Understanding Avoidant Attachment Style

Hey there! Welcome back to Therapy Cable, I’m Dr. Ehsan Gharadjedaghi, a clinical psychologist.  Today, we’re diving into the avoidant attachment style. If you haven’t watched the first two parts of this series, I highly recommend checking them out first.

So, as a quick refresher, attachment style has two dimensions: anxiety and approachability. In previous videos, we discussed the secure attachment style and the anxious or preoccupied style, as well as their combinations.

Today, we’re delving into the Avoidant Style, which falls on the low end of the approachability dimension. Essentially, individuals with this attachment style don’t feel comfortable approaching or engaging with others, and even view relationships as conflict-prone and something to avoid altogether.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the dynamics and characteristics of the avoidant attachment style. So, let’s dive in and explore how this attachment style affects relationships and interactions with others.

Avoidant individuals are those who struggle with feeling secure enough to approach others in relationships. They often perceive relationships as conflict-ridden and full of friction, leading them to avoid them altogether. Within the avoidant attachment style, there are two subcategories based on the level of anxiety an individual experiences.

The first subcategory is characterized by individuals who are completely avoidant and have low levels of anxiety. They tend to be more internally regulated and are not highly anxious internally, which can make them appear more peaceful. On the other hand, the second subcategory is made up of individuals who are highly anxious internally and display avoidance behavior as a coping mechanism. They avoid relationships to calm themselves down, believing that interactions with others are the source of their anxiety.

It’s essential to note that these two subcategories may seem similar to schizoid personality disorder, but they are different. While individuals with a schizoid personality disorder don’t care about relationships, avoidant individuals do feel the need to be in relationships but struggle with approaching others.

Before we move on, I’d like to touch on the ambivalent part. Essentially, individuals who have high anxiety and don’t want to engage in relationships may receive the wrong message at times or even overcome their own anxiety to see the benefits of reaching out in a relationship. They may learn to use relationships as a source of emotional regulation and thus switch to the other side, becoming willing to engage and approach the other person in order to settle differences and lower their anxiety.

It really depends on their conceptual framework, whether they’ve logically and rationally decided whether a particular relationship is worth pursuing and real.

For the most part, avoidant individuals shun relationships only during times of disagreement. When they perceive the health of a relationship to be high, and communication functions well, their position within the relationship becomes secure. This relies more on happenstance, where two people happen to have similar perspectives, preferences, likes, and dislikes.

So sometimes people who are avoidant can actually seem quite engaging and secure in a relationship, especially when things are going well and there are no disagreements. This is because they have learned how to self-soothe and take care of their own inner turmoil without relying on others. However, when disagreements or conflicts arise and they feel like they can’t resolve them, they may start to distance themselves from the other person.

Avoidant people are generally not very open about their emotions or inner world, and they prefer to limit the time they spend communicating about differences. They just want to get over conflicts quickly and move on to more productive activities like work or tasks, which help them feel productive and regulate their emotions. This is different from preoccupied people, who often rely on others to soothe them and may struggle with self-regulation.

So there are two types of people when it comes to handling conflicts in a relationship: the avoidant and the anxious. Avoidant people don’t like to open up and share their feelings, and they tend to distance themselves from the conflict. They may seem calm and collected on the surface, but they can become very distant when things get tough. On the other hand, anxious people tend to want to analyze and talk about their differences, and they may ask a lot of questions to get to the root of the problem. They can get upset and angry when things don’t go their way.

Sometimes, you might come across someone who has a low level of anxiety and a high level of avoidance, which can make it difficult to understand them. They may seem disingenuous or manipulative, but really they just don’t feel comfortable engaging in conflict. It’s important to try to understand where they’re coming from instead of jumping to conclusions.

On the other hand, someone with a high level of anxiety and avoidance might seem upset and angry during a conflict. They may be uncomfortable and feel like they’re burning up inside. It’s important to pay attention to their tone of voice, body language, and eye contact to understand how they’re feeling.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that everyone handles conflict differently, and it’s important to try to understand where the other person is coming from instead of making assumptions or judgments.

Sometimes when people are faced with a lot of overwhelming visuals that make them feel anxious and uneasy, they may choose to disengage and walk away. This can be a characteristic of someone who is feeling a lot of turmoil and discomfort in the situation, and they may prefer to avoid any conflict or confrontation. While this may seem like a lack of caring or disrespect, it’s actually their way of trying to de-escalate the situation internally rather than engaging in interpersonal conflict.

On the other hand, individuals who have high approachability tend to handle conflict resolution in a more interpersonal way. It’s important to understand that both approaches have their own merits and should be recognized as valid ways of dealing with difficult situations.

One attachment style that is particularly effective is the secure attachment style. This involves feeling secure in oneself and in relationships with others, which can lead to healthier conflict resolution and better interpersonal communication. By combining a secure attachment style with other effective strategies for conflict resolution, individuals can improve their relationships and manage conflicts in a positive way.

When you’re a secure person, you can deal with intense discussions and conflict without getting too anxious or overwhelmed. You can soothe yourself and not let the intensity of the conversation affect your relationship with others. You stay connected to those you love and care about, even when there are conflicts. And if you need to take a break, you can always come back and revisit the issue without any long-lasting negative impact on your attachment or the relationship.

But people with insecure attachment styles may not have it so easily. When they feel anxious or insecure in a relationship, they may start to doubt their connection with others. Avoidant types may disconnect emotionally and even become roommates with their partners, while ambivalent types may become fearful of conflict and withdraw deeper into their own world. They may not want to engage in conflict resolution or even leave the relationship altogether without much explanation.

It’s important to remember that different attachment styles have different ways of dealing with conflict and insecurity, but the goal is always to remain connected and secure in the relationship. By recognizing these differences and finding effective ways to communicate, we can improve our relationships and stay connected with those we care about.

Imagine being in a relationship where your partner suddenly walks out without warning or explanation, or worse, files for divorce without any discussion or negotiation. It’s a terrible experience, isn’t it? Unfortunately, this is a common reaction among people with insecure attachment styles.

People with insecure attachment styles, such as avoidant or fearful, tend to avoid conflict and may just walk away from conversations or even the relationship altogether. They may become so anxious and uncomfortable with the conflict that they shut down and disengage from the relationship, causing long-lasting negative impacts on their attachment and connection to others.

On the other hand, people with a secure attachment style are able to manage their anxiety, self-soothe, and maintain their connection to their partners, even during intense discussions. They can take a break, come back to it, and continue the conversation without it reflecting any negative impact on their relationship. They are also able to navigate conflict resolution in an interpersonal manner.

Unfortunately, people with insecure attachment styles may find it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with their partner. They may resort to disconnecting emotionally from the relationship or becoming highly clingy and relentless, like the preoccupied. They may also grow old as roommates and distance themselves from their partners, leading to the death of the romance and chemistry between them.

It’s important to recognize the signs of insecure attachment styles in yourself and your partner to seek help and work on building a secure attachment style, which can lead to healthier and happier relationships.

When two people are in a relationship but not spiritually, emotionally, or meaningfully connected, it can create a facade of convenience. It may seem like they are together to avoid the pain and discomfort of separating permanently, but in reality, they may just avoid each other completely and move out without any communication.

If you find yourself in one of the three insecure attachment styles, there is hope for improvement. Insecure individuals can learn from those who have a secure attachment style by observing how they interact in relationships. For example, the preoccupied can learn self-regulation to decrease anxiety levels, while the avoidant can learn the benefits of approaching and resolving issues with others.

The key to transforming an insecure attachment style to a secure one is to change the conversation from a debate or argument to a dialogue of understanding. This is called the “Glock of intimacy dialogue.” All three insecure attachment styles can benefit from this type of dialogue, which promotes a deeper understanding of each other and helps to create a more meaningful and secure relationship.

lastly what I would bring up is the combination of a preoccupied and avoidant. basically, they trigger each other what happens is that the entire moving away from wanting to engage in a relationship that is characteristic of the avoidant Styles is triggering anxieties in preoccupied and

and moving the preoccupied if they have not learned self-regulation even toward higher anxiety 

because they are highly reliant on the other individual and the other individual their significant other in the relationship is pulling away and that pulling away creates more anxiety for the preoccupied. 

The preoccupied tend to rely heavily on their partner for a sense of safety and security. They can feel even more vulnerable when their partner pulls away, thinking that it’s a sign that they’ve not cared for, appreciated, or valued. It’s almost like adding insult to injury for them.

When someone with anxiety becomes needy in a relationship, it can put a lot of pressure on their avoidant partner. The avoidant sees this as a source of conflict and discomfort because they have learned to rely on themselves and now they’re being pushed to rely more on the relationship.

But if you have two people with these different attachment styles – preoccupied and avoidant – it can actually be a good thing. Despite their triggering tendencies, they can learn from each other. The preoccupied partner can teach the avoidant that relationships can be a source of comfort and security, while the avoidant can show the preoccupied partner how to regulate their emotions and find internal resources to calm down.

So, while it may be challenging, this combination of attachment styles can actually lead to growth and positive change in a relationship.

Having a dialogue can be the key to transforming insecure attachment styles into more secure ones. And when it comes to the best combination of attachment styles, it’s definitely the mix of secure and insecure. The secure partner can help the insecure partner become more secure, which is amazing to see.

The next best combo would be the anxious versus avoidant. These two can learn a lot from each other and grow together. But when it comes to avoidant-avoidant, it might not be the best match. They might end up being more like roommates than romantic partners, and that’s not what anyone wants.

And the worst combination is preoccupied-preoccupied. These two can become so highly dependent on each other that even the smallest thing can escalate into aggression and violence. This is especially true if they have a history of abuse or have seen violence in the past. It’s important to break this cycle and find healthier ways to deal with emotions.

When it comes to compatibility, the preoccupied attachment style is at the bottom of the list. In fact, when two preoccupied people get together, it can be highly toxic. I know this information can be complex and hard to understand, but I hope it helps shed some light on the impact of these attachment styles on relationships. It’s important to be able to discern between these styles and understand the messages they send, which may be quite different than what is really happening. Understanding attachment styles can help us navigate relationships and build healthier connections with others.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you found it informative and enjoyable. However, our journey doesn’t have to end here. If you have any specific examples or questions about certain differences, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.

I would be delighted to create additional content to address your inquiries in the future. Don’t forget to subscribe to stay up-to-date with future content. Again, my name is Dr. Ehsan Gharadjedaghi, thank you for your support, and have a great day!