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Understanding Insecure Attachment – Part 2: Avoidant Attachment

avoidant anxious attachment

The way that parents interact with their infant during the first few months of its life largely determines the type of attachment it will form with them. When parents are sensitively attuned to their baby, a secure attachment is likely to develop. Being securely attached to a parent or primary caregiver bestows numerous benefits on children that usually last a lifetime.  Securely attached children are better able to regulate their emotions, feel more confident in exploring their environment, and tend to be more empathic and caring than those who are insecurely attached.

In contrast, when parents are largely mis-attuned, distant, or intrusive, they cause their children considerable distress. Children adapt to this rejecting environment by building defensive attachment strategies in an attempt to feel safe, to modulate or tone down intense emotional states, and to relieve frustration and pain. They form one of three types of insecure attachment patterns to their parent, (an avoidant, ambivalent/anxious, or disorganized/fearful).  In this article, we describe avoidant attachment patterns, which have been identified as representing approximately 30% of the general population.


What is Avoidant Attachment? 

Parents of children with an avoidant attachment tend to be emotionally unavailable or unresponsive to them a good deal of the time. They disregard or ignore their children’s needs, and can be especially rejecting when their child is hurt or sick. These parents also discourage crying and encourage premature independence in their children.

In response, the avoidant attached child learns early in life to suppress the natural desire to seek out a parent for comfort when frightened, distressed, or in pain. Attachment researcher Jude Cassidy describes how these children cope: “During many frustrating and painful interactions with rejecting attachment figures, they have learned that acknowledging and displaying distress leads to rejection or punishment.” By not crying or outwardly expressing their feelings, they are often able to partially gratify at least one of their attachment needs, that of remaining physically close to a parent.

Children identified as being avoidantly attached disconnect from their bodily needs. Some of these children learn to rely heavily on self-soothing, self-nurturing behaviors. They develop a pseudo-independent orientation to life and maintain the illusion that they can take complete care of themselves. As a result, they have little desire or motivation to seek out other people for help or support.


What behaviors are associated with avoidant/anxious attachment in children?

Even as toddlers, many avoidant children have already become self-contained, precocious “little adults.” As noted, the main defensive attachment strategy employed by avoidantly attached children is to never show outwardly a desire for closeness, warmth, affection, or love. However, on a physiological level, when their heart rates and galvanic skin responses are measured during experimental separation experiences, they show as strong a reaction and as much anxiety as other children. Avoidantly attached children tend to seek proximity, trying to be near their attachment figure, while not directly interacting or relating to them.

In one such experiment, the “Strange Situation” procedure, attachment theorist Mary Ainsworth, observed the responses of 1-year olds during separation and reunion experiences.  The avoidant infants “avoided or actively resisted having contact with their mother” when their mother returned to the room. According to Dan Siegel, when parents are distant or removed, even very young children “intuitively pick up the feeling that their parents have no intention of getting to know them, which leaves them with a deep sense of emptiness.”


How does an avoidant/anxious attachment develop in children?

Why do some parents, who consciously want the best for their child, find it difficult to remain attuned or to be emotionally close to their children? Attachment researchers have identified several reasons for parents’ difficulties in this area. In studying a number of emotionally distant mothers, the researchers found that the mothers’ lack of response to their infant was at least partly due to their lack of knowledge about “how to support others.”  Some of the mothers lacked empathy, whereas others had failed to develop a sense of closeness and commitment that appear to be crucial factors in “motivating caregiving behavior.” They also reported a childhood “history of negative attachment experiences with rejecting caregivers and role models,” which explained why they had “a more limited repertoire of caregiving strategies at their disposal.”

In other words, the mothers in this study were treating their infants much as they had been treated as children, and their babies were now forming an avoidant attachment to them. Interestingly, a recent meta-review of attachment research has provided other “evidence for the intergenerational transmission of attachment style;” it has also demonstrated important links between parents’ avoidant styles of caregiving and their children’s avoidant attachment, especially in older children and adolescents.


The Avoidant/Dismissive Attachment Style in Adults   

People who formed an avoidant attachment to their parent or parents while growing up have what is referred to as a dismissive attachment in adulthood. Because they learned as infants to disconnect from their bodily needs and minimize the importance of emotions, they often steer clear of emotional closeness in romantic relationships. Dismissively attached adults will often seek out relationships and enjoy spending time with their partner, but they may become uncomfortable when relationships get too close. They may perceive their partners as “wanting too much” or being clinging when their partner’s express a desire to be more emotionally close.

When faced with threats of separation or loss, many dismissive men and women are able to focus their attention on other issues and goals. Others tend to withdraw and attempt to cope with the threat on their own.  They deny their vulnerability and use repression to manage emotions that are aroused in situations that activate their attachment needs. When they do seek support from a partner during a crisis, they are likely to use indirect strategies such as hinting, complaining, and sulking.

According to attachment researchers, Fraley and Brumbaugh, many dismissing adults use “pre-emptive” strategies to deactivate the attachment system, for example, they may choose not to get involved in a close relationship for fear of rejection; they may avert their gaze from unpleasant sights, or they may “tune out” a conversation related to attachment issues. A second strategy is to suppress memories of negative attachment events, such as a breakup. In fact, adults categorized as dismissing report very few memories of their early relationship with parents. Others may describe their childhood as happy and their parents as loving, but are unable to give specific examples to support these positive evaluations.

People with this type of attachment style tend to be overly focused on themselves and their own creature comforts, and largely disregard the feelings and interests of other people. They also find it difficult to disclose their thoughts and feelings to their partner. Their typical response to an argument, conflict, and other stressful situation is to become distant and aloof.

Dismissive adults often have an overly positive view of themselves and a negative, cynical attitude toward other people. In many cases, this high self-esteem is defensive and protects a fragile self that is highly vulnerable to slights, rejections, and other narcissistic wounds. It exists usually as a compensation for low self-esteem and feelings of self-hatred. According to adult attachment experts Phil Shaver and Mario Mikulincer, avoidant partners often react angrily to perceived slights or other threats to their self-esteem, for example, whenever the other person fails to support or affirm their inflated self-image.


How are patterns of attachment supported by the critical inner voice?

The kinds of negative, distrustful, and hostile attitudes toward other people that are associated with a dismissing attachment style are compounded by destructive thoughts or critical inner voices. The overly positive and seemingly friendly views of self that are experienced by many avoidant individuals are also promoted by the inner voice and are often a cover-up for vicious, self-degrading thoughts.  Both kinds of voices, toward the self and others, are part of an internal working model, based on a person’s earliest attachments, which act as a guideline for how to relate to a romantic partner. The critical inner voice can be thought of as the language of these internal working models; the voice acts as a negative filter through which the people look at themselves, their partner and relationships in general.

Although many critical inner voices are only partly conscious, they have the power to shape the ways that people respond to each other in their closest, most intimate relationships. Individuals identified as having a dismissing attachment style have reported experiencing such thoughts as:

“You don’t need anyone.”

“Don’t get too involved. You’ll just be disappointed.”

“Men won’t commit to a relationship.”

“Women will try to trap you.”

 “Why does he/she demand so much from you?”

“You’ve got to put up with a lot to stay involved with a man/woman.”

“There are other, more important things in life than romance.”

“You’ve got to protect yourself.  You’re going to get hurt in this relationship.”

“You’re too good for him/her.”


How can we transform a dismissing/avoidant attachment into a secure one?

Fortunatelywe don’t have to remain trapped within the confines of the defensive attachment strategies we developed early in life.  There are many experiences throughout life that provide opportunities for personal growth and change. Although your patterns of attachment were formed in infancy and persist throughout your life, it is possible to develop an “Earned Secure Attachment”at any age.

One essential way to do this is by making sense of your story. According to Dr. Dan Siegel, attachment research demonstrates that “the best predictor of a child’s security of attachment is not what happened to his parents as children, but rather how his parents made sense of those childhood experiences.” The key to “making sense” of your life experiences is to write a coherent narrative, which helps you understand how your childhood experiences are still affecting you in your life today. In PsychAlive’s online course with Drs. Dan Siegel and Lisa Firestone, they walk you through the process of creating a coherent narrative to help you to build healthier, more secure attachments and strengthen your own personal sense of emotional resilience. When you create a coherent narrative, you actually rewire your brain to cultivate more security within yourself and your relationships.

In a previous article, I noted that being involved in a long-term relationship with someone who has a secure attachment style is one pathway toward change. The other way is through therapy; the therapeutic alliance or relationship offers a safe haven in which to explore our attachment history and gain a new perspective on ourselves, others and relationships in general.


To learn more about how to write a coherent narrative and develop an earned secure attachment, join Dr. Lisa Firestone and Dr. Daniel Siegel for the online course “Making Sense of Your Life: Understanding Your Past to Liberate Your Present and Empower Your Future.”


  1. i am confused by the descriptions here. It seems it changed halfway through the article from describing Avoidant/Anxious, to describing Dismissive/Avoidant, or are they both the same thing?

    • They’re not the same thing. They’re confounding the two, which makes this article confusing. This article sounds like it’s describing people who have avoidant attachment, but not anxious-avoidant attachment.

      Avoidant attachment is “I’m better off alone period. I can satisfy my own needs better than anyone else can.”

      Anxious-avoidant attachment is “I want intimacy, but I’m afraid to get too close.” I think anxious-avoidant is also known as fearful-avoidant where as avoidant attachment is typically dismissive-avoidant.

      Anxious attachment is “I fall deep and want to merge completely with my partner, but I’m afraid I want more intimacy than my partner does.”

      Secure attachment is “I’m okay with intimacy, and I’m okay with being alone for a while too.”

      But I think people can have one attachment style, but still have a few traits of another attachment style. People tend to fall on a spectrum and not inside clear cut categories.

    • Joyce Catlett, M.A.

      I apologize for the deletion of my earlier reply to the first reader’s comment, which occurred because of a malfunction on our website last month. Dismissive/avoidant attachment is a descriptive term often applied to the way that individuals interact in their adult attachments or relationships. The term is used by a number of attachment researchers who explore adult romantic attachments, whereas the terms “anxious/avoidant attachment” and “avoidant attachment” are used by developmental psychologists to describe attachment patterns formed between parent and child. You can find the work by adult attachment researchers by accessing the hyper-links embedded within the article.
      And you are right. Human beings cannot be adequately described by categories, and the descriptive categories introduced by Mary Ainsworth and Mary Main encompass a continuum of behaviors and traits. Mary Ainsworth also found that children often formed different attachment patterns with mother and father. in addition, she often found two attachment patterns within one child, although one was usually more prominent than the other. “Fearful attachment” is a term used by some researchers to describe a disorganized attachment pattern. Our work is focused on exploring the psychodynamics underlying the attachment patterns and especially the cognitive processes that make up Internal Working Models rather than on the attachment categories themselves. Thanks for all your comments and I especially liked your simple descriptions of the three patterns.

    • Joyce Catlett, M.A.

      Please see my reply below to the second reader’s comment. I replied to you last month, but the reply was erased through a malfunction on our website.

    • Joyce Catlett, M.A.

      Hi Michelle, please see my reply to Heather below. I apologize for the delay, but we had a website glitch with comments last month!

  2. I believe I have and anxious/avoidant attachment. In my case I tend to be instantly clingy and needy in relationships and then once the relationship is established I tend to start to distance myself. Which is opposite of what is conveyed in the above article. My mother was in the hospital for three months with post partum psychosis when I was six months old in 1968. I have no other information with regards to what happened or did not happen to me during the six months of my life prior to her hospital stay. I was cared for by my grandparent for the three months. I do not suspect any physical harm and I am waiting for my childhood hospital records to confirm that. What I do suspect is a lack of response to me by my mother who was very depressed at that time. My mother passed in 1989 and never told me about this. I was later informed by my grandmother (not the one who cared for me) about her stay in hospital. I guess my question is what are the effects on children and adult children of mother’s who suffered from post partum psychosis and who it effected my attachment? Also was or would I have been affected again by the separation with my grandparents as caregivers once my mother was released? Any further information regarding effects on post partum psychosis on children or anxious/avoidant attachment would be greatly appreciated.

    • I do believe you are effected by your mother even in the womb. I was adopted at birth and definitely it effects me. I was also emotionally rejecting during one of my pregnancies due to a pending divorce and even though i love her to pieces, that particular child has much stronger abandonment issues compared to my other older kids when I was more stable during their pregnancies.

    • Joyce Catlett, M.A.

      You really had a rough beginning in life! But your pattern of responding to love is not that unusual. Many people who have been hurt that early in life feel “clingy” or desperate to find love in an attempt to make up for what was lacking in their childhood environment. The problem is that as soon as the relationship becomes meaningful to them, both emotionally and physically gratifying, they become afraid of losing their new love, of being thrust back into the same painful situation they faced as a child. They fear potential rejection and abandonment. And so to protect themselves, they unconsciously pull back or start withholding the very qualities in themselves that their partner especially loved. Robert Firestone and I have described this pattern in detail in the book Fear of Intimacy (1999).
      Children of depressed mothers, in particular, suffer from their mother’s inability to be attuned to them, to their feelings or their needs. They lack a figure who will mirror their emotions back to them, someone who can help them learn how to regulate disturbing emotions, such as their fear, anxiety and anger, and help them build a “core self. You can find some more information on this topic in Daniel Stern’s book The Interpersonal World of the Infant (1985) and any of Ed Tronik’s studies about depressed mothers— for example, his “Still Face” experiments.

  3. Hello I am dating a men who i think has faerful avoidant attachement. We are 3 years together but he never says me i love you and he says he don’t want commitment. When i leave he then starts to make me come back. He says he is confused about his feelings and he is not sure. When we get close he immediately pulls back. I wanted to know how can i help him undestand that he has a problem and that it’s not about me

  4. Which attachment stye is it if your overriding fear of relationship/intimacy is losing self-control/inhibition or of feeling emotions you find demeaning?

  5. Where are parts 1 and 3?

  6. I feel that most people including those that are emotional stable are often all, if not, many of these things dismissive, avoidant, fearful, anxious, etc. Hopefully NOT simultaneously and to varying degrees. I feel it is ALMOST next to impossible to pin-point where a person actually falls because emotionally unstable people don’t speak clearly and are usually very inconsistent. I feel that all of these attachment styles are one in the same, they all mesh and intertwine at some point. My husband along with myself, based on the criteria qualifies in every attachment style. For example I can be very dismissive when he wants to “communicate” after coming out of one of his mood swings. We avoid each other when there is tension. Actually, I tend to avoid moody people in general.

    My husband can be avoidant wether it’s a bill, unpleasant situation, confrontation, life, etc. I know A LOT of women who struggle with husbands who like to avoid things as much as possible, all of those men didn’t come from avoidant broken homes. My husband and I are both in our early 40’s, this is my second marriage and his first. I am a serial monogamist, he has a history of short-term relationships. Neither is “ideal”. I feel that a lot of people spend their life avoiding anything “unpleasant” this is why happiness is constantly being SOLD to us. I think that life and the future make people fearful, anxious, avoidant, etc. Besides all of that when a relationship goes well everyone is on board. It’s only when that relationship shifts or something happens people start to rethink their status. Due to technology and social media I think we should redefine attachment styles. Parenting was MUCH different than it is now. Most kids come from two working parents who are constantly to busy. Over half of all married couples will divorce at some point and now kids now rely on social media, sports, etc to connect. So in the future will these attachment labels be accurate. We are now connected to texts, imagery, false ideals (happiness, it’s NOT something you ATTAIN), expect to much, don’t give enough, are entitled, deserving, live on credit and borrowed time, etc. I fear and it seems that MOST people have become avoidant. Women don’t even need a man to have a baby anymore, men are becoming obsolete.

    • I’ll start by assuring you that this is in no way a personal attack, please don’t take it as such. I simply believe you’ve missed the bigger picture. There isn’t an illness in existence that has but one symptom which affects every individual in but one manner with but one outcome that’s resolved in but one case study. Ludicrous, right? Knowing no two minds are alike consider that, realistically, all mental illnesses begin with the same metanarrative. Think expanding circles that co-mingle as you age starting in the center with 1.Chrono=you+ever-changing factors: age, sex, health, religious beliefs, stress, experiences etc. 2.Micro=(direct contact)family, playmates, schoolmates, peers, romantic partners, coworkers etc. 3.Meso=(partial contact)friends of family, friends of friends, friends of partner, neighbors, work acquaintances, child’s school etc. 4:Exo=(influential contact)child’s friends, child’s partner, declining health, social/mass media, politics, school related programs etc. 5:Macro=(basic norms-mental influence)society, law, history, culture, economic structure, gender role socialization and ideologies. That’s an average, VERY simple and “easy” life; now add death, tragedy, stress, abuse, other stressors and realize that circle never stops growing, affecting, overlapping and changing you. The sheer volume of differentiating factors that affect just ONE individual is mind blowing. Genetic and environmental factors affect mental illnesses in the same manner, those illnesses are studied using the same micro-meso-exo-macro system, must be factored into a patient’s past, are just as unpredictable and just as unique as the individual suffering from them. The study wasn’t meant to pinpoint with precision, you stated that you’re aware that’s an impossible task, but research has to start somewhere. So yeah, some of the factors you mentioned do exist-for some. Yes, society is, has, and will always be changing-for everyone and it’s not ALL negative. Yes, comorbid mental illness is a reality that, again, affects every individual differently-some display one or more expected trait and some don’t. I won’t get into the man/woman issue, it’s got nothing to do with mental illness. I do, however, hope you find the peace you seek and wish you the best.

  7. It seems really unfair to suggest that avoidant attachment can only be cured by a relationship or potential relationship. I’m a 31 year old woman and I have never once in my life been attracted to anybody (real or fictional, yes really) and I don’t find relationships appealing at all. My parents were wholly emotionally unavailable throughout my childhood and I spent much of that time and adulthood trying to make myself unnoticeable so that I wouldn’t be a target of the yelling and spanking. Am I doomed to be forever stuck with what’s essentially a form of Complex-PTSD because I’m asexual and don’t want to be put through sexual reorientation therapy? I’ve already been abused by men and women who thought that their own romantic/sexual feelings for me could fix me, which of course ultimately fixed nothing. This feeling of soulessness and emptiness is so utterly despairing and I’m “lucky” to not have the constitution to physically act on said despair.

    • PsychAlive

      Because our attachment systems are fractured within a relationship, they must be fixed within a relationship. However, this relationship does NOT need to be of a sexual or romantic nature. Studies show that a long-term therapeutic relationship with a therapist can help individuals develop an Earned Secure Attachment. It is also possible that a close, consistent, long-term friendship can help heal the wound of attachment. You are not doomed. There is hope!

      • Thank you for responding! It’s a relief to hear that it doesn’t always have to be an (invasive and unwanted) intimate relationship and can be a long-term professional therapist thing instead. I’ve been scared away by too many treatment programs that assume they can “cure” my lack of attractions in the process, but maybe I’ll find a therapist who isn’t like that someday. Thank you again for acknowledging the alternatives.

        • Hello – I deeply resonated on some level with your post and though I’ve never responded on websites, I feel called to, just by chance some things I’ve discovered may be of some use to you. I’ve been studying attachment theory for a while and am currently listening to interviews on the SoundsTrue.com psychotherapy 2.0 summit of some of the most thoughtful, impressive, compassionate people in this field (e.g. Diane Poole Heller, Daniel Siegel, Rick Hanson, Bonnie Badenoch, Stephen Porges, David Wallin, etc.)
          These are experts in various fields dealing with attachment, trauma, interpersonal neurobiology, etc. and most have written books; I find great comfort in listening/watching them, and further interviews/talks of theirs can be found free of charge through such sites as: ShrinkRapRadio.com, Insights at the Edge (also through soundstrue.com), the Greater Good Science Center, and NICABM.com (free of charge when broadcast). As a student myself now and having had much experience with many different therapists, what I so appreciate in the above is the understanding and acknowledgment (see especially Heller, Badenoch, Wallin) that for a therapeutic attachment relationship to truly be healing, the therapist must acknowledge and actively heal her/his own attachment-related behavior/reactions and continuously attune/repair/attune/repair during the relationship with the client. (See also Stan Tatkin’s work – a couple’s therapist who essentially considers the heart of the (healthy) romantic relationship to be two people who effectively (enough!) assist each other in emotional regulation. I wholeheartedly personally agree attachment repair need NOT occur through a romantic connection. In fact, Diane Poole Heller discusses one client who found this repair primarily through a neighbor/friend. It does take effort and it does take connection. Which is exactly what is so often difficult. Best wishes – J

        • Are you sure you want to be emotional? You have no idea what would you have to deal with. Stay exactly where you’re, trust me, if I could I would take your place. Somehow I get attracted only by people that are unavailable to me. I’m 44 years old female, 3 guys up to now. It is so painful, it makes me fully dysfunctional. Love sucks!

          • Youliana – I second what you’ve said. I’m 43 years old and have never had a healthy relationship. I become attached and needy very, very quickly and my world instantly revolves around that man – especially the unavailable ones. I’ve never experienced anything so painful in all my life.

  8. In 39 years old. I have begun therapy with meds back in 2002 after getting out of Navy.
    The things I find out about myself throughout life especially in my 30s has been let’s say interesting.
    Culture has a huge impact .
    I’m Finnish
    One parent mother. (father not in life at all due to schitzophrenia) I was raised by sick father until about 3 or 4. Can that have any impact on my coping? Memmories if any? I have heard stories how he use to leave me and my sister alone outside in the winter in Conn. In our carriages because we cried … One story I found out a few months ago. I don’t really have any emotions toward that idea … Yet.
    Mother very distant. Loud ,Finnish , grew up very jealous of siblings during ww2 in Finland. Says sister and brother were always highly regaurded.. ,Multiple times during years 6-teens 18 possibly started to pack up literally in front of us saying she’s leaving as she cried telling how she can’t take it anymore.. . Oh god the memory. Lets move on.
    One parent mother Finnish born 42 3 sister 1 brother.
    Father schitzophrenic never ” knew him” “didn’t have father” Finnish
    I have twin sister 4 min older and 1 brother.
    We (well my sister and i) never went to doctors for anything. Anything..even possible broken bones from what I gather to this day.
    My bro did go maybe once or twice for a Deep cut.
    But she did make sure we went to dentist. And if we had cavity we had to get filling drilling Without Novacain……..
    She abandoned Finland where she raised us after leaving Sten (father) back in Florida when we were born . All my cousins and aunts and uncles left behind. No one to attach to in the states, except for a few Finnish friends of mom. (interesting stories with attatchment there)
    Visited quite often growing up . leaving Finland as a young girl after visiting 2 months with grandparents became unbearably difficult. I would sulk cry in their bathroom a few days before having to leave back to us. Never let them see my fear or sadness.
    Anyway , if you want more knowledge and research…I have a lot to offer. Family dynamics with culture and upbringing gave me many memories of coping. To this day I am very nieve about things, I got therapy because I was unable to cope with life and all the uncomfortable feelings.
    You can probably learn new things from my story. Because it involves my twin who apparently suffers very much also with personal identification and coping. Very black and white we are but I’m the more calm one. She’s very passive aggressive. Not to say I’m not. I don’t know.
    Just get in touch. I am able to talk about Things that I started to question. Being almost 40 I feel like i have the mind of a 10 year old.

  9. I have dx of a few disorders…one is BPD. Per the VA. Also I have the common other ones.
    Never been married or had kids.
    I really haven’t been able to grow up per say to even fathom kids..
    Multiple long time relationships.
    My life revolves around making sure I don’t get abandoned by partner. Do I really know who I am? No, I know I don’t.
    Life has settled after sobering up and started suboxone. The Only med that has given me my sanity back and life worth living “feeling” .
    Nothing really worked Until I found this med for obviously a dependent for medication. I’m sober now, for about a year . no alcohol or rx meds. I’m a Registered Nurse . currently disabled by 2 different institutions.
    I do know there are trials regarding using the med subox on individuals who dont benefit from the mainstream psych meds. It has saved my life . not just addiction but I am able to withstand living another day in my body and mind. I plan to stay on it for the rest of my life. There’s no way I’m going back to the state I was a year ago.

  10. I am an international adoptee (from Russia to United States). I was adopted when i was roughly 2.5 years old, from an orphanage. I know nothing about my birth mother or father except that my birthmother was 24 when she had me. and she gave up her parental rights 2 days after my birth.

    I am 20 years old & I have found myself physically, mentally, and sexually drawn to females who are older and/or possess maternal characteristics. Yes, I identify as lesbian but can’t help thinking my past (adoption) could play a possible role in my sexuallity. Specifically, my preference of attractiveness. I am curious about this seemly deep, unavoidable attraction to any female who shows maternal affection towards me. I feel a giddy, but safe connection. But the irony of it all is that after a while, I become obsessive with either wanting to just be in their presence or the exact opposite: not wanting anything to do with them. Is it a matter of nature vs. nurture? Does self esteem play any role? is this common? Is this common in anxious-avoiding attachment symptoms?

    Thank you for your time and i look forward to your reply!


  11. It seems I have all this in spades. I have already destroyed all my relationships, so I can get no help there. Since I am a University student, I am unable to afford therapy. Is there any other way?

  12. I have a hard time distinguishing which I am more of- avoidant or anxious. It seems I am about 90% Anxious in romantic relationships, but Avoidant in day-to-day interactions and with acquaintances, although I do have severe social anxiety, so that may be where the avoidance is coming from. With social anxiety, it is hard for me to tell. For instance, with my acquaintances I don’t display my feelings, I am not open, if I am asked out to coffee, I will take several minutes to think about it first, often to others’ dismay; because I worry that if i don’t like the experience, i won’t be able to leave. I seem to ‘steer clear of emotional closeness’ with acquaintances. I seem to push down or repress all of my social needs. And when people talk to me, it feels like they are talking too much. But that is not how I act in a intimate relationship. In an intimate relationship, I am completely the opposite.

  13. My avoidant attachment spilled over into my sex life. Since I started having sex as a teenager I found myself suffering from sexual dysfunctions any time a relationship with a woman would start getting serious. As long as I could keep the partner at arms length as far as emotional intimacy was concerned (ie: limiting myself to one night stands, paid sex) my sexual functioning was fine. For many years I had no idea what the problem was. I actually thought I was simply easily bored sexually. Despite dating dozens of women between the ages of 15 and 35 (when I finally got married) I had never fallen in love and ended up marrying for reasons other than that. Stuck in a one partner relationship my sex life basically stopped as I couldn’t function with my wife. I didn’t know this was being caused by avoidant attachment until I started seeing a psychiatrist. Although I finally got a plausible explanation of the problem he wasn’t able to help me with my sexual dysfunctions and my marriage has been sexless for many years.

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