Relational Freedom Can Feel Like A Secure Attachment

Attachment theory (Bowlby and Ainsworth) seeks to understand and trace the root origins and the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. These attachment traits take place across various domains, encompassing friendships, parent-child bonds, and romantic connections. Through the interplay of personality traits, environmental, cultural and social influences, individuals tend to develop a dominant attachment style during childhood, which usually persists into adulthood. This style will go on shaping their interactions and connections with others.

Out of 4 types of attachment styles, the secure attachment psychology definition is considered to be the most adaptive, socially resilient, and generally the healthiest form of attachment. In contrast to the other 3 types, it’s not marked by high anxiety, ambivalence and avoidance, and is believed to have the attachment characteristics best suited for healthy relationships. This means that the person with the secure attachment style has a generally positive idea of one’s self and is able to choose, develop and maintain emotionally safe relationships. 

Secure attachment in adults begins to develop during childhood if a child feels safe and is able to trust that their caregiver(s) will consistently meet their needs. Warm and responsive care from parents or caretakers creates an optimal environment for the child’s brain development, particularly in infancy. 

The social and emotional center of the brain is the limbic system. This is the part of the brain that is developing. Attachment experiences impact this part of the brain in infancy and early childhood, and will go on to predict how the person experiences things like motivation, social awareness, stress responses and nurturing instincts. 

Depending on how the child’s needs were met (or not met) during the crucial development of the limbic system, a person may grow up to be capable of secure, trusting and emotionally safe attachment, or other attachment styles like anxious, avoidant, or ambivalent.

What Is Freedom In A Relationship?

When we think about freedom in intimate relationships, most of us think of having space from our partner. What we really mean at Pivot is that we have relational freedom when we can hold our own interests and opinions, enjoy our own friends, and have appropriate independence to pursue our passions and goals. It means maintaining a sense of individuality while still having a strong and loving connection with our partner.

Secure attachment in relationships means that both partners, as securely attached individuals, respect and support each other’s individual autonomy and allow each other to be their authentic selves. Behaviors are not driven by needs to control, monitor or avoid each other. It’s based on mutual trust, open communication, and a willingness to give each other space and privacy when needed. 

This is not to be mistaken for a lack of commitment, or a resistance to being “all in.” Quite the contrary, it is a way of enhancing commitment by encouraging two completely formed identities to come together and fully compliment each other. Think of it as 1 + 1 = 2, instead of .5 + .5 = 1. It emphasizes the importance of respecting and nurturing individual identities while fostering a strong and supportive connection with one’s partner.

What Are Examples Of Freedom In Relationships?

Traits of relational freedom may vary depending on the individuals, their unique preferences, and relationship dynamics they exhibit as securely attached adults. It is generally agreed upon, however, that relationships with secure people are based on a balance between togetherness and individuality. This allows both partners to thrive and maintain their sense of freedom and healthy self esteem, while still showing up authentically for the needs of the relationship.. 

Signs of secure attachment and relational freedom may look like:

  • Each partner enjoys the freedom to pursue their own interests, hobbies, and personal growth. They can express their individuality and maintain their own identity within the relationship. 
  • Their relational behaviors are not motivated by a longing to cling together anxiously or a need to avoid emotional intimacy.
  • Partners aren’t afraid to express their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. They can engage in honest and open conversations about their needs, desires, and concerns. 
  • Disagreements and differences of opinion are opportunities to create better understanding of each other. Disagreements are seen as a normal part of connecting two unique identities, and healthy problem-solving is crucial. 
  • Partners allow their partner to have the freedom to engage in activities or spend time with friends and family outside of the relationship without feeling restricted, controlled, manipulated, or thwarted by jealousy. 
  • Both partners participate in decision-making processes within the relationship. A healthy attachment means that mutual contribution is valued. Collaboration, cooperation and compromise are important, and each considers the other’s perspectives to create a secure base for their meaningful relationships.
  • They establish and communicate their personal boundaries, and these boundaries are respected by their partner. The matter of consent is respected in all aspects of the relationship.
  • Partners are relationally aligned with good, rational thinking, emotional intelligence and healthy, responsible actions.
  • Partners allow themselves to be vulnerable and provide each other with support and understanding. Secure attachment and relational freedom normally come with a high degree of emotional intelligence, and psychological safety. 
  • Each partner supports and encourages the personal growth and self-development of the other. They celebrate each other’s achievements and offer support during challenging times.
What Are Examples Of Freedom In Relationships

What Is A Secure Attachment Style?

Secure attachment, according to the psychology definition, is a healthy and adaptive way of relating to others in relationships. People with a secure attachment style typically have a confident and grounded perspective on themselves, and a view of others that is based on a realistic assessment of trustworthiness and emotional safety. They’re comfortable with emotional intimacy, they trust and rely on their partners, and have a sense of security in relationships.

Although a secure attachment style initially develops through consistent and loving interactions with caregivers during childhood, it’s also possible to cultivate a more secure attachment style through self-awareness, personal growth, and healthy relationship patterns. This means that, even if your childhood circumstances or life events have left you with a default attachment style that may be anxious, ambivalent or avoidant, it is possible, with loving and dedicated repair, to move into secure attachment as a new, adaptive default style.

Some of the key characteristics of a secure attachment style are:

  • Emotional Intelligence. Secure individuals understand, manage and express their own emotions effectively and empathize with their partner’s feelings.
  • Trust and Reliability. They are able to trust their partner, and exhibit trustworthiness in their own behavior consistently over time. 
  • Independence and Interdependence. This means maintaining one’s autonomy while also valuing and fostering closeness in relationships.
  • Effective Communication. Securely communicating means expressing one’s needs, desires, and concerns. Secure individuals are active listeners and respond constructively to their partner’s communication.
  • Healthy Responding, not Reactivity. Secure partners manage their emotions in a healthy manner without defaulting to knee-jerk big emotional explosions, or shutting down and detaching. They are able to self-soothe or ask for support and provide support for their partners.
  • Resilience in conflict. Approaching conflict with a problem-solving mindset and not being afraid to address issues is a secure attachment characteristic. They conflict constructively and with an end-goal of creating better understanding and connection.
  • Operating with boundaries. Secure attachers understand when boundaries are appropriate and with whom. They do not use boundaries to manipulate or control others, but to improve emotional safety and relational quality. 
  • A positive self-image and a positive view of others. Secure individuals believe in their own worth and have confidence in their ability to form and maintain healthy relationships.

How Do Secure Attachments Fall In Love?

A secure partner feels trusting and safe with their partner, and their partner’s presence and support are welcome additions to a full life. They balance giving and receiving within the relationship. Thanks to their secure attachment, they’re not relationally derailed by anxiety, fear, and doubt, and are fully present for their partner.

Secure attachers tend to gravitate toward partners that also embody some of the core characteristics of secure attachment. Trustworthy behavior, autonomy, a “want the relationship” as opposed to a “need to be in a relationship” perspective, a sense of core self-worth and confidence are all traits they may be drawn toward.

Secure attachment individuals can have successful relationships with people who have different attachment styles if both parties are committed to working on their differences and moving toward mutual security. 

When they fall in love, they value secure connection and maintain a positive perception of their partner. Secure individuals in a relationship:

  • Establish open and direct communication.
  • Feel comfortable showing vulnerability by openly sharing emotions, experiences, and fears.
  • Demonstrate warmth and empathy.
  • Feel confident in expressing affection.
  • Cultivate emotional closeness with their partner at an appropriate pace.
  • Place trust in their partner and exhibit trustworthiness.
  • Are able to have direct and important conversations, even when they are difficult
  • Are compassionately sincere, not brutally honest
  • Encourage their partner to pursue individual interests outside of the relationship.
  • Respect their partner’s needs and boundaries.

How Do You Love Someone With A Secure Attachment?

A mutually secure relationship is not solely the responsibility of one partner. Both individuals play a role in cultivating a secure and loving relationship. Building a strong foundation of trust, communication, and mutual support can help form a deep and meaningful connection with someone who has a secure attachment style. Operating with emotional intelligence, rational thinking, healthy, responsible behaviors and good self-management are foundational.

If you’re wondering how to develop a secure attachment style and be in a relationship with someone with a secure attachment, do your best to:

  • Encourage open and honest communication and actively listen to each other’s thoughts, feelings, and needs. Explore communication skills like validation and active listening.
  • Create a safe space where both of you can express your emotions without judgment or fear. Foster intimacy through empathy, understanding, and sharing vulnerable moments.
  • Encourage individual growth and interests outside the relationship. Allow your partner the freedom to be their authentic self and pursue their passions.
  • Build a sense of security by being dependable, keeping commitments, and showing up for each other. Consistency is a key to relational security and trust. 
  • Focus on managing your own reactivity to the unknown – for example, not knowing exactly where your partner is at all times, or feeling like investigative behaviors will soothe your anxiety.
  • Be a source of validation for your partner. Celebrate their successes, provide a listening ear during challenging times, and offer encouragement to pursue their goals and dreams.
  • In times of challenge, seek better understanding and come from a solution-minded perspective. Avoid criticism, blame, or harsh judgment. Create a spirit of constructive communication that is based in mutual respect. 
  • Practice self-awareness and personal growth. By working on your own emotional well-being and understanding your attachment style, you can contribute to a healthier and more fulfilling relationship.
What Is A Secure Attachment Style

PIVOT Can Help You Develop A Secure Attachment Style In Relationships

Developing a secure attachment style is a journey that takes time and effort. It’s essential to be patient and kind to yourself as you work towards creating healthier and more fulfilling relationships. If you don’t feel secure in relationships, our experienced relationship coaches can help you reflect on your early attachment experiences through individual sessions. Once you understand the origin story of your attachment style, you have much more agency over recognizing and interrupting unwanted attachment patterns in your here-and-now relationships. 

We recognize that unraveling your attachment style may mean looking back at painful experiences in your childhood, or looking at how relational trauma may have shattered your sense of security. Our process can give you the support, stability, structure and encouragement you need to make the crucial shift into security. 

 You can do this in the serene environment of our Glass House retreat, working in small groups with individuals going through similar experiences., or one-on-one with a skilled relationship coach. We can help you get the kind of security, safety and trust you want in the relationships you choose. The support of our experienced coaches will guide you through the healing process and toward building a strong sense of self and a more secure attachment style.

Ambivalent Attachment Can Feel Like Love Anxiety

The attachment styles we show in our adult relationships, especially our intimate ones, are largely shaped by our early childhood interactions with parents or caregivers. These models of behavior leave lasting effects, whether positive or negative. If a child at a young age can’t depend on their caregivers for consistent emotional support, this feeling can lead to the development of several insecure attachment styles. This, in turn, gives rise to challenges in future relationships, as the lingering insecurities regarding trust, emotional support, and connection resurface repeatedly.

Left unchecked, we will go through most of our lives re-creating unwanted relationship patterns and never truly making the connection that our behaviors are linked to the attachment experiences we had as children. 

For some of us, our childhood needs were met consistently, warmly, and effectively. Most people who have experienced this kind of stable, nurturing environment may develop secure attachment in later relationships. For many people, however, childhood needs were met inconsistently, rarely, or without emotional safety. Those children tend to grow up into what w call insecure attachment styles – meaning simply that they look different than secure attachment. 

In psychology reading, you may have read about insecure attachment and have come across categories like anxious, avoidant, dismissive-avoidant, fearful-avoidant, ambivalent, or disorganized attachment. At Pivot, we keep it simple and refer to secure attachment and three categories of insecure attachment: anxious attachment, avoidant attachment, and ambivalent attachment. 

As one of the three insecure styles, an ambivalent attachment style is usually present in individuals who feel a profound longing for love and attention, accompanied by an equally profound (and possibly intensified) fear of being abandoned and rejected. This is often the result of inconsistent, unpredictable, or chaotic experiences in childhood. 

The inconsistency is not always the result of abuse or neglect. For example, if a child grew up with divorced parents, and one parent was very engulfing and overly-attentive, while the other parent was fairly hands-off and and focused on building resilience and self-problem solving, then it may have been hard for the child to develop a core emotional attachment style. They may grow up toggling between the anxious and enmeshed connection, and the avoidant, more distanced connection.  This is an anxious-avoidant attachment style, or an ambivalent attachment style as we refer to it at PIVOT. Naturally, these conflicting impulses create significant challenges in all their relationships, and romantic ones in particular.

What Is Love Ambivalence? 

Love ambivalence also known as ambivalent attachment is marked by mixed or conflicting emotions toward romantic relationships and emotional intimacy in general. A person experiencing this confusing combination of positive and negative feelings, desires, and thoughts about love might have a desire for intimacy and connection with a partner while simultaneously being afraid of getting too close and showing vulnerability. There is a desire for connection coupled with an innate resistance. This is confusing for both the ambivalent attacher and their partner. The person on the receiving end of ambivalent attachment is often left wondering what they did wrong, what they need to do better, or what the issue could be with their partner 

In the context of attachment theory, ambivalence is generally described as a combination of anxious and avoidant attachment styles. This means that people going through life and relationships with this type of challenge usually oscillate between conflicting emotions of avoidant attachment, defined by emotional unavailability stemming from mistrust and a tendency towards hyper-independence, and anxious attachment characterized by a deep desire for intimacy coupled with a fear of rejection and abandonment.

Is Ambivalent The Same As Anxious-Avoidant

Is Ambivalent The Same As Anxious-Avoidant? 

You may sometimes hear ambivalent attachment described as “fearful-avoidant” or “anxious-avoidant.” Fearful avoidant people are terrified of rejection, abandonment, or experiences that will prove a core fear for them – that they are unloveable. This causes a deep longing for connection and reassurance coupled with an avoidance that is rooted in their inherent mistrust that others will truly be able to consistently value and love them,

Fearful-avoidant is sometimes called anxious-avoidant because the fear creates anxiety – an ongoing worry that abandonment or rejection are imminent. This results in an anxious impulse to continually test, verify, and confirm the commitment of the relationship, while also avoidantly protecting themselves from the risk of vulnerability. The person seeks reassurance frequently and may be highly suspicious and worried about the fidelity of their partner. This makes sense if we remember that their primary caregivers were not reliable at consistently meeting their needs 

For the ambivalent attacher and their partner, the results are confusing and inconsistent. The internal duality of these two tendencies – avoidant vs. anxious attachment – drives contradictory behaviors. More than any other attachment style, it is hard for ambivalent partners to create safe trustworthy commitment. 

What Are The Signs Of Love Ambivalence (Ambivalent Attachment) In Relationships? 

Ambivalent attachment  creates a complex dynamic where individuals experience a push-pull pattern in relationships – longing for closeness and emotional connection yet struggling with fears of vulnerability. It’s important to remember that sometimes this looks like the person is ambivalent (on the fence) about being in love. The truth is often that this person experiences, desires and longs for love – but they have old wounds that get in the way of their ability to trust mutual love. This ambivalence often leads to difficulties in establishing and maintaining stable and satisfying relationships.

While each person’s experience is unique, and there are other factors that might influence relationship dynamics, the most common signs that a person with a fearful avoidant attachment (aka: ambivalent attachment) loves you:

  • Alternating between periods of being deeply emotionally intimate and periods of emotional withdrawal or avoidance.
  • Need for Space and independence at some times AND times of needing lots of contact. They may require time alone or engage in solitary activities as a way to manage their anxieties and maintain a sense of autonomy within the relationship, but also long for the intense contact that makes them feel like there is safety and commitment.
  • Due to their anxieties and fears, ambivalent attachment styles frequently engage in self-protective strategies that can manifest as emotional walls, defensiveness, or even testing their partner’s love and commitment.
  • They may ask for ongoing verification of their partner’s commitment and devotion, while being guarded about their own vulnerability. 
  • Being clingy and needy or exhibiting self-sabotaging behavior like pushing partners away and creating unnecessary conflicts or creating emotional distance.
  • Perceiving rejection, abandonment or relationship risk where it may not actually exist. Mis-reading cues and being hyper-vigilant about self-protection.
  • Constant validation seeking, needing approval, reassurance.
  • Trust issues and feeling uncomfortable or threatened by partner’s independence. This can manifest as feeling worried if the partner is unavailable due to non threatening issues like work commitment, or choosing to spend time with friends and family.
  • Shame and guilt about their own needy behavior that results in an isolative distancing. 

How Is Love Ambivalence Connected To Avoidant And Anxious Attachment? 

Love ambivalence (aka: ambivalent attachment) can be seen as a blend of anxious and avoidant tendencies, where individuals experience conflicting emotions, desires, and fears in their romantic relationships. The combination of these anxious and avoidant elements mean that ambivalent attachment presents with significant complexity.

Love ambivalence is related to both avoidant and anxious attachment styles, as it shares some common features with each:

  • Avoidant attachment. Individuals with avoidant attachment tend to have an innate discomfort with intimacy and a need for independence. They might prioritize self-reliance and avoid emotional vulnerability. Ambivalent attachment, in this context, can arise from conflicting desires for both intimacy and independence. The person may yearn for connection but also be strongly self-reliant out of a fear of potential rejection.
  • Anxious attachment. Those with anxious attachments seek close relationships but often experience heightened anxiety and fear regarding their partner’s devotion and commitment. Ambivalent attachment can manifest as a mixture of intense longing for connection and a desire to be fully seen and cared for, while simultaneously doubting or having difficulty trusting the security of the relationship.

Ultimately, attachment styles exist on a spectrum, and individuals might exhibit different patterns depending on the context, their personality, or the person they’re in relationship with. Additionally, attachment styles can be influenced by personal growth, professional help, and self-reflection. 

What Are The Signs Of Love Ambivalence (Ambivalent Attachment) In Relationships

Learn To Change the Patterns of Ambivalent Attachment Style With PIVOT’s Expert Guidance

If you recognize these ambivalent patterns in yourself, or perhaps you’re wondering how to live with or support someone with ambivalent attachment, you can certainly find some comfort in knowing that it’s possible to achieve a sense of security with guidance from experienced PIVOT coaches. Engaging in guided self-reflection can help individuals understand and navigate their attachment style and address any love ambivalence.

Our expertise is in helping people understand how their early life experiences shaped their responses and unwanted patterns in the here-and-now. When we look at attachment styles as a series of adaptations that kept us safe once, but now may not be so protectively necessary, change becomes possible. 

Whatever may be causing difficulties with your romantic partners, we’ll delve deeper into attachment theory to help you understand who you are, why you do the things you do, and why you chose the people you chose.

It’s important to remember that attachment styles are not permanent traits and that it’s possible to approach relationships in a different manner. Participating in intimate group workshops held in Glass House retreats can help individuals learn, practice and display different attachment behaviors and form intimate and healthy relationships over time. We also offer personalized intensives for individuals, couples, or families to help really get to the heart of the dynamics. Or, perhaps individual coaching sessions are the pacing that feels right for you. We are here to help!

Avoidant Attachment Can Feel Like Love Avoidance

For many people, experiencing love is the most beautiful feeling in the world. You may find yourself flooded by emotional responses and eager for the object of your love to be wrapped up in all of the intensity and intimacy of these feelings. 

For others, however, love may look very different. It may be more reserved, less vulnerable, even protective. For people with avoidant attachment, it may read to your partners like you have love avoidance, or as though you are simply not able to love as deeply as they are.

The truth is that people with avoidant attachment often desire love, in fact they are often hungry for love. Past experiences, maybe in childhood, maybe related to betrayal or relational trauma, may make somebody feel very cautious and avoidant when they are falling in love and creating commitment. For these people, depth happens slowly, and big, engulfing emotions may feel overwhelming to them. 

People with avoidant attachment may experience a real (conscious or unconscious) fear towards intimate connections. This fear can make it seem like these individuals are prone to reject love or connection. However, that’s usually far from the truth. Like all of us, they crave love and yearn for the intimacy that comes from being truly seen and accepted. Deep down, like everyone else, they are eager to hear: “You matter! You’re worth it!”

The challenge for people with avoidant attachment is that past experiences have shaped their ability to experience deep emotional intimacy, and have changed their core they way they approach trust and safety in relationships.  This is why it’s helpful for avoidant attachers and the people that love them to really understand this pattern and how it originated. Thankfully, there are ways for these individuals and their loving partners to navigate connection and to build healthy, authentic relationships. 

What Is Avoidant Attachment Style?

Avoidant attachment in relationships is best understood when we look at the origin of the concept – Attachment Theory (Bowlby and Ainsworth.) The theory proposes that our early experiences with caregivers shape the way we form emotional bonds and connections later in life. 

At Pivot, we also recognize that sometimes events later in life, like a traumatic event, a severe breach of trust, or major life changes can alter the way we attach to others. Because of this, an attachment style can change. For example, a person who has had secure attachment with a partner, and then had an unexpected betrayal trauma, may move into avoidant attachment for some time out of a sense of self-protection. 

We also support people to recognize that, although a person may default frequently to one attachment style more than others in intimate relationships, we can show up with different kinds of attachment energy in different situations with different kinds of people. For example, someone who is avoidant with their primary romantic partner may have secure traits with a sibling and anxious traits with an employer. We think of attachment as fluid energy that is dynamically shaped by the nature of the person and circumstances of the relationship. 

In general, however, attachment styles are molded by our experiences with our early childhood caregivers. These early relationships become internal working models, influencing how we approach intimacy, trust, and vulnerability as adults. If a child’s needs weren’t met, and they did not experience emotional and/or physical safety in their development, they may have a hard time trusting that others will meet their needs and provide safety throughout their lives.  Sometimes over-protectiveness or smothering parental styles can also create avoidant attachment, as adult intimacy may trigger the emotionally engulfed experiences they lived through in childhood. 

Avoidant attachment style can feel like love avoidance to their partner because there is some characteristic caution around emotional intimacy. This leads them to process connection, safety and trust, and respond to it in a way that ensures autonomy and protection from the pain that may result from leaving oneself vulnerable.

What Is The Cause Of Love Avoidance

What Is The Cause Of Love Avoidance?

People with avoidant attachment often had caregivers who were emotionally distant, inconsistent, or dismissive of their needs during infancy and early childhood. Sometimes this might look like overt abuse and neglect. Other times it may be that a parent was unable or unskilled at giving the proper amount of nurturing required for a vulnerable child. 

Children who grow up in these environments often learn how to shut down, minimize or neutralize their emotional responses. Maybe they’ve realized that vocalizing and expressing emotional needs does not create any kind of soothing response, or perhaps it even created a negative response that made their emotional distress worse. An example would be a crying toddler who is repeatedly told to “knock it off” or “quit your crying!” or perhaps a slap, spanking, or being placed in isolation followed. The original need – the reason the child was crying – may not be appreciated and tended to. For this child, the lesson is that expressing emotions and seeking emotional support causes more pain. 

Over time, this child may adaptively learn that self-reliance is their most successful coping mechanism. This can develop into avoidant attachment in their future relationships. The important thing to realize is that this attachment style developed out of protection, and when it took root, it helped keep this child emotionally safe. 

The challenge comes when the emotional avoidance begins to create distance and challenge in the adult relationships that this person cares about. For the avoidantly attached person, it’s often helpful to look at the origin story of their attachment, and create new messages of safety and emotional security, effectively “re-parenting” their inner child. It takes work, but it IS possible to move into secure attachment after a childhood that left someone attaching avoidantly. 

When we really look at the way avoidant attachment develops, it’s easy to see why deep vulnerability and emotional depths intuitively feel wrong to this type of person. They may equate this degree of closeness to a loss of independence, a threat to autonomy, or a challenge to their staunch self-reliance… all of which have been protectively effective for them in the past. 

This is why avoidants may find themself conflicted when it comes to love. On one hand, they crave emotional closeness and connection. On the other hand, the thought of mutual emotional vulnerability raises their hackles. 

How Does Avoidant Attachment Look In Relationships?

Understanding how avoidant attachment affects relationships can prove immensely helpful for both sides involved. For the avoidant, it can be an excellent aid in identifying underlying factors and areas that need addressing. As for those who love someone with an avoidant attachment style, this knowledge can provide a fresh viewpoint. Having empathy and understanding for an avoidant attacher can help their partner approach the relationship in new, healthy ways. Below are some of the most frequent signs of avoidant attachment.

Difficulty Expressing Love and Other Serious Emotions

As we already mentioned, avoidants often find it challenging to express feelings openly. Their discomfort with physical or emotional displays of affection can make their partners feel rejected or unloved, or can leave them feeling conflicted and confused.

It would be a mistake to say that avoidant attachers are always “emotionally unavailable.” Sometimes avoidant partners are available for emotions, but they may be unskilled in expressing and receiving them, or vulnerability may feel unsafe or uncomfortable for them. Rather than emotional unavailability, most avoidant attachers have a limited emotional range, but are available for closeness. 

Avoidants may make people feel like they are keeping them at a distance, however, beneath the surface, the avoidant heart might be yearning for closeness. This is the primary reason why walking away from an avoidant should not be a first choice but, rather, a last resort.

A Devotion to the Pursuit Of Independence And Self-Sufficiency

Avoidants value their autonomy and self-sufficiency – this is the trait they adapted into as children when they experienced painful consequences to vulnerability, This often drives them to prioritize personal goals and pursuits (e.g. career, academic achievements, etc.) over the needs of their relationships.

In all relationships, a healthy sense of autonomy and independence is important. For the avoidant attacher, however, it is not intended to develop the unique individuality that benefits the relationship – rather, it feels like an essential survival need and often provides a sense of relief from the emotional demands of the relationship. For this reason, it’s essential for avoidants to strive toward a balance between honoring their independence and nurturing the emotional bond with their partner

Fear Of Commitment

Willingness to commit is the cornerstone of most long-lasting relationships. For avoidants, however, the concept can feel incredibly uncomfortable, triggering anxiety and a sense of entrapment at the mere thought of it.

After all, commitment entails a vulnerability and openness, which normally deepen over time. Vulnerability and openness are two things the avoidant attacher may intuitively feel like stepping back from. Acknowledging and confronting this fear can often be a gateway to forming a deep, healthy connection.

Can Avoidants Be Good Partners?

The answer to this question is never as simple as “yes” or “no”. Like all things in life, it’s much more nuanced than that. In general, the success of the relationship lies in either the avoidant partner’s willingness to grow and adapt to a new dimension of emotional trust and safety, or the partner of the avoidant to adapt their emotional expectations. 

Two avoidants who can both agree that a wide swath of personal freedom, limited emotional interdependence, and shallow vulnerability work for them can potentially have a successful relationship, even if it looks different than what social norms might dictate. This type of relationship is uncommon, but it can happen.

On the other hand, an avoidant attacher and an anxious or an ambivalent attacher usually feel quite challenged in understanding and meeting each other’s needs. Ironically, it is not uncommon to find that avoidant and anxious or ambivalent attachers attract each other. In these kinds of circumstances, a mutual commitment for healthy growth and a willingness to shift is usually a necessary part of long-term success.

The truth is that avoidant behaviors (e.g. emotional withdrawal, commitment challenges, etc.), while potentially protective in the past, normally do not benefit adult relationships with emotional maturity. In fact, they can (and often do) derail authentic connection.

The first step toward becoming a better partner as an avoidant is self-awareness. This starts with recognizing that, while your patterns may have kept you safe, they may have also kept you lonely, disconnected or unfulfilled. By recognizing avoidant tendencies and acknowledging harmful behavioral patterns, a person can begin to actively challenge them to “make room” for healthier emotional expression.

How Does Avoidant Attachment Look In Relationships

PIVOT Helps You Take The First Step Toward Overcoming Avoidant Attachment Style

Whether it is you or your partner who’s trapped in a love avoidance cycle, know that help overcoming avoidant attachments is within your reach. PIVOT is here to provide the support you need to change the way you approach relationships and, in doing so, make yourself open to the genuine connection you deserve.

We can help you take that deep, crucial look at how your early life experiences may have shaped your ability to connect with others in the here-and-now. We will also help you understand how significant adolescent and/or adult experiences like relational trauma, betrayal, grief or other circumstances may have altered your attachment style. When we understand the origin of our patterns, we empower ourselves with greater agency to Pivot out of them and into new, healthier realities. 

Join us at our Glass House retreat, where you’ll find a safe space to recover your self esteem and explore the main attachment styles and unravel the emotional barriers that may have held you back. Our experienced team is here to guide you every step of the way, offering personalized coaching sessions that cater to your unique needs and challenges.

Our coaches are here to provide emotional support, teach you about the different adult attachment styles, provide you with healthy mechanisms to develop emotional intimacy, and show you all the benefits of a secure attachment bond in close relationships.

Avoidant attachment is not set in stone nor is it a fixed destiny. It doesn’t have to control your life. So take that courageous first step, reach out to us today, and begin your journey of self-discovery and emotional growth.

Anxious Attachment Can Feel Like Love Addiction

Love is probably the most discussed emotion in the realm of human feelings. We know it when we feel it – we feel the void when it is absent. We may not be able to easily define it, but we generally all accept that experiencing love is essential to the human experience. 

In its purest form, love is like a silken thread that holds the tapestries of our lives together. It is present in warm memories, valuable relationships, and rich experiences. Love can be a motivating force – an invisible power that uplifts and inspires, a state of mind that transcends the ordinary, a wind beneath our wings that can drive us to be the best versions of ourselves.

For some, however, love feels frustratingly elusive and scarce. The hungry pursuit of love creates a desperate longing, a frantic quest for the intangible thing that others seem to have gathered in abundance. No matter how many moments of fondness, connection, intimacy, or emotional vulnerability this person shares with another, it may never be enough. It may never feel like the experiences have quenched the longing for love that drives their pursuits.

Welcome to the realm of “love addiction”.  This is a term that some have used to describe the experience of being so consumed by the intense pursuit of relational connection that the obsessive feelings actually inhibit the development of healthy relationships, and result in negative consequences. At Pivot, we agree that obsessive thinking and maladaptive behavior patterns exist, but we look at it a little differently.

Love isn’t actually addictive. That’s right. That’s what we believe, even though it may not match  what you’re read or heard before now. Love isn’t addictive. We believe that love, like happiness, contentment, or other pleasurable emotions, can exist plentifully without causing harm. Being flooded in love, committed to love, or learning to live in the constant spirit of love isn’t inherently toxic – at least not in the way that we would think of being committed to a substance or addictive behavior like gambling would cause concrete damage. 

When people talk about being “addicted to love”, what we’ve discovered is that they are usually caught in pathological cycles of unhealthy behavior as they (often unconsciously) attempt to repair early attachment wounds. This attachment dysregulation looks like what people would call “love addiction.” What people in this category are usually chasing, however, is not the love of the partner or current object of their obsession – it’s the unmet emotional needs and sense of psychological security that they truly needed in an earlier developmental stage. 

If that rewording sounds like a distinction without a difference to you, then consider this. If the problem is “love addiction” – if, like other addictions, the person in question is not able to responsibly manage love – then the logical conclusion would be something like abstinence or minimal “usage.” The “cure” would be love reduction.

When we think of those same thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as resulting from attachment injuries, then the “cure” looks very different. Love – real secure love – can be a healing, corrective force in the person’s life rather than a frightening temptation – a craving to be fought off. The “treatment” for attachment injury starts with the most vital love of all – that which is directed inward. 

Those who find themselves in this category may feel like they are on an incessant quest for validation, fostering a ravenous hunger for connection partnered with a deep-seated fear of abandonment. They are consumed by an all-encompassing belief that the right romantic connection will finally make them feel “loved.” In this sense, “loved” means healed, secure, emotionally safe, and free from the constant relational anxiety that their attachment injuries have created. 

Those who have been described as love addicts are often experiencing anxious attachment. This is a state that leaves people in an ongoing pursuit to repair their old emotional injuries through romantic relationships. This is normally accompanied by a poor sense of self-worth. In their relentless pursuit of the right, reparative relationship. they may neglect their own well-being, willingly sacrificing personal boundaries, and losing their own identity in the process. 

They also may often try to force relationships that are not healthy or loving, driven by the underlying fear that being alone would confirm their poor self-esteem. For then, being in toxic dynamics feels better than being alone. 

Like a complex puzzle, this anxious attachment is composed of interlocking pieces, including the individual’s past, the relationships their caregivers modeled, and their early experiences with love. Things like rejection, betrayal, and relational trauma also play a role. We are like books that were written early in our lives but are always being edited and updated. The good news about that is that this means that we can change the way we attach and that we can experience relational security. 

What Is Love Addiction?

Again, a reminder that at PIVOT, we don’t use the term love addiction. We also recognize that many people do. It’s a well-used phrase in the area of relational health. In fact, you have landed here on this article specifically because you searched for “love addiction.”

We also recognize that the term “love addiction” may create some specific negative responses for those struggling with anxious attachment. Being told you’re addicted to love may feel shaming, daunting, or may leave you wondering how you’ll ever have a normal relationship if you can’t be trusted to manage love. Don’t worry – we believe that once you understand and work toward healing the underlying attachment injuries, that you can flourish safely with love!

In this article, we will speak to “love addiction” as it is commonly understood, and shine light onto how anxious attachment patterns drive “love addiction.” 

“Love addiction”  is not merely a “penchant for romance” nor the thrilling sensation of falling head over heels for someone. It goes way beyond that. Imagine feeling like you can’t breathe, can’t think, maybe can’t even go on, if you think your significant other may be pulling away. AND… you are constantly perceiving rejection and relationship risk everywhere.

This is how love addicts feel: constantly overwhelmed by the emotional dependence on another person, yearning for connection and affection to such a degree that it can consume every aspect of their life. Their obsessive behavior not only fails to create the relationship security they’re desperately seeking, it often pushes their partner further away – thus creating the dreadful reality that their anxious attachment fearfully predicted. 

This behavior may ultimately result in them making their romantic interest into the focal point of their entire existence. They often put their partners on a proverbial pedestal, sacrificing their own interests and well-being just to maintain the connection. They are afraid to set boundaries, to ask for their needs to be met, or to create any disruption that may alienate their partner. 

At the same time, they may be also blasting their partner with demands for relational confirmation and validation. They may frequently ask “do you love me?”, “are you attracted to me?”, or “do I make you happy?” They may feel that investigative strategies like checking their phone, email or social media can help them avoid or prepare for the painful expectation of rejection. 

Unfortunately, these relentless (and endless) pursuits can also lead to a profound sense of emptiness when a love addict’s partner isn’t around. Additionally, the normal range of relationship challenges and tribulations may feel devastating for them.

Love addiction is often termed that way because the sufferers feel trapped in a cycle of seeking out a “hit”, receiving a temporary “fix”, and then “crashing” into despair when that love is threatened or lost. It feels like they are 

What Is The Connection Between Love Addiction & True Addiction?

It’s important to note that Love Addiction is not diagnostically recognized and does not appear in the DSM V (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.)  Anxious attachment is often diagnostically recognized as an anxiety disorder or as traits or diagnostic criteria of personality disorders. For both “love addiction” and anxious attachment, we can identify some similarities to other diagnostic addictions (like Substance Use Disorder or SUD). Often people recognize their patterns in these descriptions of pathological behaviors:

What Is The Connection Between Love Addiction & True Addiction
  • Compulsive actions and craving: Emotionally, one may crave (have an intense psychological and physiological longing for) emotional connection and validation from their partners, while individuals with SUD experience an overpowering craving for a substance. In both cases, the desire is so intense that it becomes difficult to resist, potentially leading to a loss of control over one’s actions.
  • Temporary highs and lows: “Love addicts” feel a surge of euphoria when their partners reciprocate their affection, while individuals using drugs or alcohol experience a temporary high. However, the fleeting nature of these positive feelings is unsustainable, leading to emotional crashes and a state of despair and emptiness in the absence of the rush.
  • Dependency and withdrawal: “Love addicts” become emotionally dependent on their partners, relying on them for validation and a sense of self-worth. Similarly, individuals with SUD develop physical and/or psychological dependence on drugs or alcohol, requiring more and more to create the desired effect, and a painful withdrawal in its absence..
  • Coping with difficult feelings: Over-indulgence of any soothing behavior can sometimes be a way of coping with feelings of pain and loneliness. Both “love addicts” and persons with SUDs may be driven by underlying trauma, fears, pain and anxiety.
  • Interference with daily life: Both types of obsessions can interfere with an individual’s daily life and responsibilities. A “love addict” may neglect personal commitments, hobbies, and friendships in their all-consuming pursuit of love in the same way a SUD-affected person can neglect work, family, and social obligations due to the preoccupation with obtaining and using drugs.
  • Cycle of craving and relapse: “Love addicts” may repeatedly seek new relationships or return to unhealthy ones despite past negative experiences. Similarly, individuals with substance use disorder may attempt to quit using drugs but face relapses due to the addictive nature of the substances.

Despite these similarities, it’s essential to acknowledge some significant differences between love addiction and substance use disorder. The first and most important distinction is that for the “love addict” it is not per-se the LOVE that is creating the toxic damage in their life. It is the maladaptive attempts to create dysfunctional attachment repair. In other words, you can have tragic outcomes that result from behaviors rooted in trauma, but you can’t overdose on love. 

Second, SUD is clinically diagnosable, unlike love addiction. It is a disease that requires medical treatment, whereas the latter is a compulsive behavior that can be addressed through counseling or therapy.

What Causes “Love Addiction”?

Most unwanted behavior patterns are complex and can stem from various underlying factors. Love addiction specifically often finds its roots in childhood experiences and relationships, as well as past traumas. These combine to form the attachment storm that feels like love addiction.

The Impact Of Childhood Experiences

  • Inconsistent or conditional support: Children who had their emotional needs met sporadically or only when they met certain conditions may internalize a fear that love is transient and can be lost at any moment, and that people who “love” you are unreliable.
  • Emotional neglect: Growing up in an emotionally distant environment can leave individuals starved for affection and longing for deep emotional connections in adulthood. This can also install a deep sense of unworthiness.
  • Early Developmental Attachment: Infancy and early childhood attachment styles with caregivers shape how individuals experience relationships later in life. Caregiver styles that resulted in anxious or insecure attachment styles can result in the characteristics often described as  love addiction.
  • Caregiver Modeling: The relationship attachment style that is demonstrated by early caregivers imprints a dynamic that becomes normalized to the child. If the relationship(s) modeled were highly dysregulated, the child may grow up without a core concept of relational security and healthy relationship dynamics..

The Role Of Past Traumas

  • Using New Partners to Heal From Old Partners: Experiencing heartbreak or past emotional traumas may drive an individual to seek solace and healing through new relationships. This creates a belief that romance is required to make them feel better, and they are stunted in developing internal resources and resilience.
  • Escaping loneliness: For people with past relational trauma and attachment injuries, being alone with their own thoughts and feelings may be very challenging. This can drive them to be in relationships at all costs. 
  • Fear of vulnerability: Past traumas can lead to a fear of vulnerability. If opening up created risk and lack of safety in the past, a person may feel particularly fearful about being rejected or hurt again. 

What Attachment Style Is Love Addiction?

Attachment theory, developed by psychologist John Bowlby, posits that early interactions with caregivers shape our attachment styles which, in turn, influence how we form and maintain relationships in adulthood.

His theory defines a secure attachment style, as well as insecure attachment styles, including disorganized attachment style (fearful-avoidant) and avoidant attachment style, while the anxious attachment style corresponds the most to love addiction, due to its key characteristics:

  • Constant worry about the fidelity and devotion of their partner
  • Hypersensitivity to perceived threats to the relationship
  • Desire for continued reassurance and validation from their partner
  • Persistent fear of abandonment or rejection
  • Overwhelming emotional needs that may push their partner away
  • Willing to accept quantity of connection rather than quality. Will stay in unhealthy dynamics too long.
  • Value their partners’ opinions and beliefs over their own

Individuals with an anxious attachment style often worry excessively about the relationship and their partner. Their low sense of worthiness drives a consistent fear of relational collapse. 

How Is Anxious Attachment Connected To Love Addiction?

We can confidently conclude that “love addiction” and anxious attachment are often different titles for the same script. We prefer referring to anxious attachment because we can address it’s care and healing with a clear, shameless process. While the term “love addiction” may resonate more with you, both essentially describe the same core characteristics:

  • There is a constant fear of abandonment driving the person to cling to their romantic partner which, in turn, makes them more likely to ultimately be rejected, which deepens the anxiety. This is the cycle of intensification. 
  • Their intense need for validation and reassurance creates ongoing challenges. The psychic tension between their deep longing to have their emotional needs met and the intense fear of alienating their partner leaves them in a no-win situation. This results in shame and an even lower sense of self-worth. 
  • These individuals may become overly possessive, investigative, jealous, or manipulative in an attempt to keep their partner close. The ends justify the means to them if it means not being alone. 

Summed up, these behaviors that stem from the anxious attachment style can create a turbulent cycle in the relationship. They often find themselves unintentionally creating the very painful experiences of rejection that they were desperate to prevent 

How To Deal With Anxious Attachment?

While dealing with insecure attachment styles like anxious attachment can feel challenging, it is not impossible. Whether you are a person with anxious attachment, or you love someone who fits this profile, there is help.  Here are several steps that can put the person on a track to recovery:

  • Learn to recognize and acknowledge the anxious attachment triggers and patterns is the first step toward healing. What kinds of people and situations create the most disproportionate responses?
  • Engaging in relationship coaching, therapy or counseling can help address the root causes of the problem and help a person build healthier relationship patterns. Seek someone like the professionals at Pivot, who has an understanding of attachment and developmental psychology. 
  • Practicing self-compassion and nurturing a sense of self-worth can reduce the need for external validation. Intentional focus on loving the self is essential. 
What Causes Love Addiction

Lift Yourself Above Insecure Anxious Attachment With PIVOT’s Help

Whether you’re dating someone with an anxious attachment, or you yourself identify with this profile, know that your situation is far from hopeless. At PIVOT’s state-of-the-art Glass House retreat, you can acquire all the tools you need to overcome insecure attachments. We truly help you to understand yourself better, We also recognize that people with anxious attachment often need support to cope with avoidance and ambivalence as well. Often anxious attachment attracts avoidant or ambivalent attachment. When you learn how to understand and care for your own responses, you can begin to approach your romantic relationships in a healthy way.

We’ll help you look at your attachment style by taking a sincere and honest look at your own personal history and your current patterns. Our experts will be there to assist you in regaining your self esteem and changing the way your future looks. Every session takes place under the watchful eyes of our experienced personal coaches, so you can rest assured that you’ll have the guidance and support you need every step of the way. 

If a retreat setting sounds like too much for you, we can custom build a personal intensive just for you, or we can break it down into bite-sized pieces during weekly coaching sessions. 

Give us a call today and embrace the brighter tomorrow you deserve.

What Is Attachment: How Human Behavior Forms

“Attachment” is a term meant to describe the way that we connect with each other in the context of emotional safety and trust. When Attachment Theory was developed (Bowlby and Ainsworth), the concept was given that early in life, the way a child’s needs are met (or not) impacts the way that they will experience relational security throughout their lives.

If we think about it, attachment isn’t just an abstract emotional theory – it’s a survival need. Evolutionarily speaking, a helpless infant’s chances of survival go way up if it is securely attached to a primary caregiver. Likewise, an adult’s chances of survival go way up if they are able to attach and integrate securely into the tribe. We are hardwired to connect with others and to create interpersonal safety. .

Secure attachment looks like feeling acknowledged, understood and valued in a relationship. There is an ability to communicate with safety and the people involved help each other’s (and their own) emotional needs to be met.

Not all attachment looks emotionally secure, however. Based on considerations like what you experienced in childhood, relational trauma, grief and loss, or other factors, you may attach in a way that feels anxious, avoidant or ambivalent. These styles of attachment can affect the quality of your relationships and leave you and your partner feeling anything from obsessive to resistant to confused to stuck.  

Throughout our lives we interact with people and create attachments in our relationships. Sometimes we have different styles of attaching with different kinds of people. Each relationship domain may have different attachment energy based on how you show up with that person. For example, you may have anxious attachment  to your employer because, even though you have a comfortable relationship, there is a hunger to please them, a persistent worry that they may not approve of you, and pre-existing financial fears. You may have a bit of avoidant attachment with a family member that is hyper critical of your life choices. And in the middle of all of this, you may have secure attachment with your primary partner. 

When we understand the nuances of the four primary attachment styles, we can really get to the heart of our patterns and our relational behavior. We can begin to make sense of why we do the things we do, and where those relational traits come from. 

As we navigate through our day to day life, we form relationships at virtually every step of the way. Some of those interactions end up being close relationships that drive us to form deeper, more meaningful emotional connections. 

Some of these connections develop a closeness that makes us feel acknowledged, understood, and loved for who we are. In other words, we  form a close attachment. It is a fundamental aspect of human behavior that shapes the way we form connections and interact with others. 

However, not all styles of attaching are the same, although they do share a common denominator. Each significantly influences how we perceive ourselves and others, impacting our emotional well-being and the quality of our current and future relationships. 

For this reason, it is essential to familiarize ourselves with different attachment styles, including the secure attachment, the avoidant attachment, the ambivalent attachment, as well as the anxious attachment. All of these attachment styles provide us with a framework to better comprehend the complex nature of human behavior, especially in the romantic relationship domain.

What Do The 4 Attachment Styles Mean?

In the 1950s, psychologist John Bowlby developed the Attachment Theory, a prominent framework for understanding human behavior and the dynamics of interpersonal relationships through four adult attachment styles. His work revolutionized our understanding of how early childhood experiences with primary caregivers shape our attachment styles in relationships and subsequent behaviors in adulthood.

Four main adult relationships attachment styles in psychology, that are at the core of this framework are:

  • Secure attachment style;
  • Anxious attachment style (Preoccupied; in children: anxious-ambivalent);
  • Avoidant attachment style (Dismissive; in children: anxious-avoidant);
  • Disorganized attachment style (in children: Fearful-Avoidant).

Out of the four, the latter three are known as “insecure attachment styles”, due to the way they manifest.

By exploring these four styles, we can gain valuable insights into the patterns and dynamics that influence our interactions with others. Additionally, we can learn to nurture attachments that lead to enhanced emotional well-being and fulfilling connections.

At PIVOT, we look at these attachment styles through the lens of energy which we will speak to at the end of this article.  The reason for this is that individuals rarely connect using one style in everyday life.

Secure Attachment Style: The Foundation Of Trust And Security

This attachment style forms the bedrock of healthy relationships. Securely attached adults feel comfortable with physical and emotional intimacy, as well as independence, displaying a sense of trust, security, and emotional availability. They have confidence in their worthiness of love and exhibit effective communication skills and empathy.


  • Strong sense of self-worth and confidence;
  • Capable of forming healthy, fulfilling intimate relationships;
  • Effective communication skills;
  • Comfortable with both intimacy and autonomy.


  • May struggle to empathize with individuals with insecure attachment styles;
  • May have difficulty understanding the experiences of those with insecure attachment styles.

In intimate relationships, these individuals can provide support and comfort to their romantic partners, while also maintaining their own autonomy. They understand the importance of open communication, express their needs clearly, and readily seek and offer support when needed. Strong sense of self-worth and believing in the reliability of others, allows securely attached individuals to foster romantic relationships based on trust, mutual respect, and emotional connection through secure attachment behaviors.

Anxious (Preoccupied) Attachment Style: The Quest For Reassurance

Individuals with an anxious attachment style crave deep emotional connection and reassurance from their partners. However, they often experience heightened anxiety and fear regarding abandonment or rejection, which can lead them to display clingy behavior, as well as struggle with boundaries. If they possess this as one of the main attachment styles, individuals who fall into the anxious attachment style category often exhibit the following traits:


  • Deep capacity for emotional connection and empathy;
  • Strong desire for closeness and intimacy;
  • Attuned to the emotional needs of others.


  • Heightened anxiety and fear of rejection or abandonment;
  • Tendency to seek constant reassurance and validation;
  • Potential for emotional reactivity and clingy behavior.

In romantic relationships, these individuals tend to be more emotionally reactive (as opposed to proactive) and may be hypersensitive to perceived signs of rejection or neglect. They desire constant closeness and reassurance, frequently seeking validation from their partners to alleviate their anxieties.

Avoidant (Dismissive) Attachment Style: Independence Over Intimacy

Individuals fostering avoidant attachment value independence and self-reliance above deep emotional connection. Individuals with avoidant attachment styles often prioritize maintaining their own autonomy, which can drive them to downplay the importance of close relationships. Furthermore, they may struggle with vulnerability and emotional expression, which can manifest as a tendency to avoid intimacy.


  • Emphasizes independence and self-reliance;
  • Comfortable with personal space and autonomy;
  • May excel in maintaining individuality within adult romantic relationships.


  • Difficulty expressing emotions and vulnerabilities;
  • May struggle with forming deep emotional connections;
  • Tendency to avoid intimacy and emotional closeness.

In romantic relationships, avoidants may often seek to maintain control over their emotions, preferring self-sufficiency over-relying on others for support. This can make it difficult for them to empathize with their partner’s needs and feelings, which is why they often appear emotionally distant or detached.

Disorganized (Fearful-Avoidant) Attachment Style (at PIVOT, we call this Ambivalent): Torn Between Closeness And Independence

Individuals with this attachment style often struggle with ambivalent feelings, simultaneously desiring intimacy while fearing rejection and abandonment. At PIVOT, we call this Ambivalent. They may display erratic behaviors, fluctuating between moments of seeking connection and moments of pushing others away.


  • Deep capacity for emotional depth and intensity;
  • Strong desire for both closeness and independence;
  • Reflective and introspective nature.


  • Internal conflict and fear of rejection and engulfment, often accompanied by negative self image;
  • Difficulty establishing and maintaining stable relationships;
  • Struggle with vulnerability and may exhibit erratic behaviors.

In romantic relationships, those with a fearful-avoidant attachment style may experience a constant inner tug-of-war, vacillating between moments of seeking closeness and then retreating due to fear of emotional pain. These individuals may exhibit a fear of rejection or engulfment, leading to difficulties in establishing and maintaining stable, trusting adult relationships.

Is There A Best Attachment Style?

Due to it fostering trust, emotional availability, and effective communication (among other strengths), the secure attachment style is generally considered the most adaptive and desirable. However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean other styles are inherently bad or that individuals fostering them are doomed to fail in their close relationships.

As we’ve seen, attachment styles vary in their characteristics and tendencies, with each having its own strengths and challenges. Additionally, these behaviors develop based on early experiences and the environment in which individuals grew up.

What we can extrapolate from this is that attachment styles are still learned behaviors. Deeply ingrained ones, yes, but still learned, which means a person can learn to manage and, in some cases, instigate a complete attachment style change, swapping an insecure for a healthier, more secure attachment type.

In a lot of cases, doing so will require a lot of practice, most likely aided by a professional (personal coach or therapist). It is a daunting prospect but the rewards are more than worth the effort, as a person can cultivate more secure attachment patterns leading to them developing healthier, more fulfilling, and secure relationships.

We like to think of attachment as energy so clients can understand how they are attaching in “real time” meaning in the moment.  Someone might attach securely to their best friend whom they trust and anxiously to a co-worker whom they don’t trust.  Pivoting from one style to another can happen with healthy boundaries and self-esteem.

What Is The Unhealthiest Attachment Style?

The fourth attachment style (fearful-avoidant which we call Ambivalent) is commonly regarded as the unhealthiest, mainly due to its conflicting nature. As we said, individuals with this style are often in a state of internal struggle and emotional turmoil.

On the one hand, they experience a deep longing for emotional connection. On the other, there’s the fear of rejection or engulfment. This state of being “trapped between heaven and hell” can drive a person to oscillate between moments of seeking closeness and then withdrawing to protect themselves from potential emotional pain.

Needless to say, this inconsistency can make it incredibly complex and challenging for the ambivalent to establish and maintain stable, trusting relationships. However, it is once again important to recognize that this is a learned behavior.

Ambivalent attachment style often stems from earlier life experiences, such as inconsistent caregiving or traumatic events that have caused deep-seated fear and mistrust, both of which can be addressed with professional help, and quite successfully.

Can I Have All 4 Attachment Styles?

Yes. It is important to note that attachment styles are not fixed or static. They can change over time and be influenced by various factors such as personal growth, life experiences, and therapeutic interventions. And, as mentioned above, you can have varying styles based on the nature of the relationship or situation. 

What this implies is that individuals can transition from one dominant attachment style to another as they gain self-awareness and work towards developing more secure attachment styles, as a part of the human development process.

Improve Your Relationships By Making Your Attachment Style More Secure With PIVOT

You no longer have to struggle with insecurities in your relationships just because your attachment style dictates so. All you have to do is seek support from experienced professionals. With PIVOT’s help, you can turn it all around and you can do so in the complete safety of our serene Glass House retreat. Here, our expert personal coaches stand ready to guide you through the process of self-discovery, using tailored techniques and proven therapeutic approaches.

We’ll help you navigate the complexities of your attachment style and equip you with effective coping strategies, empowering you to cultivate more secure and satisfying relationships. Get in touch with us today and embrace the support and guidance that will lead you to a more fulfilled life.