Ridding Yourself Of Attachment Anxiety
By: Sarah Fader
Updated July 23, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kelly L. Burns, MA, LPC, ATR-P
From birth, we develop a built-in attachment style that is naturally wired to connect with others. Although the independent nature of western culture might lead us to believe that we "need no one," that couldn't be further from the truth. Not only is it normal to want to connect with others, but we also naturally attach ourselves to people. The fact is, depending on others is a key component of our DNA and survival. Attachment styles only become an issue when they become unhealthy.
This article will cover different types of attachment styles related to mental health. We also look into attachment disorders that result from attachment anxiety. Finally, we provide strategies and tools to help you develop a secure attachment style and move past debilitating attachment anxiety - in a healthy way.
Understanding Your Attachment System
Even as infants, humans seek out people they can trust and bond with. When we are separated from or not cared for by people we are attached to, a couple of different things can happen.
For example, when some young children are left at daycare or school for the first time, they walk in ready to play and make friends, while others cry and cling to their parents' legs. That is their attachment systems is at work! It's important to note that the children develop attachment styles that will normally follow them throughout their entire lives.
According to research done by world-renowned psychologist Mary Ainsworth, the basis of how we feel about ourselves is formed during our childhood. Then, those same beliefs become the filter through which we see others in adulthood.
When we have negative childhood experiences, we may develop a negative view of the world and develop an ambivalent attachment style when we don't feel protected from extreme behaviors like child abuse. How our needs are met (or not met) when we are young shapes how we will interact with others once we have grown.
This is why so many therapists focus on childhood events when trying to fix current emotional or relationship problems. For example, if you feel nervous or scared when you're physically far away from your romantic partner, it could be a sign that you are dealing with attachment issues.
Attachment theory is the study of the development of attachment patterns that form in early childhood. According to attachment theory, there are four basic attachment patterns. Adult attachment styles fall under the categories of insecure attachment or secure attachment.
Securely attached people have adapted a healthier style of coping making it easier for them to function in interpersonal relationships. those with insecure attachment styles need help to function in relationships. The insecure attachment style is the opposite of a secure attachment style. People with this attachment style tend to form negative attachment patterns.
People who display characteristics of the preoccupied attachment and anxious attachment style usually suffer from regular bouts of anxiety and anger. In some cases, people fear maintaining relationships with someone who has an insecure attachment style due to the volatile nature of the relationship.
So how does this work? Interpersonal relationships are a big part of life, and they can be challenging without the right coping tools. Let's look at the four attachment styles highlighted by attachment theorists in more detail.
- Secure Attachment Style - Those with a secure attachment pattern won't have much need for this article unless they are dealing with an insecure partner. Secure attachment comes with knowing how to nourish a healthy relationship, offer emotional support, and respect the boundaries of others.
Those with a secure attachment style have confidence in the fact that they are worthy and deserving of others' love free and are relatively from attachment anxiety. It's rare that such confident partners become fearful of being abandoned or worry about their partner pulling away. Those with secure attachment styles don't use manipulation and threats in their intimate relationships.
If people with a secure attachment style do have questions or concerns about their relationship, they will ask for clarity before jumping to conclusions.
2. The Dismissive/Avoidant Attachment Style - Every person needs close connections, but you wouldn't know that from watching a person with a dismissive/avoidant attachment pattern. Usually, this pattern of reaction occurs within people whose parents were unavailable when they were young. They are "lone wolves" and often find themselves avoiding close connections, even with those they care for.
The Dismissive/Avoidant Style is an insecure attachment style that results from feelings of abandonment or having to develop independence at an early age. The Dismissive Avoidant attachment style becomes the basis for adult attachment in intimate relationships as adults now mirror the behavior of their original attachment figures that did not provide attention and reassurance in their early lives.
Because they had to be independent and spent so much time alone (physically or emotionally) as a child, they avoid intimacy. Dismissive-avoidant types can shut down emotionally. Wondering if your partner is dismissive-avoidant? Think about how they react to an argument. If they are quick to adopt an "I don't care attitude" and shut down completely, this type of pattern is probably at play.
3. The Fearful/Avoidant Attachment Style - Like the dismissive-avoidant attachment style, people with a fearful-avoidant attachment style also tend to avoid relationships or close intimacy, despite the fact that they may have a genuine desire for intimacy. Fearful-avoidant people worry so much that others will hurt them; they try to avoid love at all costs. But because they have a sincere internal desire to feel secure, fearful-avoidants find themselves seeking out attachments over and over again. Like a pendulum, people with a fearful-avoidant attachment style swing back and forth. At times, desperately wanting and needing a relationship and at other times, clawing to get away. Life as a fearful-avoidant can feel like an endless merry-go-round.
People who have a fearful-avoidant style of attachment have developed an anxious attachment style. Fearful-avoidants people have an internal dialogue that continually tells them that they "can't handle it" or "don't feel safe" in times of conflict.
4.The Anxious Attachment Style Type four is the least common type of attachment pattern, coming in at only twenty percent. Although it might not be as common, this pattern brings with it a great deal of turmoil. Also known as "preoccupied," those with anxious attachment patterns live life like damsels in distress. Always searching for reassurance, their relationships are filled with insecurity and fear. When they are unsure of how their partner feels, they become clinging or angry. Often, they lose the love they so desperately seek because of bad behavior.
But where does this fear come from? If you have this type of pattern, you probably had a mother or father who was inconsistent in how they responded to you when you were upset or needed reassurance. Warm and caring sometimes, this same parent could also be cold and aloof.
Children with such parents never know what they're going to get and become subconsciously obsessed with watching for cues of rejection. By the time they reach adulthood, their brain has wired itself to enter "fight or flight mode" when even the smallest hint of rejection is perceived.
Examining Attachment Anxiety
Examine this anxious attachment pattern, attachment tend, childhood experiences
Consider this scenario: You text your significant other to see if they want to meet you for lunch. An hour later, you still haven't received a response. You check Facebook messenger and confirm that they were online recently. Anger and anxiety start to rise within you.
A million thoughts start to race through your head. Are they at lunch with someone else? Do they want to break up? By the time your partner calls you back to tell you about their busy day and make plans for dinner, you've already convinced yourself that the relationship is over.
Though the situation above might sound strange to someone with a secure attachment pattern, those with attachment issues and insecure styles of attaching have likely gone through something similar. Do you find yourself acting out for attention or withdrawing when things don't go your way? Or maybe you're so critical that you've convinced yourself that you'll never have the love you want.
Do you use mind games, angry outbursts, or threats of a break-up to calm your fears and regain control? If any of the above sounds familiar, you may be suffering from attachment anxiety related to an insecure attachment style developed in childhood that causes you to be overly dependent on your partner.
Defining Attachment Anxiety
Nervousness, fearfulness, worry, and apprehension: these terms characterize the inner feelings of someone dealing with attachment anxiety.
Are all common characteristics of a person lacking a secure attachment style resulting from developing an anxious attachment pattern in early childhood, or another critical developmental period of their lives.
Instead of thinking of the positive parts of the relationship, a person with attachment anxiety will focus only on the negative. Even when in a relationship that is healthy and secure, a person with a disorganized attachment style or deep-rooted attachment anxiety will fear the worst.
Signs of Attachment Anxiety
Take for example Maria, a 30-year-old wife, and mother of three. Though currently in the best relationship of her life, Maria is constantly feared her husband will abandon her. One day after work, Maria pulled into her drive and noticed that her husband's car wasn't at home.
Instantly, her heart sank. At the same time, a million thoughts began to race through her mind. Had he left her? Surely, he had. After all, who would want to be with someone like herself? She couldn't cook that well, and the house wasn't always clean. She'd always felt like he was the better looking one and after having kids, she thought this to be fact.
As she sobbed with tears running down her face, Maria didn't even notice her husband's light taps on her driver's side window. Holding the milk, he had brought from the store; he stood at Maria's car window bewildered as to why she was crying in the driveway.
Maria's struggle is proof that although attachment anxiety isn't logical, it can be overwhelming and debilitating. If you can relate to Maria's struggle or one of the following signs, you may be experiencing adult attachment anxiety.
- Constantly seeking reassurance from loved ones
- A tendency to be bossy, controlling, and argumentative
- Also can be exciting, charming, and creative
- "Stir the pot" or self-sabotage their relationships
- Can be overly sensitive and take things personally
- May have emotional outbursts or become angry when afraid
- Uses sex to meet needs for approval or security
- Sees rejection in places it doesn't exist
Adults with attachment anxiety will find that they easily become overly dependent on their partner. Fear of intimacy and commitment issues are common issues found when adults with this attachment style when entering relationships.
Relationships are difficult for people with anxious adult attachment patterns. Adults who continually have trouble maintaining intimate relationships often seek therapy or couples counseling to learn how to effectively communicate.
When you're dealing with a negative attachment style, it's extremely important that you learn to set boundaries and respect the boundaries of others to have more successful intimate relationships.
Getting Rid of Attachment Anxiety
There's no sugar-coating it. Coping with attachment anxiety can be tough, and there's no magic pill or quick fix that can make it disappear. But thankfully there are ways that anxious attachment types can learn to move past their fears and insecurity, to enjoy secure, fulfilling relationships. Here are a few common-sense tips that can help you get rid of your attachment anxiety once and for all.
1. Know Your Pattern
Though it sounds cliché, knowledge is key here. The more you learn about your attachment style, the better you will be at handling the anxiety that comes along with it.
For example, research on attachment patterns shows that people with specific attachment styles negatively view neutral facial expressions. Meaning, if someone's face is normally resting with no smile or frown, your brain may interpret it as a threat/rejection or losing interest in what you have to say. This is why so many people with anxious styles get upset with partners who are cool or non-emotional during an argument. So, the next time your partner tries to console you with a straight-face, remind yourself that this doesn't equal rejection and that they aren't losing interest.
Learning more about attachment anxiety will also teach you to avoid serious discussions when you are emotionally activated. If you have attachment anxiety, you're prone to overreact during conversations that bring on raw emotions. Knowing that this is your pattern, you should practice giving yourself "time-outs" when you feel you are going too far. Remind yourself that it's okay to distance yourself from the situation.
The more research you do on your style of attachment, the less difficult your battle with attachment anxiety will be.
2. Avoid Pitfalls
It's important to remember that having attachment anxiety doesn't make you a "bad" person. But there are some mind-traps associated with your style that can make relationships difficult. If you're on the road to getting rid of attachment-based anxiety, you need to avoid some of the associated pitfalls or mind-traps. Some of the most common associated with the preoccupied attachment style include:
Mind-Reading: Assuming you know what someone thinks or will say beforehand. For example, you might assume your partner wants to break up as soon as you hear them say "I want to talk to you about something."
Worst-Case Thinking: Similarly, you might jump to the worst-case scenario or unfavorable outcome in any situation. This can cause you to make mistakes as you try to protect yourself from being hurt; for example, by prematurely breaking up with your girlfriend after a fight because you assume that she is going to call it off.
Personalizing- One final pitfall to avoid when trying to overcome attachment anxiety is the tendency to take everything personally. This goes back to the crying Maria whose husband went to the store. She assumed he left the house because of her flaws when in reality, he just wanted some milk for his cereal. The real issue, in this case, had to do with Maria's deep desire to love and be loved - and the fear of losing it.
Attachment Anxiety Can Have A Serious Impact On Your Wellbeing. Read More.Learn How to Manage Anxiety With An Online Therapist
3. Consider Therapy
Even those who know a lot about their attachment type and the anxiety they experience may have a hard time changing on their own. After all, these reactions and feelings have been hardwired since childhood. Some of us have lived with the negative effects of our anxious attachment styles for decades! For this reason, many people with attachment anxiety who want to eliminate their fear of intimacy recognize that it's time to find a therapist to get professional advice on cope with attachment patterns developed in early childhood.
Because therapists are qualified professionals, they know a great deal about the attachment process and disorganized attachment. Licensed therapists help attachment avoidant individuals move away from anxious behavior and towards healing. Through work with a qualified therapist, those suffering from attachment anxiety can learn to:
- Tackle and change irrational fears that plague relationships
- Be more confident when communicating wants and needs
- Feel empowered and have a stronger understanding of self
-Feel independent in their decision making
-Recognize specific attachment styles developed via family systems
-Increase security of attachment
If you don't know where to start or even if therapy is for you, consider using a therapist matching service to match you with the most suitable therapist for you.
4. Find a Buffer
One of the things therapists often hear from patients suffering from attachment anxiety is that they feel their relationships are doomed. Thankfully, this isn't true. While you are working to get rid of the attachment-related insecurity, you can still take part in a healthy relationship. It just has to be the right person!
As researchers Simpson and Overall explain, people with attachment anxiety feel and do better when in relationships with secure people. The reassurance and acceptance that a secure partner gives can act as an emotional buffer for the insecure partner's anxiety and lessen the effects of their specific attachment styles. In the long run, these types of partnerships tend to last longer than when emotionally anxious people are paired together or with avoidant types.
5. Practice Mindfulness
While you delve into learning more about your attachment style and consider whether or not to pursue therapy, you might find practicing mindfulness to be a great way to rid yourself of anxiety based attachment in adulthood.
In simple terms, mindfulness is the state of being present and focuses on looking at the world based on positive views. Instead of living in the future in an attempt to avoid negative experiences, people practicing mindfulness ground themselves in the here and now, acceptance and awareness. This is the focus of mindfulness.
Rumination, or obsessive thoughts and worries, is a huge part of attachment anxiety. Mindfulness reminds individuals of their capacity to love and helps break the patterns of disorganized attachment. By encouraging an anxious person to stay in the here and now through practicing mindfulness, insecurely attached individuals can move away from worry and unreasonable thinking by calming their nervous system and start to feel good again.
Though it may seem like a simple tool, mindfulness has some amazing benefits! Practicing mindfulness is good for our physical and mental health. Practicing mindfulness can boost your immune system and improve your quality of sleep and help to break the debilitating hold of attachment anxiety.
Becoming mindful can make you more compassionate, increase patience, and also boosts self-compassion. Not to mention, cultivating mindfulness can improve your memory and decision-making skills. One of the best benefits of all is that being mindful helps to reduce the stress of negative attachments. Mindfulness is an easy coping strategy to use as you begin to learn how to replace avoidant attachment styles with advice, diagnosis, and support.
Becoming mindful takes away stress and helps us regulate emotions and is becoming a popular healing modality of choice for those who suffer from the negative effects that anxious attachment can create. Following are some additional benefits a regular practice of mindfulness can provide for anxiety sufferers.
Persistent eye contact helps mindful practitioners remain in the here and now. Staying rooted in the here and now helps clients to break the hold of anxious attachment patterns that result from a fear of intimacy.
Because it's such a beneficial tool, there is a sea of information about mindfulness on the web. One of the best ways to learn the technique is with the assistance of a therapist, but you can get started on your own as well. The following few tips can provide a basis for practicing anxiety-busting mindfulness:
- Watch your breathing, especially when you are upset. Focusing on your inhaling and exhaling can help you calm yourself when experiencing intense emotions that are likely to push you over the edge.
- Recognize your emotions, keeping in mind that they are not who you are. Remind yourself that emotions are fleeting and can leave just as quickly as they arise. It's important to tell yourself in these heated or scared moments, "This will pass."
- Focus on physical sensations that your body registers as you start to get anxious. Just noticing what your body is doing can help you raise awareness and stay at the moment.
- Do a body scan, using the technique as a way to quiet your anxiety and avoid overthinking.
- Find a therapist to begin working through issues related to living with a negative attachment style.
Secure, Fulfilling Relationships Are Possible
At BetterHelp, our online therapists want to help you find a way to have healthy relationships where you're not worried about the other person leaving.
Develop healthier relationships by learning how to cope with early attachment patterns, especially those related to avoidant attachment and anxious attachment. When you find a therapist using our online search tool, feel confident to know that you can trust your BetterHelp therapist to provide advice, diagnosis, and support for dealing with a fear of intimacy resulting from adult attachment issues.
It's distressing to be overly concerned about losing a loved one. Feeling anxiously attached hurts you and is an exhausting dynamic for many friendships and romantic relationships. An online therapist at BetterHelp can support you in breaking your anxious attachment patterns and learning to be secure in your relationships.
You can trust your therapist to help you learn and become more confident in your choices. When you feel grounded in your sense of self, you won't be afraid of losing people. That's a goal to work on with your therapist. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
"I was skeptical of this forum initially. I am now 4 months in and I am really happy with the realizations Jennifer has helped me make. She's committed, honest, and direct but also comforting and positive. I think she has great insight, excellent experience and a good understanding of people that overcomes the challenges of online counseling. Her accessibility and availability is outstanding."
"Brandon has been amazing. He is always understanding and truly listens to me. He knows exactly what to say or ask to delve deeper into my anxieties and helps me figure out the root causes. He guides me along so that I may try and figure it out myself first, and that means a lot to me."
Although your issues with attachment anxiety may not be resolved overnight, you are fighting a winning battle. By understanding where your anxiety comes from and taking proactive steps to change your attachment style, you can rid yourself of unnecessary fear once and for all.
Seek knowledge, help if you need it, and stay mindful, realizing that you are worthy of love and are much more than your anxiety.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is anxious attachment in adults?
There is no formal diagnosis for anxious attachment in adults. However, any attachment disorder can occur in adulthood. Many adults with symptoms of attachment disorder are believed to have had the issues in childhood, but they may have been undiagnosed.
How do you overcome attachment anxiety?
Overcoming attachment anxiety is a journey and it requires consistency. Although it may feel overwhelming at times, there are some things you can do to help overcome attachment anxiety. A few ideas include:
- Give yourself a break. Take a few minutes to unplug from people or situations that may cause increased anxiety and allow yourself to think about the situation in a calm manner.
- Remember, you may have issues with anxiety, but that doesn’t mean you are beyond repair. Seek help if you feel overwhelmed. Find a therapist or counselor that you can talk to about your concerns.
- Talk to your loved ones/partner. Even if it feels uncomfortable, it is important to learn to communicate effectively so that your partner or loved one can understand what you are feeling and so that you can face your fears and anxiety directly.
How does anxious attachment develop?
Several factors are believed to contribute to the development of an anxious attachment. Inconsistent parenting or an inconsistent or unstable relationship with a primary caregiver during early childhood developmental stages is believed to be a major factor.
What are the four attachment styles?
The four attachment styles are secure, avoidant, anxious-ambivalent, and disorganized attachment.
Secure attachment: When secure attachments occur, a child feels loved, valued, and accepted. People who develop secure attachments typically feel a deep and harmonious emotional attachment between themselves and their attachment figure. People who develop secure attachments during infancy and childhood are believed to have increased chances of experiencing healthy relationships throughout their lifespan.
Anxious-ambivalent attachment type: This type of attachment occurs because a child feels as if he cannot trust or feel secure with a caregiver. Children who experience anxious-ambivalent attachments are often “on edge” and appear overly concerned with the thought of being abandoned. They often seek constant approval from caregivers or other authority figures. Adults and young adults who experienced anxious-ambivalent attachment as infants or very young children often become very emotionally dependent on others. They often fear that their partner does not have true feelings of love or affection toward them and they may find it difficult to interact with others.
Avoidant attachment: Avoidant attachments are often the result of children experiencing an inability to rely on their parents or primary caregivers. Children with avoidant attachment have difficulty understanding and expressing emotions and typically avoid any type of close relationship. In adulthood, those with avoidant attachment often have difficulty in personal relationships as they typically reject any type of intimacy.
Disorganized attachment is a mix between anxious attachment and avoidant attachments. Children with disorganized attachment often have explosive tempers, may have difficulty getting along with caregivers and may break things. Adults with disorganized attachment may come across as easily frustrated or angered. Although they may desire to have close relationships, they typically reject them as they don’t feel that anyone can love them.
What are the symptoms of attachment disorder?
Attachment disorder is a term used to describe conditions that cause people to have difficulty connecting with others and forming any type of meaningful or fulfilling relationship. Generally, the symptoms of attachment disorder involve a person having difficulty trusting and depending on partners or caregivers, exhibiting a preference to being alone rather than in the company of others, avoiding relationships because they feel they will not be fulfilling, and avoiding attempting to develop bonds with others. Feeling conflicted about any intimate relationship, desiring but avoiding being involved with a romantic partner, pushing aside feelings and emotions and fear that one is not good enough for a meaningful relationship are also common symptoms of attachment disorder.
Do Avoidants fall in love?
Although those with avoidant personalities by nature seem to avoid any type of intimate relationship, this does not mean they never fall in love. Being in love or being intimate with someone requires a willingness to be vulnerable to that person. For people with attachment disorder or attachment anxiety, vulnerability is a very scary place. However, it is possible for avoidants to learn ways to communicate with others and develop healthy attachments with decreased fear of falling in love. Talking with a counselor or therapist gives avoidants the chance to discuss their thoughts and feelings with someone who is trained to understand human emotion and behavior and who can give some insight on how to begin developing healthy attachments.
How do you date someone with anxious attachment?
Dating someone with anxious attachment does not have to be an impossible feat. It does, however, require a willingness to understand what has caused your partner to have anxious attachment as well as a willingness to put forth a conscious effort and be intentional with measures to help reduce your partner’s anxiety.
Lack of an ability to feel safe and secure is the underlying cause of the emotional unavailability associated with attachment disorders. Therefore, it’s important to be consistent with your presence. You don’t have to be present every hour of the day but knowing that you are emotionally available and willing to listen and be supportive can have a positive impact on a relationship with someone who has anxious attachment.
If you must argue (and most couples do at some point), make sure you reiterate to your partner that an argument does not mean that you are going to leave them or end the relationship. Unfortunately, people with attachment disorders tend to expect the worse in any situation. So, giving them assurance can help alleviate some of those fears.
Validate their feelings. People with anxious attachment may have a wide array of feelings and it is important to acknowledge their feelings and encourage them. Do not judge or shame them for feeling anxious about your relationship. Rather, show support of their emotions so they can learn to feel secure with you.
How do you fix insecure attachment?
Insecure attachments can cause you to feel overwhelmed and unsure if having a healthy relationship is possible. The good news is, you can learn to overcome insecure attachments and establish healthy long-term relationships. For most people, the most difficult part of overcoming insecurities is to acknowledge the things that happened that led to those feelings. Talking with a counselor or therapist is a good way to explore your feelings and experiences and may give you a sense of security as you begin to understand why insecure attachments have developed. It is necessary to identify what events in your life lead to the feelings of insecurity and work on changing those patterns of behavior for yourself.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a type of therapy that involves discussing thoughts and feelings and learning ways to address issues, such as insecure attachment, and how to develop healthy relationships.
Does anxiety cause insecurity?
Anxiety can cause feelings of insecurity. However, not everyone who experiences anxiety will develop issues with insecure attachments, or insecurity in general.
Do I have attachment anxiety?
It is not uncommon for people to experience anxiety regarding relationships. Whether it’s a professional, personal, or intimate relationship, attachment anxiety is a real thing. Learning to recognize signs of attachment anxiety and knowing when to find a therapist or mental health professional can help you begin to develop secure attachments moving forward.
Some of the most common signs of attachment include feeling an increased need for security, questioning whether you can count on your partner for support, having low self-esteem or a negative self-perception, being overly sensitive to rejection, and always suspecting that your partner or friends are pulling away from a relationship with you.
Are attachment disorders associated with other mental health disorders?
While it is possible for people with attachment disorders to have a mental health diagnosis and vice versa, that does not mean that everyone with a mental health disorder will also have difficulty establishing healthy attachments. Some people with borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders (as well as other mental health disorders) may develop patterns of poor relationship building. However, this does not mean that everyone with a mental health diagnosis is incapable of establishing healthy attachments.
What does anxious attachment look like?
Although attachment anxiety may present differently in individuals who are affected, there are some common symptoms that may be indicative of the disorder. Some of the most common symptoms of anxious attachment include:
- Worry over losing a partner
- Behaviors that smother a partner
- An extreme desire to feel closer or more secure with others
- The constant need for support from or contact with others
- Oversensitivity to rejection or abandonment
- Negative view of self-worth or low self-esteem
- Some people with anxious attachment experience separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is especially common in children.
- Some studies have shown that there may be a connection between eating disorders and insecure attachments.
What are the signs of attachment disorder in adults?
Signs of attachment disorders in adults vary depending on the type of attachment disorder a person is experiencing. Adults with avoidant attachment disorder may have a general mistrust for others, feel the need to control others, clash with people who are authority figures and avoid intimacy. Those with anxious-ambivalent attachment disorder often exhibit a significant dependence on relationships, cannot take rejection, are possessive, and have an excessive need for affection from or contact with others, as well as a need for constant reassurance. With proper help and intervention to help affected individuals learn how to develop healthy attachments, it is possible to reduce the impact the extremes to which attachment disorders may affect relationships.
Does an avoidant person miss you?
One of the misconceptions that many people have about people who have avoidant characteristics is that they do not feel things the same as others. While some people with attachment disorders may react differently to emotions and situations, this does not mean that they cannot feel the same emotions as others. Avoidants who have experienced the end of a relationship may appear to not miss their former partner/friend. However, many mental health professionals are of the opinion that they do miss you, but also feel a sense of relief because the thing they dreaded (being left alone) has happened.
What is anxious avoidant attachment?
Anxious avoidant attachment type, often referred to as fearful-avoidant attachment, is a complex type of attachment disorder. A person with anxious attachment tends to move toward closeness and intimacy, as if they crave it. Avoidants react in the opposite manner, by avoiding intimacy when at all possible. Because the symptoms of anxious avoidant attachment seem to exist on opposites ends of the attachment spectrum, people with anxious avoidant attachment issues often seem to be on a roller coaster of emotions and experience ups and downs in their relationships that are quite extreme.
What does insecure attachment look like?
Insecure attachment is characterized by a person’s inability to bond with others in ways that make them feel secure. These attachments generally involve some type of fear: fear of abandonment, fear of pain, fear of loss. Most mental health professionals agree that insecure attachments begin during stages of infancy and early childhood development, as the first bonds that one should develop occur during this time. Disorganized attachment is a common type of insecure attachment that often occurs in people who have experienced abuse during childhood. Individuals with this type of attachment disorder may experience panic attacks or develop generalized anxiety disorder. Anxious-ambivalent attachment generally causes symptoms of dependence upon others, an over-sensitivity to rejection, and an extreme need for approval from others. Anxious-avoidant attachment causes individuals to have difficulty establishing any type of close relationship. While people with this type of insecure attachment seem very independent, they also experience extreme anxiety, especially if they feel someone is trying to become emotionally close to them.
What causes poor attachment?
Although there may be several factors that contribute to a poor attachment type, physical neglect is believed to be one of the most significant factors. Lack of proper nutrition, lack of sleep, neglecting a child’s need to be fed, clean and dry and neglecting medical care are all examples of physical neglect that may lead to attachment disorders. When caregivers are emotionally unavailable during a child’s infancy and early childhood years it is also believed to have a significant impact on the development of poor attachments.