What is avoidant attachment? Causes and symptoms and how to deal with an avoidant partner.

Do You Avoid Emotional Intimacy?

Does it feel like your dating experience is just history repeating itself?

If so, it may be because you have a relationship attachment style that means the same patterns and habits repeat themselves.

Here I will share one of the four attachment styles, the main sign you may have that attachment style and how you can break the cycle of negative relationship patterns.

avoidant attachment therapy
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What Is An Avoidant Attachment?

Avoidant attachment style is a style of relating to others in which a person is emotionally distant from others. They generally do not desire emotional intimacy and are uncomfortable with expressing affection or love, although they often desire relational intimacy. They will also experience high levels of anxiety in relationships and often experience negative emotions, like anger and resentment. People with an avoidant attachment style are often described as “loners” or “introverts”, but they are not necessarily shy. They may appear to be aloof and unapproachable, and generally prefer to keep their true thoughts and feelings to themselves. This is to stop letting people get too close.

Key traits of an avoidant attachment style:

Very independent

Has a history of clingy or needy partners

Prefers distant communication such as texts and DMs over in-person chat

Likely to choose a handshake over a warm hug

Will leave a relationship before the partner has a chance to end it

Where Does An Avoidant Attachment Style Come From?

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “attachment”? You probably have thoughts about an infant and their mother. An avoidant attachment style is an issue that is rarely discussed in other forms, but it can have a big influence on how you approach your relationships in the future. The word “attachment” means the ability to become emotionally close to someone, and it’s a developed connection that includes trust. When you experience an avoidant attachment style, it means that you have a hard time getting close to someone.

Have you ever wondered where you get your sense of self-worth?

The answer to that question depends on the type of attachment style you developed as a child, and whether it was positive or negative. Children tend to develop an avoidant attachment style if they have caregivers (usually their parents) who aren’t emotionally available. In fact, they’re usually quite withdrawn, don’t interact with their children, and even neglect their children. These children don’t feel like they can rely on their parents to meet their needs, so they learn to do it on their own. They’re essentially “emotionally abandoned,” which makes it difficult for them to connect to others.

The origins of an avoidant attachment style are hard to pinpoint, but there are a few things that can come into play. Often times, the attachment style stems from a young age, when children form attachments with parents or caregivers. There are two ways that this can play out: either the caregiver is overly-caring, smothering their child with affection, or they are overly-distant. . For example, a parent would buy presents instead of offering a hug or telling others how proud they are of you, instead of telling you personally.

If a parent is overbearing, the child will grow up to be dependent on their partner and constantly seek their attention. If the parent is distant, the child will grow up to feel anxious about their relationships and be wary of others.

It can come from being very independent throughout your life. You may prefer to be on your own than with others or simply think that being emotionally intimate with another person is unnecessary.

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How To Recognise If Your Partner Has An Avoidant Attachment Style

Avoidant attachment in a partner maybe be when the person feels uncomfortable with intimacy and is unwilling to get close to you. They often have a negative perception of themselves and the world around them. They also tend to have a low self-esteem, and they want to keep you and others at a distance. They are very independent and detached from other people, and they can be cold and uninterested. Your partner may not like to talk about their feelings, and they don’t like to be emotionally intimate with other people. They usually have a hard time asking for help and showing vulnerability.

How To Improve Your Relationship

If you or your partner has avoidant attachment there are some thing you can do you improve your relationship:

Understand what triggers you

There will be times where you feel you need to close off, put your guard up or even move away when someone gets too close to your emotions. As soon as you recognise your self-protection behaviours, it can help to record them either as voice notes or by writing them down. Consider: What caused the reaction? Can you name the emotions you’re feeling? What are your head, heart and gut telling you to do?

Think about what you want from a relationship

Having a talk with your partner about what you both want from the relationship can help to create a balance of intimacy and independence. Alternatively, if you’re not ready for intimacy and want to keep it casual, having this discussion first can help to make sure you’re both clear on the relationship expectations?

Build closeness on your terms

If you find it difficult to get close to someone, take it in small chunks. It can help to start this with friendships. For example, sharing something emotional with a friend. You can also see how you feel when friends or colleagues confide in you. Is there a resistance around being vulnerable? Does it feel different if they share with you compared to you sharing with them?

Explore the underlying issues and patterns

If you struggle with emotional intimacy, if you have difficulty forming and maintaining close relationships, hypnotherapy can help. Whether you’re struggling to share feelings, thoughts, and experiences with another person or you want to feel more connected and secure with a partner, please get in touch. Hypnotherapy can be a fantastic way to explore the underlying issues and rewire the brain to a healthier attachment style.

I offer complimentary consultations to help you find the right way forward. To find out more or to book your call, or email here

You can watch Helen Birch talking about this issue here

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