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8 Ways to Heal a Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style

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5 min

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Thu Aug 31 2023

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Last updated:

Mon Nov 13 2023

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The Personal Development School

People with a fearful or disorganized attachment style typically experience some form of childhood abuse or trauma in the form of emotional, physical, or most commonly, verbal abuse. Luckily, healing from this insecurity attachment is possible.

Those with a fearful avoidant attachment style typically had a strong bond with one caregiver but not the other. Maybe they had a difficult relationship with their mother but a close, loving relationship with their father, or vice versa.

As a result, they learn that love is often coupled with volatility or betrayal, leading them to run very “hot and cold” in relationships. While they desire closeness, once someone gets too close, they start to pull away. While they can be loving and empathetic, they struggle with trust and tend to worry about betrayal more than the average person.

Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style Characteristics

Some of the classic characteristics someone with a fearful avoidant attachment style might display when in adult attachments, include:

-- Difficulty trusting others and keeping an emotional distance

-- A tendency to believe something about their romantic partner that is based on fear rather than fact

-- Difficulty opening up to others

-- Being avoidant, such as a tendency to pull away from others or their partner when feeling threatened

-- Very sensitive or experiencing anxiety around others

While navigating a postive and healthy relationship with a fearful avoidant attachment style can be difficult, there’s also quite a bit you can do to begin to move toward a secure attachment style and thrive in a relationship. Here are 8 ways to get started.

8 Ways to Heal from Fearful Avoidant Attachment

1. Try to gather accurate information

Due to past trauma, fearful avoidants have a hard time trusting, especially in intimate relationships. As a result, they can often jump to conclusions, leading them to write someone off before they’ve given them a chance.

While in the beginning stages of a relationship (the dating phase), fearful avoidants may flee early on because they think they pick something up about someone, but that thing isn’t based in fact. For example, maybe your partner casually mentions cheating on a past partner. This is the kind of information that can make someone with a fearful avoidant attachment style want to end the relationship right then and there because they don’t want to be cheated on.

But, it’s important to keep in mind that the fact that they’re willingly giving you this information may mean that it was something that happened a long time ago—like in high school, for example. So, doing your best to gather accurate information before jumping to conclusions can serve those with fearful avoidant attachment styles well.

2. Ask direct questions

With that in mind, as you work to gather information, ask direct questions. This is a great way to help you separate fact from fiction and move toward becoming more securely attached to someone. You can ask direct questions about the thing that makes you feel uncomfortable—for example, in the cheating instance, maybe you ask what the context of that situation was.

Or, sometimes because of their issues with trust, people with fearful avoidant attachment styles will subconsciously try to manipulate the other person. Instead of doing this, try asking direct questions like “Hey, I’m curious—how are you feeling about the relationship?” This will help you gather accurate information quickly and easily.

3. Communicate your needs early on

Sometimes, it can be hard for someone with a fearful avoidant attachment style to understand what their needs are, so practice feeling into those needs in the context of relationships. Maybe your needs include direct communication, or speaking on a daily (or a few times a week) basis. While communicating your needs is a vulnerable act, doing so can help you stay on the same page as the person you’re dating and avoid miscommunications.

4. Don’t blame your partner

The “power struggle” phase of a relationship, which comes after the honeymoon phase, can be the most difficult for those with fearful avoidant attachment styles, as conflict resolution doesn’t come easily to them. If someone isn't meeting your needs repeatedly, as a fearful avoidant, you may start to blame them, if not out loud, then in your head.

Instead of doing this, it’s important to hold yourself accountable and communicate which needs aren’t being met. Or, if your needs still aren’t being met, it’s on you to realize that you simply may not be in the right stable relationship.

5. Release unrealistic relationship expectations

Unrealistic relationship expectations can be a real problem for those with a fearful avoidant attachment style based on their past trauma. Because they fear getting hurt again, they hold beliefs that people should never make mistakes, let you down, or disappoint you.

Instead, it’s important to remember that these mistakes are solvable problems that require communication and clarity, because, with enough time and patience, you may realize that many of these mistakes are actually solvable problems. You can have healthy boundaries, but just be wary of how you use them.

6. Practice holding yourself accountable

It’s important to know that every word can mean a lot in a relationship, so hold yourself accountable with your words. You know negative beliefs lead to negative outcomes.

So, think about how you would feel if certain words were spoken to you, and try to treat your partner with the same respect. Remember: Words can hurt.

7. Reparent your inner child

A fearful avoidant attachment style is the result of early childhood experiences, usually passed down from a difficult relationship with one or both of your caregivers. While in the power struggle phase of your relationship, it’s important to identify what’s triggered: When do you feel neglected or ashamed?

As these feelings come up, give yourself grace and work to repair emotional disconnects. Practice trusting, and learn to accept that the person you are with might be trustworthy.

8. Don’t compare upwards

As you move on to the “commitment” and “bliss” stages of a relationship, it’s important to continue to make sure you always have the full, accurate picture of your relationship and don’t fall into old harmful patterns that lead you to compare this stage of the relationship to others. When you learn to stop comparing, you’ll be able to comfortably and happily move and stay in the bliss stage with your partner. This is a crucial part of your personal and emotional growth.

How Healing from a Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style Can Benefit Your Relationship

As you heal from a fearful avoidant attachment style and move toward a securely attached one, you’ll likely find that this shift benefits your relationship in a handful of ways. These can include:

-- Growing together

-- Experiencing new levels of bliss in the relationship

-- A deep feeling of trust from both partners

-- More ease in opening up to others

Getting advice, guidancem and support from professional help can make all the difference for your journey.

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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