One word: whiplash.
Photo by Artyom Kim on Unsplash
Anxious-avoidant attachment has a whiplash effect. If this is your attachment style, relationships are a wild ride.
It?s like being strapped into a rollercoaster. One minute you?re clinging on fearing abandonment. And the next, you?re emotionally distant.
The sad thing is, you may think this is a healthy relationship. I thought it was for years, and my attachment style was anxious-avoidant.
As I got older and didn?t deal with my shit, it got messy. I spent six years dating other insecurely attached people after my ex ended things with me.
I hurt the people I dated, and they hurt me too.
Here?s what dating is like when you?re anxious-avoidant.
Down The Insecure Attachment Rabbit Hole
?We do as we have been done by.? ? John Bowlby
Attachment starts in childhood. The way our parents responded to us can set the tone for how we experience relationships as adults.
Let?s take a look at the 3 insecure attachment types:
- Anxious ? These people are afraid of abandonment. They often cling to their partners like a newborn baby. They may send 500 texts in a day asking you where you are, what you?re doing, and if you love them.
- Avoidant ? Thinks emotions are a sign of weakness. Avoids feelings like the plague as they?re too overwhelming. They may ignore you when you try to get them to open up. If you ask ?what are we?? they?ll freak out.
- Anxious-avoidant ? A combination of the above. They cling on for dear life if they feel their partner is avoiding them. Yet if their partner is clingy, they can act emotionally unavailable.
Parents of anxious-avoidant children may have tended to their needs inconsistently. Showing them love one minute, and then being emotionally distant.
When parents vacillate between these two very different responses, their children become confused and insecure, not knowing what kind of treatment to expect. ? Joyce Catlett, M.A.
My dad wasn?t around, and my mom was busy getting her life together after their divorce. If you never learned what a healthy relationship looks like? You?ll navigate your adult relationships in the same way.
Anxious-avoidant attachment is the short end of the stick.
This Is The Reality of What An Insecure Relationship Looks Like
Let?s say you?ve met someone your attracted to, and they?re also anxious-avoidant. You both like each other, and you begin obsessively thinking about them.
You?re both clingy at this point. It?s new and exciting.
This is the anxious part of you, the fear of abandonment. So you?ll begin trying different things to swindle them into wanting you. But you?re into each other, so everything is fine!
And although you don?t know them yet, you?ve already started building a false image of who they are in your mind. You?ve put them on a pedestal.
?They?re perfect!? you tell your friends (ignoring the ?recently single? red flag.)
Everything feels amazing
The person is on the same wavelength as you. You?re both texting each other every day and hang out a few times a week. your mind begins to calm down a little.
It begins feeling like they won?t leave you the way everyone else has.
?Things are working out for once!? you?ll tell yourself. I mean, you?ve had some bad relationship patterns in the past.
But it?s different this time, right?
A week later on a Monday, you freak out because they haven?t replied to your 5 good morning texts yet. (It?s only 10 am, chill.) They?re most likely avoiding you a little. The avoidant part of them is feeling triggered.
Avoidance triggers your fear of abandonment
And you start wondering if they?re even into you. You?ve already sent 5 texts, what?s another 5 more?
?Hey lol, check this dog meme out? you slide into their Insta DMs with a video. A bead of sweat trickles down your forehead.
No reply. (It?s been an hour.)
You?ve spent the morning hyperventilating, and now you?re making up reasons why they aren?t interested in you anymore.
At 1 pm, your phone goes off.
Sweet relief, it?s a text from them apologizing ? they?ve been at work. ?Should we grab dinner tonight?? they ask. It?s code for Netflix and chill, and you know it.
The endorphins are surging through your brain because insecure relationships are addictive. The excitement kicks in, so you choose the perfect outfit and begin getting ready (3 hours early.)
Perfection doesn?t exist, but you keep telling yourself it does
After dinner, you go to their place and have the best sex of your life. They?ll tell you they like you. And you?ll feel giddy at first, but it won?t be long before the avoidant part of you kicks in and? Well, avoids them.
Soon you?ll start picking out the petty details about them.
?I noticed they didn?t pour me water first. It?s a sign of selfishness.? You?ll tell your housemate over dinner. They disagree, but you don?t listen.
You thought they were perfect, but not anymore. Plus, they drive a beat-up car from 2001. Is that the car you want to drive your kids to school in?
Sex is easy
The avoidant part of you creates the idea of a perfect partner as a defence mechanism to avoid intimacy. And they?re doing the same to you when you get too close.
Sex is easy, but intimacy is terrifying.
The more affection they show you, the more you freak out. If they try and get too close ? you?ll convince yourself they aren?t the right person for you. You?ll start limiting your interactions with them.
If one of you starts losing interest, your fear of abandonment will kick in again (for the 1000th time.) Not again.
You might resort to using sex to try and win their attention again. And it might work for a little while, but you know it isn?t the solution.
Deep down, you know it?s only a matter of time before you hurt each other again.
And you do. Because the cycle always repeats itself.
Change happens when you realize you can?t keep living your life like this
One person will get sick of your shit soon enough, and you?ll get sick of theirs too. The same thing will happen again with different people. You?ll go through these anxious and avoidant phases until everyone ends up getting hurt.
Sounds crazy, right?
But this is what insecure attachment looks like when you don?t get help. It can go on for years, and I know people in their 50s who are still insecurely attached.
It?s often a subconscious process. It?s not that insecurely attached people want to feel this way! It?s painful to live like this. Getting help is the best thing you can do for your mental health. I saw a therapist (eventually) and changed my attachment style.
And once you go secure, you?ll never look back.
Anxious-avoidant attachment is the short end of the stick, and it?s painful to live with. Dating is challenging because it can create a push-pull between two insecure people that often wind up hurting both parties.
People with insecure attachment don?t want to hurt people or be hurt! It?s a subconscious process. You can spend years not knowing why you react the way you do.
Once you?re secure, you?re life and the way you navigate relationships change forever.
Want more relationship and self-improvement content?Sign up to my free weekly newsletter here.