Are you a picky dater? Let’s see… That date you had last week was amazing, but all you can remember is the way he chewed his food, and you know you’ll never be able to tolerate another date. Or maybe it was that other person you dated that you found so attractive, successful, and intelligent, but you just couldn’t let go of the difference in height between you. Ringing a bell?
If this has happened once or twice, it’s nothing to worry about. We all have things that we like and don’t like in relationships. However, if you find that you have a pattern of finding superficial reasons to end relationships before they even start… there may be something deeper at play.
It’s All in Your Head… Literally
Your brain may be wired to avoid relationships. As infants, we develop an “attachment style” which stems from the bond between a child and a parent or caregiver. In this process of attachment, our brains become wired to either seek closeness with others, or to seek distance. Basically, we learn whether it is safe and comfortable to depend on others, or whether it is better to keep a distance because our needs are not consistently met in a positive way.
If you learn at a young age that it isn’t safe or rewarding to depend on others, your brain will act to keep you distanced from others as an adult. This is called an avoidant attachment style. People with an avoidant attachment typically value their independence and prefer to keep a safe distance from intense intimacy. You may avoid committed relationships and intimate friendships. You may also find many superficial qualities in partners and dates that keep you from feeling attraction or vulnerability that would lead you into a more committed relationship.
Are You Destined to Be Single?
Having this style of attachment does not mean that you’re doomed when it comes to relationships, or that you’re an insensitive, unloving human being. It simply means that you have developed an internal alarm system that alerts you every time you start to feel emotional or even physical closeness with someone. The hard wiring of the brain can be so powerful in these responses, that it can even override your goals to remain in a relationship. This attachment system is meant to keep the human species alive. It was not designed to think of things like getting married, settling down, and commitment.
What Can You Do?
If you’re not just a picky dater, and wondering if you might have an avoidant attachment style, don’t panic. This is workable! If you can start to recognize that it is just your brain playing some protective (but sometimes unhelpful) tricks on you, you can try to see past the roadblocks that arise in the form of focusing on those superficial turn offs. You can try to focus on the good qualities that you like in a person, instead of focusing in on one small thing.
Self-Awareness Is Key
If you feel that you want to make some changes in how you react to relationships and intimacy, start by reading up on attachment, or talk to a therapist or coach who specializes in attachment. Research has shown that our attachment styles remain fairly consistent into adulthood. However, the good news is that with awareness, personal growth experiences, or therapy, people can make changes in their primary attachment style and learn to feel more comfortable with intimacy.
If you’re wondering if you have an avoidant attachment, click the link in my bio below to take my quiz to help determine your style.