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I love you, I hate you- Cycle in Relationships | Anxious-Avoidant Attachment Style

***Video 1 of 5: What is Attachment? | Attachment Theory & Attachment Styles in Relationships -

***Video 2 of 5: Why is it hard for me to commit? | Avoidant Attachment Style in Relationships -

***Video 3 of 5: Why do I need Constant Reassurance? | Anxious Attachment Style in Relationships -

The Anxious/Avoidant Attached Child

  • Will avoid or ignore the caregiver – showing little emotion when the caregiver departs or returns

  • Outwardly unemotional but inwardly anxious

  • Feels desperate for the caretaker to return - may have thoughts that he/she is dying or never coming back - but afraid to tell the caretaker out of fear of judgment or rejection “I don’t want to look weak but I want love too.”

  • Have everything they need but don’t feel deeply connected to anyone

  • Learn to act like they don’t care when they’re being punished or are laughed at/criticized when expressing their emotions

  • Deep down they just want to be held and be told that everything is going to be ok

  • Often afraid to explore very much regardless of who is there

Parents of Children with an Anxious/Avoidant Attachment Style:

  • Emotionally distant one minute then loving the next - their patterns can be unpredictable

  • Mimic pattern displayed to them by their caregivers when they were children

  • Similar to anxious attachment but difference is that the parent discourages and/or punishes the child for emotionally expressing their needs

  • Caregiver provides for the child’s needs but is not emotionally present (i.e. parent works 60 hours a week - they are rarely home but able to provide for all of child’s wants and needs monetarily

  • Actively discourages any expression of emotion either through punishment or simply ignoring the request

Anxious/Avoidant Attachment in Adulthood

  • Push and pull effect - pull others close then push them away, repeat

  • Emotional roller coaster - one minute they’re happy, the next they are angry

  • If the anxious/avoidant partner interprets their partner to be distant they will become clingy and desperate. If the partner is perceived to be clingy, the anxious/avoidant will run away - roles reverse repeatedly, this is how it becomes addicting

  • Emotional stuffing yet still desperate to be loved

  • They’re overly attuned to their partners’ needs and moods - if have the slightest sense that their partner is pulling away it feels like the end of the world

How to Develop a More Secure Attachment Style

  • Recognize that your emotions may not be giving you accurate feedback about what is going on in your relationship - it may not be about your partner but rather they serve as a trigger

  • Take a long time out before taking action - take time to get clear on your emotions and what is happening then cultivate a mature response

  • Practice setting healthy boundaries - ask yourself: 1) what do you need in your relationships? And 2) what are you willing to accept?

  • Don’t overshare until you know the source is trusted

  • Practice standing your ground and staying through the end - when you start to get close to someone and feel the itch to run away...don’t. Stick around and stick it out and see what you can learn and if it needs to end, then end it completely.

How to Parent a Child with Anxious-Avoidant Attachment

  • Identify your own attachment style...spoiler: it’s probably anxious-avoidant as well!

  • Learn how to express emotion - start simple and small, tell a loved one what is on your mind, play games that target emotional expression

  • Attend therapy - explore your earliest relationships to identify patterns and gain insight on how it all developed and how to manage it

  • Model emotional expression in your children - speak up for themselves, talk about how they’re feeling, and challenge them to dig deeper

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Blue Sage Counseling and Wellness, and the information provided by Ashley Francis, is solely intended for informational and entertainment purposes and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis, or treatment regarding medical or mental health conditions. Although Ashley Francis is a licensed marriage and family therapist, the views expressed on this site or any related content should not be taken for medical or psychiatric advice. Always consult your physician before making any decisions related to your physical or mental health.

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