Having an Avoidant Attachment Style—or dating someone with one—can wreak havoc throughout your relationship. It can cause an otherwise healthy relationship that’s headed towards marriage and children into utter destruction.
Well, people with an Avoidant Attachment Style, while they crave intimacy like everyone else, the more intimate you become, the more fear the avoidant partner feels.
But here’s the good news:
Having an Avoidant Attachment Style isn’t a life sentence. In fact, there are ways you can overcome your Avoidant Attachment Style or help your partner deal with theirs, so your relationship continues to grow and blossom.
In this episode, I reveal how you get an Avoidant Attachment Style, the key steps you need to follow if you or your partner has this, and why understanding the different types of Attachment Styles can improve every relationship you have.
Show highlights include:
- How understanding your “Attachment Style” can be a game changer for your personal and romantic relationships (0:43)
- Why intimacy frightens you away and can even sabotage an otherwise successful relationship if you have this attachment style (and how to overcome this fear) (2:23)
- The 4 main “Attachment Styles” and how they impact your relationships (5:05)
- How your attachment style starts in childhood then bleeds—largely without you realizing it—into your adult relationships (7:29)
- The 3 crucial things you need to do if you find yourself in a relationship with someone with an Avoidant Attachment Style (13:26)
- The insidious push-pull dynamic of the Avoidant Attachment Style that causes self-sabotage, loneliness, and frustration (14:15)
Does your neediness, fear, or insecurity sabotage your success with women? Do you feel you may be unlovable? For more than 15 years, I’ve helped thousands of people find confidence, fulfillment, and loving relationships. And I can help you, too. I’m therapist and life coach David Tian, Ph.D. I invite you to check out my free Masterclasses on dating and relationships at https://www.davidtianphd.com/masterclass/ now.
For more about David Tian, go here: https://www.davidtianphd.com/about/
Emotional Mastery is David Tian’s step-by-step system to transform, regulate, and control your emotions… so that you can master yourself, your interactions with others, and your relationships… and live a life worth living. Learn more here:
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Note: Scroll Below for Transcription
Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in relationships, attraction, success, and fulfillment. Now, here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.
David: Welcome to the Masculine Psychology podcast. I’m David Tian, your host, and in this episode, we’re diving into a topic that’s not just fascinating, but also crucial for understanding ourselves and our relationships, attachment styles. This concept was pioneered by world-renowned psychologists, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, and is one of the most rigorously back to scientific consensus in psychology, and getting a grip on this can be a complete game changer for your personal and romantic life. [00:48.8]
So, understanding your own attachment style and those of the other people that you’re in relationship with, is crucial and is essential to navigating relationships effectively and smoothly. If you’re not clued in on this, you’re setting yourself up for a world of pain and confusion in your relationships.
But before we just dive in, let’s address a big myth. Some of you might have heard about attachment styles through pop psychology or pop culture and you might have come across this big misconception, which is that our attachment styles are somehow fixed and permanent, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Through psychotherapeutic methods like IFS therapy, reparenting and a good therapeutic process, it’s possible to adjust non-secure attachment styles and grow into a secure one. Yes, that’s right. You’re not stuck with your current attachment style for life.
I’ve been asked over the past several years to do an episode or a video on attachment styles and my usual reply is that I have devoted an entire four-hour module entirely focused on attachment styles in my course, Rock Solid Relationships. But, recently, I got to listener questions that have to do with avoidant attachment style and they were detailed enough that I thought this would make a good podcast episode as they would get good context for addressing this giant topic. [02:14.3]
Okay, so the first question reads, “Initially, I love spending time with her.” By the way, these are excerpts, so I’m just going to read the relevant portions.
“Initially, I love spending time with her. We chat on the phone, have a lot of fun, and we get on well, and when I meet her for the first time, we have a lot of fun (winky face). But after that, I feel like I’m losing all my space. She wants to hang out more. I’m feeling trapped and cornered. Am I immature or not ready for a serious relationship? How do I get over these feelings? I want to have kids and get married, but I feel like I’m losing my freedom when she wants to get more involved. How do I overcome this?”
Okay, so this is a classic example of avoidant attachment style in action. It starts with enjoying the connection, but as things get more intimate, you feel like you’re losing your freedom. It’s not so much about immaturity or how most people think of immaturity. It’s about how your attachment system gets activated when things get serious. We’ll explore this more as we go along. [03:16.5]
The second question, it goes like this. Again, I’m reading out the relevant portions.
“I’m a woman and I’ve been taking interest in your writing and podcasts over the past couple of months. Thanks for the insights. I’ve been interested in your work as I’m trying to learn more about men. I was single for a few years and I think the thing I struggled the most with is letting my guard down and letting people in. I think I struggle with being myself and showing people who I am.
“I met a guy I really liked earlier this year, who pursued me for months, and was lovely. However, we didn’t get to spend much time together due to living in different parts of the country and he’s now gone overseas for work. We had been in touch a lot in Italy. A lot of it was his effort, but now it’s fizzled out since he’s gone overseas, which I understand as he’s starting a new life in a new country and busy with his new job, etc. If I ever do message him, he always replies and shares what he’s been up to.” [04:06.4]
“I do miss him, but don’t know what to do about the situation. I felt like I pushed him away and didn’t give him much attention or didn’t open up, despite me not actually wanting to do that, and I’m desperate to avoid doing this in the future. I’ve read about attachment styles and feel like I tend towards avoidant. I want to figure out why I still pushed someone I liked away. I also struggle with direct communication with people I like.”
Here we see highlighted, another aspect of avoidant attachment, the struggle to let your guard down and show your true self even or especially when you deeply care for someone. It’s a protective mechanism, but it can leave you feeling isolated and disconnected even when you don’t want to be.
Okay, so let’s back up a bit and break down what attachment styles are and how they play a pivotal role in our relationships. Originally discovered by the pioneer psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, attachment styles are patterns of how we connect and relate to others, particularly in close relationships. These patterns are rooted in our earliest experiences with caregivers and shape how we approach intimacy and independence as adults. [05:12.8]
In one of the many replicated experiments, children from six to 18 months old are with their mothers in the laboratory room and then the mothers leave the laboratory room and almost all of them cry. This is a normal reaction. Then the mothers return after an interval of time and then the researchers observe how the children respond to their parents’ return, so they continue to show anxiety and take a long time to settle back down.
Of course, the researchers have all kinds of monitoring devices hooked up to the children so they can monitor things like heart rate and other signs scientifically of high stress, and those children who take a long time to settle back down exhibit what are labeled as anxious attachment style. [05:59.1]
Then there are some children who pretend to ignore their parent when he or she comes back and you might think, Oh, this guy’s a rebel. He’s really cool. But it’s really just an act because the scientists can see that all of those biomarkers are still elevated and that child is experiencing just as much stress as the ones who are showing it, and the label for that category is avoidant attachment style.
Then there are some children who do a mix of both, so this would be the mixed attachment style, both avoidant and anxious. Then there are children who settle down relatively quickly when the parent returns and this is what we call a secure attachment style. Okay, so that’s a super-super-generalized explanation of the major attachment styles.
Now, many nice guys that I’ve worked with would be accurately labeled anxious attachment style. I, before I learned about relationships and went into psychotherapeutic treatment, started off with an anxious attachment style, and then through PUA, I learned to pretend like I’m a rebel, so adopted many behaviors of an avoidant attachment style. In the end, I ended up with a mix of an anxious avoidant attachment style, leading into relationships, so I have experience with both ends of that spectrum. [07:10.3]
But in this episode, we’re going to focus on the avoidant attachment style, which is a really fascinating one, and avoidant attachment style often sprouts from early experiences where caregivers were either too distant or inconsistently available, and this might even be partly genetic. It’s really hard to tease out nature and nurture here.
But you can clearly see how avoidant attachment style might be created or cultivated in a child when appearance is either unavailable emotionally or physically when the child’s trying to get their attention. Or the child was punished when the child was trying to get the parents attention, so the child learned to not bother trying to do that, because he was trying to avoid getting hurt, so he didn’t put his hand out or didn’t speak up, or didn’t even make eye contact. Because what’s the point? Why bother sticking your neck out and then getting hurt? [08:00.1]
So, then he kind of kept it all in and yet his emotional need is very legitimate and valid, and universal emotional needs of attention and connection and approval were not being met. So, this is the kid who learns that showing vulnerability or needing closeness doesn’t get a warm or consistent response and so the kid starts thinking, Alright, I guess I need to handle things on my own. This mindset formed from early childhood then bleeds into their adult relationships.
How does this manifest in adulthood? People with an avoidant attachment style tend to value independence over intimacy. It’s not that they don’t have emotions or need connections or want intimacy. They do just like everyone else. These are all healthy emotional needs, but they’ve learned to hide their needs from others, and then after doing that long enough, they’ve forgotten about it and end up hiding their own emotional needs from themselves, so conscious suppression becomes unconscious repression. [09:01.3]
When a relationship starts to get too close, someone with an avoidant style might feel suffocated or trapped. It’s like their entire internal system is screaming, “Too close. Need space.” This isn’t about them being cold-hearted or not caring. It’s their internal defense mechanisms kicking in, a way to protect themselves from the vulnerability of being close.
Here’s another thing. When emotions get intense or things feel overwhelming, they often retreat into isolation. It’s their safe zone, their fortress of solitude. In their minds, being alone is equated with being safe. It’s a control thing. In solitude, they feel like they can manage their emotions and needs without the unpredictability that comes with close, intimate relationships.
But let’s be clear, this usually isn’t a conscious choice. It’s not like they wake up and decide, “Today I’m going to push people away.” It’s a deeply ingrained pattern, a default setting that’s been with them since those early formative years. [10:00.0]
It’s crucial to understand this because it sheds light on why people act the way they do in relationships. If you’re identifying with this avoidant style, it might explain why you felt that urge to run for the hills when things get serious or why you value your independence so fiercely, sometimes at the cost of close relationships.
If you’re on the other side of the equation, dating someone with an avoidant style, this insight can be the key to intimacy. It’s not about you not being enough or them not caring. It’s about understanding their inner world, how they’ve learned to cope with closeness and vulnerability, and if you’re triggering that, it’s actually telling you that you’re getting intimate.
Okay, so let’s return to those two scenarios from our listeners that I’ve read out earlier. With the first scenario we have someone who enjoys the initial buzz of connection, the phone calls, the fun, the whole nine yards. But as things move forward, as the relationship deepens, he starts feeling trapped like he’s losing his space. This is textbook avoidant attachment. The thrill of the chase, the excitement of new connection, that’s all great, but when it shifts into a deeper, more intimate gear, alarm bells start ringing for him. [11:12.2]
So, what’s happening here? At the start, when the relationship is light and breezy, it’s comfortable for someone with an avoidant style. There’s enough distance and enough space. But as the partner seeks more closeness, it triggers this deep-seated need for independence, this fear of being engulfed or losing oneself in the relationship. It’s not as helpful to think about this as immaturity or not being ready for a serious relationship. It’s more about a protective mechanism kicking in, a mechanism that says, “Back off, I need space, because I’ve learned from a young age that when I get vulnerable like this, when the promise of intimacy is there, I can’t trust it and I will get hurt.”
Now, on to the second scenario. Here we have a woman who has been single for a while, struggling to let her guard down and let people in. Even when she meets someone she really likes, she ends up pushing him away. Again, we see the hallmarks of avoidant attachment. There’s the struggle with being vulnerable, with opening up and showing her true self. [12:12.1]
Why? Because we’re someone with an avoidant style, letting someone in is equated with hurt and loss of control. She might like this guy, even miss him, but the moment things start getting real, the moment it demands opening up and being vulnerable and getting intimate emotionally, her avoidant tendencies come into play. To protect her, she pushes him away, not because she wants to, but because her attachment style is dictating her actions. It’s an unconscious defense mechanism and it often leaves the person feeling confused and frustrated, for both of them. Why? Because there’s this clash between wanting closeness and being scared of what it entails.
Both of these scenarios highlight how an avoidant attachment style can manifest in relationships. It’s not about not wanting love or connection. Deep down, they want it just as bad as anyone else. But there’s also a powerful fear, a fear of what being close to someone really means. It’s about self-preservation, but, unfortunately, it often leads to self-sabotage in relationships. [13:16.8]
Understanding these patterns is crucial. If you see yourself in any of these descriptions, it’s not a cause for despair. It’s an opportunity for awareness and growth, and if you’re dealing with someone who fits the style, it can transform everything for you in how you approach the relationship. It’s about empathy, patience, and recognizing that these patterns are deeply ingrained, but not impossible to change with compassion and holding the space.
Now, let’s talk about how an avoidant attachment style can really throw a wrench into your long-term relationship goals, like marriage or having kids, and this is where things get a bit more complex. There’s often this internal tug of war going on. [13:58.5]
On the one hand, there’s this genuine desire for deep, lasting connections. You might daydream about a life partner, about raising a family together, but then there’s this other side, this fear of losing your independence or your sense of self in a relationship, like wanting to jump into the water but being scared of getting wet. This conflict often creates a push-pull dynamic in your relationships.
I’ll use an example of a client. Let’s call him Brian. Brian came to me a while back struggling with this exact issue. He was in his mid-30s, successful, had a great social life. He genuinely wanted to settle down and have kids, the whole package, but every time he got close to someone, he’d hit the brakes. He’d start feeling suffocated, like he was losing his freedom, and then he’d pull back. His partners were left confused and hurt, and Brian was left frustrated and lonely.
So, what was happening here? Brian’s avoidant attachment style was in the driver’s seat. He craved connection but was terrified of what it meant. Every step closer in a relationship triggered his fear of losing his identity, his independence. It was a cycle. He’d pursue someone, get close and then retreat. [15:05.1]
This push pull dynamic was sabotaging his long-term goals. He couldn’t achieve the closeness he desired because his fear kept getting in the way. He was caught in this loop, wanting a deep connection, but running away, the moment it started to become a reality.
No matter their physical strength, for many men, emotions are too much for them to handle. It’s why they can’t give women the deeper levels of emotional intimacy and connection that they crave. It’s why they fail to be the man that modern women desire most: a man with inner strength, a man who has mastered his emotions.
Find out how to master your emotions through David Tian’s “Emotional Mastery” program. The Emotional Mastery program is a step-by-step system that integrates the best of empirically-verified psychotherapy methods and reveals how to master your internal state and develop the inner strength that makes you naturally attractive, happy, and fulfilled.
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Ryan’s story isn’t unique and it’s something I’ve seen again and again. People with an avoidant attachment style often find themselves in this dilemma. They longed for a lasting relationship, but are held back by their deep-seated fears, so understanding this dynamic is the key. It’s about recognizing that that fear of losing yourself in a relationship is often at the heart of the problem. It’s not about not wanting love or not wanting commitment. It’s about being scared of what those things entail, the hurt that you’ve been taught that they’ll bring.
For anyone identifying with this, know that you’re not alone, and for those in a relationship with someone like this, understanding this internal conflict can change everything. It’s not about you not being enough. It’s about their struggle with intimacy and independence. [17:05.4]
Okay, what do we do about this? Okay, so let’s roll up our sleeves and get into some strategies for healing and overcoming avoidant behaviors, and let’s do it through the lens of IFS therapy. IFS is Internal Family Systems therapy, and if you’ve followed my podcast for any length of time, you would have heard me talk about this. This is what I believe to be the most powerful approach in psychotherapy and it’s an evidence-backed, scientifically-proven approach, and I’m a certified IFS therapy practitioner.
IFS therapy views the mind as made up of multiple parts and each part has its role. In the case of avoidant attachment, there is often a part that’s working overtime to protect you from getting hurt in relationships. It’s like this internal Guardian that says, Hey, let’s keep a safe distance here.
Okay, how do you work with this part? The first step is recognizing it. It’s about understanding that this protective mechanism isn’t you in your entirety. It’s just a part of you and it’s trying to keep you safe based on past experiences. [18:07.1]
Okay, so let’s use a real-life case here to illustrate. Let’s call him Jake. Jake came to me with classic avoidant tendencies. He’d started dating someone, but as soon as things got serious, he’d feel this intense need to pull away. Through IFS therapy, Jake began to understand that this urge to retreat was coming from a protective part of him. This part was trying to keep them safe from the vulnerability and potential pain that deep relationships brought him in the past, and these were some really rough experiences in his past of abuse.
Now, one of the main advantages of IFS therapy is in its compassion and curiosity toward these protective parts. Instead of fighting this protective part or trying to make it go away, Jake learned to acknowledge it to understand its fears and motivations, and to appreciate it for its positive intent, and that was a huge turning point for him. [18:58.5]
Next came gradually increasing vulnerability and communication, and this isn’t about going from zero to 100 overnight. It’s about small steps. For Jake, it started with being more open about his feelings in less-threatening situations, like with his close friends, or in less-intimate settings, and gradually he started to bring this openness into his romantic relationships.
Another key aspect is expressing needs and boundaries, and this is essential, especially for someone with an avoidant attachment style. It’s about learning to articulate what you need in terms of space and closeness, and to do it calmly and clearly. And here’s the thing, it’s totally okay to have these needs for space and closeness. The trick is in communicating them clearly and respectfully.
For Jake, this meant having honest conversations with his partner about his need for independence and space, and it wasn’t always easy, but it helps set realistic expectations and avoid misunderstandings. Then his partner understood that his need for space was in a rejection. It was just part of who he was, and they worked together to find a balance that worked for both of them. [20:06.8]
Through IFS therapy and self-awareness exercises, and gradual steps towards vulnerability and clear communication with practice and exercises, Jake started shifting towards a more secure attachment style. It didn’t happen overnight, of course, but the changes were real and, so far, lasting.
Now, if you’re identifying with this avoidant style, these strategies can offer a path forward. It’s about understanding and working with the parts of you that are trying to protect you, gradually increasing your comfort with vulnerability, and being clear about your needs and boundaries. Remember, you’re not stuck with your attachment style. Change is possible, and it can lead to healthier, more fulfilling relationships. Yeah, it takes some work, sure, but it’s work that pays off in the long run, obviously. [20:53.2]
Okay, so let’s wrap this up with something crucial. The importance of seeking professional support and help here, especially if you’re seeing signs of an avoidant attachment style in yourself. Look, I get it, there’s often this hesitation, the stigma around getting therapy or coaching, but here’s the real deal—it’s one of the bravest most rewarding steps you can take for yourself. That’s what I did to get out of the trap of my avoidant and anxious attachment styles.
Obviously, my own therapeutic journey was so impactful for me that I got training in it, and I’m doing it as my career, so I’m practicing what I’m preaching here. I got therapy and that was a huge turning point in my own journey and healing and growing. Therapeutic coaching isn’t about digging up dirt just for the sake of it. It’s about understanding the roots of your behaviors, your fears, and learning how to approach intimacy and relationships in healthier ways. It’s about transforming your life from the inside out.
You can think about IFS therapy and therapeutic coaching as ways to navigate, like peace talks between different parts of yourself that might be in conflict. You’ve got these parts that are scared of getting too close, scared of losing independence, and then there are parts that crave connection and intimacy, and therapy is about helping these parts communicate, understand each other and work together. [22:10.5]
For instance, in IFS therapeutic coaching, you learn to give voice to that protective part of you, the one that’s always on high alert when things get too close for comfort. You get to understand why it’s so vigilant and what it needs to feel safe. This understanding paves the way for you to approach relationships with a new perspective, one that balances your need for independence with your desire for closeness.
Now, I want to highlight this. Therapy or coaching isn’t a sign of weakness. Far from it. It takes real guts to look inward, to confront these parts of ourselves that we’ve been trying to ignore or push away. It’s about taking control of your life, your relationships and your happiness, and the transformation that you want to go through this process is profound. You don’t just learn to manage your avoidant tendencies. You grow into a person who can experience deep, meaningful connections without that fear of losing yourself. [23:05.7]
Okay, let’s do a quick recap of what we’ve covered so far.
We started by unpacking the concept of attachment styles with a focus on the avoidant attachment style. We explored its roots in early experiences, and how it shows up in adult relationships that push for independence, the feeling of being trapped when things get too close, and the tendency to retreat into isolation. We delved into how this style affects long-term relationship goals and creates that push pull dynamic where you want deep connections, but are scared stiff of losing your independence.
We also looked at strategies for overcoming these avoidant behaviors, like the IFS therapeutic process, and the importance of understanding and expressing your needs and boundaries. We talked about the importance of seeking professional help. Therapeutic coaching isn’t just about unpacking your past. It’s a tool for transformation, for learning how to balance your need for independence with your desire for intimacy. [24:00.8]
As I mentioned, I had to learn all of this the hard way, but as a result of going pretty far into the therapeutic process, by the time I met my now wife, it really made the relationship a lot easier, especially for the first few months. She had avoidant tendencies and I figured this out on our third date together, where she shared about how her dad left the family when she was really young.
Just knowing that, I predicted that she must have some kind of avoidant tendencies or patterns. And, lo and behold, our first vacation together within I think the first month, we landed together in her hometown, and then I had to jet off, because at that time, I was living in a different country.
In fact, I was barely living in that country. I stayed there less than a few months a year and I just stored my stuff there and I was traveling the world, and I did that for four and a half years, basically living as an ambassador for Starwood Hotels, which is now Marriott, and I was in a new country every one to three weeks and in a new hotel every had three to five days, which I loved at that time. I wouldn’t go back there now, especially, we’d have to bring our kid along so at the moment, I really value being based in one place. But at that time, I loved the life of a kind of digital nomad and flying around, coaching people in different places. [25:15.8]
Now, knowing that her father, who every child would want to have love from, took off and left them, my taking off on an airplane and leaving the country for two weeks, I wouldn’t be seeing her for another at least I think it was two or three weeks, would, as I predicted, trigger some kind of avoidant backlash, and it did.
We had actually already booked the second vacation, which I think was two or three weeks after the first one, but a few days later, after I landed back in the country where I was based, I got her text saying, “I don’t think this is going to work out,” and she was trying to suggest that we should either stop seeing each other or breakup or whatever. Instead of getting reactive to this, I just thought, Well, make sense, she’d be avoidant. [25:59.1]
So, I said, “Okay,” and then I waited, I don’t know, two to five days, and then I just messaged her back like nothing had happened. I was like, So, I’ll see you at the gate on this day. I booked this restaurant for us on the first night. Then she was like, Hey, I thought we weren’t seeing each other. I’m like, Oh, okay, what do you think about this restaurant? just acting like it was nothing. She’s like, It looks really good, and then she just proceeded as if everything was fine and we were back together.
Then we did, in fact, go on the next trip together and it was partly a business trip for me, and it was a longer trip and it went really well. Then, lo and behold, when we came back, I could feel she was already kind of pulling away as the trip was ending, because, of course, she was afraid of intimacy. The better it gets, the scarier it gets, because the better it gets, the more it promises the thing that Daddy took away.
Right, so in fact, if I don’t get a negative response after a trip or after some time together, or after our date– All of our dates were trips, by the way, because we didn’t live in the same country. It was a trip either for me or for her, if I was going to her country, if she was coming to mine, or if we were meeting in another country. [27:02.3]
Actually, on our fourth major trip, I didn’t get a response like that. I didn’t get a “Hey, let’s take some time off,” or “I don’t think I can do this,” or anything like that. I thought, Damn, maybe that trip didn’t go as well as I thought, because I didn’t get any avoidant backlash that I was expecting. But she was just saving it for the next time we met and then the big one came and she really put her foot down, like, No, really, I really mean that. It’s off.
I kind of got a little bit triggered by that, like, Okay, the other times, I could just kind of brush it off. I could go radio silence for two to five days and then just start up again. But this time, she rebuffed me again, and then I thought, Okay, it’s really over. So, for maybe about three days, four days, I really thought it was over. Then she wrote me back, apologizing, and that was the last time that the avoidance part was scared, because I was still there, and her greatest fears of this becoming too intimate and, if that happens, then Daddy’s response will happen again. [28:00.6]
I kept being there and I kept coming back, and I kept proving to that inner child, that little girl in her who was so scared that the hurt she experienced with Dad would come back again, I was able to, over the months, say to this little girl and prove to her through my actions and behaviors that “I am not going anywhere.” I was going somewhere, because I was getting on an airplane and going to another country, but “I’m not going anywhere emotionally. I am here for you.”
By the way, if you know any of Harville Hendrix work and any of the deep couples psychotherapy work, or if you’ve taken my free masterclass you can sign up for on my website on the secret to a successful relationship, or if you’ve taken my Rock Solid Relationships course, you would notice the matching of these neuroses that I was flying off quite often and that, of course, just that pattern itself would trigger something in her system, because the little girl wants that, another opportunity to have that back, another opportunity for that great promise of love and intimacy still being there, so she wants another chance at it. [29:04.5]
I don’t have time in this episode to go in depth on that dynamic, but that’s also happening with avoidant and anxious attachment styles. Often people with avoidant attachment styles have chemistry with, unconsciously, those with anxious attachment styles, and they just keep doing this push-pull on each other that creates lots of drama, but always draws them together.
I used to be or I used to live with an anxious attachment style, and through the therapeutic process, was able to become secure. Fortunately, for my wife, I was secure enough to navigate the treacherous waves of her avoidant attachment that kept coming at me, and after a few months, those choppy waters became clear. But that’s because I was secure enough in my own attachment, and I had enough knowledge and understanding of her avoidant attachment style that I could account for the instability and reactions that would be coming from an avoidant attachment style. [30:01.3]
As a result of my own secure attachment style, I was able to influence her into the direction of growth out of her avoidant attachment style. Then I have to give lots of credit to her for her own therapeutic work, so it wasn’t all me doing the good stuff. We were both doing it and going through this process.
I give this as an example of how life can be once you are able to account for avoidant or anxious attachment styles, and the predictable results and reactions. Every time I got a kind of a push back or push away from her, I interpreted it as “Oh, we’re getting intimate. She’s feeling something a lot, so much so that it’s scaring her inner child parts. This is actually a really good thing.” I just had to prove to her that I won’t be abandoning her, which is the greatest fear, which will lead to the hurt that she’s so afraid of or the inner child parts of her were afraid of, while also giving those protective parts enough space so that they don’t freak out and do something more extreme or aggressive. Of course, the assumption here is that both parties are growing in the therapeutic process along the way. [31:09.4]
Okay, so let’s paint a picture of how life can be for you if you have an avoidant attachment style and seek to grow towards secure attachment. You can imagine waking up and feeling at ease in your relationships, knowing you can be close, without losing yourself. Picture being able to share your deepest thoughts and feelings, without that alarm bell going off in your head, telling you to run for the hills.
This isn’t about losing your cherished independence or freedom. It’s about enriching it with meaningful connections. You can have deep, fulfilling relationships, without sacrificing who you are. It’s about finding that sweet spot where you’re comfortable being yourself, both alone and with others. [31:50.1]
For those with an avoidant style who make the shift, life becomes more colorful, more vibrant. Relationships are no longer something to be managed or kept at arm’s length. They become sources of joy, growth, intimacy and strength. You’re no longer on edge waiting for the other shoe to drop or for your space to be invaded. Instead, you’re engaging with others, sharing, growing, and, yes, even being vulnerable, but on your terms.
This shift doesn’t just improve your romantic life. It touches every aspect of your existence. Your friendships deepen. Your family bonds strengthen, and even your work relationships become more fruitful. It’s a transformation that reverberates through your entire life.
For anyone out there who sees a bit of themselves in this avoidant attachment style, know this. Change is possible and it’s powerful. Embracing this journey towards secure attachment is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It opens up a world of possibilities for love, for connection, for intimacy, for life lived to the fullest. [32:50.7]
Thank you so much for tuning in. Remember, no matter where you are on your journey, there’s always a path forward. At this point, I think you will be in the New Year, so happy New Year. The first episode of this new year. If you liked this episode, hit a like or subscribe or follow, or leave a positive review on whatever platform you’re listening to this on. If this has helped you in any way, please send it and share it with anyone else that you think could benefit from it.
Thank you so much for listening. I look forward to welcoming you to the next episode. Until then, David Tian, signing out.
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