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”.
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?
- The Anxious-Avoidant Trap
- Anxious + Avoidant — Making It Work