Updated: Apr 3
"come here... go away..."
...That's standard for someone with a Fearful Avoidant attachment style.
In psychology, Attachment Theory is the observed behaviour of how a person bonds & forms attachments with their parents. This research has extended into how these attachment behaviours carry into our adult relationships. ie, how we love & who we fall in love with based on how love was modelled to us by our parents.
There are 4 main attachment styles, Secure, Anxious Preoccupied, Fearful Avoidant & Dismissive Avoidant. "Secure" is the ideal attachment style. Those are the people who have healthy loving relationships.
Due to experiences in my childhood & early relationships, I developed what is known as a Fearful Avoidant attachment style. This style is like a cross between Anxious Preoccupied (love addict) & Dismissive Avoidant (avoids relationships altogether). Essentially, I DEEPLY DESIRE closeness & love, but at the same time I keep it at a distance (#comehere #goaway). I create circumstances that make me unavailable to men, focussing on my work & projects & using it as an excuse not to date.
I tend to only be attracted to men who are also distant
...and likely to have avoidant attachment styles themselves. I was often attracted to men who are very unavailable, ie; they live in another country, and I'd always find it easier to befriend men who were married, because there's a barrier between us, and to me that feels safe. I've never entered into a relationship with a married man, but I find it easier to be emotionally open with men who are married because there's no risk of feeling overwhelmed by them. I preferred being around men who were distant, so I wouldn't feel trapped by them. But then I never got the closeness I craved either, or I'd wind up getting hurt. Messed up huh? It was incredibly confusing for me also. In my past, I've dated and had offers of love from beautiful men, whom I adore, and I've backed away from it like a blinding light in my eyes that I can't see past. It feels overwhelming and there's a fear that I might lose my sense of self and independence if I go along with it.
The good news is that I'm now aware of it and I'm taking action to heal it (self work, therapy, boundary setting). I no longer feel threatened by relationships and jobs that require commitment. I discovered that I had to heal my wounds and create boundaries to feel safe, and develop a more secure attachment style.
I find that being open about it makes it easier to make changes. I've come a long way.
If you care about a someone with a similar attachment style and all of this sounds incredibly dire, don't be completely disheartened. I've had normal relationships that have emulated a secure attachment style, where we communicate and exchange like regular secure folk do, however it has been tremendously taxing for me. To the point of mental exhaustion. In one relationship I cried myself to sleep many nights because I felt as though I was compromising my self care every day and constantly giving everything I had just to meet the needs of my partner. And in another relationship I found it incredibly difficult to trust him and I let that distrust turn the relationship sour.
The remedy for the first situation is a lot easier for me now, and that comes down to me knowing and communicating my boundaries. Letting my partner know that I sometimes need space and time to myself, rather than feel guilty and force myself to bend, and later resent him for always having needs that were louder than my own. It's tricky when you care about someone and you haven't learned how to say no to people without feeling like a jerk. I'm wonderful at saying no in a loving way these days. It's my favourite thing to do. I highly recommend it. People appreciate the honesty and clarity. There's no room for miscommunication when you let people know what your boundaries are.
The second situation has more to do with the fearful side of how I attach, and that is remedied by healing my woulds to learn how to trust others, and choosing partners who are able to be more transparent and communicative.
Attachment styles can be healed, and people who avoid love can work to be more secure and have loving relationships. But this takes work and recognition on the part of the person who needs to do the work. If you find that you're often attracted to the "wrong" type of person and wind up hurt, or you can't manage friendships or work relationships, it could have something to do with your attachment style. Once you heal that, you can open yourself up to healthy fulfilling secure relationships.
The first step is recognising that you have an attachment disorder, and the best way to heal it, is to model yourself on people who have secure attachment styles - be like them. Or date someone who has a very secure attachment style, or re-parent yourself (self soothing, kind words), or have parental type figures whom you trust who offer support and unconditional care to get you through it; a therapist can fit this role.
For me the healing process has been largely supported by creating boundaries, letting others know what is and isn't okay with me in terms of giving away my time, affection and attention, and also letting others know when I feel overwhelmed by their attention. I'm finding that it's crucial that I work to meet my own needs, and surround myself with people who are supportive, but to also allow others to meet my needs, to ask for affection and receive it (not run away from it). It's a process of constant checking in with myself, always checking my thoughts, allowing myself to trust.
The hard exterior is beginning to crack, the light is beginning to shine through. If there's hope for me, there's hope for you too!
For more banter on the subject, check out my YouTube video above...
#attachmenttheory #psychology #personaldevelopment #realationships #love #trust #boundaries #creativewriting #selfcare #mentalhealthawareness #selfhelp #spiritualdevelopment #enlightenment
Alicia Pavlis is a writer, actor, musician, filmmaker, photographer, visual artist, and content producer. She is passionate about progressive topics and is also an advocate for mental health awareness. All writing, artwork and content expressed on this site are Alicia's own views and intellectual property, protected by Australian copyright law, reproduction, distribution or publication without Alicia Pavlis' permission is prohibited.
Follow Alicia on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter: @aliciapavlis