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Why is it hard for me to commit? | Avoidant Attachment Style in Relationships

Avoidant Attachment Style (Also Known as Dismissive)

The Avoidant’s Childhood:

Parents of children with an avoidant attachment:

  • Are emotionally unavailable or emotionally unresponsive to them

  • Disregards or ignores the child’s needs

  • Can be especially rejecting with the child is hurt or sick

  • Discourage crying and encourage premature independence

  • Often develop same attachment style of their own parents and the cycle continues to repeat

How Avoidant Attachment Develops in the Child:

Acknowledging and displaying distress in front of rejecting attachment figures → rejection or punishment

  • The child learns that early in life to suppress the natural desire to seek out a parent for comfort when frightened, distressed, or in pain

  • By not crying or outwardly expressing feelings, they can gain the approval of the rejecting caregiver by remaining physically close to them.

  • They disconnect from their bodily needs and rely heavily on self-soothing and self-nurturing behaviors (i.e. hair twisting, finger sucking, masturbation).

  • Develop a pseudo-independent orientation to life, maintain the illusion that they can take complete care of themselves

  • Little desire to seek out others for help or support

Avoidant Attachment Style in Adulthood

  • Independent, self-directed, often uncomfortable with intimacy

  • Tend to be “commitment-phobes” and very good at rationalizing their way out of an intimate situation

  • Complain of feeling “crowded” or “suffocated” when people try to get close to them

  • Perceive their partners as “wanting too much” or being “clingy” when the partner expresses a desire to be more close

  • Always have an exit strategy

  • Construct a lifestyle to avoid commitment

  • Men more likely than women to be avoidant types

  • When faced with separation/loss they are able to focus on other issues and goals or withdraw and deal with it on their own

  • Use repression to manage emotions and deny their vulnerability

  • Disregard the feelings and interests of other people

  • Response to conflict is to become distant and aloof

  • Overly positive view of themselves and negative, cynical view of others - this is compensation for low self-esteem and self-hatred

  • Ex. a woman who works 80 hours a week and gets annoyed when the man she is dating wants to see her more than once a week or the guy who dates a lot of women but tells them he “doesn’t want anything serious.”

How to Develop a Secure Attachment Style:

  1. Make sense of your story - write down a coherent narrative of your childhood - helps you to understand how your childhood experiences are affecting you today

  2. Be in a relationship with someone with a secure attachment style

  3. Therapy - provides a safe haven to explore your attachment style and gain new perspective on ourselves

  4. Positive affirmations - write them down and recite them daily

  5. Parent yourself - give yourself all of the things that your parents weren’t able to give you (i.e. self-hug, acknowledge the positive)

  6. Channel your inner child - go to a park, play, do what children do

Self-regulate your nervous system

No matter how out of control you might feel, you must know that you can change your arousal system and calm yourself. This will also give you a greater sense of self-control.

  1. Mindful breathing - take long, slow deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth for 60 seconds.

  2. Sensory input - experiment with specific sights, smells, or tastes that make your feel calm (i.e. petting an animal or listening to music)

  3. Stay grounded - sit in a chair, feel your feet on the ground, and your back against the chair. Look around you and pick 6 objects that have red or blue in them. Notice how your breathing gets deeper and calmer.

  4. Allow yourself to feel what you feel when you feel it - let whatever feelings come up and accept them.

Take care of your health

Having a healthy body can increase your ability to cope with stress

  1. Get enough sleep - shoot for 7-9 hours. See your doctor if you need help

  2. Avoid alcohol and drugs - these things actually make your symptoms worse

  3. Eat a well-balanced diet - keeps your energy up and minimizes mood swings

  4. Reduce stress - relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing

When to seek professional help for trauma:

Everyone heals at their own pace but if weeks or months have passed and you’re just not getting better, you may need to seek a trauma expert.

Seek help for trauma if you’re:

  1. Having trouble functioning at work or home

  2. Suffering from severe fear, anxiety, or depression

  3. Unable to form and/or maintain close, satisfying relationships

  4. Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks

  5. Avoiding more and more anything that reminds you of the trauma

  6. Emotionally numb and disconnected from others

  7. Using alcohol or drugs to feel better

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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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