In relationships, they’re dependent, insecure, and needy, and want complete closeness. Since relationships reflect self-assessments, their strategy usually doesn’t work, because anxious attachers often bond with someone avoidant whose attachment style matches that of their parent and childhood experience.
This only exacerbates their experience of abandonment and reinforces their dependency and low self-esteem. It perpetuates a vicious cycle of emotional abandonment.
3. Avoidant Attachment
An avoidant attachment style evolves when a mother is frequently unresponsive or emotionally unavailable. Her child learns to be self-sufficient and suppresses vulnerable feelings and attachment needs for love and closeness.
Those feelings and needs felt unsafe and were experienced as shameful or disappointing. Such a cold mother may also have had this style and expected her child to be independent before it was emotionally mature enough to do so. (See Sons and Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers.)
People who suffered abuse or neglect often develop a fearful attachment style, also known as disorganized. When children fear their mother, they may develop a fearful-avoidant attachment style that has elements of both anxious and avoidant attachment.
Like anxious attachers, they see themselves as unworthy and unlovable and want a close relationship, but fear abandonment. However, because they see other people as unavailable, untrustworthy, and rejecting, they’re afraid of becoming dependent and getting hurt. So they avoid relationships to be safe.
Individuals with a dismissive-avoidant style achieve autonomy and have a positive view of themselves. They prefer their independence, avoid closeness, and have disdain for people who want intimacy and a close relationship. They don’t want to depend on other people or have others depend on them, which protects them from rejection and disappointment.
For codependents, the task of individuation isn’t successfully traversed. Much of their suffering is due to incomplete separation-individuation begun in toddlerhood and conflicting needs for maternal attachment vs. autonomy.
Power struggles that accompany individuation in childhood and adolescence frequently continue into adult relationships. Boundaries are difficult to distinguish and establish. Insecure attachments in adult relationships reflect insecure and inconsistent parenting.
The dance of intimacy between an anxious pursuer and an avoidant distancer often re-enacts the earlier mother-child drama. The former seeks more closeness and a secure attachment, while the avoidant partner tries to separate and individuate. In actuality, both are codependent but have adapted to an insecure parenting style in different ways.
Developing object constancy and achieving individuation is never finished. Similarly, our attachment style is updated by our adult relational experiences. Secure relationships help us grow. Overcoming codependency promotes individuation and secure attachments. Raise Your Self-Esteem and develop self-love.
© Darlene Lancer 2021
Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an expert author on relationships and codependency. She’s counseled individuals and couples for 30 years and coaches internationally. Her books and other online booksellers and her website.
Check out Darlene Lancer’s website, What Is Codependency for more informative and interesting articles.
Written By: Darlene Lancer Originally Appeared On: What Is Codependency