacy and they focus on they can more easily focus on the negatives of their partners.
Avoidant attachment types make for really bad relationships, especially when coupled with an anxious attachment style.
In this article, you learned what you can do to overcome the avoidant attachment style curse.