Nicole Phillip, a 30-year-old social media strategist from Orlando, Fla., noticed a pattern in her dating life.
“Before I get into a relationship, I write people off very quickly,” she told HuffPost. “When someone is very interested in me, it’s repulsive. I prefer slow burns because quick love affairs activate my fight-or-fly principle, and I usually choose to fly.
It’s a shared experience. You have a crush on someone, but when they reciprocate, you quickly lose interest.
For Jaz Melody, 27, from Los Angeles, that feeling was palpable.
“Before I could heal the parts of me that rejected intimacy, I searched intensely for romantic relationships,” she said. “But as they started to go deeper, I felt my body physically rejecting them.”
Through therapy, Phillip and Melody were able to determine that these behaviors were a result of their attachment styles.
“Attachment style” refers to the way a person interacts with others in intimate and platonic relationships. Attachment styles are usually shaped by our relationships with our parents and early caregivers, and fall into four categories: secure, avoidant, anxious, and disorganized.
A secure attachment style allows people to set and feel boundaries stable, safe and happy in their relationships. On the other hand, people with avoidant, fearful, and disorganized attachment styles I don’t feel safe in relationships. They are all about trusting people and tend to prioritize independence. As a result, an insecure attachment style can make someone reluctant to enter into a relationship—hence the feeling of withdrawing once feelings are reciprocated.
It is something Psychologist Shaurya Gahlawat sees her constantly in her private practice.
“We lose interest when we come into power, and when someone admits they like us, that’s exactly what we feel,” Gahlawat said. “We give up working hard and it’s not challenging enough, so sometimes we feel, ‘I did it!’ What next?'”
A 2020 Southern Methodist University study I’ve found that simply knowing your attachment style and being aware of your fearful or avoidant traits can help you become more secure in your relationships. (Take this quiz to find out your attachment style.)
That was the case with Melody. “I realized I was experiencing both the fearful and avoidant side of attachment styles,” she said. “As I read the description of the disorganized attachment style, I felt like I was seeing myself and all of my qualities for the first time.”
We asked experts how insecure attachments might be affecting your relationships and how you can develop a secure attachment style in the future.
Insecure attachments in relationships
Anxious, avoidant, and disorganized attachment styles overlap in some respects and differ in others. people with one fearful attachment style have high levels of anxiety about entering into a relationship and tend to fear rejection.
“An anxiously attached person may feel that they will not do well in the relationship, that the relationship will not last, that it will not be good enough, or that the person may later lose interest in them,” said Gahlawat.
This can manifest itself as they “desire a high level of intimacy, often worry about their partner’s feelings, and seek validation,” she said.
people who have one avoidant attachment style could have one fear of attachment, and may demonstrate total withdrawal from relationships. You may also crave independence and have one strong sense of autonomy. Therefore, they try to distance themselves from other people to avoid frustration.
“People with an avoidant attachment style may have difficulty with emotional intimacy and may be uncomfortable with the vulnerability that comes with admitting or receiving feelings,” Gahlawat said. “When someone with an avoidant attachment style is confronted with another person’s romantic feelings, they may instinctively withdraw or be reluctant to retaliate for fear of being devoured or losing their sense of autonomy.”
Disorganized, right? dismissive and fearful attachment stylesare characterized by a low level of emotional vulnerability and intensity, low dependency on partners and greater reluctance to share personal information.
“Your behavior in relationships can be unpredictable and unpredictable” Christina Taylora licensed professional counselor and relationship therapist, told HuffPost.
People with this style “may exhibit both fearful and avoidant behaviors simultaneously or in quick succession,” Gahlawat said. “For example, they may seek closeness with their partner, but then withdraw abruptly or show aggressive or fearful reactions when they get close.”
It’s important to note that different attachment styles can be intertwined and people may exhibit different qualities and behaviors in their relationships.
“Attachment styles are not fixed or mutually exclusive categories,” Gahlawat said. “Individuals may exhibit both anxious and avoidant tendencies to varying degrees, and their attachment styles may vary in different relationships or contexts.”
On the other hand, committed adults are able to trust others and be self-sufficient. You are comfortable with intimacy and are able to communicate boundaries in a relationship.
“They tend to bond with others quickly and are comfortable being vulnerable and close to them,” Taylor told HuffPost. “They are more trusting and can communicate their needs effectively.”
How to develop secure attachments
If you notice the pattern of withdrawing as soon as someone likes you again, remember that these habits are not set in stone.
“It is important to note that attachment styles are not fixed or absolute characteristics; They can be influenced by various factors and change over time with personal growth and experiences,” Gahlawat said. “Additionally, there are individual differences within attachment styles, and not all individuals with the same style respond in the same way.”
Being able to find a therapist who can help you deal with harmful behaviors such as withdrawing from relationships, whether intimate or platonic, can help build more secure bonds.
“It’s important to dig deep and reflect on the past to understand why you’re feeling anxious, avoidant and insecure,” Gahlawat said. “Working through your relationships as a child and teen is important to staying clear about what’s going on today, about your current relationship, and about the baggage of the past.”
It might seem counterintuitive, but Gahlawat recommended discussing avoidant feelings with the person you’re dating when they arise.
“Build trust gradually, be reliable, consistent and honest because trust is the basis of secure relationships,” she said. ”If you are afraid, talk to them about it. If you feel like you’re going too fast, talk about it.”
In addition, it can be helpful to ask yourself questions during a relationship. Taylor suggested asking yourself questions like, “Does the thought of being vulnerable with my partner scare me?” Am I afraid of getting too close emotionally? Do I tend to push my partner away? Do I get jealous easily? Do I need a lot of validation even though I know my partner loves me?”
Therapy has helped Phillip identify the triggers that are causing her to abandon relationships so she can correct course.
“The minute [someone I’m seeing] “If I say something I don’t like, I’m over it,” she said. “Sometimes it’s justified, but I try to question my motivations for ending things with people. I now talk to my therapist about things I’ve noticed that are causing me to want to stop talking to a romantic prospect as a gut feeling to make sure I don’t end things to avoid a close connection. “