Top Ten Signs Your Partner is Avoidant

avoidant-partner

Avoidant is one of the three main relationship attachment styles. Avoidants are people who wish to keep their distance and minimize closeness in romantic relationships. They are the least happy in relationships, and tend to blame their unhappiness on their partners.

Avoidants tend not to date other avoidants. Two people with this attachment style lack the “togetherness” that a relationship requires. In addition, avoidants end relationships more quickly. So you are likely to have dated an avoidant in the past or may be now involved with one. If you aren’t sure or need confirmation that you are dealing with a person who has an avoidant attachment style, here are the top ten signs your partner is avoidant (in increasing order of importance):

10. Stresses boundaries

To make sure that their space is not being invaded, avoidants create strict boundaries between themselves and their partners. These boundaries may be physical or emotional — sleeping in a separate room or home or keeping insignificant (or important) information from their partner.

9. Uncomfortable sharing deep feelings

Avoidants don’t like to share their deepest feelings with their partners; withholding feelings allows them to keep their emotional distance and remain self-reliant. Sharing would bring them closer to their partner — exactly what they want to avoid.

Don’t confuse this sign with the anxious partner’s apprehension. It’s integral to understand why the person is withholding feelings. The anxious person keeps feelings because they fear their partner will not feel the same way as them, or their partner will feel stifled and distance themselves. For the avoidant it’s done to keep distance via an emotional boundary.

8. Prefers casual sex

Some avoidants use casual sex as a way to avoid intimacy. They prefer casual sex to sex with an intimate partner because their physical needs are fulfilled but they don’t have to worry about caring for their partner’s feelings afterward or during. They can also avoid the greater intimacy that results from physical contact.

7. Disregards your feelings

Avoidants believe people are solely responsible for their own well-being and happiness. In relationships they tend to treat their romantic partner like a business partner — they ignore their feelings and respond only to the facts. When confronted they make their partner out to be “sensitive”, “overreacting”, or “needy”.

avoidant-husband6. Misses you when apart, but when together wants to escape

Avoidants still have the basic need for love and attachment. So avoidants will miss their partner when they are not around. But if their partner returns, so does the avoidant’s feelings of being “trapped”, and they feel like they need more space once again.

5. Pulls away when intimacy nears

At the beginning of dating an avoidant you may think everything is going well. They are attentive, loving, and supportive. But as time goes on they find reasons to pull away. They may say things like “the timing is not right” or comment that things aren’t what they thought they would be.

4. Idealizes a past relationship or partner, or dreams of “the one”

Don’t be confused — dreaming of the ideal partner or dwelling on a past relationship doesn’t mean the avoidant wants true love and intimacy; it is an avoidant mechanism. By idealizing a past relationship, the avoidant safely assures they don’t have to deal their current relationship. They convince themselves they missed out on love with some “perfect” ex or that their current partner is not right for them. This way true love and intimacy are always just out of reach.

Again, don’t misinterpret this sign to indicate an anxious attachment style. Anxious people idealize a past partner or long for the one when not in a relationship. When they are in a relationship, anxious people are more focused on the current. They will most likely idealize their current partner and they would not overlook their current partner for an ideal.

3. Sends mixed signals

Avoidants tend to be on and off about their relationship. One day they are planning to move in with their partner and the next day they act as if they just met them. They will appear sensitive yet distant at the same time. Partners are not sure what to think of them. And when their partner finally decides, the avoidant changes again.

2. Values independence and looks down on “neediness”

If your partner cherishes independence above all, it is a clear sign that they are avoidant. Avoidants believe they are strong and independent, and that they can ultimately only count on themselves. They look down on those that recognize their need for others.

Secures also value independence but not to the same degree. Secure partners realize the importance of both independence and partnership. Avoidants only acknowledge the need for independence.

1. Fear of commitment/Fear of being “trapped”

The number one sign that your partner is avoidant is if they fear being trapped into a long-term commitment or marriage. Avoidants are constantly on the look-out for any impingement on their space and anyone wanting to create more intimacy. Remember, this is a constant mode of thinking with the avoidant, not a one-time concern.

Have you ever been involved with an avoidant? Does your current partner have an avoidant attachment style?

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73 thoughts on “Top Ten Signs Your Partner is Avoidant

  1. I have to admit, I was an avoidant for a while before getting into my current relationship. Yet, I think that period was good for me because it forced me to learn about me, myself, and I. However, I would suggest that no one does this on a long term basis.

  2. Hi Eliss (Eliss is so much shorter than integratedmemoirs :) ),

    You’re right that it can be difficult for avoidants in the long-term. Going from relationship to relationship, or not being on good terms with your partner can be tough. But it’s up to the avoidant to recognize their behavior and decide what works best for them.

  3. I’ve dated my share of avoidants, but now that I think about it, I am not quite sure whether they were really avoidant, or was that just a mask. You see, being avoidant is strongly encouraged in my culture (at least for young people), so you can never tell.

  4. Yeah I’d say sleeping in a different home is pretty bit stress boundary and Avoidant lol, if the couple is married I mean.. but I think that list pretty much sums it up.

    I am 95% sure I’m not an “Avoidant”. But I do show a milder version of some of the symptoms sometimes, just like I share some symptoms of people with Aspergers, but in a mild way. I’ve seen people with real Aspergers… and I know for sure I’m not that socially oblivious, not even close. (but not that super far away, heh)

  5. Mira,

    “I am not quite sure whether they were really avoidant, or was that just a mask.”

    Hmmm… it’s possible. I know people can test as a certain style if that was what was encouraged in their social environment, even if that’s not their natural tendency.

    It’s the same here: young/dating people are encouraged to be avoidant. When you read relationship advice columns in magazines, etc. they suggest things that are characteristic of an avoidant: be too busy to do stuff with the person you’re dating (or at least act as if you are), pull away when you’re getting close to keep the person “on their toes”, be very independent and stress to your partner that you don’t need him/her, but simply want them. And anxious tendencies are discouraged.

  6. AJ,

    ‘I am 95% sure I’m not an “Avoidant”.’

    That’s a large percentage. ;)

    But I agree that you’re not avoidant. More like anxious-avoidant — pretty sure on that. Which is why you have some avoidant tendencies. *cough* #s 1 and 2 *cough* :)

    You don’t show signs of Asperger’s. You just don’t know how to deal with OPF (Other People’s Feelings)… or your own feelings, for that matter.

  7. Ha, BIG avoidant myself, but guess what?. I generally meet the opposite who want to cling and cling and cling, which is really annoying as I’m pretty forthright about my wants/needs, but this seems to be a red flag for many men…………….HELP!

  8. It’s the same here: young/dating people are encouraged to be avoidant.

    Indeed. We are all made to believe it’s how things “are”, but now that you think about it, it’s what society encourages us to become. Even if it’s not what we feel inside. Being avoidant is strongly encouraged, while being anxious is seen as the worst thing one can be. So it’s funny to note here nobody encourages secure tendencies.

    I have no idea why media (and society in general) encourages avoidant traits. I guess it goes with the “game”, and game is also encouraged. Both lead to people being miserable in their dating life, but many still continue to play the game and pretend to be avoidant even if it’s not their true personality.

  9. Mira,

    “it’s funny to note here nobody encourages secure tendencies.”

    Yes, it is. Especially since most people have secure tendencies. Encouraging them to be avoidant is only messing up a good thing! ;)

    “I have no idea why media (and society in general) encourages avoidant traits. I guess it goes with the “game”, and game is also encouraged.”

    Yes. People like playing games. Being upfront is so last century!

    But I understand why they think it’s a game or want to play games… dating can be confusing if the person you’re dealing with is very different from you. But that’s when I think you should either find someone else or learn how to work with the person. Acting avoidant can just turn into a cat and mouse game. And yes, you’ll probably be unhappy in the long run if that’s not your natural tendency.

  10. Well, magazines – and many people – claim that people are attracted to those who are not open to them; everybody likes to chase, they say. If you are open to the person who’s flirting with you, (s)he will lose interest. So you must remain mysterious and out of the reach (well, not completely, but you should always make the person chase you, or else they will lose interest).

    I guess it does work this way for many people. Many people do enjoy the chase, and will lose interest once they get to know the person. But we are not all like that. I was never interested in men who tried to play the “mysterious dude” game. Yes, I’ve dated avoidants, but they displayed their avoidant tendencies later in a relationship, when it was too late. But in short, I am not attracted to people who try to escape, or who refuse to open themselves. Needless to say, I am not a person who likes to be chased. And yes, I was hurt many times, because there are many people who ARE honestly attracted to people who they have to chase. But not everybody is like that. There are other people like me. I used to think it’s a rare thing, but now I think some people pretend and go with the flow (and advice society gives them) rather than how they truly feel about this.

  11. Mira,

    That’s definitely another reason. And I think it’s just not true. It may be true to an extent, but if you continually act as if you’re not interested in someone, they (well, most people) will eventually stop being interested in you. Personally, I’m not at all interested in someone who isn’t open to me. I take it as an insult if I put myself out for someone and they completely disregard me. I’m sensitive like that. :)

  12. Well, that too. Plus, I was always one of those girls who assume a guy isn’t interested anyway, unless he clearly is. If he’s giving mixed signals, I just assume he’s bored and/or want to be friends and/or want to use me to get to my more attractive friends.

  13. [True] avoidants send mixed signals, but not because they’re uninterested, but because they are commitment/intimacy-phobes. Learning about avoidants make so much sense, now, when it no longer matters. :)

  14. Oh yes, it seems SO clear now. One would think I developed some extra sense or higher intelligence since the last time I had to deal with the avoidants. I guess knowing how to recognize them would save me from much pain, but then again, isn’t that part of, well… Growing up?

    But avoidants make such crappy partners. (Yes, that goes for sex, too, take that! ;) ) and they all think playing the game is the most important thing they should do. God forbid they let you a little closer.

  15. Mira,

    Wow, somehow, I missed this comment. I don’t think I’ve ever not seen a comment on this blog before, so kudos. :D

    You said:

    “But avoidants make such crappy partners.”

    Studies agree with you on that. They are more likely to flirt and cheat. I think avoidants would actually go well with each other, even if they always keep their distance. At least they would understand each other.

    “(Yes, that goes for sex, too, take that!)”

    Studies also agree with you on this. They are less likely to cuddle, kiss, and get into the more emotional aspects of sex which makes it better for their partner.

  16. Reading these points above is really freaking me out… in a good way…. sort of.

    I have been with my boyfriend for 2 1/2 years. Our relationship has been pretty rocky from the get go. Lots of breaking up and making up. I have only looked into this avoidance personality type in the past couple of days and it is my boyfriend 100%. Every single point above is seriously spot on. Our biggest issues are his on/off feelings about his ex-girlfriend….. (who left him after putting up with his avoidance issues for 5 years and has since moved on into another relationship) His inability to tell me he loves me. Very un-intimate sex life. And a general feeling for me that most of this is my fault. I suffer from mild depression so I just figured I was a nightmare to be around.

    Why do I hang around? Because I see glimpses of good stuff here and there and we are best mates. He hugs me lots which I love but as for romance? Pffft Please!

    I want to confront him about these issues but I’m unsure of how to approach him about this. Any ideas/ suggestions? We are in our early 30’s.

    Thanks so much :)

  17. Hi Kim, welcome. :)

    You said,

    “I have only looked into this avoidance personality type in the past couple of days and it is my boyfriend 100%. Every single point above is seriously spot on… Any ideas/ suggestions?”

    Run, run! As fast as you can!

    :D

    Just kidding. I wonder, do you have an anxious attachment style?

    Your relationship doesn’t sound healthy. He doesn’t tell you he loves you and he isn’t intimate during sex (very typical of avoidants, by the way — their way of keeping boundaries/keeping you at arm’s length).

    “Why do I hang around? I see glimpses of good stuff here and there and we are best mates.”

    And that’s how they get you trapped in their web. ;)

    Don’t be mesmerized by him showing love here and there. That’s only going to keep you on a very unstable roller-coaster. Avoidants do tend to send mixed signals to their partners because it’s not that they don’t have feelings for them. They do. But their feelings compete with their desire to remain autonomous.

    I think it is a good idea to address how you’re feeling and make some compromises with him. Tell him: “I feel this way when you do this.” “I want you to be clear about your feelings for me — where is this going?” “I want you to be more intimate, etc.” And ask him — “How do you feel about this relationship?” “What can I do to help you feel more secure?”

    But you have to decide what you’re willing to deal with. Don’t compromise your happiness and well-being for him, but find a medium where you two can both be happy in the relationship and make it more stable.

  18. I just stumbled upon this site while googling “attachment styles.” Love it. I have a question…

    I dated a guy for 2 years – he was an avoidant 100%. Because of that, I became the “anxious” person. I fought hard every day to get him to let me in, but he never did… and he was never going to. Sometimes I felt like my purpose in life was just to make him happy so he would let me in. I sort of knew all along that we would never work out, but something kept me fighting for his approval. He was only concerned about one person’s feelings – his own.

    Now, I’ve been in a new relationship for 6 months. I had less than a month in-between… but I have become the avoidant!! The new boyfriend is PERFECT, he’s the “secure” type 100%. He loves me, and would do absolutely anything for me – I’m sure of it. On paper, he’s seriously Mr. Wonderful… but somehow I can’t let him in. When he gets too close I move away, and I have a really hard time sharing my feelings. All I want is personal space… all the time. He says he’ll wait for me to “come around” but I feel like I’m dead inside! This is NOT ME! Usually I’m the one falling head over heels…

    I really like this new guy, and I think it could work out. What is wrong with me!?!?

  19. Hi Jamie. Welcome. :)

    “I dated a guy for 2 years – he was an avoidant 100%. Because of that, I became the “anxious” person.”

    Yes, even if you have a secure attachment style, you can become more anxious if your partner has an avoidant style and you don’t understand it. This has been shown in studies.

    “I’ve been in a new relationship for 6 months. I had less than a month in-between…”

    The second sentence seems significant. You got into a new relationship immediately after ending an unhealthy one. That isn’t a very good idea — I speak from experience.

    I can’t tell you what’s happening, though I can speculate. Perhaps you’re afraid that if you open up more he’ll start showing avoidant characteristics like your ex-boyfriend? Or maybe a part of you likes a challenge and doesn’t want the relationship to become too comfortable, i.e. secure?

  20. WOW. Have been dating my best friend for the past year – long-distance – and it’s been great, and we lived together for 3 months, went on holiday together at Christmas, and suddenly she dropped the bomb: “I love you… but I’m not falling in love with you. You’re like a brother…” I pushed her on this and we’ve been talking through a lot of things over the last month (and she’s still not said – despite my asking – “It’s over.”) – and I’m off to see her in a few days… She’s admitted she avoided things and liked her independence but suddenly I came across this and the lights went on! I’m a ‘secure’, and she’s an ‘avoidant’, and it’s not about me at all! WHOOHOO! (Liberating, believe me.) I love her, and am willing to make the relationship work – but how best to introduce this, without sounding like a judgemental twat? ideas?

  21. She values her space, and her independence, and is textbook ‘Avoidant’, but at the same time (as a follow up), she keeps saying this is the best relationship she’s ever had; it’s changed her life (and it has), etc. etc. but that she’s gone from “imagining writing my wedding vows to looking at you like my brother”.

    I am going to be okay regardless of what transpires when we meet up soon, but this relationship HAS so much potential as we’re best friends… I’m not willing to compromise my core values, but I do love her madly and want this ‘this’ to work for us both as it enriches and enlarges BOTH our lives.

  22. Hi Nick :)

    “I’m a ‘secure’, and she’s an ‘avoidant’, and it’s not about me at all! WHOOHOO! (Liberating, believe me.) “

    Lol.

    Indeed, it is not about you. Always keep that in mind in order to keep your sanity.

    “how best to introduce this, without sounding like a judgemental twat? ideas?”

    Well, you could show her this article. (and the related ones under “See also”) :)

    But like I said to others, you just have to make it clear that you have certain expectations for the relationship, and ask her what she envisions for the relationship. You’ll want to reach a place where you’re both happy with the way things are progressing. And continuously check to see that you’re reaching your goals at a reasonable pace. Don’t bend too much and try to “fit” yourself to her; that can happen a lot when you’re with an avoidant.

  23. it only took me 4 years to figure this out. I found the book Attached and now am looking up everything that I can on the internet about this…it’s my BF to a T.

    I always said, “it’s like a short term relationship that’s gone on for a long time”
    that’s how I’ve been describing it for 3 years. wow. double wow.
    now what?! (this is far and away the longest relationship that he’s ever had (he’s 50) and it’s because we do adventure sports together. because I can keep up like a guy….). and I’ve never been so physically attracted. I give him lots of space because 50% of the time I live an hour away. how perfect!! (only not for me)

  24. Hi miki. :)

    Attached is the best. A wealth of knowledge.

    ‘I always said, “it’s like a short term relationship that’s gone on for a long time” ‘

    Ha. That’s a pretty good description of a stereotypical avoidant relationship. Things never really settle in.

  25. thanks Alee. I’ve never had a relationship with an avoidant before now (I’ve had 5 LTRs and one was a 10 year marriage). I am clearly secure, but have become a little more anxious as this relationship continues….(he can’t tell though because I give him LOTS of space)….he is a “confirmed bachelor”. totally.

    somewhere else on the internet someone (a psychologist, I think) said, “if you want to stay in the relationship you have to realize that it will simply be a spice on your plate of life and not the meal”

    this also describes it perfectly. I have a life 50 miles away with my kids 50% of the time. I spend the other 50ish% with him. After about 4 days he gets antsy and often annoyed at me for the weirdest things (a facial expression or an offhanded comment (about the salmon in the refrigerator!) that most people wouldn’t flare about). if we have a “break through” conversation or experience he totally distances himself for a few days. it feels totally “off” when that happens.
    I really really love him (tall, handsome, smart, loyal, but not very nice sometimes), but I can totally understand why most people have to get away from these poor people. it’s kind of torturous. he is a total obsessive adventure junkie (I am a bit of one myself, but with more moderation, I have kids after all). if we aren’t out getting our thrills on a mountain, he gets pretty freakin’ depressed about it.

  26. miki,

    So you’re okay with your current relationship set-up? Or are you just accommodating him (like people sometimes do with avoidants)?

    “somewhere else on the internet someone (a psychologist, I think) said, “if you want to stay in the relationship you have to realize that it will simply be a spice on your plate of life and not the meal” ‘

    Yes! Bingo!

    If you want to be in a relationship with an avoidant (and some masochists people do), you have to treat your relationship as a side activity. Like maybe you get together on weekends, hang out after work. You can’t be all about the relationship and expecting lots of intimate time together where you discuss your deepest feelings (You need an anxious type for that :) ).

    P.S. You should write the “how to date an avoidant” guide — you know them well. ;)

  27. I am not “ok” with it…..but I am hyper rational and totally get what’s going on (and have for a while, but never had a name until now-he is the child of an alcoholic who is a confirmed bachelor, so there are all kinds of labels that one could apply to him that fit….ACOA, commitmentphobe, co-dep (wanting to be in control of my actions), narcissistic tendencies….all touch on “what he is” but Avoidant is the most valid overall picture).
    what is really difficult is that I am changing into an anxious when I am around him. I am me when I am in MY town, but I’m different when I’m in HIS town (which is where the relationship exists). for the first time ever, I feel unattractive. I never get a compliment (unless I’m on skis and then I am impressive to him) or much positive input but I HAVE to keep the positive comments coming or he gets really freaked out (are you mad?).
    He is everything that I’ve always wanted in a man except intellectually engaging (it’s the “higher brained” rapport that is missing….). I told his friend that he’s deep like a puddle (but he’s very smart and is a scientist (we both are))

    he would be really devastated if I broke up with him (one time he told me that I was his dream girl, but he sure finds a lot of little things to criticize me about), but there is no “next step” in the relationship. I am at a stand still here and don’t know what to do.
    You are right though….I am an expert. seriously, who “dates” an avoidant for this long? No one. he ALWAYS breaks up with his girlfriends. most of them last about 3-6 months (there are maybe 100, and he won’t talk about them, EVER), but he always ends it when it “stops being light” or “get’s too hard”. I always disappear (every single week) for days on end so it’s like we re-set when I come back the next week. it’s ideal for him.

    this is his one (last) shot at a real relationship (no one would be this patient, but I have my girls….it pretty much works for me too…), but I don’t know what that means to him (I know….continue like it is….because it’s just perfect (to him)).
    he once said, “we can move into together in ten years when your youngest goes to college” OMG).

    oh, and my kids love him.

  28. miki,

    Your relationship doesn’t sound too positive. If he’s making you more anxious and making you feel unattractive, that’s not good at all. (Not that being an anxious type is terrible –I am one– but it’s not your natural inclination and is essentially an insecure orientation.) No matter how good-looking he is (it’s some horrible trick of nature that lots of avoidants are very physical attractive) or how much your kids love him. He might be devastated if you break up, but he’s going to have to put some more effort into meeting your needs.

    “I told his friend that he’s deep like a puddle (but he’s very smart and is a scientist (we both are))”

    Oh, cool, what area of science do you guys work in? I work in micro and molecular bio; used to work in biotech.

  29. Ha ha…..holy smokes, just flip the genders around, adjust the ages a bit :) Yup. Describes my ex- to a ‘t’ (she just ended it, for no apparent reason – “imbalanced energy” actually, despite all her family and friends never seeing her happier. And her son adored me.)

    But I know the feeling of being secure and then shifting to anxious. Still, for me, love is letting go. After fighting for ‘us’ for months, I realized that it wasn’t being fair to myself… still sucks mind you! Kudos to you for sticking it out – I was willing to, I really was!

  30. it will be hard to let this go because I totally understand him (now). just like you Nick, I totally get it and him….why can’t he just give a little (control up) and not get so freakin’ annoyed with me for nothing…I ask the question and yet I know the answer. He has to self soothe and that means creating distance between us.
    he really has no idea. he thinks it’s ME. I do these “things” that make him angry and he doesn’t know why (or even what they are, but that all of a sudden he’s mad). He is very conscientious regarding “what I need” and yet puts down my attributes when I’m around him and tells me I am a terrible communicator. I want to just be me, but I’m too excited or “riled up” or whatever. I can’t even explain why it’s so difficult because it’s almost not quantifiable. it just feels like nit picking.
    I am an environmental scientist (as is he) and we have a lot to talk about but we really focus on his work because mine isn’t interesting to him. In the past when we talked about work it always went sideways and he ended up angry. I think that he felt threatened, but we seem to have gotten past that lately (at least there’s that!).
    I am having severe career challenges right now and he’s not been too supportive in the past (I think that it gave him anxiety to think that I might have to depend on him), but that seems to have improved a little in the last week.
    ack! i’m so frustrated (I am in my “away week” and I always just want to break up during that time because I get almost nothing from him during these weeks-he never visits here).
    cha!!

  31. I can absolutely understand… it IS frustrating (like you, I’m an environmental scientist and she’s a project manager, and ironically, despite MY being blamed for being the “feely” one, I think she’s more led by her emotions, unable to separate her “gut” from objective analysis: “Look at what you’re doing to yourself, why can’t YOU – but everyone else around you can! – see this?!”). The problem of course, is that she “falls” for completely emotionally unavailable people, yet longs for connection – when someone (Me!) came along that gave her that, of course I soon got slotted into the “like a brother” category. Maddening doesn’t even begin to describe it. In large part, because I really do love her and see what she’s doing to herself, missing out sabotaging the very thing she wants. Hence the “letting go”, as I can’t do it for her. I know the root causes, but unless she is willing to walk through these things together, I simply have to ‘care about’, and no longer (thought it breaks my heart) ‘care for’. Seriously need to start a group for ‘Secure Environmental Scientists Attached to Avoiders” (SESAA) :D

  32. wow, I love this website. I am also a biologist but now turned programmer and interested in attachment styles. But is it possible that these attachment styles are purely situational? Alee, you describe yourself as anxious but haven’t you often been the avoidant one when it was a guy who liked you but you didn’t like him? Maybe you just don’t think very often about those times when you were the avoidant one. You don’t think about them because those relationships primarily existed in an avoidant part of your brain and avoidant people don’t dwell on relationships! :)

  33. Wow, a room full of scientists, how’d that happen? :)

    Miki, I think you should let him go. Why stress?

    Nick — good job!

    @ Tim,

    Hi, glad you like it here.

    “is it possible that these attachment styles are purely situational?”

    No… attachment styles are generally believed to be fixed, even though I’ve read they can change due to traumatic experience.

    “Alee, you describe yourself as anxious but haven’t you often been the avoidant one when it was a guy who liked you but you didn’t like him?”

    Well, the attachment styles are more about how you are when you’re interested in someone and/or in a relationship with someone. It’s not about how you are in specific situations, but how you approach love and relationships in general. Probably most people avoid (but are not avoidant!) when they’re not so interested in someone.

  34. it’s funny. I think that I go to “worst case scenario” when I am on my week off. last night he expressed that we hadn’t had our time together recently and that was hard. he called “just to say hi” and we talked for 30 minutes. he ended with “i love you” – we’ll see….
    life has been highly stressful lately and since I am the closest to him he off-loads, but isn’t that what partners are for…? I have to take it under advisement.

  35. yes….excellent observation, Alee. it is a common cycle it seems….

    it’s so sad….the things that I’ve come to realize that affect him from his childhood.
    I am not kidding, he grew up believing that his parents were trying to kill him because (it’s easy to see in hindsight) they pushed him to be way too independent at far too young an age (he has one older sister and two younger sibs). they did very bad things like: as a 7 year old he was put on a bus (alone) to a ski resort so he could learn to ski and he didn’t know (7!) to get back on the bus afterward so he was left up there by himself. his dad was the type to throw him out of a boat in a lake at age 5 to “teach him to swim” (he is so lean that he STILL sinks)….his childhood was full of things like this. I am a mom, but you don’t have to be a mom to know that these things must be terrifying as a little kid. What other model or script would a kid come up with except: they’re trying to get rid of me. it’s “classic”….and he was SO young when these things happened.

  36. I think these attachment style are pretty fluid. I can even think of relationships I’ve had where I went from being the anxious one to secure, to the avoidant one. However, they are fixed enough that I get the point. I know people who are reaching midlife and never married. They are pretty consistently avoidant. For me, these attachment styles are kinda like business negotiation tips, very useful to take a meta-look at how behavior is affecting the course of a relationship so you can correct and reframe the negotiations. But I think astrology gives a more holistic picture (don’t tell my old school or they are going to revoke my biology degree)!
    The avoidant style seems like an evolutionary dead-end. I wonder what function it serves to the propagation of the genome?

    Miki, you should tell that guy that you like hanging out with him but you don’t want an exclusive relationship with him. Then look for someone closer to home.

  37. haha! that’s easier said than done….maybe I could tell him that he can have sex with other people. then we can be monogomish (see Dan Savage).
    I was doing some heavy duty reflection….and I think that I am secure with a past that borders on avoidant. In general, I do well with LTRs, but have been accused a few times of “not opening up” or of being emotionally unavailable. I always do the dumping. I have told men in the past that their neediness for more affection is their issue and that I have a different threshold for physical affection. so, your point regarding fluidity and possible situational dynamics is well taken. the test shows me solidly in the secure range somewhat near(ish) to the dismissive axis (I totally trust people until they give me a reason not to, but I’m not that “open”).

    I am starting to realize that as somewhat tortuous as it seems at times, I must enjoy the ups and downs of the dynamic with him or I would’ve left a few years ago. Tim, I am a sagittarius (with a gemini rising and moon!) and he is a gemini (aries rising, leo moon?). a pretty good match as far as that stuff goes.
    there is another man who is chasing me and I kind of think that he would expect more affection and that type of thing (finding myself with someone needier than myself) freaks me out a little (I realized yesterday). so……thank you all for the input. it’s clearly a complicated situation and I need to think about this….

    Tim: regarding the evolutionary side of things….it could possibly be explained by the need to focus on being a leader, a hunter etc. I would imagine that avoidant types are often heavily invested in their careers to the exclusion of other things (maybe part of the biological side is high testosterone in the womb?)….just a thought.

  38. Tim,

    “I think astrology gives a more holistic picture (don’t tell my old school or they are going to revoke my biology degree)!”

    Lol! They probably would. But I know some science-oriented people who are into astrology.

    I’m a Pisces Sun with Leo Rising. What picture does that give you? :)

    “The avoidant style seems like an evolutionary dead-end. I wonder what function it serves to the propagation of the genome?”

    LOL. You are so (unintentionally?) funny.

    I wonder what the avoidants I know would think of basically being called “useless”. :D

    Avoidants tend to have shorter relationships. So I guess we could go with the old idea that multiple relations increases one’s fertility rate?

    miki,

    Now you’re sounding like a semi-avoidant yourself. So maybe you’re right where you need to be!

  39. Miki:
    So you are having outdoorsy fun with a man who controls a significant amount of resources and is no threat to your children? Sounds like you are being a good mom and a good sagittarius! The needy guy may be more likely to contribute to your kids college fees, but that may not matter if he just doesn’t have access to resources.
    I think you should still look around locally, while having fun with the challenge.
    Alee:
    Pisces with leo rising? That is an interesting combo. I wonder if you look intimidating to guys in the bar yet your friends know you to be fun and sweet? Pisces is such a mystery to me.

    Btw, I am very much a libra.

  40. Tim,

    My friend once described my vibe as “hard-soft”. I guess that works.

    “Pisces is such a mystery to me.”

    And ourselves, apparently. :)

  41. wow. thanks Tim. I hope that you’ve summed it up properly for me (I have no perspective obviously)…though I’m not sure where you got the “controls a lot of resources” – he’s a geologist so he has a lot of outdoor gear (and he actually bought my last pair of skis (love em!) and is very generous with what he does have) and a lot of rocks (and a total bachelor guy little house)!

    but seriously, he is no threat to my kids and we definitely enjoy the outdoors together (fanatically) both with and without the kids. hiking, climbing, skiing, backpacking….

    Alee-this has really helped me a lot! thanks for posting! I feel SO much better! :)

  42. If you are in a relationship with an avoidance how do you work through it to make it work please help I have been through this for a year now

  43. @Lisa:
    you have to decide to be happy with what you have. You have to decide to NOT be unhappy with what you don’t have.
    or
    you leave.

    You can try and chip away at the avoidant’s walls, but it takes a very long time to chip away even the smallest amount of the wall.
    I really do know….I’ve been here for almost 5 years (and he still thinks it’s me who can’t communicate!)
    good luck!

  44. Lisa Parnell,

    I agree with miki; it’s an adjustment. You can’t expect things to change or “get better” you just have to work with the hand you were dealt. Or get a new hand.

    For more info, you can read “Anxious + Avoidant — Making it Work” in the See also section; even if you’re not anxious, a lot still applies.

  45. This describes someone I know perfectly – really confirms my suspicions. Just reading it has been enough to start the change in my thinking towards the relationship. Up till now I’ve been baffled and hurt by the mixed signals – also thought it was me. Thanks for spelling this out so clearly. Shall now get about the business of moving on with my feelings.

  46. I have been in a relationship with an avoidant for the last year. I read this article, which I guess highlights some of the challenges that have not been mentioned in this article or in the comments. Very eye opening…

    http://www.stantatkin.com/csg/Articles/Addiction%20to%20Alone%20Time.pdf

    I once managed to get through to her that she was avoidant, and she completely changed after that for 2 weeks into the most loving and caring person. I think the symptoms in the article I linked to above manifested themselves tho, so she then left…again *sigh*

    I still love her and WANT to be with her rather than NEED to be with her (I developed anxious tendencies after being left every month-ish) but am actually moving towards not wanted it any more because she is just too broken and in denial. Very, very sad.

  47. I’ve also done a lot of reading about this and think that the key to making it work – if you have the strength, balls and stomach for it – is to not react at all to their behaviour and to just love yourself and love them without flinching at all. This demonstrates that you can provide security, something the avoidant never had as a child. I think that SLOWLY, given a consistent light push in the right direction, avoidants can change towards being more secure, at least that’s what the research I’ve read says and what my experience supports.

    This is easier said than done, but once you understand what you are dealing with, it makes it a lot easier. For me, I had no idea and took it personally for 90% of the relationship, which moved me across the anxiety spectrum, making me more needy – which obviously pushes an avoidant away more and was the end of my relationship (as of now…lol).

  48. Thank God for this website!! i thought i was going crazy!! I usually get along with so many different types of people and have been recently dumped by my boyfriend of 5 years. he is definitely an avoidant! I had no idea how to fix things and it seemed that even if i could turn the world upside down for him, it would still not be enough! There was no intimacy, very little kissing or snuggling up on teh couch to watch TV. I always felt like i was forcing him to be intimate. I guess i am somewhat of an anxious person and am not very used to letting go of someone without a fight. I have found the break up very hard to deal with since there are qualities in him that i truly love! I read some of the posts above and would love to try it again, knowing what i now know. I used to try to change him but see that this is not the way to deal with avoidants. I received so many mixed signals from him. I wonder if he does truly love me deep down (even though he said he stopped) He never even gave us a chance to talk about the issues before he dumped me. I do not know why i want to complicate my life so much and embark on trying to get back together with him. He made me feel awful at times and i cried a lot, however i still do love him. He is a good man but i don’t want to rely too much on my feelings for him since i will probably get hurt again. He just seems so cold! Maybe it was his mother’s fault for not loving him enough as a child. It seems like such a shame to me. I wonder if he is truly happy being alone/independant. I will probably try to contact him towards the end of the month and let you guys know what happens. I am hoping he wil be open to trying things again for the THIRD time around. Love is very tricky!

  49. Jay I wouldn’t waste your time. Run far away and get on with your life, you’ll just be torturing yourself. People don’t change, no matter how hard you try to be accommodating. Ask yourself if you can ever be happy or think/respond differently to this list of behaviours. You probably weren’t anxious before, but I’m sure you are after 5 years with this person. I know I was after 1 year. Don’t worry, you can return to normal though.

    I tried again with my girlfriend after a 7 week break (4 weeks of no communication). I had to say either try again or get out of my life, we are not going to be friends. She agreed she could offer nothing more than friendship and that was unfortunate, and then hours after that the emotions finally overcame her and she said all the right things. True, honest feelings, when it came to the crunch. I guess that’s what it takes. Things went fine for a week until I decided to share some of my feelings. Then a wall of silence, not even an acknowledgement. I express my unhappiness about this, said I was sharing and no reciprocation was required, but an acknowledgement was. The response was always “this is not a good time to talk” or “I’ll talk to you about this XXXX”. Nothing. The old adage don’t listen to what they say (even if you get something), watch what they do – is so true with avoidants.

    Run for your life.

  50. 2 other points:

    1. Yes he loves you, and he does not want to be alone. He just cannot function properly no matter how hard he tries.
    2. You want to work it out because a) you what you can’t have, and b) you find it hard to abandon someone who is so broken.

  51. Umm I am absolutely 100% avoidant. I legitimately qualify into 7 out of 10 of the above signs. I knew something wasn’t right but I never knew what. Kind of at ease knowing there is a title to my madness, LOL. Is it fixable? I know what I do wrong but I am totally uncomfortable with doing anything to fix those things. It’s like I have a million phobias. And I have tried to explain what is wrong but it just doesn’t click in the other person’s head which just leads to me getting frustrated. Now we are barely speaking as a result of a few VERY long months of bickering and fighting. HELP!

  52. Thanks John. I know what you wrote is completely right. I should run away and get back to normal. Staying with someone who is avoidant (and does nothing to fix it) does mess with your head. It is hard when the head says somthing and the heart tells you to do the complete opposite. I am sorry it did not work out for you. It seems a lot of people have the same experince. It all depends on the avoidant person and their desire to fix their issues or at least keep working on them. As for teh rest of us, we can only be their for support. I do not want to be friends with my ex either. I do want him in my life but this wil also prove to be tricky. I am also trying to rework the way i function. To be more independant and not attach myself so badly to people who can and are hurting me. It seems so complicated to rewire the brain. I will be honest that i do not think i will be able to do it. Maybe i need to be sad for a long time…maybe I am destined to long for this person my whole life. I have no clue how to stop loving him and obsessing that one day we will get back together. I think i might give himan ultimatum like you did with your ex and see what he says. If he still wishes to try again, i need to really think about this. I don’t want to get together for another 5 years only to find myself in the same position or worse. Do you know if your ex is happy at this point?

    Marie- are you trying anything to be open to being in a relationship- you might be happier alone? Maybe society forces us to think we need to be with someone to be happy. Do you think you will ever change teh way you behave?

  53. I met a woman on a dating site and had a very passionate but the strangest 6 months of my life with her. She is 47 and never married and never lived with anyone. The longest relationship she had lasted 7 years and the others just months most of them sounded like casual emotionless affairs. I’m 13 years older than her and before my separation was married for 33 yrs so I’m certain that I approach things from a secure point of view.. They say there is no fool like an old fool and at the age of 60 you would think that I should have known better than to fall for a girl who was obviously challenging.
    She had me doubting my own sanity and from being secure I rapidly changed to being an anxious mess. Despite the fact that she tells me she loves me she insists that I am not right for her. She didn’t have any trouble with physical closeness but emotional intimacy was a no no. Virtually from the start she kept telling me that she was a loner and would “bugger off” sooner rather than later. She knew she was a runner and excused it by saying that she would stop running when she met the “right one”. She always said she wanted the roses round the door happy ending.
    Top and bottom was she did finish our relationship and I now know that if I hadn’t pushed so hard for intimacy I could have made the relationship last longer. I have only just found out about avoidant personalities and from being very confused and unhappy I now realise what exactly was going on in this womans head. She ticked all the boxes for being avoidant every single one and the way she was with me was so obviously the way she had been in all her previous relationships.
    I have written to her and asked her to look at the evidence as she often said she didn’t know why she acted the way she did even describes herself as a screwball and a loner. I have asked her to see a psychologist but of course she refuses to admit she has a problem. There’s just no helping some people and although I love her dearly I know in my gut that she will never change and that she has a very sad lonely future in front of her.

  54. Billy, just let her be. She is who she is. If that doesn’t work for you, then it doesn’t. No need to push it or carry any regrets about what happened.

  55. I have had lots of solid relationships, and until you have one with an avoidant personality(I have had two), you don’t realize how difficult they are(without trying to be) and how easy other relationships are. Don’t let them make you feel crazy for wanting normal things in a relationship(sex, time together, intimacy). It is highly unlikely they will every get around to that type of relationship, as it truly makes them uncomfortable. Life is too short to be giving up on getting what we all deserve. Trying to get them to come around is giving up your valuable time. It doesn’t hurt them to spend their time in a distant relationship — they are getting what they want! Have courage and faith that the right person is out there — and move on to someone will give you the love you deserve. It is out there.

  56. Hi all, I too am with an avoidant. It’s difficult with all the mixed signals, the giving of the house keys, buying of the ring, the bonding with his children. It’s been 3 years now and at this time we ate at a stand still. He can’t yell me he loves me even though he wad able to say it a few months ago and all the time in the begging. I want us to work out. I am doing my best to be responsible for my own happiness, but leaving him would feel so awful and the thought of it brings tears.

  57. Hello All,

    I was just turned on to attachment styles by a friend of mine and it has been a huge learning experience so far. Recently, my girlfriend broke up with me and I have been somewhat heart broken for the past two months. I have done everything that I could think of to talk to her and express how I feel about her but it only pushed her farther away. I have an secure attachment type but found myself turning into a more of a Anxious type. I had trouble expressing my feelings for her at first and after reading, the avoidance attachment type, I realize this with her to the letter.

    Honestly, I never knew there where different attachment types and would have helped me greatly in my previous relationship. We dated for two years and I truly feel like I never knew her. Asking her to open up, typically resulted in responses such as, “I dont open up easily” “I carry emotional baggage” “i relate to men differently” or many other excuses, It was frustrating to say the least. The more I demonstrated or told her I loved her, the more she began to push me away. Being of the anxious type, i felt very unloved and un-cared for. This also explains why it was so easier for her to get over this relationship and its been so difficult for me because all the energy I invested.

    I will definitely read that book on attachment to expand my knowledge base and appreciate every ones comments. For the first time since the relationship has ended, i don’t feel like it was my fault. Any feedback or questions are welcome.

  58. John, I definitely recommend the book Attached. There is a great chapter on the avoidant attachment style and really helps you to understand it. It’s an eye-opener.

  59. Note:

    This is not a message board.

    Several comments have been removed because they are not directly related to the post. If you wish to have a personal conversation with a commenter further either move your discussion to the Clouds or send me an email to give you the commenter’s email address. All comments must be related to the article they appear under, thanks.

  60. As far as I could see all the comments were directly related to the article they appear under as they were all from people who were in relationships with AVOIDANTS. Because this thread turned into a mutually supportive self help group does not justify deleting so many posts. Very cruel when there are obviously people who need help.

  61. No, sorry, it was getting out of hand. The comments were about relationship issues, yes, but not about the post. Again, this is not a message board.

    If anyone misses a particular comment, they can email me and I’ll send it to them.

  62. I am not opposed to the people who had been in ongoing communication with me having my email, if they so choose.

  63. I think the posts were a great help to anyone who finds themselves in a relationship with an AVOIDANT and served a really usefu purpose.

  64. Wow. What a disappointing development.

    Billly and Bill Siviter express my sentiments exactly. While some of the posts you deleted, Alee, may have tended to sway off topic at times, everyone posting here is dealing with an Avoidant and addressing that individual/issue in their postings. It’s not like we were having a chat session about grooming techniques. And I agree: The posts were useful to those who regularly visit this page and could serve newcomers who are wishing to gain understanding of their own AVOIDANT relaltionship tribulations.

    You’ve indiscriminately deleted EVERY post I’ve entered from the time of my first posting over a month ago. No one is here attempting to create anarchy, we were simply working through issues with our AVOIDANTS – isn’t that the purpose of this forum, or have we all misunderstood why this site is on the net? I haven’t seen a single post from you – the gatekeeper, administrator or head adviser, whatever role you prefer – on this page since I began posting here. You could have given some direction if you felt we were stepping on your toes. Perhaps this method of management, or even creating an archive of older posts, would serve the people visiting this blog better than deleting at random. I’m certain the majority of my posts were on topic, and your audience appears to agree with me.

  65. Dab, I clearly comment on every post, so I have no idea what you’re talking about. Perhaps you should scroll up if you missed that. I was simply not interested in your side conversation that’s why I didn’t comment on it. But many of you all have never ventured to the rest of the blog outside of this post, so I guess it makes sense that you wouldn’t know that.

    I assumed everyone had read the guidelines and understood this was not a forum and to not clog it up with personal conservation. So I waited for you all to back off on your own, but it didn’t happen.

    Anyway, comments closed for now.

Comments are closed.