NullVector Posted January 21, 2017 Share Posted January 21, 2017 Okay, i reckon this post is going to be a long one, so strap yourselves in! Hopefully it'll be of interest to some of you though... So, today I was reading about the theory of attachment in adults. Wikipedia article is here. Specifically, I got interested in the avoidant attachment styles and how they may or may not relate to aromanticism (or rather, to aro-spec people in general - i.e. 'grey' orientations included). Here are a couple of brief descriptions/clarifications I lifted from the Wikipedia article : Quote Four main styles of attachment have been identified in adults: secure anxious–preoccupied dismissive–avoidant fearful–avoidant ... Dismissive–avoidant People with a dismissive style of avoidant attachment tend to agree with these statements: "I am comfortable without close emotional relationships", "It is important to me to feel independent and self-sufficient", and "I prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on me." People with this attachment style desire a high level of independence. The desire for independence often appears as an attempt to avoid attachment altogether. They view themselves as self-sufficient and invulnerable to feelings associated with being closely attached to others. They often deny needing close relationships. Some may even view close relationships as relatively unimportant. Not surprisingly, they seek less intimacy with attachments, whom they often view less positively than they view themselves. Investigators commonly note the defensive character of this attachment style. People with a dismissive–avoidant attachment style tend to suppress and hide their feelings, and they tend to deal with rejection by distancing themselves from the sources of rejection (e.g. their attachments). Fearful–avoidant People with losses or other trauma, such as sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence may often develop this type of attachment and tend to agree with the following statements: "I am somewhat uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on them. I sometimes worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to others." People with this attachment style have mixed feelings about close relationships. On the one hand, they desire to have emotionally close relationships. On the other hand, they tend to feel uncomfortable with emotional closeness. These mixed feelings are combined with sometimes unconscious, negative views about themselves and their attachments. They commonly view themselves as unworthy of responsiveness from their attachments, and they don't trust the intentions of their attachments. Similar to the dismissive–avoidant attachment style, people with a fearful–avoidant attachment style seek less intimacy from attachments and frequently suppress and deny their feelings. Because of this, they are much less comfortable expressing affection. Now, I'm not saying the above would necessarily overlap with aromanticism. Attachment styles being about how you attach and aromanticism being about the degree of desire you feel to attach (romantically) in the first place (i.e. none) - at least as I understand it. But, having said that, I suppose it's plausible or reasonable to expect some degree of inter-relation between the two. For instance, if your attachment style tended towards extreme avoidance, you'd be unlikely to go on to develop romantic attachments, given most starting contexts - even if you experienced intrinsic romantic attraction quite frequently or intensely. In which case, you'd present externally as aro, but might feel rather different internally. Also, I could see a lot of the 'grey' orientations as potentially arising out of a mismatch between the degree of romantic attraction you feel vs. your attachment style (e.g. a lithromantic with a strongly dismissive-avoidant attraction style might feel a 'normal' degree of initial romantic attraction - but then, due to their attachment style, would start to feel suffocated and lose their sense of freedom/autonomy if/when their attraction was externally reciprocated - causing them to either passively distance themselves from their partner, or do things to actively 'sabotage' the relationship /push them away). What got me thinking about all this in the first place is a bit random! I was re-watching an old UK TV show called Skins, about the lives and relationships of a group of 16-18 year olds, doing A-levels / sixth form college (it's available on All 4 if you're in the UK and on Netflix if not, by the way). And... [Spoilers below!] Spoiler In the third series of the show, there's a romantic relationship that develops between two girls, Naomi and Emily. The dynamic between the two as their relationship progresses is really interesting (to me at least - and both the actresses are really good!). Looked at in terms of attachment styles, I'd interpret it (quite possibly incorrectly - no psychological training here to speak of ) as a very believable depiction of a relationship that develops between a secure attacher (Emily) and a strongly avoidant one (Naomi). IMO, the majority of Naomi's issues don't really arise from her coming to terms with her sexuality, but rather from her coming to terms with being able to love and be loved by another person, given her avoidant attachment style (I see her repeated protestations that she's 'straight' as more of an initial ploy to keep Emily at bay, rather than due to her having any (major) issues accepting the idea of being gay, in the abstract). Emily is very determined and persistent, (!) but also patient and respectful of Naomi's need for breathing space at several key moments - without which it would never have worked out for them (if I ever end up in a romantic relationship, I think it would need to be with somebody like Emily). I think (leaving aside gender and sexuality!) that I have a lot in common with Naomi. I suspect I'm not 'properly' aromantic - but am probably quite strongly Dismissive-avoidant (possibly with a bit of Fearful–avoidant stuff thrown in there too, just for good measure!) and that this accounts for my lack of romantic relationships more than an absence of romantic attraction does. It's revealed later in the show that Naomi had felt strong romantic attraction to Emily for some time, but been too "terrified of pain" to act upon it. Anyway, some food for thought there, hopefully! You reckon this attachment styles stuff can be helpful for us? (and maybe one or two people here will have watched the show as well and want to talk about that?!) 3 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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