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14 Signs You Might Have an ‘Avoidant Attachment Style’ After Childhood Emotional Abuse

Editor's Note

If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Your attachment style is a reflection of how your needs (including emotional needs) were met at a young age and how you learned to cope with unmet needs. The avoidant attachment style is all about, you guessed it, avoidance.

Avoidance of intimacy, avoidance of reliance, avoidance of everything.

People typically develop this attachment style when their emotional needs were not met at a young age. They internalized the message that no one will be there for them emotionally and instead they have to be there for themselves. This creates a high sense of trust in oneself, but a low sense of trust in others.

If this sounds familiar, let’s check out 14 signs you might have an avoidant attachment style:

1. You are independent to a fault. You do not like to rely on others in case they let you down, so you do everything yourself.

2. You’re scared of commitment. You’re interested in someone until they show interest back. Then your interest starts to just… fade.

3. You’re not super in touch with your own emotions or the emotions of people around you because you would rather avoid emotions entirely most of the time.

4. You tend to be passive-aggressive when something is wrong because you don’t want to come out and be honest with your feelings, but you want the problem to go away.

5. You aren’t made of stone, you’re actually incredibly scared of rejection and that’s why you avoid intimacy: you’d rather reject others before they have the chance to reject you.

6. This doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships. You probably notice these avoidant patterns in your friendships, at work, even with your hobbies.

7. You are actually pretty good at setting boundaries. The problem is, sometimes you set very extreme boundaries that are meant to keep you safe from rejection, but actually end up making you very lonely.

8. You might be a perfectly articulate person usually, but when you try to talk about your feelings, even to yourself through journaling, it’s hard to find the words.

9. You might believe that relying on others is a sign of weakness because you’ve been providing for yourself so long.

10. Even when you do think you’d like to get close to someone, you have no idea how to go about doing that, and often cut off the relationship instead.

11. When you were upset as a kid, instead of getting on your level and helping you deal with your emotions, your parents likely pulled back. They may not have responded at all or they may said things like “stop being so sensitive,” or “toughen up.”

12. You tend to think your partners are much clingier than you would like, when really they are often just trying to get to know you on a deeper level.

13. You’re not lonely. You might have a lot of friends, acquaintances, or partners and be the life of the party, but none of those relationships go very deep.

14. When you are in a committed relationship, you have an exit plan, just in case.

If you relate to these signs, I highly recommend downloading my free trigger tracker and keeping track of what triggers your avoidant behaviors and patterns. Being self-aware is the first step toward healing.

A version of this article was previously published on the author’s blog, Healing Unscripted.

Photo by Elizaveta Dushechkina on Unsplash

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