Do we all behave the same when we’re in a relationship? Do all people love the same way?
We don’t. We all have different attachment styles and some of us have an avoidant attachment style.
A love avoidant isn’t a person who tends to stay away from commitment or who avoids getting into a serious relationship with someone because they enjoy being single. No.
Some people use love avoidance as their protection. Those people are afraid of love, of being hurt by someone they love.
People with an avoidant personality disorder are so often misunderstood. Most people think an avoidant person is unable to love someone but unfortunately, this is a common misconception.
That’s why we need to first talk about understanding love avoidants and see why it’s so important.
Understanding a love avoidant
It’s not impossible for an avoidant person to fall in love. They just choose to AVOID falling in love with someone and even when it happens, they try to convince themselves otherwise and forget their feelings.
It’s not because they want to enjoy their single life for some more time or because they like to be alone; it’s only because they don’t want to get hurt. They are afraid of getting their heart broken by someone they love.
This is probably because they had some negative experiences in the past and that left them with a fear of opening their heart to someone who might hurt them one day.
Avoidant attachment theory describes avoidant partners as people who cherish their independence.
It also describes them as people who are uncomfortable with having an intimate relationship because of some emotional traumas from the past.
Most people would compare an avoidant person with a narcissist but there is a fine line between those two.
A narcissist only thinks about themselves; fulfilling their own needs and their own well-being is all that matters.
An avoidant partner cares deeply for their loved one even though it may not seem so because they avoid emotional intimacy at all costs.
Narcissists are comfortable with having an intimate relationship, unlike avoidant people. Avoidants have a fear of engulfment and it prevents them from connecting with their partner on a deeper level.
Avoidant people attract people with an anxious attachment style because of their love addiction. They totally lose themselves when they’re in the relationship and avoidants know how to take advantage of that.
Dealing with an anxious attachment style is hard and people with this insecure style create codependency with their partner because they have no self-confidence.
They’ll become dependent on their partner and they’ll do whatever it takes to keep their relationship.
What causes an avoidant attachment style?
Fear of emotional intimacy is the greatest fear of all avoidants; that’s why they are unable to maintain a romantic relationship.
This isn’t something you’re born with. People create different kinds of attachment styles based on some things and experiences from their own lives.
In fact, there are many reasons that make people become love avoidants and here are some of them.
1. Childhood experiences
Kids learn most things from their parents. If you weren’t able to see some healthy boundaries in your parents’ relationship, you’ll think that’s what a healthy relationship should look like.
Unfortunately, one day you’ll learn the hard way that you were wrong. It’ll only lead you to disappointment and you’ll be afraid of starting a new relationship in the future.
If you had to listen to your parents fight every day, you’ll decide that it’s best to avoid love because it makes people angry or sad.
Your parents’ relationship affects your life greatly and it can be the main cause of commitment issues later on.
If it was unhealthy and had only a negative effect on your childhood, you’ll think that it’s better for you not to get emotionally attached to anyone than to suffer your whole life and be stuck in an unhappy marriage.
2. Emotional trauma from the past
If you were hurt in the past by your loved one, it’s normal that you’ll be afraid of being hurt again.
It can also make you avoid having any kind of emotional connection with someone else. You still haven’t solved some of your issues from the past and it’s perfectly normal that it affects your love life.
However, fortunately, that can be solved. You only need some time more to clear it all out in your head.
Once you realize that you should leave the past and that you shouldn’t punish your new partner for your ex’s mistakes, it’ll all change and you’ll be able to have a close relationship with someone.
3. Self-esteem issues
If you have low self-esteem, that means you don’t think you’re good enough. Maybe you think that you aren’t beautiful enough or handsome enough.
Maybe you think that you aren’t smart enough. Maybe you think that no one will ever love you because you don’t deserve it.
The thing is that you believe that you aren’t good enough for your loved one and it makes you afraid of connecting with your partner on a deeper level.
4. Prioritizing the wrong things in life
There are a lot of people who prioritize work and their career over everything in life. If you’re a workaholic, it might be one of the causes of your avoidant attachment style.
You put a lot of effort into becoming successful at what you do and you’re afraid that a romantic relationship may only be a distraction for your goals.
That’s why you start avoiding relationships at any cost. Your job is the most important thing to you and you don’t let anything interfere with that.
5. Abandonment issues
If you have any kind of abandonment issues, you’ll be more likely to suffer from an avoidant personality disorder.
You won’t be able to overcome your fear of abandonment by yourself and you’ll come to the conclusion that it’s better to stay away from relationships than to fear all the time whether someone will hurt you and leave you.
6. Trust issues
If you have some trust issues, you won’t be able to maintain a healthy relationship with someone. Your doubts will destroy your relationships.
After some time, you’ll start thinking that it’s better to avoid getting into a relationship because it’s impossible for you to find someone who’ll prove to you that they’re trustworthy.
See also: Disorganized Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style
Love avoidant traits
If you think that your partner might have an avoidant attachment style, here are some characteristics of an avoidant person that will make things more clear to you.
1. Fear of any kind of intimacy
If your partner doesn’t want to be intimate with you, it doesn’t have to mean that they don’t love you; it means that they’re afraid it’ll change your relationship.
An avoidant partner is afraid of that emotional intimacy because they think it’ll make them vulnerable and that you could use it to hurt them.
It’s normal that in some part of your relationship you’ll have to share your personal feelings and get intimate with your partner, especially if you’re in a long-term relationship.
However, no matter how much an avoidant person loves their partner, they try to sabotage the relationship or run away whenever things get heated and that makes it impossible for them to maintain the relationship.
2. Using many distancing techniques
They’ll do whatever it takes to avoid physical closeness. Even when they truly love their partner, they will never say it to them directly.
They will try to postpone the conversation about taking a new step in the relationship (making it official). That way they hurt their loved one without even realizing it.
They never want to discuss the problems they have in the relationship because they’re afraid it’ll result in conflict or a fight.
They refuse to enter into a conflict with their partner because they’re worried they could reveal some of their feelings and thoughts that way.
3. Displaying narcissistic traits
This is why they are compared to narcissists so often. Yes, they’re self-centered and they like their independence but they also care for others.
They seem cold when you first meet them and that’s why some people think that they’re arrogant but that doesn’t have to be true. They seem that way only because they want to keep others away from them.
They don’t like to question their partner because they know they’ll ask them the same questions and they don’t like to talk about themselves, especially about their feelings.
They don’t need constant praise from their partner and they don’t want to be admired. On the contrary, it only makes them feel anxious and shy because they aren’t good at taking compliments.
4. Sending mixed signals
They can love someone but it’ll be hard to admit that to themselves and that’s why they can send mixed signals to their partner.
They won’t do it on purpose. They’re also confused and they have mixed feelings. They don’t want to allow their partner to get too close to them but at the same time, they fell in love with them.
This is why dating an avoidant person might seem like you’re dating two different people at the same time.
In one moment, they’ll be showing you how much you mean to them but in the next, they’ll try to run away and show you that they don’t care for you at all.
5. Not being able to open up about how they feel
They’re afraid to show their vulnerable side and open up to their partner about how they feel.
They find it hard to express their feelings because they think it might give you some power over them if they tell you how exactly they feel about you.
They don’t want to talk about their emotions or things that bother them because they’re afraid of your reaction. They’re also afraid that once you know how they feel about you, you’ll be bored with them and leave them.
This attachment style affects their mental health. They don’t know how to behave around their partner anymore and it makes them anxious.
They have strong feelings for their significant other but at the same time, they want to run away before things get serious.
It’ll seem like they can’t make up their mind. They can’t run away but their attachment style doesn’t allow them to stay either.
How to deal with a love avoidant person
You’ve already heard the good news, that with a little effort, it’s possible to maintain a relationship with an avoidant partner.
Now it’s up to you. Decide whether you truly care for them that much to fight for your relationship. If you do, this is how you can save your relationship.
1. Communicate more
Healthy communication is the only way you can get to them. They aren’t able to open up emotionally to you but you should open up to them about the things in their behavior that bother you.
You have to earn their trust first so they’ll be able to open up to you. After some time, they’ll follow your example and talk to you about their emotions.
You have to be patient and wait until they realize that you are trustworthy. And when they do open up to you, don’t tell them that you aren’t okay with some of their habits and how they should change.
You should only listen to them. By that time, they’ll have realized themselves that they need to change their behavior in order to save the relationship.
2. Don’t be too persistent
Don’t chase them. Don’t try to make them do anything because they don’t like to be told what to do. They cherish their independence more than anything, remember?
Give them time. They’ll see how much you’re trying to make your relationship work and that your feelings are sincere. This is the only thing that can make them change.
3. Give them space and time
I’m sure they will request more space and time because they are afraid of anyone getting too close to them so respect this. In the meantime, you can hang out with your family and friends. Don’t think about that too much.
They’re not requesting time and space because they need it to think about the future of your relationship. In other words, they won’t break up with you, you don’t have to worry about that.
The whole dating thing is probably new to them and it’s normal that they need more time to process their feelings.
4. Respect their differences
We all have our differences and that’s what makes every relationship fun. You don’t have to try to change those things. You have to embrace those differences. It’ll make you both work harder for your relationship.
It’ll strengthen your bond. You only have to learn to deal with those differences in a healthy way. Both of you have to be ready to compromise.
5. Lower your expectations
If you know that you’re dating an avoidant, you shouldn’t have big expectations, at least not at the beginning of your relationship.
You’ll be disappointed because avoidant partners need more time than others to make deeper emotional connections with their partner.
They will never show you that they have feelings for you unless you’ve convinced them that you deserve it. You have to show with your actions that you’re deserving of their love and affection.
6. Don’t give them ultimatums
Ultimatums like, “If you don’t change, I’ll leave you,” don’t work with them. Forget about them as you will achieve nothing with them.
It’ll only make things worse because they’re stubborn. It would only make them want to end things with you then.
7. Set some healthy boundaries
You have to also care about yourself and your needs. If you don’t like something, you have to talk to your partner and set some boundaries about those things that bother you.
They might not like it but that’s not your problem. Setting some limits and boundaries is how you’ll protect yourself from getting hurt.
8. Seek professional help if necessary
Avoidance of emotional closeness with another person is a personality disorder and that’s a fact. Sometimes, no matter how much both you and your partner try, you can’t deal with it alone.
You can always get help from a mental health professional. They’ll give you advice on what you should do next and how you can learn to live with that attachment style.
Can a love avoidant change?
Of course they can. We all can change some things for the person we truly love. However, that doesn’t mean that we should change ourselves completely for our loved one.
You should never give up on who you are entirely for someone else. Your identity is who you are and that makes you different from all others.
You should never change it, no matter how strong your feelings are for the person who wants you to change.
You can truly have an amazing relationship with a love avoidant but you have to be ready to put some effort into that relationship.
You have to give them some space and arm yourself with patience. It’ll all pay off one day and you’ll be glad that you fought to keep your avoidant partner in your life.