The Trauma Recovery Institute - Neuroscientific Based Psychosocialsomatic Approach|

Ambivalent Attachment

/Ambivalent Attachment
Ambivalent Attachment 2017-12-01T12:52:11+00:00

View love in an obsessive way, with strong need for constant reciprocation and validation, along with emotional highs and lows, and feelings of jealousy and strong sexual attraction.

Ambivalently attached people have had caregivers who were on again off again, inconsistently tending and attuning to the child. Because of the lack of consistency the child doubts whether their needs will be met and is on the constant look out for cues and clues to how their behavior may or may not influence the parent’s responses. Over time they find themselves on an emotional see saw of needs being met and not being met. Their object relation is “I can want, but cannot have.”

You may observe that in ambivalent attachment styles there is a tendency to be chronically dissatisfied. First, there is a tendency to project their own familial history onto their relationship. Secondly if the other person becomes available, they become unavailable! Unaccustomed to receiving love, having it available doesn’t fit their profile of “still wanting”. Over time partners of Ambivalent people can be discouraged by their love being dismissed and the loss of the relationship can be the both the feared and created outcome.

Characteristics of Ambivalent Attachment

Children who are ambivalently attached tend to be extremely suspicious of strangers. These children display considerable distress when separated from a parent or caregiver, but do not seem reassured or comforted by the return of the parent. In some cases, the child might passively reject the parent by refusing comfort, or may openly display direct aggression toward the parent.

According to Cassidy and Berlin (1994), ambivalent attachment is relatively uncommon, with only 7% to 15% of infants in the United States displaying this attachment style. In a review of ambivalent attachment literature, Cassidy and Berlin also found that observational research consistently links ambivalent-insecure attachment to low maternal availability. As these children grow older, teachers often describe them as clingy and over-dependent.

As adults, those with an ambivalent attachment style often feel reluctant about becoming close to others and worry that their partner does not reciprocate their feelings. This leads to frequent breakups, often because the relationship feels cold and distant. These individuals feel especially distraught after the end of a relationship. Cassidy and Berlin described another pathological pattern where ambivalently attached adults cling to young children as a source of security (1994).

As Children

1)            May be wary of strangers

2)            Become greatly distressed when parents leaves

3)            Do not appear to be comforted by the return of the parent

As Adults

1)            Reluctant to become close to others

2)            Worries that their partner does not love them

3)            Become very distraught when a relationship ends


Significant Indication: Somebody who grew up with parents with an ambivalent attachment style, may develop a preoccupied adult attachment pattern, they will view others positively and view self negatively.