3.3
January 15, 2022

A Candid & Vulnerable Look at Dating as an Avoidant.

 

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I recently discovered that I have an avoidant attachment style.

It’s in the way I pull away when someone likes me and it sends me running in the opposite direction, completely panic-stricken.

It’s in the way I try to connect with someone and then start to pick them apart and find everything that is wrong with them.

It’s in the way I don’t need anyone, am hyper-independent, and close off immediately when it comes to intimacy with others.

It’s in the way I avoid meeting new people, make excuses, or just have anxiety surrounding it.

It’s in the way I don’t like change or people in my space.

It’s in the way I immediately feel smothered and spiral into an anxiety-ridden nightmare when people start to shower me with attention and compliments.

It’s in the way I have thrown my hands up in the air and resigned myself to a lifetime of being single.

Why is this important? Well, when I started my healing journey while recovering from a narcissistic abusive relationship, I had to learn about my wounding and why I am attracted to these toxic types of people. I learned that high chemistry, in actuality, is a trauma response. And I learned that me being drawn to those types of people was not only normal, but completely expected because of my patterns. But then it also made me dive deeper into trying to figure out why I do bolt when I do want to try to date someone who seems “nice” or when someone likes me and even if I’m not interested, my immediate reaction is always to just withdraw.

So, here I am now in the present time—attempting to date, which is something I literally don’t do. Dating for me was always with people I was friends with first, and even if there was initial interest present, there was always a friendship stage before dating. Yet, I am here trying my hardest to put myself out there. Because the reality is that I do want to have a loving relationship and share my life with someone. But that is most certainly not going to happen while I hide out in my apartment. I have to force myself to get out of my comfort zone.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, here is the problem. I do not know how to discern whether I “know” if I am not compatible with someone or if I am just acting on my triggers and patterns. I mean, yes, sometimes incompatibility is obvious and you move on immediately. But what happens when you have a first date with someone that surprisingly goes well, when you seem to be on the same page on your healing journey and self-awareness, or when they are in the same line of work as you are— striving to help others as well? What happens when they are patient with you and respectful of your attachment style and boundaries, yet you want to bolt and become overwhelmed with intense feelings of anxiety? What happens when you mistake their eagerness to talk to you and spend time with you as an intention to dominate your time?

I don’t know. I don’t have the answers to any of these questions and I’m trying my best to navigate through this with as much grace as possible within myself. With patience and an open heart. I’m trying to allow what I’m feeling to come through me. I still have the initial instinct to pull away, and the short answer to all of this is: I cannot anticipate that any of this is going to be easy for me. But as I continue to heal my own wounds and attachment, I can hopefully begin to create more secure attachments within myself and, in turn, with others.

And then, hopefully, I can begin to relax and lean into these situations and, also, be able to discern if it is my attachment that is causing me to pull away or if it is my instincts telling me that we are not a match. Because at this point, I cannot tell the difference as they are all loud and anxiety-producing to me. And what makes it even harder is whenever I know that someone really likes me, I immediately feel overwhelmed with an intense amount of guilt that feels like too much to carry, even though logically, I know that it is absolutely not mine to carry, but it suddenly feels like I have this pressure or burden.

So, although I said I do not have the answers or the solution to any of these, what I do have are the tools to try to learn and heal.

I know that healing is not linear and that there really is no end destination. I know that I have many available resources that can help me to learn about and work through my emotions and thoughts, which is incredibly important. And that to me looks like continuing to work with my psychotherapist for support, validation, and perspective; joining avoidant support groups; and, mostly, just having patience and nonjudgment toward myself and my experience and reminding myself that this is a result of my childhood traumas and years of continued reoccurring traumas that solidified my avoidant behavior. And, also, not have the expectation that this is going to resolve itself overnight and recognize that the probability of relapses is not only high but quite normal at this stage in my healing.

But then, I just keep trying—again, and again, and again.

I may not get it right the first time, or the second time, but at least I am trying and, hopefully, each time is a little less stressful and a little more successful. Because what I do know for sure is that I absolutely deserve love and I’m important enough to fight for it and try to work through this.

 

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