One of the most stressful characteristics of a relationship is the ambivalent attachment style. You’re either hot or cold, and it’s irritating.
An ambivalent attitude is strange in its attachment style. One moment you are clingy and the next you want nothing to do with your partner. You cannot decide whether you’re accepted or whether you’re being rejected.
Let me tell you, it’s a nightmare if you’ve ever exhibited this form of attachment. If your partner is doing this, I feel for you. The ambivalent form of attachment can drain you and make you feel unsure about the relationship.
What is ambivalent attachment?
Although some believe that ambivalent attachment is just a form of attachment you’re either born with or your not, others believe it’s learned early in childhood. The one common thread is that it starts in the beginning, either genetically or otherwise.
An ambivalent style of attachment can form when parents are inconsistent, especially the mother. Sometimes she’s there for her child’s needs and sometimes she’s strangely absent for much too long. It sends signals to the child that nothing is certain in love and caring. In other words, there are definitely mixed signals reaching the child.
For instance, a mother may be dull to her child’s emotional needs, but still will not let her child explore their autonomy. If the child is ever away from the mother, he panics.
Children growing up with an ambivalent nature are immature and clingy, and they have an attachment style that is random and chaotic. This generally follows them throughout childhood, their teen years and on into adulthood unless healed properly or adjusted, which, I might add, is hard to do.
Does your partner have an ambivalent attachment?
1. They are loners
Oh my goodness, sounds like me. Well, let’s talk about the difference between the introvert and the ambivalent person. Introverts, although they prefer to have fewer friends and enjoy their time alone, do love to spend time with their partners.
Those with ambivalent attachment prefer seclusion most of the time. They love being completely alone. Even when their partners want to be with them, they resist the urge to get close, only wanting attention when their partner doesn’t. It’s strange.
2. Shallow communication
Well, this one doesn’t sound like me. Anyways, the ambivalent personality can charm people pretty easy, but when it comes to depth, there seems to be a blockade that keeps others out.
Down deep inside, there is great intelligence and depth, but they rarely let anyone get that far. Instead, they use short bouts of conversation then move on.
3. They are clingy
Remember how I said that the ambivalent are loners? Well, they are…until they’re not. All of a sudden, they can become extremely clingy regardless of their partner’s emotional needs. They will demand attention and if that attention isn’t given, they assume their partner doesn’t love them at all.
You can clearly see how this behavior travels from way back in childhood when these unhealthy parenting styles damaged the way children needed or didn’t need attention. Those loners, yeah, their practicing fake autonomy. See, do you get it now?
4. Disregard your emotions
The ambivalent ones are attached quite well to their ever-changing emotions, but when it comes to the emotions of their partners, they cannot understand.
In fact, they can become angry if their partners become emotional. It’s as if they really think their partner has no right to be sad or angry. Only their emotions matter because they’ve been throwing a tantrum since childhood.
5. Resist empathy
Now, it’s not that the ambivalent person cannot be empathetic, it’s just that they don’t want to. If they sense this feeling coming on, they will harden. That’s why it seems sometimes like you just can’t get them to understand your side of the story or how you feel about something. You know the old adage, “If you could only be in my shoes, you would understand”?
Well, that doesn’t work, it just makes them look at you weird. They really don’t want to understand how people feel because then their feelings would be neglected again like they were in childhood. They really don’t have an identity, so they certainly don’t want to understand yours.
6. Unhealthy independence
They will not help and will not accept it either. If something happens and they need help, they will not ask. This stems from when they cried for their mother but she didn’t come. Or it could come from when they never had support as teens. Either way, don’t try to help them because they will not accept the effort.
What’s more, they don’t like helping others either. They figure if they are independent and don’t need the help, then neither should anyone else. You should just pull up their bootstraps and get going, as far as they’re concerned. How nice, huh?
Does ambivalence sleep beside you every night?
Do you think your partner has an ambivalent attachment style? If so, are you prepared to continue to deal with it? If you haven’t been together long, it could be easy to deal with it, but if you’ve been married for years, it gets a bit stickier.
I’m not saying people cannot change, but as time goes on, I see more and more people locked in their stubborn ways. It’s amazing just how influential your upbringing can be. And if it’s genetic, then it’s going to be harder to break that generational curse.
Either way, if this is your partner, you owe it to them to give a try first. You can talk about it, seek professional help, or learn a way to deal with each other the way you are. It’s all up to you.
I wish you all the luck in the world.