Monday, November 20, 2006

Avoidant/ambivalent attachment style can sabotage adult relationships

People who receive little love as children often learn to defensively devalue love as a reliable resource as adults.

A study based on abusive child relationships and difficulty establishing supportive love relationships in adulthood looked at three potential factors:

1.) Attachment style
2.) Self esteem
3.) Relationship attributions

It was found that attachment issues, particularly "avoidant/ambivalent" attachment style played the greatest role in relationship difficulties.

The avoidant ambivalent attachment style develops when a child repeatedly cries out for help and the caregiver consistently fails to alleviate his or her discomfort. As a survival mechanism, this child withdraws and gives up trying to have his or her needs met.

As adults, such people are likely to become distant marital partners, shying away from emotional investment in romantic partners. They are often critical of any neediness in their spouses. Instead of going to their partners for support, they withdraw when in emotional distress. These adults have the highest rates of broken relationships.

Participants who had experienced child abuse were found to be six times more likely to experience relationship difficulties as an adult.

McCarthy, G., & Taylor, A. (1999). Avoidant/Ambivalent attachment style as a mediator between abusive childhood experiences and adult relationships. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40, 465-477.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for visiting and posting to my blog entry and leaving the link to your blog. I have read and enjoyed your entries and will continue to visit in hopes to learn about myself. I want to invite you to continue to read my post as well.

Again, thank you.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

i would love to find a copy of this article? you can email me at

9:39 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

Married to someone with this style. Counseling, my own personal and his own personal keeps our heads together. Without it we would have blown apart.

6:40 PM  

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