Avoidants use different techniques to keep partners at arm’s length. They have deactivating strategies at hand to suppress intimacy. Here is the list of the most usual deactivating strategies:
- They describe themselves as a ‘free spirit.’ They get involved but very soon get bored and move on to another partner.
- They suppress emotions.
- They mistake self-reliance for independence.
- They see the need as a weakness and look down on people who become dependent on their partners.
- They feel as though their partners are clingy when they simply want to get emotionally closer.
- You will hear them saying, “I’m not ready to commit” — but staying in relationships for years dreaming about ‘the phantom ex’ or for ‘the one.’
- They fear rejection.
- They flirt with others even if they are in a committed relationship.
- They pull away when things are going well (they don’t call and respond to messages for several days).
- They form relationships with an impossible future, such as married or people who don’t live in the same country.
- They lie, keep secrets, and leave things foggy — that way, they maintain the feeling of independence.
- They withdraw from unpleasant conversations or sights.
- They are overly focused on their own needs and comforts.
- They are very picky. They focus on minor imperfections in partners and allow it to get in the way of their romantic feelings.
- They avoid physical closeness — not wanting to have sex or to sleep in the same bed.
Even if avoidants seem to be confident, easy-going, fun to be around, deep down, they are truly unhappy.
Causes of avoidant attachment style
Most avoidants grew up in families where parents or caregivers were cold, incapable of offering intimacy. It may be due to their lack of knowledge on how to support the child or feeling overwhelmed by parenting responsibilities. Usually, the parent or caregiver of a child with an avoidant attachment lacks empathy or has an avoidant attachment themselves.
When the child expresses a need for closeness, the parent or caregiver shut the door. These children have faced repeated discouragement from crying or expressing emotions. They start feeling inadequate and being rejected. They learn to suppress emotions, self-soothe, and feel as though they can only rely on themselves. In adulthood, they begin to believe they don’t need emotional intimacy in their life.
It’s a sad story. But don’t forget to put yourself first. If you recognize these patterns in your partner, please learn how to protect yourself.
Dating an avoidant
If you date an avoidant, you will always feel drained, diminished, misunderstood, overwhelmed, and that your feelings aren’t reciprocated.
Avoidants will play hot and cold, you will feel irritated and anxious most of the time. When you try to talk to them about your bad day, they will cut you off and do their business. All of these will leave you feeling lonely and sad.
Avoidants will let you be around them but won’t let you in.
When they think that relationship becomes meaningful and intimate, they will start drifting off and running away.
And what is very interesting and typical to avoidants, they won’t call you back or respond to messages not because they didn’t have a great time – but because of it. When things are going well, they simply pull away. It will leave you confused and repeatedly asking yourself what did you do wrong.
Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Don’t blame yourself. They would act the same way with anyone. It’s their learned behavior, their true core.
How to cope with dating an avoidant
I suppose you already figured out that dating an avoidant is very challenging. The essential part of every relationship is communication and understanding, and that’s precisely what lacks with avoidants.
Most of the advice you will come across related to this topic will tell you to be gentle with these people and try to understand them.
But I will tell you this: Put yourself first.
Please, don’t fall into their trap. Speak up for yourself, tell them if they hurt you, it’s your right. Don’t let them make you feel needy. You are not needy, you just have a normal need for intimacy.
And don’t have high expectations. With these guys, you will feel lonely very often. They are simply incapable of sharing emotions and truly listening to others. You will have to cope with your problems alone.
If you are just starting a relationship with someone who has an avoidant attachment, read the signs carefully and try not to get involved too much immediately. Go step by step and see if you can handle it. Honestly, don’t get involved with avoidants at all if you can. I did it several times, and it was toxic and destructive for my mental health.
Avoidants can change, but it’s a hard job. First, they must notify their patterns (shutting down, switching off) and then change them. They have to learn how to talk about their feelings and to feel comfortable relying on someone else.