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.