Avoidant attachment is a pattern of behaviors a person tends towards in regards to relationships and connections with others. This attachment style often develops in early childhood, although signs may differ in children and adults.
Signs of avoidant attachment in children and adults
Children with avoidant attachment often:
- Do not like to be touched or cuddled.
- Avoid eye contact or conversations with their caregivers
- Seldom ask for any help.
- Look like they want to be left alone, although in reality, they want to be looked after.
- May have disordered eating patterns.
Adults with avoidant attachment may:
- Avoid making friends.
- Have a hard time taking criticism or disapproval.
- Dislike or feel uncomfortable being touched or physically close to anyone.
- Do not open up or show their emotions easily.
- Fear that being in a relationship will cause them harm.
- May blame their partner for being too demanding or clingy.
- Neither ask for emotional support nor offer it.
- Are excessively particular about their “me time.”
- Want to be left alone in times of stress.
- Appear to be unperturbed during emotional situations.
- Do not like being advised and prefer making independent decisions.
- Struggle with intimacy and making lasting relationships.
- Avoid sharing or complaining if something hurts them.
- Afraid of being judged or rejected and may be secretive.
- Do not appear to be completely invested in their present relationships.
- Appear to be preoccupied and indulgent about their own needs and comforts.
- Excessively stress being free or independent.
What causes avoidant attachment?
Avoidant or dismissive attachment is a type of attachment behavior or style where a person struggles with making intimate connections, especially with those close to them, such as caregivers, friends, or spouses. The way a person interacts or attaches themselves to others is largely influenced by their relationship with their caregivers or parents during their childhood.
Avoidant attachment generally affects children who were not well cared for by their parents or caregivers. They may have faced significant neglect or inattention, which makes them develop an avoidant attitude toward others. They appear to seek independence as a defense mechanism against the possibility of being hurt or rejected.
Negligent behaviors from caregivers may include:
- Not attending to the child when they are crying or worried
- Making fun of the child
- Not giving enough time or attention to the child
- Not looking after the nutritional or medical needs of the child
- Being too critical toward the child.
Can avoidant attachment be treated?
Avoidant attachment can be treated by a qualified psychiatrist or therapist. Therapy and counseling may be required for years to completely recover from avoidant attachment.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is generally the treatment of choice. It helps pinpoint the cause of the avoidant behavior and equips the person to overcome their fears, build self-confidence, and develop healthy relationships. The support from family and friends also plays a great role in recovery.
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