Do I have Avoidant Attachment?

Ask A Therapist OnlineDo I have Avoidant Attachment?
Kellsie asked 5 years ago

I grew up in two separate homes where both parents physically and emotionally abused me. I always thought people didn’t like me in school, so I often ditched. I’m 18 now and still can’t hold a conversation with anyone – I get so scared they’re thinking about how much they hate me. Do I have Avoidant Attachment?

1 Answers
Insight Psychological Staff answered 5 years ago

Thank you for your question and for sharing your story. We are sorry to hear of your struggles and your past abuse.

First, let’s define Avoidant Attachment.

Attachment is how we interact with, and create close bonds with others. Our style of attachment affects all of our relationships. “Avoidant” is one of those styles, usually resulting from a lack of bonding with a parent as an infant or small child. Children in this situation learned early on that they had to rely on only themselves for care and love. As a result, people with an Avoidant Attachment Disorder tend to be very independent, set firm boundaries, and have a difficult time trusting others. They experience anxiety and insecurity in their relationships and may have a pattern of choosing partners that they know will not be a good match – setting the relationship up for failure and thereby confirming their theory that they are unlovable.

Back to your situation…it sounds like you’ve had a really difficult childhood, and this is the place to start exploring. It is possible that you could have an Avoidant Attachment style. Of course, there is much to know first such as:

  • What were your parents like and how was your relationship with them while growing up?
  • You also mentioned being physically and emotionally abused. What did that look like for you as a child, or even as a teenager growing up?
  • How are your relationships with others? Do you have siblings, other family members, or friends that you have a close relationship with?

People who have an avoidant attachment style tend to be very independent in the sense that they don’t like to share their feelings and emotions. This is a defense mechanism that a person develops based on their childhood relationship with their caregivers and helps to prevent them from getting disappointed or hurt. In short, they don’t like to appear to be vulnerable. When you mentioned that you can’t have conversations with anyone because you’re scared that they might hate you, I think of that more as negative cognitions (which are the thoughts and beliefs you have) based on past experiences. It sounds like you do want to make connections with others, but you fear that they will dislike you or even reject you, perhaps? If so, then exploring those fears and assumptions you may have about talking to others will be the first step.

A psychologist can help you work through this. We’d be honoured to support you on your journey.