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Are You Dating Someone with a Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style?

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Published on:

Wed May 24 2023

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Last updated:

Mon Nov 13 2023

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The Personal Development School

“There’s just something about them.”

If you’ve ever gone on a few dates with a fearful avoidant, you might have found yourself gushing the above to your friends (and with a huge smile on your face).

And for good reason, too.

Fearful avoidants are passionate, charismatic, empathetic and oh-so interested in getting to know you.

They often have this super attractive ability of being able to go deep and chat about everything from the Universe to human behavior, but they also know how to lighten the mood and be playful and fun.

Sometimes all within the space of a few minutes.

In short: they have the ability to run the full range, which is partly what makes them so alluring.But there’s also this other side to them, something that causes a lot of confusion: … Just as the connection seems to be deepening, their interest and warmth can flip to being cold, distant and withdrawn. 

Hence why they’re also known as the “flip-floppers” of the attachment styles, because they can go from hot to cold when their fears and wounds get triggered.

Whilst it can be confusing and painful to be on the receiving end on this sudden switch, it’s important to understand that it isn’t intentional.

In fact, this flip-flopping causes them a lot of inner turmoil, especially if they don’t understand what causes it.

So let’s dive in to see what causes this attachment style, and how to navigate these potential challenges – and how to spot signs a fearful avoidant loves you (or at least likes you, a lot).

fearful-avoidant-attachment-style-child

What Is A Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style?

Everyone has an attachment style. You just have to discover what yours is.

Your attachment style was formed due to the experiences and perceptions you had as child, which became programmed into your mind as the “rules” for relationships.

There are 3 insecure attachment styles, which include: dismissive avoidant, fearful avoidant and anxious preoccupied.

And just one secure attachment style.

Having a fearful avoidant attachment style means that you (or your love interest) have both dismissive avoidant and anxious preoccupied patterns in relationships.

Hence the “hot” and “cold.”

-- So depending on the situation, you might feel more anxious, needy and have a lack of boundaries when dating. This may happen if you’re dating someone more avoidant, or before your fears around intimacy, vulnerability and commitment get triggered.

-- Or, you might be more avoidant when dating, and feel the need for a lot of space, freedom and autonomy, and push people away when they get too close or want to get serious.

-- Or, you predominately have anxious preoccupied tendencies in love, and you exhibit dismissive avoidant tendencies with friends and family, and vice versa.

Because you essentially have two attachment styles, it isn’t a case of one-size-fits-all (nothing in life ever is!). What made you more avoidant or anxious depends on the conditioning you experienced growing up, and even your early romantic experiences.

Understanding The Tango Dancers Of The Attachment Styles

It’s important to note that Fearful avoidants, which are also sometimes called disorganized fearful avoidants, do not take pleasure in the flip-flopping. It’s a trauma response based on childhood, and the mixed messages they received around love as the child's needs aren't reguarly met.

Their parents or primary caregivers didn't provide the consistent love and support they needed.

That why they’ve grown up to subconsciously believe that love can be a really good thing, but it can also be a very bad thing that can make them feel unsafe and lose their sense of self.

Essentially, they're torn between personal boundaries and the desire to have stable relationships.

So whilst it might seem like they’re being fickle or toying with your emotions, it’s important to understand that their hot and cold tango dance of love often causes them a lot of mental, emotional and even physical anguish.

Love for them is a fine balancing act between their feelings and their fears.

This is why in the dating phase before things get serious, they’re so warm, open and eager to connect. They feel safe in this domain.

But often when things get more serious, or problems start to arise, they can swing between the two poles, and sometimes within a matter of just a date.

fearful-avoidant-couple

Key Characteristics Of Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style

Do you suspect you might be dating someone with a fearful avoidant attachment style?

Or are you reading this and thinking, “ohhh, that sounds a lot like me!” here are some of the key characteristics of a disorganized fearful avoidant.

As you’ll notice, they’re often contradictory because of the avoidant AND anxious patterns:

-- Longs for deep connection and a positive and healthy relationship

-- Fears abandonment (and self-abandonment)

-- Fears around intimacy, vulnerability and commitment 

-- Passionate

-- Craves fun and novelty

-- Longs for safety and grounding

-- Has deep fears around betrayal

-- Can struggle to set healthy boundaries, communicate needs and is prone to people pleasing, which leads to resentment and self-abandonment

-- They can experience extreme emotional highs and conflicting desires

-- Prone to emotional outbursts as a result of pent-up resentment and unmet needs 

-- Can get trapped in cycles of breaking up and making up

-- Hypervigilant, which means they can easily spot and a strong sense (and are often on the lookout) for changes in behavior. For example, they may panic if you pull away or don’t call them back

-- Empathetic and can often “read” people really well 

-- Values freedom and independence and call pull away when someone comes on too “strong” too fast

-- Often experiences a lot of guilt and shame in relationships because of their conditioning 

-- Can feel numb and withdrawn when more avoidant, and needy when anxious

In short: they long for deep connection and lasting love, but they often fear being betrayed, abandoned or losing their sense of self within a relationship.

Which is why relationships can feel like an emotional rollercoaster… and at times, utterly exhausting for them as their nervous system is often in flight, fight or freeze mode.

Can You Heal Your Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style?

However, you can heal your fearful avoidant attachment style. You just have to find the right course and approach that works for you.

By taking The Personal Development School’s courses and putting these practices into place over the course of 90 days, someone with a fearful avoidant attachment style will likely find that they feel much more securely attached not just to their partner, but other people in their lives.

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