Ever feel like getting close in relationships is a bit like walking a tightrope? You might crave connection, but then suddenly the intimacy feels suffocating, and you pull away. 

This could be a sign of an avoidant attachment style.

Here’s the thing: attachment styles aren’t set in stone. They’re formed in our early relationships, but that doesn’t mean they’re a life sentence. With some self-awareness and a dash of courage, you can absolutely heal from an avoidant attachment style and build secure, fulfilling relationships.

Let’s dive in.

How Do You Overcome Avoidant Attachment Style?

Baby steps. It’s no overnight feat. Here are some ways to start your journey towards secure attachment:

Unmask Your Triggers: 

The first step is understanding what makes you want to run for the hills. 

Maybe it’s physical touch, emotional vulnerability, or even spending too much time together. Journaling or talking to a therapist can help you identify your triggers and the underlying fears associated with them.

Challenge Your Thoughts: 

Our brains are like sneaky little storytellers sometimes. 

When you feel that urge to pull away, challenge those negative thoughts. Are they realistic? Are they based on past experiences that might not apply to your current relationship? These are all things to consider.

Practice Vulnerability (Even in Small Doses): 

This might feel terrifying, but tiny acts of vulnerability can be powerful. 

Try sharing a small worry with your partner, or simply expressing how much you appreciate them. You might be surprised at how good it feels to connect on a deeper level.

Open Communication is Key: 

Let your partner know you’re working on your attachment style. 

Explain your triggers and what you need to feel safe and secure in the relationship. Honest communication builds trust and helps your partner understand your needs.

Can I Heal My Avoidant Attachment Style?

Healing from an avoidant attachment style is a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. It’s not about becoming someone completely different, but rather about developing a healthier set of tools for navigating intimacy. 

Here’s why you can be optimistic about your chances of success:

Our Brains Are Wired for Change: 

Neuroplasticity is a fancy way of saying our brains can actually change throughout our lives. By consciously practicing new behaviors and thought patterns, you can strengthen the neural pathways associated with secure attachment. 

Over time, these new pathways become more automatic, making it easier to choose secure behaviors in your relationships.

Self-Awareness is the First Step: 

The more you understand your triggers and the underlying fears associated with them, the better equipped you are to manage them. Therapy can be a powerful tool in this process. 

A therapist can provide a safe space for you to explore your early experiences and develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with emotional vulnerability.

Small Wins Lead to Big Changes: 

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see massive shifts overnight. 

Healing is a gradual process, and celebrating small victories is key. Did you manage to share a worry with your partner for the first time? Did you spend an entire evening together without feeling overwhelmed? 

These are all victories worth acknowledging!

Support Makes All the Difference: 

Healing can be much easier with the right support system in place. 

Consider joining a therapy group specifically for individuals with avoidant attachment. Sharing your experiences with others who understand your struggles can be incredibly validating and provide valuable insights.

Remember, healing is not linear. 

There will be setbacks and challenges along the way. But with dedication, self-compassion, and the right support system, you can absolutely develop a secure attachment style and build the fulfilling relationships you deserve.

What Do Avoidants Do When Triggered?

People with avoidant attachment styles often develop a set of defense mechanisms to cope with perceived threats to their emotional security. When triggered, these defenses kick in automatically, creating distance in the relationship. 

Here’s a closer look at some common behaviors:

Physical Withdrawal: 

This is a classic avoidant response. 

Suddenly needing “alone time” can be a way to regulate overwhelming emotions or create space to process what’s happening. Canceling plans at the last minute or becoming withdrawn physically during conversations can also be signs of feeling triggered. The core fear here is often a fear of engulfment or losing their sense of independence.

Emotional Shutting Down: 

Avoidants might shut down emotionally to protect themselves from getting hurt. 

This can manifest as avoiding eye contact, giving short or vague answers to questions, or simply withdrawing from emotionally charged conversations altogether. They might minimize their own feelings or their partner’s to avoid vulnerability. The fear behind this is often a fear of intimacy leading to rejection or disappointment.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior: 

This can be a particularly confusing response for partners. 

Sulking, sarcasm, or making critical comments can be indirect ways of pushing someone away or expressing anger without directly confronting the issue. Avoidants might struggle with expressing their needs directly, so they resort to more subtle (and often manipulative) tactics to create distance. The fear here can be a combination of fearing conflict and the potential for further emotional vulnerability.

It’s important to remember that these behaviors are often unconscious coping mechanisms. Avoidantly attached individuals aren’t trying to be malicious; they’re simply trying to protect themselves from emotional pain. 

Can a Person with Avoidant Attachment Change?

As mentioned earlier,  our brains are built for change! This concept is called neuroplasticity, and it essentially means that the neural pathways in our brain can strengthen or weaken based on our experiences and choices. 

So, while your avoidant attachment style might feel ingrained, it’s not a life sentence. Here’s why you can be optimistic about developing a more secure attachment style:

Awareness is Power: 

The first step towards change is self-awareness. 

By recognizing your attachment style and the ways it shows up in your relationships, you gain the power to choose differently. Therapy can be a great resource for exploring your early experiences and developing a deeper understanding of your attachment patterns.

Challenge Your Inner Critic: 

Our inner critic loves to whisper negative thoughts and reinforce our fears. 

When you feel the urge to pull away, challenge those thoughts! Are they based on reality or past experiences that might not apply to your current relationship? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be a helpful tool for identifying and reframing negative thought patterns.

Practice Makes Progress: 

Building a secure attachment style takes consistent effort. Start small by setting achievable goals. Maybe it’s sharing one genuine compliment with your partner each day, or initiating a short phone call when you feel the urge to withdraw. 

Celebrating these small victories reinforces positive behaviors and strengthens the neural pathways associated with secure attachment.

Vulnerability in Bite-Sized Pieces: 

Vulnerability is the enemy of avoidance, but it doesn’t have to be a giant leap. 

Start small! Try sharing a simple worry with your partner or expressing appreciation for something they did. Over time, as you experience the positive outcomes of vulnerability, you’ll become more comfortable opening up on a deeper level.

Therapy Can Be Your Guide: 

A therapist specializing in attachment styles can be a powerful ally on your journey. Therapy can provide a safe space to explore your attachment patterns, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and practice new communication skills.

Change takes time and there will be setbacks along the way. 

Be patient with yourself, celebrate your victories, and don’t hesitate to seek support when you need it. With dedication and the right tools, you can rewrite your attachment story and build fulfilling, secure relationships.

Building Secure Connections

Healing from an avoidant attachment style is a journey of self-discovery and growth. 

It’s up to you to take responsibility for your emotional patterns, challenge negative thoughts, and practice vulnerability. By doing this, you can build stronger, more secure connections. 

Remember, you are worthy of love and intimacy, and with a little effort, you can create the fulfilling relationships you deserve.

Indigo Therapy Group

Therapy Services for the Greater Chicago Area


Northbrook Location

900 Skokie Blvd., Suite 255

Northbrook, IL 60062

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1011 Lake Street, Suite 425

Oak Park, IL 60301


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