The Avoidant Attachment Style

Avoidant Attachment


The Avoidant Attachment Style

Attachment styles describe our ways of relating and are rooted within childhood. The  healthiest attachment style that ensures optimal growth and development is a secure attachment style. This can be fostered in children by being emotionally attuned and responsive to their needs. Children, whose parent were not as attuned or did not meet their emotional needs due to a variety of reasons, develop an insecure attachment style that leads to difficulties when relating to others in adulthood.

Drawing on Attachment Theory, insecurely attached people can be separated into three categories: anxious-preoccupied attachment, avoidant-fearful attachment and avidant-dismissive attachment. This article focuses on the generic avoidant attachment style.


Avoidant Character Traits

  • Often has addiction or issues with compulsions
  • May display narcissistic traits
  • Is repelled and disgusted by neediness or dependence
  • Lacks awareness and considering for other people’s feelings
  • Rigid with extremely strict boundaries
  • Uncomfortable sharing feelings
  • Preference for casual sex
  • Can have social anxiety
  • Fears rejection, humiliation, criticism or ridicule
  • Values independence and self-sufficiency above all
  • Are secretive and hide information from their partners
  • Struggle to appraise, appreciate or value others – rarely feel or express these
  • Is non-committal and so creates a very volatile relationship dynamic void of stability or security
  • Often finds fault with partners and can be very critical of them


Avoidant Relationship Traits

  • Can be charming during the early stages of relationship but soon change
  • Has grown up fearing intimacy and perceiving it as threatening and dangerous
  • Fears commitment or being trapped
  • Keeps their distance
  • Minimises closeness
  • Uses distancing strategies whenever possible
  • The least happy in relationships of all attachment styles
  • Blames their unhappiness on their partners
  • Creates a push-pull or on-off dynamic
  • Wants partner when apart but craves distance when together
  • Disconnects from partner in intimate moments
  • Idealises past relationships or craves the phantom ex’
  • Sabotages emotional intimacy and connection


Avoidant Distancing Behaviours (Levine & Heller)

  • Often thinking of leaving their partner but staying anyway
  • Focusing on their partner’s small imperfections and dismissing or devaluing them overtly or quietly in their minds
  • Glorifying and pining after past relationships
  • Being extremely flirtatious and overtly charming with others
  • Pulling away when things go well and creating distance instead of welcoming deepening intimacy
  • Forming ‘no-hope-relationships’ with unavailable people (i.e. married people, people living abroad, prisoners, etc.)
  • Being absent-minded or daydreaming when with partner
  • Keeping secrets
  • Avoiding physical closeness
  • Withholding, avoiding and rejecting sex with their partner


The Impact of Avoidants on Romantic Partners

  • Feelings of loneliness and disconnection
  • Increased cravings and yearning for connection  
  • Preoccupation with the relationship
  • Increased and exacerbated relationship anxiety and insecurity
  • Feeling emotionally starved
  • Dissatisfaction with the relationship
  • Decreased self-worth
  • Increased insecurities
  • Increased sexual inhibition
  • Unsatisfactory sex life

Marlena Tillhon

Marlena is a progressive psychotherapist and relationship coach and passionate about helping people connect with their innate wellbeing.

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