The Anxious-Avoidant Clusterfuck

Yesterday, I finished reading the book, Attached, by Amir Levine MD and Rachel SF Heller M.A. I’ve come to the realization I have the rare combination (3-5% of the population according to the book) of Anxious-Avoidant attachment style. Interestingly enough, I believe my husband had the same attachment style. Lucky Us.

I truly want connection and intimacy but I also value my independence and have big time trust issues. The closer people get the more I push them away, albeit often subconsciously.

In 6th grade (I was 11), I had a huge crush on this boy that basically ran the entirety of the school year. Towards the end of the school year, to my surprise, he liked me back! I should have been thrilled. And, I was… at first. He called my house one night and instead of having a normal conversation, I told him, “If you call my house again, I’ll beat you up.” That was pretty much the end of that. 

When I was 15 and a Sophomore in high school, I liked a boy (who happened to also like me) but he was a Freshman and I couldn’t go out with a guy a year younger than me; that would be weird. I find this incredibly ironic considering my last blog post was about a guy 11 years younger than me. HOLD UP! WAIT A MINUTE! Did I use my 10th GRADER LOGIC as a reason to keep this guy at arms length?!?! I’m going to circle back to this. 

Due to my avoidant attachment style in my younger years, I avoided physical intimacy. I wanted it, but it terrified me. It was one week before my 18th birthday when for the first time, I finally had a “real” kiss with a guy. There was no way I was going to turn 18 without ever having a guys tongue in my mouth. However, the key point here, I didn’t like him. I only wanted to get it over with and he seemed like the easiest and best option. I wasn’t going to get “attached”.

Later that Summer, I met a guy who would end up being my first real boyfriend. I was not nice to him at first (or, even at different points in our relationship). I wanted to have sex so I lost my virginity to him. It went something like, “put it in. no, take it out. No, put it in. No, take it out…” That went on for about a minute or two before I told him to take it out for the last time. I tried to say it didn’t count because we didn’t really do it and he didn’t even cum. My friends said it counted and who was I to argue. After that night, we fucked all the time. It was new and exciting. We fought a lot, too. 

In hindsight, I can see that when things got too close, we fought. I focused on his flaws a lot (avoidant behavior). Some anxious attachment tendencies also started to take hold but didn’t fully manifest until boyfriend number 2. I told BF1 I loved him one night. His response, “okay.” Since that time, I have never again said, “I love you” first. After BF1 broke up with me, I was devasted for a whole day. Within a week I was sleeping with someone new (not BF2).

I started dating BF2 just before I left for fall semester at college. It was very hot and heavy. I love yous were exchanged very early. We got in an argument on the phone one night. He hung up on me. Instead of calling him back, I drove the four hours to his house and knocked on his window at 5am. I now realize this was a manifestation of my anxious attachment system. Eventually he broke up with me. He cheated on me with his ex. We were only together two months. I eased my “broken heart” by hooking up with a guy about a week after he dumped me. 

Boyfriend 3 went very much like BF1, except I was the one who took his virginity. His virginity was my main interest in him. I didn’t really plan on actually dating him. However, we ended up dating for 6 months. He dumped me because he didn’t like the way I was acting at a party. My attachment style for the bulk of our relationship was very much of the avoidant variety, however the anxious side makes it difficult for me to end relationships. 

When I met boyfriend 4, who I ended up marrying, I had zero intentions of being in a relationship. He had a hot body and was for fucking only. The relationship happened kind of fast and blind-sided me. It was during our marriage when I believe the anxious and avoidant attachment styles merged into some sort of wild clusterfuck. I’m not sure if his attachment style being anxious-avoidant exacerbated my “condition” or not. However, this does explain our ability to treat each other like crap and cheat, and then have periods of calm. I’m not saying I recommend it, but it helps put things into perspective. The anxious side wouldn’t allow for either of us to let go. It would take forever to list all the examples of how this all manifested and worked, but at least it helps me make sense of how our marriage was tumultuous at times, calm at others, and how somehow it all “worked.”

My relationship with Douche Canoe during the open phase of my marriage also makes a lot more sense, now. I was avoidant at first (I mean I had a whole husband, already), then became anxious and avoidant at the same time. He made my dopamine spike and when I thought my dopamine was going to be taken away my anxious attachment system took over. 

When I examine the “relationships” I’ve had since my husband died, I see a lot of similarities between them. I want the closeness. I want the intimacy. I also distance myself when things feel too close, but also fall into anxious attachment behaviors when I feel shifts in the guy’s behavior. It’s a constant push-pull and is mentally exhausting. 

Circling back to my most recent entanglement, Hot & Nerdy, I went into this with zero intention on actually liking him in a crush/romantic-type way. My main reason for keeping any “feelings” at bay being his age (hello, tenth grade me). Another reason, “we are at different places in our lives.” I have literally said this to myself, out loud. Honestly, I don’t even know what I mean by that because a) I don’t even know what place I’m at in my own life, and b) I don’t know what place he’s at because I never asked; I only made assumptions… based on his age.

After the first time we had sex, the anxious attachment system activated. Preemptively, trying to keep it at bay did not work. I began to simultaneously pull myself closer (he gives good cuddles) and push him and myself away (fuck! He gives good cuddles, this is too much). I am ping-ponging back-and-forth between these wildly varying emotions and it is not a good feeling. 

This is why I asked the question, “Do I like him, or is he just hot,” in my last blog. However, I don’t think this is the right question. I don’t know if there is a right question. However, there is an answer, “yes, I do like him.” Anxious side activates, “oh, we like him lets get closer! Yay, cuddles!” Avoidant side activates, “oh… fuck. We like him. Lets back the fuck up, maybe give him some nudges to create more space. Remember now, he’s a young one.” As you can see, my royally fucked up insecure attachment style has put things in a weird position, just as it has done in other relationships, no matter the level of seriousness. I don’t know how this is going to end up. It may already have run its course and be done; we haven’t communicated in days.

I know I have a lot to work on. I know I have a lot of habits and insecure attachment behaviors to overcome. Also, I know I really want to overcome these behaviors because I hate being this way. I want to be able to let people in without pushing them away. I want to get better at communicating my needs. I want to set a better example for my kids. I want to have better friendships. I do a lot of similar behaviors in my friendships. At least I am aware, now.

I really need to start going back to therapy. I probably need to try ketamine, too. 

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