Fearful-avoidance attachment style means feeling both an anxious need for another and an urge to avoid intimacy, resulting in what seems to be irrational behaviour towards those we love the most. Relationships can be characterised by a painful spiral of approaching and then fleeing or pushing away.
Those living with fearful-avoidant attachment waver between a desire to form close bonds with others and the fear of getting hurt and betrayed. Therefore, romantic relationships are a source of massive ambivalence, overwhelming longing, and profound fear.
This is incredibly difficult, feeling clingy and needy, fearing rejection and pushing away. It can be traumatically confusing for those trapped in this place and their loved ones.
Fear and avoidance have great intelligence as they serve as a shield from potential pain. There is often an internal belief that those closest to us will leave and hurt us. This belief system has at some been proved through other life experiences, mainly through childhood. Closeness is, therefore, terrifying. The more emotional investment, the more pain once betrayed.
Fearful-avoidant attachment may show up in these ways:
- Feeling conflicted about relationships and people, simultaneously wanting and pushing them away.
- We keep finding ourselves in repeated tumultuous, chaotic, emotionally explosive relationships.
- Seeking out flaws in partners and using them as the reason for ending the relationship.
- Clinginess and neediness and fear of not being good enough for our partner.
- When reassurance is offered, it doesn’t provide safety but a need to withdraw and resist intimacy. There is a felt experience of needing others but also dreading them.
How to Deal With and Move Through Fearful-Avoidant Attachment
Emotionally erratic relationships can be a common experience for those of us with fearful-avoidant attachment. However, we don’t have to get stuck in this place. Attachment style reflects how we attached to our parents when we were very young. It does not need to have power over us in our adult relationships.
If you would like to know more about how couples counselling can help support your relationship, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am seeing clients in my office in Hove or globally online.