10 Signs That Your Partner Has An Avoidant Attachment Style and How to Deal WIth Them

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Does your partner’s avoidant attachment style rattle your nerves?

It’s frustrating when someone is unresponsive to your attempts at bonding or kindness. You may suspect that your significant other has an avoidant attachment style but aren’t sure. Here are the signs that he or she does and how to deal with them.

What is an Avoidant Attachment Style?

Avoidant Attachment sounds like an oxymoron, but we should understand the words in the literal sense. They mean, as suggested, to avoid becoming attached emotionally.

People with Avoidant Attachment styles struggle with intimacy issues. They may create situations that destroy their relationships, albeit unconsciously. They will also pull away from their loved ones when they sense too much closeness.

People who have such emotional styles tend to disregard the feelings of others. They also forget their own. They often see expressing emotions as a weakness. It goes without saying that they don’t handle negative situations like awkwardness and failure well.

Avoidant Attachment Style: The Types

People who have an avoidant attachment approach to relationships are either fearful of intimacy or dismissive of their partners’ feelings.

Those who are Dismissive-Avoidant tend to distance themselves emotionally from their partners. They brush feelings aside and devalue human connections.

People with Fearful-Avoidant Attachment patterns are ambivalent and afraid of commitment. They strike a balance in relationships in an attempt to avoid being too close or distant. They want to have their emotional needs met, but fear being too close.

Fearful-Avoidants try to rein in their feelings, but can’t.  Consequently, they feel overwhelmed by their worries and have emotional storms. Their moods are unpredictable. As a result, they have relationships with many highs and lows.

Then, there are the Anxious-Preoccupied Avoidants. A person who has this Avoidant Attachment Style is preoccupied with his or her relationships. He or she reads too much into social interactions and is over-sensitive. He or she tends to choose a Dismissive Avoidant partner. Of course, the combination is volatile.

10 Signs That Your Partner Has An Avoidant Attachment Style

If your partner uses an avoidant attachment style to relate to you, you may recognize these behavioral patterns.

1. Avoidants stress boundaries

First of all, Avoidants cherish their space. To protect it, they enforce boundaries between themselves and their significant others. These are either physical or emotional; they may sleep in separate rooms or hide information from their partners.

2.Avoidants are uncomfortable with deep feelings

Avoidants don’t disclose their deepest feelings to their significant others because they have a strong sense of emotional independence. Also, it would bring them closer to their partners, which they want to avoid.



3. Avoidants prefer casual sex

Avoidants prefer casual to intimate sex because they want to avoid closeness. They don’t wish to worry about their partner’s feelings after intercourse.

4. Avoidants disregard feelings

Avoidants treat their significant others like business partners because they feel solely responsible for their well-being. Therefore, they seldom discuss emotions. They often describe their partners as ‘needy.’

5. Avoidants want their partners but not their presence

Avoidants need love like everyone else, so they will miss their partners when they are not around. Once their partners return, they feel ‘trapped’ and hanker after space again.

6. Avoidants are uncomfortable with intimate situations

Shunning intimacy is another trait of Avoidants. They are loving and supportive viz other aspects of the relationship (e.g., finance, health) but pull away at any sign of closeness.

7. Avoidants idealize other relationships

Furthermore, Avoidants dwell on past relationships to give themselves excuses not to deal with current ones. They may also fantasize about perfect relationships so that they’ll have reasons to feel that their present partners aren’t right for them.

8. Avoidants send mixed signals

Moreover, Avoidants tend to send mixed messages to their partners. They’ll want to move in with them one day and ignore them the next. The mixed signals leave their partners in a tailspin.



9. Avoidants are independent

Consequently, Avoidant partners cherish independence. They are firmly self-reliant and condescend to those who need others. Conversely, those who are secure realize the need for both freedom and partnership.

10. Avoidants are non-committal

Finally, Avoidants are reluctant to discuss marriage because it entails commitment. They see it as a huge infringement on their space.

Effects of an Avoidant Attachment Style

An Avoidant Attachment style of managing relationships has subtle but harmful effects.

Fearful Avoidants will struggle to remain close to their partners. They will obsess over their partners not loving them and have mood swings. Of course, this puts a strain on their romantic relationships.

Anxious – Preoccupied Avoidants create endless cycles of self-fulfilling prophecies. They avoid intimacy with their partners but will say ‘I knew it! You don’t love me!’ when their significant others pull away. You can see the irony in these situations; the constant strain ends the relationship.

Dismissive Avoidants know that they have difficulty expressing feelings and seek vulnerable, open partners to fill the gap. However, they can’t reciprocate their partners’ openness. Consequently, their romances suffer.

Ms. Genevieve Beaulieu Pelletier, who studied these personalities, found that Avoidants were most likely to cheat on their partners. Most of them cited a fear of commitment and a desire for personal boundaries.

Relating to a partner who has an Avoidant Attachment Style

There’s good news for you if you have an avoidant partner. It’s not impossible to stay connected. Here’s what you can do.

First of all, Avoidants may have experienced bad relationships, so they have trust issues. Don’t press your partner to express feelings; trust him or her to know when, and what to share.

Also, show your Avoidant partner that you are dependable. Do this in small steps. When your partner can see that you are reliable, he or she will entrust you with more important information.

Finally, don’t take it personally if your partner needs space. Most of us want to know what’s on our partners’ minds. Avoidants, however, will only share this information when they are ready. They will withdraw when pushed.

Don’t fear if your partner has an avoidant attachment style. You can still stay close to him or her if you put in the effort into your relationship.

By Michelle L.

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18 Comments

  1. Cat November 23, 2017 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    I would surely like to be dependable for my avoidant partner so he can feel safe and secure and open up. My problem is that he is incapable of giving me the same in return for being unreliable, often emotionally unavailable and leaves me to fend for myself.

    Where does that leave me in the relationship?

    • Andrea December 4, 2017 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Cat!

      I am dealing with a 2-year break up myself with a dismissive avoidant person. I myself am an anxious attached person. When I discovered our attachment style suddenly everything began to make sense. What I have learned is that dismissive people are a lot like battered shelter animals. They aren’t trusting at first and if you try to approach them, however your intentions may be good, they are still wary of your presents. Don’t take it personal. Their brain is wired to be in survival mode by brushing off any chance of rejection be it imagined or real. Take heart. If you truly love this person you are willing to make the changes needed. Anxious people are more than likely first to make any changes before their dismissive partner will. Let him come to you and be patient be patient be patient. Best of luck to you.

  2. Big Jim McBob January 4, 2018 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    Far better that EVERYone avoid all avoidants completely. They want space? Let ’em have it.
    Better yet: pass a law that anyone diagnosed as an avoidant is no longer allowed to lovebomb anyone into a relationship, no longer allowed to enter in to an intimate relationship whatsoever, and put teeth into the law so that there are serious penalties for these lovebombing frauds if they ever break the law. THAT will fix these fraudulent people and their duplicitous bugaboo paranoia of intimacy.

    • Julia March 20, 2018 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      Agreed! Why waste your time with these hopeless ppl…life is short go find someone better! I am speaking from experience

  3. Finally Unconfused January 20, 2018 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    Big Jim,
    I totally get what you’re saying. I’m definitely the anxious style, partner of 16 yrs is avoidant. The piece that gets missed is that they can no more change their own wiring any more than other types can. But with awareness and understanding of the “why” of it all by at least one party, and actual change of responses by the informed party actually force a change in the other. It comes down to what a person can or cannot live with. Not easy, for sure…but never boring, and that kind of work and self-challenge isn’t for everyone. At the end of the day, these folks still need love. It takes extraordinary selflessness to deal with the emotional highs and lows. All of us need to be allowed to be who we are. It’s very sad, actually, because many of these people are intensely lonely. Their mask of not needing anyone couldn’t be further from the truth. The partner who understands this knows (without the words) that this person suffers deeply and lives in the constant turmoil of not having the natural ability or belief that they can make us happy…and feel they’ve done everything possible. They truly believe that. And if we truly love them, we can see how much they actually have done. We have to appreciate and respect them, even when we feel disrespected, rejected, and hurt. But those feelings must be processed with the acute awareness of our own insecurities. There are easier and more joyous ways to live, but commitment cannot be any more tested than being in a relationship with this kind of person. The joy comes from learning just what and how much we’re capable of, how loving, patient, and kind we really are, and knowing that from within because the words appreciating those great strengths are very few and far between, if at all. But somewhere deep inside, they know they need us, never admitting it. Ironically, I believe they are the neediest of all.

    • J February 2, 2018 at 3:43 am - Reply

      That’s beautiful. Thank you.

  4. Chris February 7, 2018 at 5:34 am - Reply

    I say if these people can’t step up after a period, then the heck with them! I should give them the time, energy and reassurance every person in a relationship needs, while they leave me out flapping in the wind?? There are over 300 million people in the U.S. and about half are women. If they can’t up step up, then get the hell out of the line so the other 150 million women step forward and stop jerking me around!!

  5. Stacy February 12, 2018 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    This is a very tricky situation. On the one hand, you want to understand and give to the person you love what they need, in order for them to heal–this is the loving thing to do. But on the other hand, we must demonstrate self-care and self-love to ourselves, lest we find ourselves in abusive, or unsatisfying relationships at best, over and over again.

    I say the answer to this is that if the avoidant person wishes to seek therapy for themselves, whether that means attending couples counselling or individual counselling, then maybe you’ve got a chance. And even then, they will have to dedicate themselves to doing the work necessary in order to change their attachment style. If this is a possibility, then I say take the chance. Without this piece in place, I would not spend my time in a relationship with an avoidant partner. The rewards are just too little, and the highs and lows, the inconsistency and instability will make you sad. And that’s just not good enough. Cheers.

  6. Gina February 27, 2018 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    I hate that I keep on putting myself in this trap. I fell in love with an avoidant that is clearly not compatible with me. I’m naturally an anxious attached person so needless to say, we used to have huge fights. I backed off and went no contact and moved on. But, every other month, he reaches out to me and I go right back to him. It always starts off nicely but he again starts to pull away. During the distance, I have been working on my attachment style to become more secure and I understand the extreme importance of space for avoidants. Just last week, he reached out again after not speaking to him in two months. I kept it very calm and he was really taking initiative and calling daily until we started to get intimate again and he began to pull away again.

    I assured him that I don’t want anything serious and it was nice to reconnect again. He agreed but I sense he is dealing with feelings inside that he’s confused about. He’s ALWAYS complained about how confused he is inside about feelings/emotions. We are at least friends now but I don’t know how to make him feel at ease. I obviously still love him but I can never go back there with him and be that “needy” emotional wreck. I have to respect that we can only be friends with benefits which I’m comfortable with. He’s comfortable with keeping me at arm’s length. There was a time brief period when he got too close to me and it freaked him out and he’s never gone back to that spot again.

    I’ve come to terms that if I want him still in my life, I have to respect his periods of space. I know he’s not seeing other women because he tends to rather be alone. I honestly don’t see getting involved with an avoidant such a bad thing. Caring for an avoidant made me chill the f8ck out in my obsessive anxious racing mind and realize it’s not always about me and my needs. Everyone can benefit from space. I know my natural tendencies is to cling for dear life. I’m learning that it’s OKAY not to hear from someone every day. It’s OKAY to not have to see them every other day. The space I’m forced to accept is actually helping me become more aware of my insecurities and forcing me to work on them.

  7. Mara March 8, 2018 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    I am fearful avoidant and I want to change and become a better person. I don’t know what to do. Its frustrating

    • Jen March 13, 2018 at 5:41 am - Reply

      If you want to change, you need to deal with the issues that got you here. Attachment problems in adults stem from early childhood experiences, and you can find clues in your interactions with your parents. Secure attachment comes from parents who gave you consistent love and could be trusted to take care of your needs – the critical part happens when you’re too young to remember, so just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Insecure attachment comes from inconsistent and/or abusive attention.

      You cannot heal this kind of core damage without therapy. Trust me on this one – if you have cancer, you go to an oncologist; if you have attachment problems, you go to a therapist who specializes in childhood trauma (even if you can’t remember anything you’d think of as traumatic).

  8. Dana March 18, 2018 at 4:47 am - Reply

    Consider Dialectical Behavior Therapy

  9. Syd March 24, 2018 at 10:21 am - Reply

    I’m an avoidant female. This article resonates in so many ways. I don’t want to change my avoidant style because it keeps me from being hurt or abandoned again. I am happy this way.

  10. Neetz March 24, 2018 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    If you’re happy as an avoidant then stop attempting to attach, that’s just selfishness. I’m with all those saying leave them to themselves; please stop creating drama in the lives of those who don’t want it.

  11. Mika April 8, 2018 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    I have to agree with what has been said here before. If you have any self respect and self love, just leave. Yes it is so sad because deep down most of the avoidants suffer a lot. But please understand that it is not your job to heal them, and you can not do that. Just leave and if you can, do it with as much love and compassion as you can. If you want to stay for whatever reason, just accept that it will never be an intimate, close relationship and you can never count on that avoidant partner. Again, if you have self respect and self love I see no reason to settle on something like this. And it is not complicated. It is very straightforward in my opinion. You just have to stop listening your feelings and instead listen your reason. 4 months ago I left a woman who is, I think, is avoidant or a mix of avoidant/anxious. I still love her very much and I hope she will be happy. I just cant be with a woman who is negative, spoiled and complaining (she said it, not me) and cold as ice. One thing I have realized is that avoidant people tend to have anger issues.

    The strange thing is that my own attachment style (according to dozens of tests I have taken in web) I have secure attachment style with pretty stong anxies tendencies. I guess it is a very close call between secure/anxious style. Still I tend to find the avoidants partners, I mean ALWAYS. Of course it is possible that there is some self deception going on when you do those quizes, but I think the description above is relatively accurate. I do not stay in unhealty relationships, to be honest I barely have any. But still, I always find enough strenght to leave when I find myself in anxious-avoidant trap. I am just tired of being in that situation, and it takes me a long time to let go the sadness.

    So, I say it third time: If you find yourself in a relationship with avoidant, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. SHE/HE WILL NEVER CHANGE, AND YOU DESERVE MUCH MORE THAN THAT. PLEASE DO THAT FAVOR TO YOURSELF BEFORE YOU GET HURT!

  12. Stephanie April 10, 2018 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    My avoidant ex broke up with m about 3 weeks ago. To say I took it very badly is a huge understatement. I want to work it out with him because I know he cares about me. I also know that he is avoidant and that is going to be a huge challenge. I’m an anxious attacher and I’m just not ready to pack it in. Does anyone have any solutions to figuring this out, besides ‘just leave him alone’ (I can’t do that at this point). I need suggestions to help me learn to give him space and ways to approach him that won’t make him run for the hills.

  13. Mika April 11, 2018 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    “He´s scared. She´s scared”. This is a must read for everybody of us. For me this was a real eye opener and turned out I was not as innocent as I thought. Well, at least I am not living in denial anymore. There is always two persons in the relationship.

    • Michelle L April 15, 2018 at 1:11 pm - Reply

      Exactly, Mika!

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