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gegc t1_iwwzn5z wrote

This is absolutely correct. I think the article/study is very precise with their wording, which many people may miss - "feeling appreciated" is not the same as "being appreciated".

Broadly generalizing, avoidant people have learned that their caregivers are unsafe. Any appreciation or positive affect (if given at all), usually has some catch, caveat, or unreliability. Therefore, they will by default perceive appreciation as duplicitous or threatening ("what's their angle?", feeling an obligation/expectation to always behave a certain way or else, waiting for the other shoe to drop, etc). This is what it took to survive their abusive/neglectful/inconsistent caregivers. The mistreatment created the internal model: "It is safer to reject love, than to accept it and open oneself to the inevitable injury." The fundamental issue is one of learned mistrust.

Therefore, an avoidant person is not able to receive appreciation, even if it is sincerely given. If the person giving the appreciation doesn't understand this, they will eventually become frustrated and resentful. This, of course, reinforces the avoidant person's model that appreciation (or any kind of closeness) is a threat to safety.

This is why healing is necessarily a two-way street. You cannot unilaterally either "fix" another person (if you have an avoidant partner) nor "be fixed" by another person (if you're the avoidant one). The partner must be consistent in their availability and support, and the avoidant individual must be mindful and consciously challenge their old world model with new data.


coyote-1 t1_iwxc3gz wrote

On your third paragraph: being avoidant myself, yes we are able to receive appreciation…. as long as it’s not coming from a person who has already demonstrated that their ‘appreciation’ cannot be trusted.


EFIW1560 t1_iwzd3pz wrote

Honest question: how many chances does a person have to mistakenly or absentmindedly be less than reliable? Is it a one and done situation? Does that apply to more casual relationships or also to a partner (deeper relationships)?

Do you distinguish between accidental unreliability (perhaps running late to a meetup due to traffic or something) and purposeful reliability? If so, how do you tell the difference between the two?

I guess my point is do we account for the fact that people are not perfect and do make mistakes, or do we attempt to hold everyone around us to our own rigorous standards that we have developed to protect ourselves? I dont think thats fair to others, especially when they may not have been forced to develop this learned distrust. I think it also sets us up for disappointment when others, naturally, are unable or unwilling to meet our standards, thereby reinforcing our distrust.


coyote-1 t1_iwzjdy4 wrote

With strangers, it’s one and done. There are too many people out in the world to get hung up on one stranger. I won’t be rude, but I won’t go out of my way to interact with them again.

If it’s someone I know, I let patterns dictate. If someone is routinely reliable and something happens, well then something happens! That is a reality, and I gladly let it slide without “keeping score”.

But if it becomes an obvious pattern, then BUMP.