It is simple to understand, at least I believe it is, that human beings are wired to bond and connect with others. John Bowlby cleverly found and explained to us that if in our childhood we had nonresponsive or ambivalent parents. There is a higher propensity to develop what he called an insecure attachment style. However, I want to point out that experiences of bullying at school or turbulent first romantic experiences can lead people to develop an insecure attachment style. The insecure attachment style is divide into three categories: 1. Avoidant attachment style. 2. Anxious Preoccupied attachment style, and 3. Fearful-avoidant attachment style.
Before we dive in, I want to enumerate two things:
1. When we are born, our mind is almost like a blank canvas.
2. Attachment style programming can be changed when people involve the subconscious mind in the healing process. Because our actions, words, and emotions are 97% correlated to the power of our subconscious mind over our conscious mind.
With this said, someone with an insecure attachment style learned from a young age that the world is a dangerous place, people are untrustworthy, and there is a prevalent building of assumptions around intimacy that pervasively will sabotage romantic relationships. Those assumptions around intimacy are:
- I’m unworthy of love.
- People will use me.
- I can’t trust anyone.
- I need to run away because if they see my true self, I will be rejected.
- When someone seems to be pulling away from me, it’s because I am defective. And so, I will need to chase or give more to get attention and love.
When talking about individuals who possess avoidant attachment styles, we are talking about someone who has coping mechanisms to buffering emotional pain and inflate the self to survive. Remember that, sadly, they didn’t have in the past someone who could see the child they were or who was able to respect or fulfill their needs. Babies, children require protection and a safe environment to thrive happily, needing someone to be around with enough skills to guide them through the confusing world out there.
So what are the core wounds of dismissive-avoidant individuals, and how it hurts relationships?
- I will be abandoned by the ones I love. Because they didn’t have someone there for them, avoidant individuals developed strategies to survive and become the source of praise from their caregivers. So, more often than not, they will become highly successful in scientific areas or other environments that require only cerebral thinking, planning, action, and not much feeling. But the emotional side is repressed because of the programming “if I am vulnerable or I express my emotions I will be abandoned.”
- I am unsafe (physically or emotionally). One of the consequences of this core wound is the prevalent fight and flight mode. The fight and flight mode leads to anxiety, agitation, irritability, shame, and sadness. Although they need connection like anybody else, the deprivation from emotional attunement and possibilities to be vulnerable in the past make them hide things or run away at any threatening assumptions that can put them in a weak position. Remember that they might look charismatic and independent, but that over-independency hides a fragile self.
- I am alone. Even though it is a core wound, it also represents what happens when overwhelming situations or conflicts arise in relationships. If for someone with an anxious preoccupied attachment style being alone hurts. For dismissive individuals helps them to regulate emotions and return to their normal homeostasis.
- I am trapped or stuck. Ineffective communication and a tendency for nitpicking behaviors over their partners or people close to them lead to feelings of being trap or stuck in relationships.
- I am misunderstood. Feeling misunderstood is dangerous in a relationship. It leads to disengagement, but also misinterpretation of someone’s behavior. Also, feeling misunderstood is connected to the fear of expressing opinions and needs.
- I am stupid. Stupid is a feeling that arises when someone can’t accomplish or understand a task the right way. Or is highly critical and harsh on themselves. For avoidant folks, failure means shame, and being ashamed is also liked the feeling of being stupid.
- I am defective. I am defective. I’m defective is a very pervasive core wound in avoidant individuals. The sense of defectiveness leads them to run away from people who they truly love. Once again, I would like to enhance that these individuals, the vast majority, grew up in cold environments where expressing feelings or being vulnerable was considered a weak strategy to grow up as a human being.
Bringing it all together, the combination of these core wounds is explosive for intimate relationships over time.
You might see your partner who has avoidant attachment style suffering but not accepting help. Perhaps he or she is shifting the situation, saying that you are being too sensitive or dramatizing things. Blame shifting, introducing jealously, or flirtation with others is common to gain control. Whatever is happening, never fall into the trap of taking the whole blame for the relationship falling apart.
From personal experience, I can tell you that we have to have self-control and try not to take things personally. Also, the enumerated core wounds can help you to identify, understand and help children at school if you are a teacher.
We can’t change people, heal, or save them from the fall because our responsibility is to show up consistently in relationships and intimate dynamics. Like we should do in all the areas of our lives. But as long as we are with them, we must lead the way and be there for them no matter what. Relationships are schools, so take the best of it!
Wishing you a wonderful weekend.
Man in The White Suit (1951) – Original Vintage Movie Poster adapted for educational purpose only. Available at: https://loveexcellence.co.uk/product/man-white-suit-1951-original-vintage-movie-poster