How to Heal Avoidant Attachment Style

Healthy relationships require communication, intimacy, and vulnerability. For people with an avoidant attachment style, this can be extremely difficult.

Healthy relationships require communication, intimacy, and vulnerability. For people with an avoidant attachment style, this can be extremely difficult. Those with avoidant attachment are often emotionally distant and prioritize independence over close relationships. Learning how to heal avoidant attachment style is key to forming and maintaining healthy relationships.

Here’s a closer look at avoidant attachment style, including what it is, how it develops, and practical strategies on how to deal with avoidant attachment.

What Is Avoidant Attachment Style and What Are the Signs?

Avoidant attachment, also known as the dismissive avoidant attachment style, is one of the four main attachment styles. Attachment styles are the ways we relate to and form bonds with others. The primary attachment styles include:

  • Anxious attachment: Craves intimacy and fears abandonment.
  • Avoidant attachment: Emotionally distant and values self-sufficiency.
  • Fearful-avoidant attachment: Displays both anxious and avoidant patterns.
  • Secure attachment: Ability to set boundaries and navigate relationships confidently.

People with avoidant attachment style tend to avoid emotional intimacy and have difficulty forming close relationships. They don’t allow themselves to get close to others and are often afraid of rejection. When faced with conflict, they may shut down or even prematurely end a relationship.

Signs of Avoidant Attachment Style

While not everyone with avoidant attachment displays the same behaviour, there are some common signs of avoidant attachment style, including:

  • Discomfort with vulnerability and intimacy
  • Extremely self-sufficient and independent
  • Does not trust or rely on others
  • Avoids deep emotional connections
  • Difficulty expressing their feelings
  • May end relationships for trivial reasons to protect themselves from assumed rejection
  • Tend to have acquaintances rather than close relationships
  • Describes others as too needy or clingy

How Does Avoidant Attachment Style Develop?

According to attachment theory, childhood experiences with caregivers influence how we form bonds later in life. People with avoidant attachment style may have learned early on that expressing emotions is bad and that they cannot rely on others for support. 

They may have experienced childhood trauma or their emotional needs may have been consistently neglected or rejected by their primary caregivers. Whether intentionally or not, their caregiver failed to provide safety, security, and emotional support. Because of this, people with avoidant attachment may have learned to avoid seeking close connections or expressing their feelings. 

This defensive strategy then carries into adulthood. Children who grow up without emotional support may develop a highly independent personality. This can then negatively impact their ability to form healthy relationships later in life.

How to Deal with Avoidant Attachment

If you have a dismissive avoidant attachment style in relationships, it is entirely possible to develop a more secure attachment style. First, it requires recognizing how avoidant patterns and expectations may be holding you back. These are challenging issues that require courage, patience, and self-compassion to confront. Here are a few strategies on how to deal with avoidant attachment style and build more fulfilling connections.

Reflect on and Understand Your Attachment Style

Many of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviour are subconscious, so to heal avoidant attachment, it’s important to build awareness around your attachment style.

Think about past situations or relationships where you may have shut down your emotions. Reflect on why: Why did I push this person away? Why did I not ask for help? Why did my last relationship not progress?

It can be helpful to use a journal to reflect on your avoidant patterns and begin to challenge them. Because attachment styles often stem from early childhood experiences, it can also be beneficial to talk to a therapist to process experiences or relationships that may have contributed to your avoidant attachment style.

Practice Self-Care and Self-Compassion

Do not blame yourself for having an avoidant attachment style. Rather, focus on what you can do to create the change that will make you feel worthy of love and close bonds. Try to challenge negative beliefs or expectations you have about relationships, partners, and yourself. When you have critical thoughts, such as “I’m better off by myself,” try to replace them with positive beliefs, like “I am capable and deserving of forming healthy connections.”

Remember that healing is not always a straightforward process. Make time for self-care, like spending time in nature, meditating, or journaling. Healing avoidant attachment can be challenging, so always listen to what your body and mind need.

Communicate Your Emotions

One of the most challenging things for people with an avoidant attachment is to express their feelings. While it can feel impossible to discuss your emotions openly and honestly, doing so is key to forming a more secure attachment style.

Practice assertively communicating your emotions, needs, and boundaries. Use “I” statements when discussing your needs, so you don’t come across as accusatory or confrontational. For example, instead of saying, “You’re too needy,” you could say, “I value personal time, and I find it helpful when I have the space to recharge.”

If you have a partner, try to empathize with their situation—it can be difficult to know how to love someone with an avoidant attachment style, especially depending on their own attachment style Avoidant behaviours may make your partner feel anxious or insecure about your relationship and talking to your partner about your avoidant patterns can make a big difference.

Embrace Vulnerability and Trust

Healing avoidant attachment style in relationships involves letting go of the fear of rejection and learning how to trust others. You can create more genuine bonds, by gradually allowing yourself to be more open and vulnerable about your thoughts and feelings.

Relationships later in life can impact and change your attachment style. Try forming a closer connection with a friend, partner, mental health professional, or anyone who can offer you emotional support when needed. 

Other ways of increasing vulnerability are asking for or receiving help, sharing your thoughts and feelings, and allowing yourself to feel your emotions instead of suppressing them.

Connect With a Therapist

 

You do not have to embark on your healing journey alone. Therapy can be very beneficial if looking for personalized support to process and heal your avoidant attachment style. 

Therapy is also an opportunity to practice asking for help and forming a trusting relationship. Working with a counsellor can be a corrective experience that allows you to be vulnerable in a safe and supportive environment. 

Through therapy, you can explore the root causes of your attachment style, process past experiences, and learn healthy ways to build and maintain relationships.

Work With a Phare Counsellor to Heal Avoidant Attachment Style

Healing avoidant attachment in relationships is a challenging but rewarding journey. Ultimately, it can lead to an increased sense of self-worth and self-love. 

Through understanding dismissive avoidant attachment, challenging old habits, and working with a supportive therapist, you can begin to heal your attachment style and develop more fulfilling relationships. Find the right counsellor for you!

Author Bio:

Wendy Chan is a writer and editor who is passionate about health, wellness, and self-care. She has worked in marketing and communications for nearly a decade, creating educational content for brands and companies across Canada. Since 2020, she has been a writer and researcher for Phare Counselling.

Wendy specializes in authoring informative and accessible content on mental health, wellbeing, higher education, and technology. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. You can find her in Vancouver or Toronto, depending on the weather.

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