We all have a story of heartbreak in our lives. We can remember the first time we fell in love, too hard too soon, and inevitably got our heart broken. For some, this led to hardening our hearts and swearing to never give anyone that much power over it/us again. Others may have taken this as a subconscious challenge to prove that they are worthy of love. Either way, in both situations the end result was the “fear of loving.” This manifests itself as a fear of being alone, of not being good enough, or a fear that every person we date will repeat the same mistakes as those that came before them.
Does being fearful in a relationship automatically mean I have a fearful avoidant attachment style? No, it does not.
This post has been tugging at me for a while now as the most common search words that drive people to my site are “fearful avoidant, fearful avoidant attachment style, fearful anxious, or anxious avoidant attachment style.” They are all search words that seek to understand the same thing: the fearful avoidant attachment style.
Let’s set the record straight. Only about 5% of the population actually fit into the fearful avoidant category. The rest of us fall either into secure (50%), anxious/preoccupied (20%) or avoidant/dismissive (20%). Several important factors contribute to our attachment style, including our sense of self and sense of others, paired with either anxious or avoidant responses in our relationships.
If we use the fearful avoidant attachment style as an example, these individuals tend to have a negative view of themselves and a negative outlook of other people. They feel as though they are not worthy of love, and that others are not trustworthy or reliable enough to give it to them. This outlook tends to result in being preoccupied/anxious about their attachments, and also causes them to be very avoidant of intimacy and real connection with others. Given the opposing feelings (both anxious and avoidant) that are experienced in a fearful avoidant attachment style, it is a bit challenging to recognize. You can read more about this style here to get a better understanding.
Throughout my time working with people, I can count on my hands the number of times I have met someone that meets the “criteria” for fearful avoidant attachment. In my experience, these people have faced serious childhood trauma in their lives from their caregiver or another close attachment figure. This often leads to a very complex web of fears and worries that need to be worked through with a skilled mental health professional (if you feel this is you, reach out to someone! There is certainly hope for you to build the connections you have always longed for).
I say all of that to explain this; there is a difference between being fearful of relationships and having a fearful avoidant attachment style. The reality is that we have all felt fearful and hesitant to open up our hearts. It is an incredibly scary and risky move to open up and be vulnerable with another person. We cannot control whether they stay or leave, and the future suddenly becomes uncertain. It is scary stuff— but it is apart of our human journey.
So take a deep breath and relax. Fear is a natural response when vulnerability and uncertainty are present. We learn to readjust our boundaries and to take calculated risks instead of reckless ones. We discover what we need in a partner and a relationship, and what we won’t settle for. This fear can teach us to do things in a different and more calculated way. If you are new to the blog, look around and discover your attachment style. From there you can better understand your needs and what kind of partner would best suit you. The fearful or vulnerable feeling will likely be present at the beginning of any relationship, but we can do our hearts a favour and audition the characters that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with. First discover who you are and then decide what you are looking for in a co-star 😉
I hope you found this helpful and that you gained knowledge that will empower your relationship journey! As always, if you found this valuable, I invite you to share and subscribe to get weekly posts.
Wishing you love and connection,