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Has anyone worked on avoidant attachment in therapy?

Discussion in 'Treatment & Therapy' started by Justmehere, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. Justmehere

    Justmehere Defying the odds Moderator Premium Member

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    If so, what has helped?
     
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  3. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

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    No, but I hope someone else has, so I thought I'd post something so this doesn't disappear.
     
  4. grit

    grit Active Member

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    I have severe cptsd and have had avoidant attachment (well my younger days) I had disorganized attachment and worked my way up to avoidant and then to secure attachment. I am happily married to a great guy for the past 4.5 yrs. Still in honeymoon!
    What worked for me is this:
    Every time I tell a story about a person, I watched my feelings and intensity and reaction. Am I enjoying about telling yet another break up with a great guy who just was not the one! blahhh I started to get bored with my stories. They all start to sound the same. I realized I project my issues to others.
    I also was fearful and thought every man will break my heart like I have no resistance...and trust me I survived craziness already! but yet here I am scared like a toddler that if I allow him in, he will destroy me...well. I stopped dating. I started to pay attention my feelings and wrote them down and wrote my dreams too and get some sense of my own issues.
    I started not to sleep with anyone right away....and take my time to ensure where my boundary is and his starts.

    After one year like this, I met my husband while on vacation and we slept the second date and we moved in 6 months. I do not recommend this last part. Go your own pace but I just learned my own projection. So rather than projecting bad things to them, I actually started to project good things and people started to treat me different. BUT be careful about projection, if you project indiscriminately, you could not see the real person but your own creation. I only did the positive projecting to see if I could switch from negative projection....again this is reaction formation defense its own.

    I was not in therapy at the time. I am older in my late 40s so I had a long dating that did not work.

    Good luck
     
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  5. EveHarrington

    EveHarrington _______ in progress. Premium Member

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    No offense but how avoidant can you possibly be if you were constantly dating and needed to take a break from dating? It doesn’t sound like you were really avoiding much.
     
  6. grit

    grit Active Member

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    Hi
    Yes I was dating constantly but avoidance does not mean you do not date at all...it means I would bolt at the sight of intimacy...some people become anxious or clingy, I was like out the door.
    So dating much did not result anything...I was like on puppy mill.

    However, I was also disorganized in my 20s. I am in my 40s so age, maturity and just healing take some affect.

    Attachment theories all agree, people need attachment but how they go about it can be helping or can be barrier. All my dating, I had one b/f in my 20s and then my husband...so a lot of hubris...but good people. I was just not all there at the time.
     
  7. Suzetig

    Suzetig Still the Staff Kitteh... Moderator Sponsor $100+

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    Attachment isn’t a scale where you move through attachment styles. Avoidant attachment isn’t something you move into, each attachment style is a particular way of being in their own right and only about 30% of adults have a secure attachment style.

    Avoidant attachment in and of itself isn’t a massive issue - its basically a way of describing how you learned relationships worked as an infant and underpins how you get your needs met in current relationships. Some literature suggests avoidant attachment is a shame based attachment style where in the person on some level believes they are unacceptable (because that’s the message they got as a child). The only way to work on your attachment style is in relationships with others - not necessarily therapy, because your attachment pattern will play out in all your relationships. Being able to little by little trust a bit more, share more of yourself with another and allow others to meet your needs all helps build bonds of attachment. Therapy can provide a secure place to test this out, but so can other safe relationships (which may not feel that safe but part of working on relationships is accepting that what you “feel” and what you “know” aren’t always the same thing).

    A place to start may be to identify relationships that feel in any way safe to you, what makes them feel safe, are some safer than others, what makes you feel unsafe. Knowing this helps you then test out the truth of your feelings (ie my relationship with my husband doesn’t feel safe, I think he’s going to leave me - but he’s been there for 20 years, has seen my worst, always cares for me, shows he loves me and says he isn’t going anywhere - he gets things wrong but has never broken my trust, therefore the relationship is safe enough for me to trust him with X).

    For me at one point just being in a relationship at all felt utterly unsafe (even relationships that I knew beyond doubt were safe didn’t feel safe), so allowing myself to be in relationship, test out that relationship and see it survive and thrive was a huge part of my healing. I’m still somewhat avoidant but I know and understand why, and I know what I need to feel safe with others, and I have a small group of good, very strong relationships.

    It’s hard because you’ll feel like you are going against your instincts but in this case you need to challenge those instincts because they belong to a different time and place.
     
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  8. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

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    This is probably going to sound REALLY stupid.

    What needs is it that other people can meet? In the majority of the relationships I've been in, the guy has eventually complained that I "don't need him". And my thought is kind of "Well, no, but I WANT you around, so what's the problem?"
    "
    Needing" someone seems pretty demanding. Like an imposition? I'm pretty sure I grew up thinking it was a waste of time "needing" anything from anyone. If you need something, you'd better solve the problem yourself. So, what am I missing here?
     
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  9. EveHarrington

    EveHarrington _______ in progress. Premium Member

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    I can see this playing out in relationships. I mean in a number of my past relationships a dynamic was created where I’d NEED the guy for whatever reason, mainly in an “I want to fix you, I can fix you” sort of dynamic. When I balk (as I always do), there is a void... The guy doesn’t know how to let me be independent (as I know I must feel in order to be happy).

    Is this biology? The dynamic of the woman needing the man (to survive)?
     
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  10. Suzetig

    Suzetig Still the Staff Kitteh... Moderator Sponsor $100+

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    I had the same problem - I was utterly independent and self sufficient but I ran myself into the ground trying to meet all my own needs but there are some needs I just can’t meet for myself. I also honestly thought I had no needs at all beyond food and water, which I could do for myself, thanks.

    It also depends on what you mean by need. If you class a need as something you’ll die without, I have very few actual needs. If you think of needs as helping you live a fulfilled, healthy, happy life, I have lots of needs.

    On a purely practical level I need support, whether that be someone to talk to when the kids drive me crazy, someone to help with the house, someone with more knowledge or experience in a particular issue (eg lawyers or therapists), I sometimes need financial support or someone to make me a cup of tea and let me rest for a while while they take over. I wouldn’t die without these things being met - so they aren’t a life or death thing (so some folk would say not a need as such) but my life is 100 times easier if I lean on someone (which means less stress because I’m not doing it all, stress cup much less full = me not being triggered all the time = healthier).

    On a harder, more relational level, I’m coming to accept I have lots of needs. I need to know there are people in my life who love me unconditionally, who have my back and who I allow to care for me and support me. I need people and places where I can be vulnerable and know people won’t take advantage. I need people who will be honest with me, who will tell me if I seem out of sorts. And I need intimacy - not necessarily sexual (though that’s on my list) but closeness with another, and safety. I need to feel safe. I also need fun, and joy and lightness in my relationships.

    All of those things scared the living hell out of me, I did everything for myself and doubted that I had needs, that anyone would want to meet those needs for me or that anyone could. It felt very wrong to admit I needed anything at all from people (would that not mean I’m needy, would I be giving my power away). I kept everyone at a distance, wouldn’t connect or trust or even be around others if I could help it and vulnerability felt impossible.

    I’m not there yet, but I have most of those things in at least one relationship- and some of them I have in a few close relationships but it’s been very hard learning for me.
     
  11. MyWillow

    MyWillow Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the conversation. In my mind I don’t need anyone. Despite having a nice partner and good T. Why would they care and I don’t believe that they really do anyway. I hope they don’t. Faaaaaaark I hate this.
     
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  12. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

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    It actually seems beyond "wrong", it seems unsafe. Because what happens when no one's there? You die?
    And, I think I need to know that I actually don't NEED that, wonderful as it sounds, because there has to be an option for living without it. Unconditional love.....I get the idea, but it seems like a myth, and somehow, you have to be able to survive without it, don't you? Because what it it's not there? What if you're not all that lovable, or you're not lucky enough to have run across the right person? What if no one WANTS to care for you and support you?
     
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  13. joeylittle

    joeylittle ˁ˚ᴥ˚ˀ All howl, no bite Administrator Generous $250+

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    This is one of those thoughts that can really sink me, if I’m not careful. I agree - there needs to be a way things work without having unconditional love/support coming from somewhere...
     
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