Why are attachment styles important? What are the signs of an avoidant attachment style?

What is the significance of attachment styles?

Because your attachment type develops during childhood, and your early experiences establish the foundation for your romantic life.

As stated in this PsychCentral article:

“Childhood experiences shape our overall attachment style, how we interact with others, and how we react emotionally when they are absent from us throughout our lives.”

According to attachment theory, developed by psychologist and psychiatrist John Bowlby, everyone has a distinct attachment style, which is shaped by how their parents or main caregivers cared for them throughout their early years of life.

Who you’re attracted to and how you engage with love relationships are largely determined by your attachment style. Avoidant, anxious, and secure attachment patterns are the three most common (which is considered as the healthy one).

In this post, we’ll look at the avoidant attachment type and how someone with this attachment style typically acts.

Let’s get started.

Avoidant Attachment Style

1. One of The Avoidant Attachment Style A DIY Obsession

Avoidant attachment personalities think — or were taught to believe — that they can only rely on themselves.

Avoidant attachment is a type of attachment that develops in children whose emotional needs have not been addressed by their parents or caretakers. As a result, kids grow up to be extremely self-reliant, believing that the only person actually willing and capable of providing their needs is themselves.

Darlene Lancer, a marital and family therapist, writes in her article:

When a mother is regularly inattentive or emotionally unavailable, an avoidant attachment style develops. Her child develops independence while suppressing sensitive feelings and attachment needs for love and intimacy. […] A chilly mother could have had this parenting style and expected her kid to be self-sufficient before they were emotionally mature enough.

Generally, being independent is a positive trait, but when it comes to avoidant types, their extreme independence often leads them to:

DIY Obsession
DIY Obsession
  • refuse help and/or emotional support from others
  • refuse to let their partner rely on them
  • consider their autonomy and freedom to be far more important than investing in a relationship
  • view people who ask them for help as weak and incompetent

A healthy relationship requires a balance between interdependence and autonomy — when you have only one of them, a relationship can neither flourish nor stand the test of time.

2. Commitment Is Out of the Question

Is the individual with whom you’re now involved prone to one-night encounters and brief flings?

Do they avoid discussing commitment? Do they change the subject as soon as the question of becoming exclusive comes up?

All of these are symptoms that a person is avoiding commitment, which is a sign of an avoidant attachment style.

Commitment Is Out of the Question

But don’t take it personally; they’d act the same way regardless of who was in your shoes. These people, you see, have equated commitment with danger in their thoughts.

3. Emotional Closeness Is a Definite No-No

Someone with an avoidant attachment style often struggles with emotional closeness. That struggle might manifest in various ways, such as:

  • distrust of their partner and people in general
  • inability or difficulty to open up
  • refusal to discuss their feelings
  • stonewalling
  • experiencing feelings of disdain

Overall, creating, let alone maintaining an emotional bond is challenging for people with this particular attachment style.

Looking to protect themselves from rejection as well as guard themselves against the possibility of getting hurt they put up emotional walls, disconnect from their needs, and often feel disdain towards demonstrations of affection.

Emotional Closeness

As clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone explains in her article:

A child with an avoidant attachment attempts to meet their own needs, because it is too painful depending on others who consistently fail to respond to them. They develop a sense of shame, thinking, “I am not worth paying attention to.” They then disconnect from their needs in an effort to avoid feeling this shame. 

As adults, this same pseudo-independence can lead the person to be self-contained and disdainful of others when they express needs or a desire for emotional closeness.

4. Boundaries Are a Safety Net

In every good relationship, boundaries are essential. However, they become unhealthy and poisonous when they lead to a disdain for other people’s needs and goals, or when they sabotage your relationships.

When it comes to avoidant partners, they create limits and walls in order to feel comfortable – by avoiding getting too near to others.

They seek people, situations, and places that evoke familiar sentiments, even if bad, after growing up in an environment with little to no love, attention, and affection.

When someone attempts to get close to them, they will purposefully damage their chances of being loved and cared for by up unhealthy barriers that they believe will keep them safe.

5. Enemies Are Everywhere

People that have avoidant attachment styles have a hard time trusting others, therefore they’re more prone to perceive adversaries everywhere.

Even if you have their best interests at heart, they may be distrustful of your behavior, misinterpret your words, and be constantly concerned about being treated unfairly or exploited.

 hard time trusting others
hard time trusting others

As Berit Brogaard points out in her Psychology Today article:

An avoidant person does not erase boundaries or change their values or beliefs for the sake of others. They are unable to trust other people, they dislike confrontations, and they have control issues.

A Final Note

Your attachment style can either help or harm your relationship — the same goes for your partner.

Understanding both your and your partner’s attachment style is important, because if either of you has an unhealthy one you might have a hard time understanding and properly responding to each other’s needs.

As family therapist Andrea Brandt explains:

“When you have an unhealthy attachment style, you may have a hard time recognizing your partner’s emotions or responding appropriately to his or her feelings. You may feel uncomfortable when your partner shows anger or sadness and not know how to react. And you may pull away, or grab on too tightly, thus harming both your relationship and the person you love.”

Developing a healthier, secure, attachment style is possible — it’s a process that just needs plenty of time, effort, and patience.