Embrace Healthy Bonds By Healing Your Avoidant Attachment Style

Our attachment style is developed or cultivated in very, very early infancy. So today, we’re asking: What creates an avoidant attachment style?

What Creates an Attachment Style?

When we’re very young and we’re completely dependent, we lay there in a crib, and we aren’t able to provide care for ourselves. How our caregivers respond to us (or don’t respond to us) creates a brain map for the way we experience relationships.

It defines the way we understand if people will be there to support us or if we have to go it alone.

What Creates an Avoidant Attachment Style?

For an avoidant attacher, caregivers were not available as a very young child and throughout the early years.

There were most likely a lot of situations where these people were left to “cry it out,” or caregivers did not respond when the baby needed something.

Cry-It-Out

We’re not discussing a situation where the parent never fed, clothed, or played with the child. But when you’re completely dependent, and you’re laying there in that crib and you know your diaper is full, or you’re hungry, or you’re lonely and you cry, and nobody comes for over an hour, what have you learned at that point?

It doesn’t mean that their basic survival needs weren’t met, but there was no responsiveness when the baby needed something.

baby crib from the 60s and 70s, healing avoidant attachment style

Kids are Resilient

My husband is a classic avoidant attached, and we have worked on this a lot in our marriage. When I think about the circumstances that led to his avoidant attachment style, I really can look at it through a lens of love, compassion, and understanding because his parents both loved him very, very much. But they were divorced, and they both had full-time jobs.

His mom was a nurse and had primary custody of two very young children. His dad had multiple children and a demanding job in the construction industry.

So, we have working parents who were stretched thin and had multiple children. And during this time, it was normalized to say, “Kids are resilient.”

attachment styles

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Denying Having Feelings

An avoidant attacher may have had very loving parents, but we can’t measure the consequences based on how much you love someone because that’s not the only thing that makes an impact on someone’s development or process. Imagine you’re a baby, and you’ve been in a crib for 30 minutes, and nobody comes when you need it.
The adaptive strategy is to start to deny that you even have feelings or needs.
Eventually, over time, as you grow, you learn that relying on yourself to get your needs met is the number one top strategy.
This is the modus operandi of avoidant attachers. They don’t find as much value in relationships.
It’s a lot easier for them to withdraw. It’s a lot easier for them to move on quickly afterward because they just weren’t as attached to the relationship as an anxious attacher or a secure attacher would have been. couple, man with brown hair and beard, dressed in blue shirt and white t-shirt, and woman with long blonde hair and beige top, sitting on a beige sofa, fighting, avoidant attachment style

Measuring Avoidant Attachment Brain

It’s very interesting to measure an avoidant attacher’s brain.
When there is a conflict or something that’s emotionally laden, their brain becomes less active and less capable of reading social cues.
It’s interesting to think back on all the years of my marriage to my current husband and think about all the times when we’ve been in conflict, and he just kinda looks blankly at me and doesn’t respond, and I’ll ask him, “What are you thinking? Don’t you have a response?” And very often, he has said, “I don’t know,” and that’s infuriating. The reality is he’s not making that up. Brain scans have demonstrated that when vulnerability or emotional intimacy becomes part of the equation, an avoidant attacher’s brain map dictates that parts of their brain become less active.
They have less capacity to solve problems effectively in those moments.
There are a series of steps that have to happen and be practiced over and over again for them to become more comfortable and to be able to switch on that part of their brain in a more meaningful way.
An avoidant attacher denies that they even have feelings and thinks that therapy is dumb; they tend to judge self-disclosure as weak.
couple at therapy, women is trying to work with therapist, man is looking to the side, Anxious Avoidant Attachment Styles in Relationships

Anxious Avoidant Attachment Styles in Relationships

I have talked to so many women over the years who have said, “I gave our marriage another shot, but then we got to therapy, and my partner didn’t do the work.”
An avoidant attacher will be able to talk with you openly about surface things, but they avoid going deeply about personal things.
But for an anxious attachment person, we perceive attention, presence, and engagement as increasing our sense of security. When you’re an anxious attacher, you’re not necessarily looking for deep, meaningful conversations, but you want to merge your life with someone. This is the anxious-avoidant trap.
There is a tendency for anxious avoiders to be wooed by an avoidant attacher, but it often falls apart.
At first, their partner’s presence is soothing, but an avoidant attacher avoids going deep and having vulnerable feelings.  When you are years down the road, these anxious-avoidant dynamics start to surface in meaningful ways. Suddenly, you’ve gotta tackle big, heavy marital things, and your avoidant partner is distant.
When the relationships hit the rocks, the avoidant withdraws, the anxious pursues, and that causes the avoidant to run even further away.
This dynamic creates a negative feedback loop of both people who are feeling like they aren’t getting their needs met.
I want you to be aware of these things because when you’re dating, you can spot an avoidant attacher by noticing how personal they get in their conversations, how vulnerable they are, and how well they can tolerate intimacy.

Feeling Vulnerable

Vulnerability isn’t just talking about uncomfortable things. It is about feeling exposed.
An avoidant attacher will rarely voluntarily expose themselves to potential rejection. There’ll always be a little bit of aloofness there.
They may be charming, but they will not feel invested enough that you could hurt them if you walked away. The avoidant attacher will ghost because they don’t want to deal with feelings.
They can’t just say how they feel or how they experience something, and they’re not attached enough to care about how you feel about it.
They can’t tolerate that kind of intimacy, so they don’t respond. When you experience an avoidant attacher in the dating world, know that this is very, very much attachment style behavior and that it was wired from early infancy. Becoming an earned secure attacher takes a lot of work and a lot of intentional work.
It takes retraining your brain about how you experience emotion and whether or not you’re willing to practice vulnerability consistently to reshape those neural networks.
It’s not just a decision you can make one day. It’s a process. young couple hugging in front of a window, woman with long blonde curly hair and white tank top, man with brown hair and white t-shirt, picking partners

Picking Partners

I want you to be aware of this because I don’t want you to repeat the same mistakes. Make no excuses for avoidant attachment behavior in relationships.
With a therapist, it can be helpful to have somebody take a look at attachment style patterns that are unfolding based on who we’re attracted to and who we’re engaged with.
There’s this old adage about girls being attracted to the bad boy, and a lot of it is explained by attachment style. If you’re spotting avoidant traits inside of yourself, patterns with your exes, and in the people that you’re attracted to, there are tools out there.
But here’s the thing: understanding these attachment styles isn’t about judging. It’s about looking at it through a lens of compassion and finding solutions.
Remember, there’s hope and healing for all attachment styles.

Divorce recovery coach Dawn Wiggins

...helps people crack open. Challenging the status quo, she integrates multiple modalities from EMDR to EFT tapping, journaling, homeopathy, and movement, embracing remedies that heal both the mind and body. Divorce recovery coach Dawn Wiggins is on a mission to deliver life-changing therapy in an accessible, scalable, affordable way and make waves in the world of mental health with the same enlightenment that happens in her office. Part science, part essential oils, pure magic.

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