When it comes to relationships as adults, there are four attachment styles that can affect how a person deals with the relationship, his or her partner and oneself. This theory of attachment has existed since the 1960s and the 1970s but it was a decade later that it had extended to adult relationships. From the four attachment styles, namely; secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant and fearful-avoidant, in this particular discussion, we will talk about fearful-avoidant attachment disorder and its treatment.
What Is Fearful-Avoidant Attachment?
This is an adult attachment style in which an individual with this disorder fears to be in a relationship to protect oneself but at the same time has a yearning to be in one. A person suffering from this disorder long to be with another person and yet in the process, he or she is also uncomfortable when the relationship becomes serious. This person is one who gets into short-term relationships because he or she finds fault on his or her partner after a period of time. The reason behind this is the fear or worry that he or she will be hurt in the long run or be rejection. In a nutshell, these are people with ambivalent feelings when it comes to intimate relationships and commitments.
People with fearful-avoidant attachment disorder have low self-esteem and negative regard to themselves that they do not feel they are worthy to be loved by others. Consequently, they tend to depend on others to make them feel good about themselves which can lead to seeking for approval and being clingy to their partners. Moreover, the insecurities these people have and their difficulty in trusting their partners also make them less unexpressive of their feelings and less likely to seek intimacy. Having said this, they fail to show affection in relationships.
Treatment for Fearful-avoidant Attachment Style Disorder
Also known as Anxious-avoidant Attachment Style, this disorder revolves around insecurity and because of this, feeling secure is one way to alter this attachment style. By getting into a relationship with someone with secure attachment style, a fearful-avoidant person can adapt this feeling of security and also feel better about oneself. By being with another person with a history of security in childhood, the anxious-avoidant person will have a sense of security and not be eaten up by negative thoughts and notions about himself or herself since his or her partner will be there to support and accept him or her.
Psychotherapy is also another effective way to change the attachment style of a fearful-avoidant person. By asking the help of a therapist, the patient builds a psychotherapeutic relationship with his or her therapist in which the latter will provide the security base the caregiver failed to give the patient in childhood. This relationship acts as a healing agent. The role of the therapist is to change the attachment style of the client with the new relationship of attachment between the therapist and the patient. The therapist helps the patient to get over the past attachment patterns and build new attachment style patterns.
Another way to approach fearful-avoidant personality disorder is through mindfulness. This means having awareness of what is happening at the moment and is a deliberate and nonjudgmental practice. By observing this, there will be a sense of secure base. This is because practising mindfulness makes affective and bodily self-regulation possible. It also lets the patient be attuned to others and have empathy. Mindfulness motivates and encourages the person to take care of oneself and emotions because this practice comes from within a person. Attunement from within is crucial in feeling secure. Before seeking therapy, here are important aspects to consider:
- Ensure that right diagnosis is given.
- Seek for a therapist who will create a program for the patient which can include individual sessions, group sessions and having support groups.
- Follow the program and stick with it.
Although psychotherapy is effective, not all patients can afford to undergo one. Also, not all people can find the ideal person they can be in a relationship with and change the attachment style into a secure one. Here are other ways to manage fearful-avoidant attachment disorder:
1. For a fearful-avoidant person currently in a relationship, openness is crucial between two partners. That is, revealing whatever feelings or emotions, whether it be anger or resentment, is important so as to prevent the build-up of anger or withdrawal and distance from the partner.
2. For a single person, it is important to create a list of traits he or she is looking for in a potential partner which is what a person with secure attachment has. This will be helpful to alter the attachment style from insecure to secure.
3. It is also essential for a person to accept and be prepared that there will be positive and negative feelings in the relationship and his or her partner will be seeing good and bad things in you. By being aware and prepared, the fearful-avoidant person will not withdraw or just pull away when he or she feels that the relationship is getting serious. Being aloof and indifferent will not help solve the issues and will just worsen the situation.
4. Writing down feelings and experiences can help to identify the negativities a person feels in the relationship so he or she can challenge these thoughts and address them by making rational views.
5. Being open to vulnerability is also an effective way to deal with this attachment disorder. This can be done by being open in expressing fears like separation or rejection to one’s partner. By doing this, there will be more interaction with the partner.
6. Spending time with other people outside the relationship is also a positive way to change the attachment style into a secure one. By spending time with other people like friends and family who will give their views on how the relationship is can help give a different perspective about it.
Adult attachment styles are only extensions of the attachment people have developed as children and fearful-avoidant attachment style is one of them. Difficult as it may seem to have this attachment style or be with a partner who is fearful-avoidant, there are ways to treat and manage this disorder as discussed above.