Why Fearful Avoidants Keep Attracting CHAOS In Their Lives
Tue Jun 27 2023
Tue Nov 14 2023
The Personal Development School
Do you keep attracting dramatic and chaotic situations without understanding why? Your attachment style can give you clues as to the reason behind it.
Maybe you already know that you have a fearful avoidant attachment style. Or perhaps you’re new to attachment theory and simply want to understand why you seem to attract more chaos than others. You don’t even like drama – so why does it keep appearing, and what can you do to stop it?
In this article, we’ll provide some clarity so you can experience more peace and harmony as a fearful avoidant in relationships! Let’s dive in.
What Is a Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style and Where Does It Come From?
First things first: fearful avoidant attachment is one of the three insecure attachment styles (out of the 4 types of attachment styles).
Insecure attachment styles have in common that they experienced inconsistency around love and affection growing up, which then reflects in their adult and unhealthy relationships.
People with this attachment style often have conflicting desires: wanting closeness to their partner – only to retract when they catch feelings or perceive the other to come “too close”. They show a mix of anxious and avoidant traits.
Basically, they crave intimate connections, but are put up an emotional distance. They put up personal boundaries, but also have negative beliefs about themselves and relationships.
These traits come from growing up in a home where we felt unsafe. It could be due to parents or caregivers with addiction or mental illness, or parents who were arguing a lot. As kids, we are like sponges picking up on every emotion and making it about us, so even if the fights weren’t about us, we often took the blame and forged the belief that “I am unsafe”. This is one of the core wounds of fearful avoidant people.
Due to this perpetual sense of being unsafe, fearful avoidants often tend to be in sympathetic nervous system mode. When we are in the sympathetic rather than parasympathetic nervous system mode, we go into one of the following behaviors: fight, flight, freeze, or fawn.
This innate sense of feeling unsafe is why people with a fearful avoidant attachment style tend to attract chaos and drama. The subconscious mind attracts what’s familiar and not what’s most aligned or will help us in the long run.
Remember: if you have this particular attachment style or recognize the behaviors, it’s not your fault – but it’s your responsibility to change it with scientific-backed strategies and courses!
Fearful Avoidant Triggers
Fearful avoidants often feel a (subconscious) need to overprotect themselves to compensate for the perceived lack of safety in childhood and early experiences in life.
This can look like being guarded and having strong reactions to small things, as their childhood needs weren't met. A minor comment from their partner can escalate into an argument, as it triggers their unhealed wounds of feeling betrayed, not good enough, unworthy, or trapped.
People with this attachment style can also create fights and get angry because they overgive and get nothing in return. An example: not speaking up about their needs with friends, family, and colleagues until they reach a tipping point where they get frustrated and angry and “explode” due to all the repressed emotions. They experience extreme emotional highs and sometimes struggle with social anxiety.
Fearful avoidants have difficulty sharing their needs because of the core wound of feeling unworthy: they deep down believe they don’t deserve to have their own needs or don’t expect others to meet their needs anyhow.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, remember that ultimately, you feel anger toward yourself for not setting boundaries and nurturing your energy.
Another manifestation of being in sympathetic nervous system mode is taking distance. As implied by the name, the fearful avoidant attachment style is prone to withdraw to be in their own energy. This behavior can cause confusion and chaos if not correctly communicated since the partner can feel neglected or abandoned.
The second potential expression of nervous system dysregulation in fearful avoidant individuals is to freeze in stressful situations. Freeze behavior means that the moment you feel overwhelmed, you shut down. An example is avoiding looking at the bills and taking care of one’s personal finances. While this may provide short-term relief, it causes more stress – and chaos – in the long run.
The final way nervous system imbalances may manifest in fearful avoidants, and that can cause chaos, is fawning or people-pleasing. Fearful avoidant people tend to self-abandon to the point of exhaustion. Fawning puts them in situations where they burn the candle at both ends and overgive – again because of not feeling safe. Sooner or later, this leads to frustration and resentment because they lack boundaries – which can lead to drama and chaos.
How To Reprogram the Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style
If you recognized any of the above and wonder how to heal fearful avoidant attachment, we’ll have a look at it now.
-- Learn how to communicate** when you need space or feel your boundaries are overstepped instead of escaping. This can feel uncomfortable and unsafe, but it will get easier with practice. Healthy communication is probably the most efficient way to get rid of chaos and drama, so it’s worth practicing!
-- Set boundaries – you are worthy of them. The way to work with boundaries is to first get clear on them, which can be a big step since fearful avoidants aren’t used to considering their needs. The second step is to communicate your boundaries to the person it concerns. Lastly, set a deadline for the other person to adapt to the boundary. If nothing changes within this time, and they show no interest in putting in the effort, consider walking away from the relationship.
-- Practice nervous system regulation to tell your body that you are safe. Feelings of being in danger are stored in the body, so the most efficient way to dispel the belief that “I am unsafe” is to simultaneously work on the mind and the body. Somatic practices like breathwork, movement, and dance can often help. Other activities supporting nervous system regulation are yoga and spending time in nature. Self-regulation is crucial to helping low self-esteem and promoting personal growth.
-- Work on healing your core wounds and beliefs. Your beliefs determine your thoughts and emotions – and thus your capacity to choose calmness over chaos. There are several efficient methods and tools for reprogramming your beliefs and healing the fearful avoidant attachment style.
The key to stopping the cycle of chaos for fearful avoidants is to change the core wound of “I am unsafe” into feeling safe and secure. It is fully possible to overcome your insecure attachment style, even if you’ve had it for your entire life!
We hope that this article brought you clarity on fearful avoidant triggers causing chaos and how to fix fearful avoidant attachment.
Professional guidance and advice from The Personal Development School can help make the difference for all those individuals with fearful avoidant traits. Feel free to learn more about how we can help you by taking our free attachment style quiz.
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