Avoidant Attachment: Understanding Insecure Avoidant Attachment
Avoidant attachment styles, and the avoidant strategies we resort to Avoiding commitment: We keep a foot out the door in any relationship. People with Fearful-Avoidant Attachment patterns are ambivalent and afraid of commitment. They strike a balance in relationships in an attempt to avoid being. Some people can't commit to relationships because they have an 'avoidant' attachment style — here's what it means. Lindsay Dodgson. Mar.
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. 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.
How are patterns of attachment supported by the critical inner voice? 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. 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. The next level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas that apply to particular kinds of relationships. The lowest level of the hierarchy contains relationship schemas that apply to specific relationships. In fact, several theorists have proposed a hierarchical organization of working models.
From this perspective, people do not hold a single set of working models of the self and others; rather, they hold a family of models that include, at higher levels, abstract rules or assumptions about attachment relationships and, at lower levels, information about specific relationships and events within relationships.
These ideas also imply that working models are not a single entity but are multifaceted representations in which information at one level need not be consistent with information at another level. Studies have supported the existence of both general working models and relationship-specific working models.
Attachment in adults
People can report a general attachment style when asked to do so, and the majority of their relationships are consistent with their general attachment style. Yet, people also report different styles of attachments to their friends, parents and lovers. Evidence that general working models and relationship-specific working models are organized into a hierarchy comes from a study by Overall, Fletcher and Friesen. The relational schemas are themselves organized into a three-tier hierarchy.
The highest level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas for a general working model that applies to all relationships. The middle level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas for working models that apply to different types of relationships e. The lowest level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas for working models of specific relationships. Stability of working models[ edit ] Investigators study the stability of working models by looking at the stability of attachment styles.
Attachment styles reflect the thoughts and expectations that constitute working models. Changes in attachment styles therefore indicate changes in working models. These changes can occur over periods of weeks or months. The number of people who experience changes in attachment styles, and the short periods over which the changes occur, suggest working models are not rigid personality traits. Why attachment styles change is not well understood.
Waters, Weinfield and Hamilton propose that negative life experiences often cause changes in attachment styles. The study found that all four sets of factors cause changes in attachment styles. Changes in attachment styles are complex and depend on multiple factors. Relationship outcomes[ edit ] Adult relationships vary in their outcomes.
The participants of some relationships express more satisfaction than the participants of other relationships. The participants of some relationships stay together longer than the partners of other relationships. Does attachment influence the satisfaction and duration of relationships? Satisfaction[ edit ] Several studies have linked attachment styles to relationship satisfaction.
People who have secure attachment styles usually express greater satisfaction with their relationships than people who have other attachment styles. One mechanism may be communication. Secure attachment styles may lead to more constructive communication and more intimate self-disclosures, which in turn increase relationship satisfaction.
Duration[ edit ] Some studies suggest people with secure attachment styles have longer-lasting relationships. People with secure attachment styles tend to express more commitment to their relationships. People with secure attachment styles also tend to be more satisfied with their relationships, which may encourage them to stay in their relationships longer.
However, secure attachment styles are by no means a guarantee of long-lasting relationships. Nor are secure attachment styles the only attachment styles associated with stable relationships. People with anxious—preoccupied attachment styles often find themselves in long-lasting, but unhappy, relationships. These kinds of feelings and thoughts may lead people to stay in unhappy relationships. Relationship dynamics[ edit ] Attachment plays a role in the way actors interact with one another.
A few examples include the role of attachment in affect regulation, support, intimacy, and jealousy.
These examples are briefly discussed below. Attachment also plays a role in many interactions not discussed in this article, such as conflict, communication and sexuality. Conditions of the child fatigue, hunger, illness, pain, cold, etc.
Conditions involving the caregiver caregiver absent, caregiver departing, caregiver discouraging of proximity, caregiver giving attention to another child, etc. Conditions of the environment alarming events, criticism or rejection by others The anxiety triggered by these conditions motivates the individuals to engage in behaviors that bring them physically closer to caregivers. A similar dynamic occurs in adults in relationships where others care about them. Conditions involving personal well-being, conditions involving a relationship partner, and conditions involving the environment can trigger anxiety in adults.
Adults try to alleviate their anxiety by seeking physical and psychological closeness to their partners. Mikulincer, Shaver and Pereg have developed a model for this dynamic. However, the partners may accept or reject requests for greater closeness.Avoidant Attachment
This leads people to adopt different strategies for reducing anxiety. People engage in three main strategies to reduce anxiety. The first strategy is called the security-based strategy. The diagram below shows the sequence of events in the security-based strategy. A person perceives something that provokes anxiety.
The person tries to reduce the anxiety by seeking physical or psychological closeness to her or his attachment. The attachment responds positively to the request for closeness, which reaffirms a sense of security and reduces anxiety.
The person returns to her or his everyday activities. The second strategy is called the hyperactivation, or anxiety attachment, strategy. The diagram below shows the sequence of events in the hyperactivation strategy. The events begin the same way. Something provokes anxiety in a person, who then tries to reduce anxiety by seeking physical or psychological closeness to their attachment.
The attachment rebuffs the request for greater closeness.
The lack of responsiveness increases feelings of insecurity and anxiety. The person then gets locked into a cycle with the attachment: The cycle ends only when the situation shifts to a security-based strategy because the attachment finally responds positively or when the person switches to an attachment avoidant strategy because the person gives up on getting a positive response from the attachment.
Attachment in adults - Wikipedia
The third strategy is called the attachment avoidance strategy. The following diagram shows the sequence of events in the attachment avoidance strategy. The events begin the same way as the security-based strategy.
A person perceives something that triggers anxiety, and the person tries to reduce anxiety by seeking physical or psychological closeness to her or his attachment.
But the attachment is either unavailable or rebuffs the request for closeness. The lack of responsiveness fuels insecurity and heightens anxiety. The person gives up on getting a positive response from the attachment, suppresses her or his anxiety, and distances herself or himself from the attachment.
Mikulincer, Shaver, and Pereg contend these strategies of regulating attachment anxiety have very different consequences. More positive thoughts can encourage more creative responses to difficult problems or distressing situations.
The hyperactivation and attachment avoidance strategies lead to more negative thoughts and less creativity in handling problems and stressful situations. It is notable that the security-based strategy is contingent on a positive response from their attachment. From this perspective, it would benefit people to have attachments who are willing and able to respond positively to the person's request for closeness, so that they can use security-based strategies for dealing with their anxiety.
Support[ edit ] People feel less anxious when close to their attachments because their attachments can provide support during difficult situations. Support includes the comfort, assistance, and information people receive from their attachments. Attachment influences both the perception of support from others and the tendency to seek support from others.
People who have attachments who respond consistently and positively to requests for closeness allow individuals to have secure attachments, and in return they seek more support, in a generally relaxed way, while people whose attachments are inconsistent in reacting positively or regularly reject requests for support find they need to use other attachment styles.
They may be more likely to ask for support when it's needed. People with insecure attachment styles often do not have a history of supportive responses from their attachments. They may rely less on their attachments and be less likely to ask for support when it's needed, though there may be other factors involved, as well.