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 type of 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 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.

Michelle Liew, B.A.

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This Post Has 54 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Cat

    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?

    1. Avatar
      Andrea

      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. Avatar
    Big Jim McBob

    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.

    1. Avatar
      Julia

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

    2. Avatar
      Joan Bailey

      You made my day with this comment. So true. Great solutions!

    3. Avatar
      Gail

      Jim,
      (lovebombing frauds and their duplicitous bugaboo paranoia of intimacy.) Thank you for a good laugh, I understand you totally.

    4. Avatar
      Deborah

      Totally agree!

  3. Avatar
    Finally Unconfused

    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.

    1. Avatar
      J

      That’s beautiful. Thank you.

    2. Avatar
      Mrfixit

      Thankyou for sharing your open hearted and understanding attitudes. I am a textbook avoidant. I don’t love bomb. I try to connect with partners, but feel a strong need and desire to be independent, and I need to exert lots of energy to resist my nature of keeping my partners at arm’s length. I know it is destructive. I know it is incredibly emotionally challenging for the people close to me. I would like to add that there is no avoidant personality, there is no type of person who is avoidant. Ie you can be sensitive and caring and still be avoidant and have a natural instinct to keep your partner at a ‘safe’ distance. I am learning about myself and trying to find ways of working around my avoidant wiring so that my new relationship doesn’t fail. It makes me really sad to read posts which stereotype avoidants as ’emotional write-offs’ or Playboy’s. People with avoidant attachment styles are big part of the population (25%i think I read), that means about a quarter of the people you know are avoidant. But you would probably never know unless you were in a close relationship with them. They aren’t bad guys. Just wired in a way which is very challenging for themselves and their partners.

    3. Avatar
      D Bach

      Oh, that was so eloquently written it brought me to tears! Thank you ever so much for sharing not only this article, author), but your touching response, Finally Unconfused! My sentiments exactly but until I was recently informed about it, and read on it tonight, I had never heard of it and didn’t understand what was going on. Going forward, I will have even more empathy than I had before as I never loved as I’ve loved this time.

    4. Avatar
      sandy

      That is a wonderful open hearted response and found it inspirational. Thank you.

    5. Avatar
      Kayla

      I’m in tears.. this is perfect. Thank you.. because now that I know what I’m in for, I know I can love her. You’ve made me so happy tonight,

    6. Avatar
      Rhonda

      Wow! This is an amazing and inspiring comment to read. Thank you so much! Any tips on how to get through the first few years with an avoidant threatening to leave the relationship often (avoidant always changes mind after clarity)?

  4. Avatar
    Chris

    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. Avatar
    Stacy

    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. Avatar
    Gina

    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.

    1. Avatar
      Maia

      I am totally agree with you ,and I have the same thing with my boyfriend

  7. Avatar
    Mara

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

    1. Avatar
      Jen

      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. Avatar
    Dana

    Consider Dialectical Behavior Therapy

  9. Avatar
    Syd

    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. Avatar
    Neetz

    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. Avatar
    Mika

    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. Avatar
    Stephanie

    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. Avatar
    Mika

    “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.

    1. Michelle L
      Michelle L

      Exactly, Mika!

  14. Avatar
    Julie

    Hello, I just found out that I’m an avoidant and it’s been such a shock.
    I’ve been in a relationship for 4 years with an anxious, and I wanted to leave my comment to try to bring some confort for those who love a person like me. The comments surprised me and made me rethink my whole life, because I’ve been in such great pain in the relationship, but was so sure i was the “victim” there…

    When I met my partner, my self-esteem was on the ground. I didn’t want to commit and always told him that. But he got me. I love him so much, but spend more time wondering how to show him my affection than actually doing it. I read people like books, and can even feel their emotions, including my partner’s. He’s constantly trying to hide them and avoiding talking to me about them.
    I love being caring and supportive, and don’t understand why people always feel like I don’t care about them. It keeps me awake at night…what can I do to show how much I love them?
    It’s not like i dont care. I do, more than anything. But also, have a hard time coping with my own emotions and expressing myself. Sometimes I NEED to be alone. Actually, i think thats what keeps me sane. If i dont get some time alone (take note, there goes a good hint!) i lose my balance.
    I know I push him away. We have a child now, and I worry about her because some days I feel completely uncapable of giving the attention she needs. And I know they both deserve everything.

    Now, let’s see what I can change about it. I didnt know, just like maybe YOUR partner doesnt know whats going on. Its not easy to realize, I accidentally step on it. Hopefully I still can make up for my beloved ones. I know I’ll always need my space (wich seems to be a little bit bigger than for most), but my love is there. Don’t ever doubt it, you have someone who is capable of giving their life to you. We’re confused and in pain. Hope it helped at least a bit.

  15. Avatar
    Charles

    I am a fearful avoidant I have discovered. I have become good friends with my ex-girlfriend but am putting romantic relationships on hold until I heal in therapy.

  16. Avatar
    Theresa

    Wow, this hits home hard…this is going to be a long post but I gain more from reading Comments and learn from other people’s experience than any article may convey.

    My partner of 5 years is an avoidant…Let me start with the good: someone who will step up the moment a helping hand is needed, someone who listens, who will never frown with family or friends around, no matter what it looks like on the inside. A very comfortable person to be around with, as he will keep the “peace” and avoid any conflict,if it means bottling everything up inside. Well, that’s how it is because he will not make anyone uncomfortable by displays of emotions, or forbid, open requests.

    All his adult life he has worked maintaining a flawless reputation in the area in which he grew up. He wears a mask that can’t even be taken off around close friends and family. Maybe he will lift it for a tiny peek, but anything more and he hears “Vulnerability” screaming at him.

    I’m an extrovert who, as so often, became attracted to the opposite. I often described him as “an onion” whose layers would eventually come off with lots of patience (and tears). Over the years the mask did come off now and then. Unfortunately I was the only person allowed to see him venting and disappointed & I did.But when it came to relationship problems exessive avoidence was strategy. So was sweeping luring conflicts under the rug and savig yourself from being overwhelmed,only to have them reappear at the worst moments.

    The inability to deal with both negative emotions and non attacking critisism has put him into the role of the victim, a misunderstood peace keeper. I became the negative diplomat, who returned to him with the same problem, lack of communication. Over and over.

    He turned to doing excessive sports, stonewalled and developed a predictable, distant communication style.
    One moment stayed with me, one in which he confessed that he couldn’t ask certain people questions if it meant a possible emotional response. More important though is his realization that not even friends nor family really know his inner core and if they did, they’d be confused. At times he wishes to pack a bag and run.
    As you can imagine there are many questions left unanswered, but he soon closed up as if he wanted me to forget about it.

    It is incredibly hard to get a glimpse of a person’s struggle, yet you know that the fear/unwillingness to be vulnerable might put your relationship into peril. I have found some answers in MBti,for example how different Personalities deal differently with conflict.
    I read many articles in search of a solution, but I fear this could be bigger than us.

    It is the first time in 5 years that I have become “numb” as I see my trust being shaken by longer phases of avoidance. I believe that many pursuers have an urge to matter in the other person’s life, have a positive impact.
    I stopped pursuing, my energy is at an all time low. What has helped a little is to read the comments from the avoidant’s perspective. Please understand that assuming your partner knows how you function is wrong.

    You can’t blame someone for needing glasses. Communication,may it be a talk or in a letter, is essential. And yes it doesn’t come natural to some I know.

  17. Avatar
    Theresa

    Dear avoidants, I fear that sharing such an article will automatically make my partner feel attacked and blamed. Even if I were to tell him that I play an equal role, he doesn’t like theories… Do you have an idea? Thank you

    1. Avatar
      Ann T

      Julia I am in the same boat as you. He is avoidant (I am now realizing) We had a disagreement several weeks ago. He accused me of saying things. I asked him how we should deal with these problems. He gave me no answers. Just tried to change the subject. I became upset and just left. I tried several days later to contact him he has not returned my calls. I feel he will contact me eventually. I feel the same thing I dont hate him,I do feel sorry for him as he is an exceptional man.So what are we to do?

  18. Avatar
    Julia

    I’ve had a light bulb moment reading this article and comments. My partner is avoident and I’ve just realised today. I left him a few days ago after 8 turbulent months. My over whelming feeling and it’s very strong! Is that he does love me but just can’t say it. I know he will miss me and I know he will come back. I also know the cycle will start again and he will pull away when things heat up. The thing is I feel sorry for him. I don’t hate him or feel anger. I feel sad that such a good person…and he is a good person is missing out on true and real love.

  19. Avatar
    Pearl

    I have a fearful-avoidant style, my therapist says it’s more on the avoidant side, and I have to agree. I have no close relationships and frequently bail at the first sign of hurt or it not being a good match. But, I also experience intense anxiety in relationships if I feel I am more attached than the other, or they are more attached than me.

    I’m dealing with a close friend at work who appears to be a full avoidant and it’s hell. Any minor conflict that comes up turns into a major one because he will not communicate or acknowledge my feelings (which I have communicated); he will simply go on as if nothing is happening at all, or at times, back off for a bit looking upset. But then he’s happy as always, and he never says anything. He continues on as if everything is fine.

    We went from being great friends to not even speaking at work, because the emotional toll was too much. I would swing from feeling infuriated he wouldn’t communicate, to devastated after I gave in and remembered how it was like when I wasn’t right in front of him, he forgot I existed; or he rebuffed my efforts to connect. He was one of very few people in this life that I loved, and now . . . my goal is to establish a professional relationship eventually, but the door for being friends (or more) has closed.

    While I understand the article should not be like, “Relationships with avoidants are doomed,” why give so much hope that if we keep trying, we can “fix” this person? It’s not our job to fix it. Our job is to take care of ourselves. There’s no need to stay in relationships that take mountains of effort to stay functional, whether it you or them or both of you that’s the problem. It doesn’t matter if you love them or they’re a great person–let them go. And I say this as perhaps being the person someone needs to let go. I don’t want anyone to hurt themselves to try to fix me. It wouldn’t be fair. That’s for me and my therapist to do, and no one else.

  20. Avatar
    Mara

    I am an anxious avoidant person. I am dating someone who uses brainwashing techniques to control his feelings of sadness and pain. We are dating but I feel like I don’t like him anymore. It makes no sense. He is a wonderful person who cares about me. When we were a part I missed him so much. When we first met there was chemistry between us. Can avoidant behaviour cause you to rethink your feelings for someone and if so how do u challenge those thoughts?

  21. Avatar
    Uriel

    Hi. I was formally diagnosed with avoidant attachment behavior by a therapist. I struggled with two relationships before the one I’m in right now until I started CBT. The hardest part of being detached is that you don’t want it. You know what is going on in your surroundings and the consecuences of your actions; you want to convince yourself to be rational but the pain makes you feel numb. During my therapy I learned two things: the importance of metacognition (self awareness) and the critical value of communication. As soon as I started a new relationship, I warned my partner I was avoidant, the consecuences of it and how it felt to me. When situations or thoughts of delusion come to my head I communicate them as soon as I can, saying it’s nothing she has done, and that I need to express the feeling (not the cause!) before it scalates. An example of this is “sweetie, I feel anxious right now, and I would like you to know that if I’m a bit off, it’s not because of you”. My self-awareness gets fed by recognizing that there’s nothing to feel guilty about, that the person expressing fear is not a reflection of who I am, and finally from talking to myself when I was a kid. In my particular case, my fear of judgement and paranoia came from rejection from paternal figure, and being cheated on a relationships before.

    The final advice is to get in touch with someone who has avoidant attachment as well. Establishing an open communication and being willing to help a friend in the same situation really improves yourself.This commitment of helping others is what helps people with alcoholism to get over their addiction. Any person with avoidant attachment personality issues is in an emotionally analogous situation.

    Finally, we’re neither victims or executioners, just people. You can contact me if you happen to be in need. I can share some of my notes with you.

    1. Avatar
      Struggling Spouse

      Hi Uriel,

      I would love to talk to you more about this. I believe my husband is avoidant and I’m trying to find advice, suggestions and clarity. My marriage is falling apart and I want to be able to support him the best I can. Thank you

      1. Avatar
        Hola

        My boyfriend of a year is also avoidant. I care very much about him, and I’d like to know how do I communicate with him about having this type of attachment? I myself tend to be avoidant so I understand him. He’s also ADHD.

    2. Avatar
      Theresa

      Hi,
      My soon to be ex is avoidant. I can’t take it anymore. I tried to tell him he was avoidant last summer when I broke up with him the first time but he denied it. I’d like to tell him again so that he can at least learn more about it and get help do that he doesn’t have to spend the rest of his life alone. Even I’ve tried to make it work twice now, I want him to be happy so I want to try to help him. My problem is how do I explain it so he’ll listen and not get defensively angry like he does about virtually anything I say that puts him in a bad light, including me telling him that I don’t feel like I’m important to him? Since you’re avoidant, please give me advice on how I can help him help himself.

  22. Avatar
    Ashley

    Uriel, I would love to speak with you too. I having been with my avoidant type boyfriend for about 3 months. He’s a great person and is the best guy I’ve dated so far. I want to stay with him and have a decent relationship. I do care about him. I am an anxious type, but ironically getting close to people- relationship wise makes me want to push people away sometimes. I feel like if they got too close and got to know the “real me” that they will eventually book it the other way. And honestly I just don’t want to get hurt. Maybe I’m a mix of both, maybe not. I don’t know. I want to be a good girlfriend and show him that he is worthy love and kindness, and that even though he has been hurt before, that there are people (including myself) that would never intentionally hurt him. Anyways, if you would like to chat let me know! Thank you!!

  23. Avatar
    craig

    I dated a dismissive avoidant for over a year. I just adored her and was really respectful of her time and space.
    Her fear of commitment ended the relationship. When she could see I was very emotionally invested and possibly seeking marriage, she ran. She pulled out really lame character flaws in me as a way to justify her decision but it was nonsense. They freak if they fear losing their independence. Emotionally selfish people, giving in so many ways except the giving of their heart.
    Just so sad.
    She has repartnered and I’m still picking up the pieces.
    I’ll be ok. But she needs help.

  24. Avatar
    duddley

    I have just come across this thread and it is life changing to read these stories.

    I have been with my boyfriend for two years and I believe he has dismissive avoidant attachment. Looking back, the signs were all there from the start. He was (and still can be) the most charming, attractive person in the room. I remember being so drawn in by him on our first date that I haven’t been able to stop feeling that feeling for years. Throughout the whole of the start of our relationship he would give and take with his affections; one minute he would be super nice, happy and exciting, the next he would be sending me messages saying that he wasn’t sure we were a good match and cancelling arrangements that I was excited about, telling me it was too soon. As someone who is an anxious and sensitive type, I was upset early on by these comments and I kept asking him if things were OK all the time, giving the perfect opportunity for him to dissect my character.

    He is a wonderful person in many ways, but his behaviour is very destructive. We now live together (instigated by him). Every 6 weeks (on average) he finds a problem with the relationship and we have a horrible, emotional conflict where I am left heartbroken. He starts becoming withdrawn over about a week until I snap and ask what the hell is going on. At this point he will make a whole scenario up about how he isn’t sure about the relationship and only part of him wants to be with me, while part wants to be alone. He says he doesn’t feel the things normal people do and when he looks at other couples he can’t relate to the unconditional love they feel. He’s worried that he’s leading me on and that I could be with someone who gives me a normal relationship. These arguments can get vebally hurtful at times, he has called me various names and said things about my character (that I’m weak, I can’t cope when life is good so how could I have children etc). The next day he is always remorseful and he keeps saying he will see a therapist but then seems to forget that he has said it. He had a very difficult childhood, where his parents split and got back together 14 times (he was the youngest sibling). He scorns any sort of affection or coupley behaviour and is actually reluctant to do anything with me apart from sit on the sofa. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy that, but there is a whole world out there and life is short!

    I’m really hoping he seeks some help after our last fight last night as I am starting to become an insecure and sad person where I was a bubbly and happy individual before.

    1. Avatar
      Victoria McGlynn

      I’m sorry, your relationship sounds abusive. I hope you find the strength to walk away, releasing this ‘lesson’ will be the hardest and best thing you could do for yourself, but you’ll only see in hindsight.

  25. Avatar
    sunlitalmond

    I was going through a very high stressful situation with my avoidant partner. Somehow, through the grace of god, i ran into this post. It changed everything about our relationship. i printed it out and i read upon it frequently; like a bible scripture. Thank you for such a deep heart and sharing such a profound experience of loving these so loving cant let you know they love you individuals. God loves us all and all our flaws. A persons actions speak volumes to their words. My advice.. Pay attention to their actions not their words. Unfortunately… don’t wait for intamacy!! Just enjoy what you get!

  26. Avatar
    sunlitalmond

    somehow i screwed the above thought up. but those of us enduring the challenge gets it.. ty

  27. Avatar
    Tony

    Even though I have been around the block few times, I just came across attachment style characteristics – but for me it came too late. My now ex-girlfriend is a dismissive avoidant which manifested after three months of a truly beautiful relationship. Since I fluctuate between anxious and secure attachment style I gave her all the love I could give and she did the same for me. It was an incredible feeling – knowing I found someone so wonderful. It was a long distance relationship but we kept seeing each other almost every other week for that full week.
    Sadly the romance did not last – within couple of days of being away on vacation she became distant. Initially I thought that was something I did or said (or her period), but after few more days her style did not change. Not knowing about dismissive avoidant personality I initiated talk with her when I tried to find out what has changed and why is she behaving so coldly. She brushed it off and since that talk she became double distant. I pulled back but deep inside felt lost, confused and sad – I had no idea what was happening nor how I can fix it.
    Upon return from our vacation I told her that I did not appreciate the way she treated me and told her to get in touch if she still wants to be with me and changes her attitude. Next day she broke it off by an e-mail saying our relationship was too emotional for her and she needs to concentrate on her career.
    Knowing what I know now I would not take it personally and just let her calm down and come to me. I think I am ok being with her even with her particular attachment style. So my question to other dismissive avoidants reading this – will she ever come back if she knows I still love her? We never fought and had a wonderful time until our vacation. I know now how to handle her dark days (or I think I do) and want to be with her because I still deeply love her. Call me a hopeless romantic. But I cannot go begging her to come back – she has to come to me since she broke it off. I feel that she is lost and confused about her feelings, but as many have said, uses her lack of emotions as a coat of armor to protect her from getting hurt. Did not discuss with her her attachment style that she may not be aware of. She still craves love but I feel I hurt her when I told her I wanted to leave. Any thoughts?

    1. Avatar
      Mark

      Tony,
      I can sense your continued attachment to her but to be blunt…. you need to move on. Life is so short and there are plenty of great people out there who would appreciate the closeness that you feel comfortable expressing and enjoying while you connect with another person. If a person tells you that the relationship is too emotional for her and she needs to concentrate on her career than let her. You deserve better. Know your worth and move on. It’s painful, yes, but in the end, you will look back and realize that you deserve better.

  28. Avatar
    Eva

    Hello, I’m a person with an avoidant attachment style. I thought I just had commitment issues but when someone confessed their love to me I realized it was much more. The moment I tried to get closer I got overwhelmed and my whole world turned upside down. I felt like I was going crazy, to be honest. After days of being unsure I had a moment of clarity(which apparently I found out through comments is, as I feared, an avoidant thing?) and finally told him it’s best we stay friends.
    I thought about cutting him off completely to make it easier for him to move on. It’s confusing. On one hand, I don’t want to let go, on the other hand, it’s for his own good but again, on the other hand, what if I hurt him more by just cutting him off? He told me he wouldn’t leave and be my friend unless I told him to leave and that he’d rather stay friends at least.
    Am I hurting him? Am I being selfish? All these questions keep running around in my head and I feel responsible.

    When it’s myself I just ignore my feelings and move on, do the most logical thing in any situation. But when it’s another person and I’m responsible for their hurt.. I should do what is best for them because they are too emotional to see the logic. That’s how I see it. But what if my own view is twisted? I can’t trust myself to make the right decision on this so I will see how this plays. I have a feeling it’ll be alright. I really do hope I’m right.

    ^that is when I’m at a comfortable distance by the way.

    When I’m too close my mind goes more like “Run. Away. Now.” I need to get away from that person immediately. Stopping myself from doing so requires a lot of effort that they don’t see. In my case, I kinda ‘stop feeling’ and can only think of running away. I can’t give them the emotional response they need or any emotional response for that matter. While trying to protect them from my emotionless self I push them away. Or maybe I just am trying to gain my sanity back who knows. But therefore,

    As an avoidant, I think that I need to fix my issue myself first. I can’t put the weight of my crazy mind on someone normal. I would rather stay alone forever than have someone waste their time with me.
    I thought that I could change on my own if I just put in the effort and not run away. But I noticed that’s futile in an actual relationship (friendships are easier to handle). It’s like, how can I not run when I go into complete survival mode when I can’t think clearly except for the word “run”. I can’t sleep, I can’t think, I lose my appetite until I run. Aside from that, I really do think it’s fixable. It must be. I don’t believe anyone who says it’s a hopeless cause. And at last, I wanted to add,

    I have read both the positive and negative comments, I kinda understand both views. I do have to say, “Finally Unconfused” made me tear up because she/he seemed reliable and so very caring, I hope your relationship flourishes. As for the negative ones, I already stated that I think people should leave me for someone better, I can’t give them what they need. If I get better only then I can confidently say I can handle the responsibility.

    I think if someone actually wanted to try a relationship with an avoidant personality it’s a two-way road. You can’t fix someone who doesn’t want to be fixed so let them go. If they don’t know they have this issue, show them (because god knows they can’t figure it out themselves). I only realized it for sure when my friend told me I have problems with letting people get too close.
    But don’t confuse them realizing the issue as them going to be with you 100%. If the person actually is going to try and seek help through a therapist I’d say you can give it a shot. But ultimately if it was me, I’d want the person to move on. For their own good because I can’t give them what they need like they so generously give to me. They can love normally, they’ll find someone better. Don’t waste your time on someone who isn’t worthy enough.

    PS: If you have an attachment style issue you should seek help too! Just because you have an anxious attachment style doesn’t give you an excuse to behave in extremes. Just like how avoidants shouldn’t just run and leave their behavior patterns abnormal. To receive the love you need to first take care of yourself and then find the right person.

  29. Avatar
    Rusty

    I am still trying to figure out where my boyfriend fits in the attachment scale. I want to say he is dismissive-avoidant attachment but he does not fit in the category 100%. He is not very expressive in the emotion department, however he places such boundaries (or maybe I imagine them). He has a son which he seems to be attached to, I feel like the third wheel when his son is around (conversations seem to be unilateral and every sentence begins with his sons name, so i know who he is talking to!) yes this is annoying and makes me not want to be around. I am on a small break up and trying to think if this 4 year relationship is worth saving. He does keep asking me to move in and each time I have said no (His ex spouses stuff is still in his house, but he is also not the type of person to be cleaning house). He remains busy all the time helping family members but yet is very dependent on his family especially his brothers by always making plans to go camping with them and his son, therefore i do not see him detaching himself from his family. Everything comes before our relationship and i always feel like the relationship is always last, it revolves around his life and his sons life. Anytime I try to discuss my emotions he shuts me down and says I am being dramatic and does not acknowledge my feelings. In addition, anytime he is with his brothers or son, i won’t hear a word from him via text, however, when i am with him he texts everyone. Valentines dinner consisted of him texting his son and Valentines weekend his son came home from college and spent the weekend. Unfortunately I went home and made other plans, which he became angry at me for and text me stating….so much for a valentines weekend! I don’t get it. He is very spontaneous and on the weekends does whatever is the priority. He is a great guy and very helpful to me when it fits his schedule. I do love him, the first year we dated we did everything.

  30. Avatar
    David

    Two months ago, my girlfriend kicked me to the curb after 7 months of bliss and good times. I was in love. And there were ZERO indicators anything was amiss. Even the last weekend was fantastic. To say that I was hurt is a gross understatement. My friends had never seen me with someone so deeply. The collective words from them were ‘stunned’ and ‘shocked’. One said she expected a wedding in the near future.

    Today, a friend mentioned Avoidant Attachment. I never heard of it. Reading this makes so much sense. Note I am 53 and she is 45. I was married for 24 years and she has never been married (yes a yellow flag). She is a civil servant professional and I have a pretty big job in a well known company; admittedly seen as a refined alpha male.

    Her background is troubled – father abandoned the family when she was 8, wrong crowd in HS included sexual assault, and the last 13 years she was in two abnormal relationships. The last 7 years in long distance / weekends relationship until he cheated on her and dumped her. The previous 6 with an older wealthier man who was very social in their Midwest city, had a posse, and cheated on her with others; she was arm candy.

    So here she has a boyfriend nearby who treated her VERY well, yet respected her time/space/independence; as I needed that too. But on reflection, we started doing the normal ‘couple’ things. She would say loving words to me and regularly smile at me and bat her eyes. I was completely smitten.

    I have done the hard work to heal and to try to understand what the Hell just happened to me. But her obsession with her running and fitness and her lack of sharing her inner feelings were red flags I missed. This article and others I have now read connected a lot of dots.

    Thank you for all of your comments . . . it has really helped me comprehend the WHY of the breakup. I have very strong self-esteem and confidence, so I will heal fully. But WOW, I know this was the worst heartbreak of my life.

  31. Avatar
    Cat

    Eva,

    Reading what you wrote hurts me. I am an avoidant too, I am now fairly certain, with a strong reaction to run if things get too intense too fast. My first (and only) relation was with an anxious-preoccupied, and needless to say, the relationship was fatal. He did everything I wanted and made himself miserable doing it, and I became unhappy from making him unhappy. So I’d suggest the both of us taking some time to figure things out, and ask him to talk to me, but he never did, he never talked to me and everytime there was something wrong it then came as a shock to me- to make matters worse, it was a long-distance relationship, and we were both pretty busy.

    I always tried to talk, and I noticed these patterns fairly quickly, so I’d tell him that I needed some distance but that it wasn’t his fault, but he panicked every time, pulled back completely but only so that I’d reach out again, tell me I send mixed signals, that he wanted to give me what I wanted but didn’t know what that was. He was always anxious, about everything but mostly us, if I failed to respond because I was on the phone, he’d be shaken and unsure the rest of the date, and we had almost no time together. He also seemed fixed on everything I said or did, I had to take the lead and initiative for everything, he seemed deliriously happy to see me, always, but in a very intense manner.

    At the time, I thought he was too needy, too clingy, and not grown-up enough. But now, reading this, I realise that I, too, was at fault. That I pushed him away due to my insecurities, that I felt fundamentally alone and unlovable and was afraid he’d see it. In the beginning of our relationship, I think I leaned very heavily towards the anxious-avoidant type, the cycle of push and pull. At the end of the relationship, I was still trying but so exhausted, that I think I became more of a dismissive-avoidant. His emotional needs became too much to bear for me, because I felt that my needs weren’t met at all, and that I, once again, had fallen into a pattern of having to care for someone else without being cared for.

    Anyways, my point is, you write about how you’d let someone go because they don’t deserve an avoidant, but I wonder, are we really that terrible and awful? I really tried to meet my partner on a middle ground, and I am really willing to try and learn and change this pattern, through therapy and behaviour, because this pattern stems from a hurt part inside me that believes I am unlovable, so if I know believe I am unlovable because I am avoidant, then it seems like a cycle that will never end, doesn’t it? And I want love, and I want a connection with someone else, and I want a steady, wonderful, secure partnership and closeness and intimacy, and I am so afraid I will never get it.

  32. Avatar
    Amy

    I’m an avoidant. Although it’s hard to deal with for others I believe it’s gotten me to where I am today. Having no guidance and support as a child (not to mention all the other horrible things) didn’t stop me from pursuit of having a successful life. I tend to beat myself up about not ever feeling fulfilled when outsiders looking in see a perfect person with a perfect life and a perfect marriage. It’s lonely. Nobody understands and obviously I don’t talk about it. My husband tells me I’m emotionally flat and that he doesn’t feel like I love him like he loves me. He’s right. I am not capable of that kind of love. I struggle with feeling undeserving every single day of my life. Some of these comments are hurtful and hateful. I try my very best to be the best version of myself that I can be by doing yoga and practicing self care. I literally do everything for everyone! I’m popular in the community as I am a newborn photographer and work with hundreds of families a year. People love in different ways so it’s possible that you don’t deserve the avoidant that isn’t loving you the way YOU want to be loved. We want love too.

  33. Avatar
    Crystal

    I suspect my ex is a DA. I’m secure but AP from this relationship and acted out of character at times. He is recently divorced for about a year. My divorce is almost finalized. So, this complicated things. His parents also divorced, dad taught that boys don’t cry and to man up. He told me this is why he has a hard time with emotions. Poor communication skills, issues with affection, workaholic, shuts down when confronted, intelligent, witty, sarcastic, history of cutting people out of his life. I wish I understood all of this before giving up. Tried to work things out only to be told that I deserve better then what he can offer me. There were so many good attributes so I do love and miss him. Looking back, I now know he did try for me. Now there is little to next to no communication. Maybe space and time will change that. I do love him and would approach things differently if I was given another opportunity.

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