About 30% of people exhibit an avoidant attachment style in relationships. Being with a partner with an avoidant attachment style can be frustrating. Their inability to fulfill your needs for emotional and physical intimacy, failure to communicate their feelings, and their need for independence leave you emotionally drained. However, you can strengthen your relationship and make your partner feel secure by being compassionate and setting your expectations. Here are some strategies to help you create emotional intimacy that teaches you how to cope with the avoidant attachment style.
How To Cope With Avoidant Attachment Style?
Relationship experts have shared several ways that help you improve your relationship with your avoidant partner:
Provide Them With A Safe Space
Try to find common ground with your partner by better comprehending their viewpoint, because your avoidant partner may hold different ideals and ways of thinking from you. It will help you get closer to them. You will also notice that your ability to communicate will improve when they feel comfortable being themselves.
Your partner can improve, but you will have to be patient. Your partner has learned to be distant as a coping mechanism over the years. It will take them some time to open up, heal and express themselves in ways that felt unsafe before. It is insensitive to try to rush them into getting better. In such a situation, having a partner who understands their struggle and supports them in it provides the necessary encouragement.
Don’t Be Controlling
People with avoidant styles have an increased tendency to repel being controlled. They are independent because they have learned not to rely on others for emotional reassurance. Try to resist the urge to influence their actions to satisfy your desires because it can backfire.
Don’t Intrude on their Personal Space
Your partner needs to have a safe and independent space that makes them feel like they can handle being in a relationship. They have spent their whole lives alone so they tend to become engrossed in their tasks, endeavors, or interests. They can appear startled or irritated to you when you approach them when they are busy in one of their endeavors. Your partner will appreciate you allowing them some alone time and the opportunity to retreat into their world.
Try to Comprehend their Perspective on the Needs
Your avoidant partner probably had to develop their ability to appear less dependent to earn and maintain support from their caregivers. When you let your partner know of your feelings, they might become perplexed as a result. They do not know how to express their feelings. Mutual dependency is also an alien concept to them.
Recognize and Validate their Feelings
Avoidant partners often feel guilty for not providing you with the care and support you require. You must reassure them that you understand how they feel. It can make them feel more at ease with you and more secure in your relationship. It also helps them get rid of some of their avoidant traits.
Hold Back on Criticism
Your partner might view criticism as an attack on them as an individual. People with avoidant attachment styles are often held accountable for their feelings and chastised for them. Be supportive of their decisions instead of criticizing them and making them behave as you want. It also helps you show your respect for their needs and wishes.
Encourage their Vulnerability
Appreciate your partner’s ability to open up and make themselves emotionally available to you. Providing positive reinforcement this way also helps them develop trust in your relationship. It is also a healthy way to appreciate their positive traits.
Communicate your feelings without being judgmental. It is also always a good idea to not pinpoint their behavior in the middle of an argument. You might set off their flight response. It is much simpler to talk about problems when you are both composed rather than emotional.
If you want your partner to change their behavior, telling them to start doing something rather than asking them to stop will result in a more pleasant encounter. This will enable them to interact with you without triggering their early rejection or intimacy warning system.
Work on Developing your Intimacy
It is another effective way to make your partner feel more secure in your relationship. Make an effort to increase intimacy in your relationship by engaging in intimacy-enhancing activities. According to a study, holding hands, doing yoga as a couple, and asking each other questions all foster intimacy.
Clarify your Preferences for Physical Contact
Physical affection may not be what you expect from an avoidant partner. They may not be a big fan of holding hands, cuddling, or hugging. Tell them that you’re willing to reach a middle ground so that you can occasionally connect through touch and they may also feel at ease and not feel overwhelmed.
Discuss your Sexual Needs with Them
It can be helpful to discuss your sex preferences with your partner. It is common for them to have a normal sex drive at the beginning of their relationship, but avoidant partners tend to lose interest in the long run and prefer to spend time by themselves.
Don’t Take Them Personally
There might be times in your relationship when your avoidant partner would be emotionally, physically, and sexually unavailable to you. Try to understand that it is a result of their childhood attachment. It is not your fault. Blaming them would result in your avoidant partner feeling shame and eventually distancing themselves from you.
Live Your Own Life
Don’t coerce your partner into doing anything they are not interested in pursuing with you. Instead, spend time pursuing your interests and hobbies without them. You must invest in personal development so that you don’t depend on your partner’s company to have a fulfilling time. Invest time in strengthening your connection with your friends and family.
Every relationship, even those involving an avoidant spouse, calls for each partner to fulfill their obligations to the other. It is not acceptable to put up with mistreatment or disrespect if you choose to love and remain with an avoidant partner. Setting clear limits can stop this from occurring. Be upfront about your needs, wants, and expectations for the relationship, as well as what you will and won’t accept.
Consider Couples Therapy
You don’t have to deal with your partner’s avoidant attachment style alone. Ask your partner to go to couples counseling with you. Counseling can greatly help you and your partner understand each other’s perspectives. You can discuss problems with your partner, vent your emotions, and settle disputes with the aid of your therapist. Couples counseling can help increase intimacy, affection, and understanding between you and your partner.
What Triggers Avoidant Attachment?
These are some of the triggers for the two avoidant attachment styles, dismissive-avoidant and fearful or anxious-avoidant.
For dismissive-avoidant style:
A dismissive-avoidant may see unhelpful comments as extremely direct, personal insults. Criticism can make them feel inadequate and trigger feelings of shame, which makes them want to hide or distance themselves from you. Direct criticism will only harm your relationship. A great way to prevent this is by making criticisms that are motivated by the goal of fostering personal and collective development.
Placing expectations on your dismissive-avoidant partner can make them feel helpless. Your dismissive-avoidant partner may quickly recoil if you give them the impression that their actions are driven by their flaws. Your partner might be willing to put effort but may feel inadequate if they are unsure of how you will react to them. Their efforts often go underappreciated so they don’t bother trying to meet expectations. Your dismissive-avoidant partner would appreciate finding out how things work, not just what is supposed to be done or achieved.
Your dismissive-avoidant partner experiences safety through consistency and predictability, due to which emotional instability can be a trigger for them. It is because they observed a lack of safety in their interactions with caregivers in childhood. When you inconsistently approach your spouse, they will get defensive, making it difficult for them to emotionally connect with you and eventually give up on the relationship. Your partner will become more responsive when there is a threat of breakup. But this response will gradually diminish due to emotional instability.
Being Forced To Be Vulnerable
Your partner’s vulnerability is one of their main triggers as a result of childhood trauma. They worry about falling victim to someone else’s control and trappings. Instead of forcing them to be vulnerable, you must create a secure environment where you can ask each other questions. Avoidant attachments appreciate being validated when they open up or they will feel like they exposed themselves. Your partner wishes to communicate their true feelings but their inability to feel secure acts as an insurmountable hurdle. The key to enabling your partner to open up is to provide them with a safe environment without judgment.
Feeling Unrecognized and Unappreciated
Avoidant-dismissive people don’t require much attention or validation. However, your partner does greatly value being acknowledged for their efforts. Your partner understands the effort it requires to fulfill a need when they go above and beyond to do so. For instance, opening up is not as easy for them as expressing emotions. Your partner is grateful that you listen to them and understand them.
Feeling a Sense of Being Controlled
Your fearful-avoidant partner had to contend with a loss of control because security was unavailable to them in the past. Lack of control throughout childhood causes fearful-avoidant adults to seek security as adults. When they feel out of control, they anticipate future instability and react by wanting to leave the situation. It is their way of resisting control from a spouse. Your partner may even go so far as to dictate how the connection develops.
When their Boundaries are Crossed
The triggers for avoidant behaviors result when you cross the boundaries set by your fearful-avoidant partner. Your partner frequently goes out of their way to please people around them. When someone imitates their behavior, it can backfire and become uncomfortable. For instance, your partner may act as if your behavior does not bother them, but then they resent you when you continue to do it repeatedly. There is a desire to please as well as a need to show concern. This coin flip could set off a dangerous cycle.
Having Their Trust Broken
Trust once lost is difficult to rebuild with a fearful-avoidant partner. A lack of understanding and transparency, inconsistent words, and behavior can result in a reversible loss of trust. If you fail to provide your partner with the full truth, they will make up their own story by filling in the blanks with assumptions. Your avoidant partner struggles with having a skeptical attitude because they have been dealing with a betrayal since childhood.
Your partner carries the trauma of being invisible and unheard because they have faced neglect since childhood. It can make them feel unworthy and invisible to the rest of the world. A sense of guilt stems from this trauma. A minor or major action may result in this emotional outcome. This attachment style necessitates the ability to express any wishes or emotions, no matter how small or powerful.
Pressure of Expectations
Your partner has big goals for themselves in their personal lives. It becomes overwhelming when they feel the expectations of others also add up to it. A fearful-avoidant individual can feel immense pressure trying to meet their expectations and other people’s, which can lead them to feel like a failure. As a result, they will feel helpless and out of control. Pressure can exacerbate your fearful-avoidant partner’s already low opinion of themselves. When the pressure increases, so do the desire to flee. Your partner may lose interest and revert to self-preservation mode.
Once you have chosen to be with an avoidant attachment partner, you must also accept that all of their behaviors stem from their need to be safe. It is nothing personal. Coping with them might be difficult, but change is possible. Help is available through counseling that can encourage them to get rid of some of their avoidant behaviors. Positive reinforcement of their efforts to change, communicating needs and differences, and accepting your partner for who they are, allow you to develop a healthy relationship with them.
Can you heal avoidant attachment?
Avoidant attachment styles are commonly associated with a lack of emotional closeness to your primary caregiver as a child. You can build more secure relationships by employing a few simple strategies.
- Open up to a loved one to practice being more vulnerable.
- To avoid resentment, communicate your needs openly.
- Respectfully express your desire for personal space.
- Test avoidant thoughts by asking yourself a series of questions to determine how rational they are.
- Keeping a daily journal of your emotions allows you to identify patterns in your relationships and emotions.
- By consciously putting yourself in their shoes, you can gain a better understanding of how other people’s needs aren’t scary or be avoided, but rather normal and natural.
- By making a conscious effort to express affection in various ways, you can ease yourself into a deeper and more secure relationship without thinking of it as a task to complete.
- Simply being around people who are securely attached can help you overcome your avoidant tendencies.
- People with avoidant attachment styles can become more comfortable with vulnerability by exchanging responses with their partners on a series of intimacy-building questions.
- Intimacy-building physical exercises can help you feel more secure in your relationships.
- Therapy can provide you with the space you need to work through some of the early childhood experiences that may have contributed to your adult attachment style.
What triggers avoidant attachment?
These are some of the triggers:
- Criticism may be perceived as extremely direct, personal insults by avoidant-attachment individuals. It can make them feel inadequate and shameful, leading them to want to hide or distance themselves from others.
- Placing too many expectations on an avoidant individual can make them feel helpless. Their efforts are frequently unappreciated, so they avoid attempting to meet expectations.
- Emotional instability can be a trigger for them because avoidant-attachment people feel safe through consistency and predictability.
- Being forced to be vulnerable.
- When their efforts go unacknowledged and unappreciated.
- Avoidant-attachment people tend to have a fear of being controlled.
- When their boundaries are surpassed.
- When their trust is broken.
- When their needs are neglected.
Can an avoidant have a successful relationship?
An avoidant can be a part of a healthy and satisfactory relationship if they acknowledge they are avoidant and work on improving themselves. They can get better by being more vulnerable, practicing intimacy-building practices, and communicating their needs and boundaries. You can also help by providing them with positive reinforcement when you see them putting effort to change.
Is it worth dating an avoidant?
Several traits of an avoidant individual make them just as worthy of dating as any other type of people:
- Instead of rushing into things, they take their time to determine compatibility between the two of you by getting to know you better.
- Since avoidants take longer than others to let people in their lives, they form much more long-lasting relationships.
- Avoidants discourage co-dependency allowing you both to lead a separate, independent life of your own.
- Avoidants value honesty and transparency above anything else.
- Due to the neglect and loss faced as a child, avoidants tend to be more empathetic of their feelings compared to others.
- Avoidants appreciate receiving constructive criticism, and genuinely work on becoming a better version of themselves.
- Despite lacking in their expression of intimacy, avoidants do prioritize emotional intimacy. They are interested in knowing everything about you.
- Once you have earned the trust of an avoidant, they will guarantee you their full loyalty.
- Over time, avoidants let their guard down and make sure they never let you go.
How does an avoidant show love?
Various signs point to an avoidant expressing their love for you:
- They choose nonverbal ways to express their affection for you.
- They want you to meet their family and friends.
- They try to be more emotionally and physically intimate with you.
- They inquire about marriage and your plans.
What do avoidant adults generally want?
Avoidant adults want to preserve their independence in a relationship at any cost. They don’t want to be controlled by their partner. They don’t want to get emotionally wounded as they did in childhood – they are willing to go to any lengths to ensure that.
Do Avoidants have lots of friends?
Since avoidants struggle with opening up and connecting with people emotionally, they avoid having close friends. As a result, they make many friends they don’t know on a deeper level. They enjoy their self-sufficiency and not having people who ask for more intimate and meaningful connections.
Are Avoidants narcissists?
Not every person who has an insecure attachment style is a narcissist, but an attachment style can affect how narcissism manifests into adulthood. There are two types of narcissists: grandiose narcissists and vulnerable narcissists. Grandiose narcissists frequently have an overinflated sense of self. They can come across as arrogant, entitled, and envious. Vulnerable narcissists frequently appear insecure, focusing on themselves while seeking reassurance from others. Grandiose narcissists tend to have a more dismissive attachment pattern early in life, which leads them to believe they have to take care of themselves, that they don’t need anyone else, and that they should be pseudo-independent. Vulnerable narcissism has more anxious attachment patterns, in which they become anxious about and preoccupied with partners, and they are unsure whether they are loved.
What causes avoidant personality disorder?
Certain factors like genetics, environment, and psychology play a role in the development of avoidant personality disorder. The role of genetics has yet to be proven, however. If other factors are present, emotional abuse, criticism, ridicule, or a lack of affection or nurturing by a parent or caregiver as a child may result in the development of this disorder. Peer rejection may also be a risk factor.
What causes anxious-avoidant attachment?
Anxious-avoidant attachment style is one of the four attachment styles. Several factors can cause this attachment style:
- It can be caused by inconsistent, intrusive, or overwhelming interaction between children and their caregivers.
- An anxious attachment can develop when things are chaotic or unpredictable. It can also occur when a caregiver has an anxious attachment style and is unpredictable in how well they meet the child’s needs.
- You may have developed the impression that your caregiver’s emotional state and mood were your responsibility, and that you had to go to extraordinary lengths to receive affection in return.
Do avoidants always come back?
Avoidants rarely come back unless they are given enough time to begin longing for you, and even then, they would rather swoon after you from afar. They never initiate reconnecting with you because it requires them to be vulnerable which is something they avoid.
How do you get an avoidant to chase you?
You can get an avoidant to chase you by giving them their space, respecting their independence, acknowledging and appreciating their effort, and providing them with a secure environment.