Fearful-avoidant individuals expect that sources of potential support will ultimately prove to be unresponsive in times of need, or untrustworthy; the fearful-avoidant individual struggles with feelings of being unworthy of love. To protect themselves from a perceived threat of rejection, fearful-avoidant individuals emotionally distance themselves from close relationships even as they crave supportive, interdependent relationships. This entry describes fearful avoidance in infancy, childhood, adolescence, younger adulthood, and older adulthood as well as pain-related fear avoidance.

Formative attachment orientations (the beliefs individuals have about themselves and their perception of how they will be treated by others in relationships) are largely stable throughout the life span; however, the quality of relationships formed with attachment figures (e.g., family members, friends, marriage partners, therapeutic counselors) have the capacity to change ...

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