By Natalie Gil Image for post PHOTOGRAPHED BY EYLUL ASLAN A few years ago, 32-year-old Kari* formed “a deep emotional bond that began to border on romantic” with a woman she met over Twitter. She was in a relationship at the time so she didn’t take it further. But after leaving her boyfriend earlier this year, Kari decided to reconnect with her. “Things quickly became intimate between us,” she recalls. When the woman sent her a thoughtful gift in August, Kari decided “it was time to really try and make something out of this and show her I care.” Kari promised to travel across the country to visit the woman for her birthday (COVID permitting). She’d take her to a spa and a fancy hotel, they’d explore a quaint town together. “I told her I’d handle everything — the planning, the finances. I was getting a bonus at work so it wouldn’t be a financial burden.” The pair stayed in touch in the weeks leading up to the birthday and Kari confirmed the trip was still happening. The kicker? “Her birthday came and went and I planned nothing, did nothing, said nothing.” Kari is giving us an insight into the mind of an avoidant woman, an attachment style more typically associated with people who identify as men, whether it’s the elusive dreamboat on Hinge who ghosts you several dates in or the commitment-phobic boyfriend who pulls away, claiming to feel “suffocated”, every time you initiate closeness. Children who have some of their needs met but many neglected tend to develop an avoidant style. In the 1950s, British psychologist and psychiatrist John Bowlby developed attachment theory, a framework for understanding how our earliest relationships with our parents or primary caregivers can affect our lifelong social and emotional development. It has since been applied to adult relationships, notably by psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr Amir Levine and the psychologist Rachel Heller in a guide to using attachment theory to find love. By identifying your own attachment style and that of your partner or potential partner, Levine and Heller argue, you can build stronger, more fulfilling relationships. There are three main attachment styles: secure, anxious and avoidant (take the test yourself to find out your own). Secures are comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving, while the anxiously attached are preoccupied with their relationships and struggle to feel secure with their partner. Avoidants like Kari are independent, emotionally distant and tend to equate intimacy with a loss of independence. “Children who have some of their needs met but many neglected tend to develop an avoidant style,” explains clinical psychologist Bhavna Jani-Negandhi. As a result of their experiences, these children learn to rely on themselves to meet their own needs and come to believe that they don’t need others for intimacy and emotional support. As adults, avoidants may select emotionally unavailable partners or be emotionally unavailable themselves, says chartered clinical psychologist and Counselling Directory member Dr Jane Major. They may “struggle to voice their needs and emotions or share their vulnerability due to a, perhaps unconscious, fear of being exploited, abandoned or left alone with unbearable feelings, based on past experiences.” While Kari says she “had every intention and every desire to follow through”, she couldn’t. The woman ended things soon after. “She said she couldn’t do this anymore — I’d hurt her too deeply and had shown no accountability.” Kari apologised and reluctantly accepted her need to move on. Then, a few weeks ago, the woman reached out about her dog passing away, giving Kari a final chance to make things up to her. “I didn’t respond.” Kari explains herself: “It wouldn’t have been fair for me to emotionally engage her, it would’ve been selfish, bordering on taking advantage of her painful experience, because I knew I’d just continue to lean in to my avoidant attachment style.” Kari first discovered she was avoidant when she started therapy 12 years ago. The therapist thought learning about attachment styles would help her understand some of her “bad interpersonal behaviour” (Kari’s words) which tainted her earliest friendships and evidently continues to blight her romantic life. “Everything in my life suddenly made sense — why I couldn’t form the same close bonds as others, why I never reached out or felt lonely, why I was obsessed with video games.” I realise there are some complex and difficult things I need to tackle before engaging others in the future. It was a painful lesson that I wish I never had to learn — or at least, not with another person that I cared about involved. The day after Kari ended things with the woman, she brought up her avoidant attachment style in therapy again. “Now, I realise there are some complex and difficult things I need to tackle before engaging others in the future. It was a painful lesson that I wish I never had to learn — or at least, not with another person that I cared about involved.” Kari says it was “the worst thing I’ve ever done to someone” and left her feeling the lowest she’s ever felt. Yet each time a relationship, like that one, ends, she admits to feeling “relieved and happy to be alone again. I get exhausted and am glad that they have some perceived fault I could hyper-focus on so I don’t have to carry on the relationship.” Kari pinpoints the origin of her own avoidant behaviour to her relationship with her mother: a “career-driven [and] emotionally aloof” woman who gave birth to her too young and, as the sole provider for the household with a prestigious marketing career, was unable to care for her during the early years. As a kid, Kari was constantly labelled a “flake”, “aloof” and “unreliable”. She never showed up for plans with friends, even if she really wanted to go. “My friends joked that they always had to physically come and get me. My mum even paid me to leave the house.” Kari’s avoidant attachment style also affects her familial relationships — she missed her grandfather passing away because she “felt uncomfortable about the emotion involved with [her] family” and several adult friendships have dissolved, too. “I’ve burned many friendship bridges down when the issue of accountability for my unreliability comes up and my inability to reciprocate feelings in a traditional way.” She’s had to learn to manage expectations with new people who come into her life — they need to know that she’ll rarely attend birthday parties, go to the cinema or show affection towards them (despite perhaps wanting to). Warning people of what they can expect from her as a friend — that is, very little — “is key to living a happy life for me, so I try to invest in explaining myself to people I want to keep around. “It doesn’t matter if you’re my soulmate or the coolest person in the world. My brain simply doesn’t know how to attach and all I can do is work to reduce the harm it can do.” Glynn has also worked with several men in relationships with avoidant women, “who have suffered because of their attempts to maintain intimacy and trust with them.” The reason that avoidance is more typically associated with men, Glynn believes, is because some of the attitudes we associate with this style can seem ‘masculine’, such as toughness, lack of emotion and independence. commitment-phobe’ and this term is usually reserved for men. We imagine that women will want to seek relationships, love, commitment, intimacy and motherhood and it is perhaps unsettling for us to think of women who don’t conform to our expectations,” Glynn concludes. But as with any behaviour that you’re committed to stamping out, it’s possible to change your attachment behaviours. Therapy is highly recommended, says Barbara Honey, senior practice consultant at Relate, to understand how you first developed this trait. “Taking small risks, like daring to express an emotion or gradually allowing yourself to get closer to someone” can also help avoidants change their patterns. And if you’re in a relationship with an avoidant, “you may frequently find yourself anxious and afraid that your expectations of security and clarity are unreasonable.” Glynn reassures: “They aren’t. Levine and Heller [the authors of Attached] say, ‘You are only as needy as your unmet needs’.” As for Kari, she encourages her fellow avoidants to try therapy...
I wonder what the grey areas are to this behavior and how it affects people in a sexless marrige. There's a book out there called Men wWho Can't Love" I thought my H fit into some of the commitment phobic behavior on a lighter scale. But then my H can commit to a lot of different things.
This person didn't even take the risk of just having a fun time.
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Post by greatcoastal on Dec 12, 2020 17:28:33 GMT -5
jerri* Think of all the SM and spouses who avoid taking the risk to have a 'fun time', they are independant, emotionally distant and tend to equate intimacy with a loss of independence.( their fear of being submissive- giving it up for sex)
My ex is one of those who during her childhood was not part of the "in crowd" and decided to be a bookworm instead. ( this got her very high grades and continued to her Masters degree) Her independence and lack of needing intimacy carried through to our marriage. She still had needs, a man to be married too, so she would 'fit in' with society. A man who would be more like 'the mother' in a family relationship, so she could be 'mom' while giving it all to her career.
So they do what they think they need to do to fit the norm, then just decide what they want and don't want. That is when we lose out.
That's pretty much it. It also fits the pattern of a manipulative controller, a narcissist.
It also relates to the study about DARVO. The "A" in DARVO stands for Avoidant.
I've also read about "greysexual". Basically someone who doesn't like sex (being submissive) and can take it or leave it. They have sex to procreate, and then they leave it, they're done. Then comes the "dangling of the carrot, moving of the goal post, bait and switch, etc.....
jerri: Anyone with a birthday in November? worksforme2 has one on the 28th Yay!! @missunnybunny, Hope it was grand!!!
Oct 30, 2021 3:29:31 GMT -5
misssunnybunny: jerri, I had a wonderful birthday, thank you! Wishing everyone here a Happy Halloween!
Oct 31, 2021 15:29:33 GMT -5
worksforme2: Moving right along,..received my 1st Moderna booster this morning,...Fauci is going to have to work harder to kill me
Nov 4, 2021 9:45:10 GMT -5
worksforme2: Happy Birthday tiredoftears,.....I hope life is treating you well....
Nov 8, 2021 6:07:34 GMT -5
worksforme2: It's 6:30am and looking out the window I see the dark forms of my trees against the pale blue background of the sky....I like it....
Nov 8, 2021 6:33:22 GMT -5
mirrororchid: It begins again. *REFUSED* Season 2 - refusedpodcast.com - Trailer and Episode 14 "Only So Good", now available for download.
Nov 8, 2021 19:24:13 GMT -5
worksforme2: Hey mirrororchid,....Happy Birthday...and don't try to get out of it
Nov 11, 2021 12:31:11 GMT -5
mirrororchid: Much thanks, WorksForMe2. T'was pretty good. Little celebrations three days in a row, this year.
Nov 12, 2021 4:32:23 GMT -5
jerri: worksforme2 you paint a lovely picture and Happy Birthday on the 28th!! Let's don't forget his birthday he looks for ours up here almost every day! Thanks, mirrororchid.
Nov 17, 2021 3:34:35 GMT -5
worksforme2: Happy Birthday baza, I hope you can dodge the lockdown long enough to go out for dinner....
Nov 22, 2021 8:44:29 GMT -5
jerri: Happy Birthday, Baza!!!! yay
Nov 23, 2021 3:12:48 GMT -5
worksforme2: Happy Thanksgiving to one and all...
Nov 25, 2021 7:27:40 GMT -5
jerri: Happy Birthday, worksforme2 Hope it's a great one!!!
Nov 28, 2021 3:54:39 GMT -5
worksforme2: Thanks jerri....I will be preparing meals for a food ministry that my church helps sponsor...
Nov 28, 2021 11:49:30 GMT -5
mirrororchid: Missed it by a day, Jerri. (I'm typically offline weekends.) Happy Birthday, WorksForMe2. Thank you for the kind wishes you send to everyone in our dysfunctional-but-getting-better family.
Nov 29, 2021 4:46:45 GMT -5
worksforme2: Thanks mirrororchid..I'm having my extendeen famil over thius weekend for Thanksgiving, no competition with the moms and grandmoms that way....the bad part, giving the whole house a good cleaning so the kids can play all over the place
Nov 30, 2021 5:02:35 GMT -5
mirrororchid: WorksForMe2, Our cleanup just got junked up by piling Xmas decorations everywhere in living room. Difficult come, easy go.
Dec 6, 2021 12:49:48 GMT -5