A young woman in group therapy is using 10 strategies to fix avoidant attachment.

10 Strategies for How to Fix Avoidant Attachment

Fixing avoidant attachment involves recognizing its signs, understanding its origins, and implementing strategies for healing.

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Understanding and addressing avoidant attachment is crucial for fostering healthy relationships and personal growth. This attachment style, rooted in early experiences and shaped by interpersonal dynamics, can significantly impact how individuals navigate emotional connections. By recognizing the signs, exploring the causes, and implementing strategies for healing, individuals can overcome avoidant attachment and cultivate deeper, more fulfilling relationships. Below, we delve into practical tips for how to fix avoidant attachments and develop a more secure attachment style. 

10 strategies for how to fix avoidant attachment

1. Build emotional awareness

Developing emotional awareness is crucial for overcoming avoidant attachment and building a more secure attachment style. Start by regularly checking in with yourself to identify your feelings, even if they seem insignificant. Journaling can help track your emotions and uncover patterns in how you react to different situations. This practice can gradually increase your comfort with acknowledging and expressing emotions, leading to healthier emotional connections with others and better mental health overall.

2. Practice vulnerability

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is key to fixing avoidant attachment. Begin by sharing small personal details with trusted friends or partners, gradually increasing the depth of your disclosures. Embracing vulnerability helps build intimacy and trust in relationships, counteracting the instinct to withdraw. Over time, this can lead to more meaningful and secure connections.

3. Engage in open communication

Improving communication skills can significantly impact avoidant attachment. Practice active listening and assertive communication, focusing on expressing your needs and feelings honestly. Open communication helps to reduce misunderstandings and build trust, fostering a sense of safety and connection in relationships. This can diminish the need to distance yourself emotionally from others.

4. Seek professional therapy

Therapy can provide valuable insights and tools for addressing avoidant attachment. A therapist specializing in attachment theory can help you explore the origins of your attachment style and develop healthier relational patterns. Therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and emotion-focused Therapy (EFT) can be particularly effective. Regular therapy sessions offer a safe space to practice new ways of relating and processing emotions.

5. Focus on self-compassion

Cultivating self-compassion can help mitigate the self-critical tendencies often associated with avoidant attachment. Practice being kind and understanding towards yourself, especially when confronting emotional challenges or setbacks. Self-compassion fosters a more positive self-image and reduces the fear of vulnerability. This shift in mindset can make it easier to connect with others on a deeper level.

6. Establish healthy boundaries

Learning to set and maintain healthy boundaries is essential for avoidant individuals. Clearly define your limits and communicate them to others, ensuring you have a balance between personal space and closeness. Healthy boundaries protect your feelings and promote emotional closeness. They allow you to engage with others without feeling overwhelmed or suffocated.

7. Gradually increase intimacy

Take gradual steps to increase intimacy in your relationships. Start with small, manageable actions like spending more quality time together or discussing personal topics. Gradual exposure helps build tolerance for closeness and reduces the anxiety associated with intimate connections. As you become more comfortable, you can deepen your emotional and physical intimacy further.

8. Build a supportive network

Surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family can aid in overcoming avoidant attachment. Engage with people who understand and respect your journey towards healthier attachment. A supportive network provides encouragement, empathy, and reinforcement of positive relational behaviors. This sense of community can buffer against feelings of isolation and foster a more secure attachment style.

9. Participate in group therapy or workshops

Group therapy and workshops focused on attachment can offer additional support and learning opportunities. Interacting with others who share similar struggles can normalize your experiences and provide a sense of belonging. Group settings also offer a platform to practice new relational skills in a safe environment. These experiences can accelerate your progress and reinforce positive changes in your adult relationships. Online therapy is also a great resource if you don’t feel ready to take on in-person interactions.

10. Practice mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness and meditation can help you stay present and reduce the anxiety associated with avoidant attachment. These practices increase awareness of your thoughts and feelings, allowing you to respond more thoughtfully rather than reactively. Regular mindfulness practice can also improve emotional regulation and reduce the impulse to withdraw from emotional closeness. This can lead to more stable and satisfying relationships.

What causes avoidant attachment?

Avoidant attachment often originates from early childhood experiences, particularly those involving caregivers who were consistently unavailable or unresponsive to the child’s emotional needs. Infants and young children rely on their caregivers to provide comfort and security, forming the foundation for their understanding of relationships and attachment. When caregivers consistently fail to meet these needs, either due to neglect, emotional unavailability, or unpredictability, children learn to suppress their emotions and develop a self-reliant coping mechanism.

Parental behavior significantly influences the development of avoidant attachment. Overprotective or intrusive parents may unintentionally send the message that emotional expression is unwelcome or burdensome, leading children to learn that it’s safer to keep their emotions hidden. Conversely, emotionally distant or dismissive parents may create an environment where emotional needs are consistently ignored or invalidated, reinforcing the belief that relying on others for emotional support is futile. Traumatic experiences such as abandonment, neglect, or loss can also contribute to the formation of avoidant attachment, as they further erode trust in others and reinforce the belief that emotional connection leads to pain or disappointment.

Additionally, societal and cultural factors can play a role in the development of avoidant attachment. In cultures that value independence and self-sufficiency over emotional expression and interdependence, individuals may be socialized to prioritize autonomy and detachment in relationships. This societal reinforcement can exacerbate avoidant tendencies and make it more challenging for individuals to recognize and address their attachment style. Overall, the causes of avoidant attachment are multifaceted, involving a combination of early experiences, parental behavior, and cultural influences that shape an individual’s relational patterns and coping mechanisms.

Supporting someone with avoidant attachment

If a loved one in your life has avoidant attachment, here are some things you can do to support them. 

Respect their boundaries

Respecting the boundaries of someone with avoidant attachment is crucial for building emotional support. Avoid pushing an avoidant partner to open up or share their emotions before they feel comfortable. Instead, communicate openly about boundaries and let them dictate the pace of the relationship. By demonstrating respect for their need for space and autonomy, you create a safe environment for them to gradually let their guard down and build trust.

Foster a sense of safety

Creating a sense of safety and security is essential for individuals with an avoidant style of attachment. Show consistency and reliability in your interactions, demonstrating that you can be trusted and relied upon. Avoid confrontational or emotionally charged situations, as they can trigger feelings of vulnerability and lead to withdrawal. By providing a stable and supportive environment, you help alleviate their fears of rejection and abandonment, encouraging them to engage more fully in the relationship.

Encourage vulnerability in small steps

Encouraging vulnerability in small, manageable steps can help individuals with avoidant attachment gradually become more comfortable with emotional intimacy. Start by sharing your own feelings and experiences openly, creating a model for healthy emotional expression. Offer support and validation when they take small steps towards vulnerability, reinforcing the idea that it’s safe to share their emotions. Over time, as they experience positive responses to their vulnerability, they may become more willing to open up and deepen the connection. Couples therapy can be a helpful resource for learning how to support an avoidant partner and build a more healthy relationship.

Practice patience and understanding

Patience and understanding are key when supporting someone with attachment issues, especially when you are in a romantic relationship with the avoidant attacher. Recognize that their fear of intimacy and vulnerability is deeply rooted and may take time to overcome. Avoid taking their emotional withdrawal personally and refrain from pressuring them to change. Instead, offer reassurance and unconditional acceptance, showing them that you value them for who they are. By demonstrating patience and understanding, you help create an environment where the avoidant person feels accepted and supported as they navigate their attachment style.

How Charlie Health can help

If you or a loved one are struggling with avoidant attachment, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health’s virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for dealing with serious mental health conditions, including insecure attachment and avoidant attachment. Our expert clinicians incorporate evidence-based therapies into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With treatment, managing avoidant attachment is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

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