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Avoidant Attachment

/Avoidant Attachment
Avoidant Attachment 2015-10-07T17:16:59+01:00

Characterized as being afraid of intimacy, experiencing emotional highs and lows during relationships, along with much jealousy.

In the avoidant attachment style, caregivers’ emotionally unavailable, insensitive and even hostile responses to a child’s need for connection forms a coping strategy of disconnection in a child. Avoidantly attached people commonly find their greatest struggle to be a lack of emotion. Without intimate nurturance the limbic system is neurologically starved and does not receive the signals required for building social responses nor the frontal brain stimulation that develops bonding.

This disconnection extends first to the parents and then to all other relationships. Though some of our cultural models extol the virtues of this self-reliant lone-wolf behavior (think X man Wolverine, or the quintessential “Desperado” cowboy icon), actually living with such a lack of emotional attunement can be increasingly isolated. When working with Avoidant attachment, the intrepid task of the therapist is to nurture a transition to a fully embodied and participatory existence by creating a welcoming and contactful experience full of compassion “permission for existence.”

Characteristics of Avoidant Attachment

Children with avoidant attachment styles tend to avoid parents and caregivers. This avoidance often becomes especially pronounced after a period of absence. These children might not reject attention from a parent, but neither do they seek our comfort or contact. Children with an avoidant attachment show no preference between a parent and a complete stranger.

As adults, those with an avoidant attachment tend to have difficulty with intimacy and close relationships. These individuals do not invest much emotion in relationships and experience little distress when a relationship ends. They often avoid intimacy by using excuses (such as long work hours), or may fantasize about other people during sex. Research has also shown that adults with an avoidant attachment style are more accepting and likely to engage in casual sex (Feeney, J., Noller, and Patty 1993). Other common characteristics include a failure to support partners during stressful times and an inability to share feelings, thoughts and emotions with partners.

As children

1)   May avoid parents

2)   Does not seek much comfort or contact from parents

3)   Shows little or no preference between parent and stranger

As Adults

 1)   May have problems with intimacy

2)   Invest little emotion in social and romantic relationships

3)   Unable or unwilling to share thoughts and feelings with others


Significant Indication: Somebody who grew up with parents with an Avoidant attachment style, may develop a dismissive adult attachment pattern, they will view others negatively and view self positively.