I used to be a serial ghoster, but that changed after I realized I had a dismissive avoidant attachment style

Canela López Avoidant Attachment photo
I didn’t realize they have an avoidant attachment style for years. Canela López/Insider
  • I used to be a serial ghoster who deeply feared intense romantic commitment.
  • I’ve spent the last two years working through my dismissive-avoidant attachment style.
  • I worked with a therapist on my avoidant tendencies and realized I am polyamorous.
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Queer communities can feel abysmally small, especially when you’re trying not to run into an ex. I found an added layer of difficulty in New Orleans’ particularly small college queer scene, especially as someone who would serially ghost people.

At first, I thought it was just a college phase, but after moving to New York, I realized I was mimicking the same patterns of avoidance.

One day in therapy, after an unfortunate run-in at an NYC queer event with a person I had ghosted, I brought it up with my therapist.

In therapy, I expressed that even casual flirtation felt like it would get serious. My skin would start crawling, and I would have the urge to flee. My therapist said I should take an attachment style quiz to figure out my attachment style.

Attachment theory is based on the findings of psychologist Mary Ainsworth and psychiatrist John Bowlby and describes the way people relate to each other and communicate.

“Every relationship – especially romantic ones – are impacted by attachment styles,” therapist Alex Greenwald of Empower Your Mind Therapy previously told Insider.

After taking an attachment style quiz, I realized my fear of commitment, hesitancy towards intimacy, and need to feel independent were all connected to my dismissive-avoidant attachment style.

According to Greenwald, people with dismissive avoidant attachment styles tend to avoid commitment, value their autonomy, and aren’t typically interested in serious relationships.

My avoidant attachment style made it difficult to maintain relationships

Before I realized what my attachment style was, I thought my fear of commitment was linked to my young age and wanting to take advantage of exploring romantic options without getting tied down.

In college, I didn’t think I owed people I had hooked up with or gone out on a date with an explanation if I decided I didn’t want to deepen the relationship. But the more I casually dated, the more I realized ghosting had become a pattern even with people I wanted to know on a deeper level.

I would be left with feelings of deep anxiety and guilt for never responding to a text from a crush, but couldn’t physically bring myself to respond.

Canela López avoidant attachment essay
Going to therapy gave me the ability to have long-term relationships. pictured above are me and my partner of a year. Canela López/Insider

Even when I did date people, I found myself having inexplicable feelings of dread as soon as emotions started getting more serious, especially if they had a more anxious attachment style. People who are anxiously attached, according to Greenwald, often feel insecure in their relationships and seek constant validation from their partners.

I was convinced any relationship I had would turn codependent if I let people get too close. But after years of the same pattern of avoidance and panic, I longed for deeper relationships.

A year and a half ago, I decided I wanted to work on some of my avoidant traits in order to have meaningful romantic relationships.

After working with my therapist, I’ve been able to curb my fear of commitment

My therapist helped me realize a lot of my avoidant traits came from not acknowledging that I am a polyamorous person interested in non-monogamy. I feared committing to a relationship would mean losing the ability to connect with other people romantically or sexually, which made me hesitant to call myself anyone’s partner.

Starting with strategies to honor my desire to be polyamorous in an ethical way immediately eliminated the initial hesitation I had about long-term relationships. While I still need to take relationships slow before committing, I no longer fear losing the ability to honor my non-monogamy if I get into a relationship.

My therapist suggested putting polyam, a common term for polyamorous people, in my Tinder bio to match with other like-minded people. After putting her strategy to the test a year ago, I met my current nesting partner, or partner I’m planning to build a life with, who is also polyam.

While I’m still working on my avoidance, identifying areas for growth and acknowledging where my fear came from has helped me form long-term relationships.