Attachment styles are patterns of relating to people that we develop as children and that shape our adult relationships. Avoidant attachment is an insecure type that can make it harder to form and maintain close relationships. If you have this particular style, you might find it hard to find a date, have “commitment issues,” or often find that your partner is often mad at you, but the good news is that there are steps you can take to change your attachment type and live a happier life.
Recognize Your Avoidant Tendencies
The first step is to recognize your attachment type and the tendencies that come with it. People with an avoidant style often feel very uncomfortable with emotional intimacy, preferring to keep others at a distance. If this sounds like you, try to be mindful of these patterns when interacting with others.
- Afraid of long-term commitments because they make you feel “trapped” or uncomfortable.
- You “clam up” when your partner or friends become emotional.
- Get annoyed or cranky whenever your partner complains about problems in their life.
- Feel powerless when loved ones are upset, so you immediately try to jump in and “fix” things instead of simply listening.
- Don’t understand why people can’t keep their emotional struggles to themselves.
- Think others will judge or reject you for showing vulnerability or “weakness.”
- Tend to withdraw during times of stress or hardship because you feel uncomfortable seeking support from others.
- Become very defensive or retreat at the first sign of conflict.
- Afraid of losing your sense of self in a relationship.
It’s Possible To Change Your Attachment Style
People generally feel better when they have connections with others. Having an avoidant attachment can make it difficult to have an adult relationship with another person that meets your needs. It’s important to understand that you can change your attachment style and form those connections through therapy, self-reflection, and work.
- Recognize Your Avoidant Tendencies
- Explore The Underlying Feeling
- Practice Being Vulnerable
- Be An Active Listener
- Break Free From Habitual Responses
Therapy Leads You To The Right Path
Talking to a psychologist can help you recognize when your attachment style is affecting your ability to form positive connections. Through therapy, you can explore and understand the root causes of your avoidance, learn effective communication, and work on building secure attachment styles through exercises and feedback from your therapist. Couples therapy with your partner can also help build the trust and communication necessary for a healthy relationship.
Explore The Underlying Feeling
Notice when you start to feel uncomfortable and try to identify what’s triggering those feelings. Were your needs often ignored or dismissed as a child, so you don’t feel comfortable relying on your partner for support? Did your parents punish you for crying or being fearful, so you think your spouse should just “suck it up” whenever they’re upset? It’s possible that your early life experiences are influencing your current view of emotions in a relationship. However, partners in a healthy relationship don’t ignore or reject each other for showing their vulnerable sides.
Practice Being Vulnerable
It’s easy to fall into the habit of pushing people away when you’re upset or struggling, but doing so only reinforces your attachment style and keeps you from finding deeper fulfillment. Instead, try to take small steps toward building more meaningful connections. Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust, even if it initially triggers your fear of rejection or judgment—a good friend or partner will genuinely want to be there for you in your most vulnerable moments.
Be An Active Listener
If you can’t seem to keep a date for very long or often find yourself in the proverbial “dog house” with your spouse, it’s possible your attachment style is affecting your communication skills. Since avoidant folks are often uncomfortable talking about their own emotions, they may not be comfortable hearing about other people’s feelings either. When your partner opens up to you, try practicing active listening and validating their feelings rather than withdrawing from the conversation or immediately jumping in to offer solutions.
Break Free From Habitual Responses
Avoidant attachment can cause people to react in certain ways when they feel threatened, such as withdrawing or becoming defensive whenever someone voices a concern. Instead of giving in to these automatic responses, try to pause and reflect on what’s happening at the moment. By taking a few deep breaths first, you can respond in a more intentional and vulnerable way.
Get The Support You Need To Embrace Change
Improving your attachment style won’t happen overnight. If you find yourself struggling with emotional intimacy, reach out to Dr. Taji Huang in the Glendale, CA area today to start building more robust and fulfilling relationships. With support and practice, you can build more positive connections with other people and have your emotional needs fulfilled.