How Anxious/Avoidant Relationships Can Succeed

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anxious/avoidant relationships

Can anxious/avoidant relationships succeed? My podcast guest, Thais Gibson, is an expert in attachment theory and has great tips for you.

Dr. Thais Gibson is known for her work on attachment theory. She created Gibson Integrated Attachment Theory™, an innovative framework uniting traditional attachment theory, developmental psychology insights, and subconscious reprogramming techniques. This framework is reflected in the courses she teaches in The Personal Development School, in her innovative coach training program and in her most recent book, Learning Love.  

In this episode of Last First Date Radio:

  • The attachment styles and their impact on relationships
  • How partners with anxious/avoidant styles can succeed
  • How past wounds affect our relationships
  • How to heal past wounds
  • Tips and tools for creating healthier relationships

EP 607: Thais Gibson – How Anxious/Avoidant Relationships Can Succeed

What are attachment styles and their impact on relationships? 

  • Secure: Gets a lot of soothing when they cry and needs met as children, so they grow up feeling like they can communicate well and build trusting healthy relationships. It’s about 30% of population
  • Anxious Preoccupied: Loving parents who are not consistently around – may work a lot, so love is there and then taken away. As adults we grow up fearing abandonment and focus on creating more proximity. 
  • Dismissive Avoidant: Childhood emotional neglect that flies under the radar. They might have some needs met, but parents don’t encourage children to talk about emotions or soothe them. They neglect or dismiss them. As adults, we think there’s something wrong and we’re weak and defective and don’t attach deeply.
  • Fearful avoidant: Shares anxious and avoidant. In childhood, lots of chaos, fighting, maybe a parent with a personality disorder, not knowing what type of love you’ll get as a child. As an adult, they fear abandonment and closeness.

How can partners with different styles navigate their dynamics? What is the typical partner for the Anxious Preoccupied (AP) – Dismissive Avoidant (DA)?

Our attachment styles are formed as a way to manage childhood. Avoidants (DA) tend to be a lot more independent and love freedom. Anxiously attached (AP) people tend to be more afraid of being abandoned so they hold on tighter when the DA is pulling away. Then, the DA pulls away more, as their need for autonomy is threatened. It’s important to understand the rulebook for your partner’s attachment style. It helps us not take it so personally.

How do past wounds affect (AP) relationships and how can they be healed?

The wounds are conditioned through repetition and emotion over time in childhood. Whatever we’re exposed to repeatedly becomes a program. The work to heal is doing your own work to meet your own needs and work through your own triggers and set boundaries. Part two is working with your partner in doing these same things. This helps us reprogram.

Tip to reprogram your past wounds

Our subconscious is where our wounds are stored. In using auto-suggestion, we take the wound and find the opposite  (I’m not good enough – I am good enough). Then find ten memories of when you felt the opposite of your wound. It takes 21 days to reprogram. Repeat the memories for 21 days. It helps wipe out our core wounds. Use as much emotion and imagery as possible. Record it into your phone if you like.

What are some tips for expressing needs, setting boundaries, and fostering connection for the Anxious Preoccupied?

Work on your core wounds. Communicate your needs and sensitivities in a relationship. AP needs reassurance and certainty and validation. DA needs to know they’re not trapped but will agree to see their partner a certain number of times a week and will communicate if things change. 

The DA has a deep “I’m defective” core wound, so the AP needs to make sure they communicate in the positive.

What are your final words of advice for anyone who wants to go on their last first date?

When you communicate your needs, communicate in the positive. Paint a picture of what it looks like to meet your need so your partner understands. Remember to see your needs through. Remind your partner if they forget to meet your needs. 

The real work is in embodiment. We have a felt sense of the inner work, and we are not afraid to speak up. And vulnerability is key to healthy relationships. Take off your mask and get real.

Watch this episode on YouTube

Connect with Thais




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