How to Stop Being Avoidant In Relationships

Does dreaming about someone telling you that they love you make you wake up in a cold sweat? If so, you might have an avoidant attachment style. If commitment, intimacy, and closeness aren’t your thing — even when you really do like someone — this may be a result of your attachment style, not a reflection on how much you care.

So what is an avoidant attachment style? And what can you do about it? We’re here to give you everything you need to know.

A dark skinned adult male and a medium skinned adult woman sitting on a couch together, eating

What is an avoidant attachment style?

The avoidant attachment style is a member of the insecure attachment category. Attachment style describes the ways that people connect with one other in both platonic and romantic relationships. Those who have an avoidant attachment style want to steer clear of emotional pain and they do so by closing themselves off to connection with others. They find it difficult to become emotionally intimate with others. They’re often seen as highly independent, to the point where they cannot incorporate others into their lifestyle.

What causes avoidant attachment?

While there are many causes of avoidant attachment styles in adults, most of them trace back to childhood. As hypothesized in attachment theory, young children learn how to relate to others from their caregivers. As babies and young children develop their understanding of the world, they internalize the relationships they experience and see around them.

When parents aren’t particularly engaged in their child’s life, this may lead to an avoidant attachment style in adulthood. Parents may discourage their children from expressing their needs through crying, talking, or reaching out for things — they may even do this through punishment, perhaps a punishment that doesn’t make sense to the child. This teaches children that relationships aren’t trustworthy or that they often result in rejection, pain, or punishment.

What are the signs of avoidant attachment?

Because of each person’s individualities and situations, not all avoidant behavior looks the same. However, here are some of the more common signs of avoidant attachment:

These behaviors are often done unconsciously — attachment styles are automatic and occur without thought or decision, rather they’re a way of living instead of a choice. People with avoidant attachment styles aren’t bad or self-centered people, instead they’ve learned to adapt their lives around their emotional worlds. They might even be as confused as you are about some of their behaviors!

How do you stop avoidant attachment?

There are ways to change your attachment style, making it lean more towards a trusting, secure style. To stop your avoidant attachment style, here are a few things to try:

Therapists are a great resource for people who want to learn more about themselves. Many therapists bring attachment theory into their sessions with clients, asking them to reflect on their past relationships and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. If this sounds like a worthwhile endeavor for you, Zencare will help you find a great therapist near you that specializes in building strong, healthy relationships.