Attachment styles dictate how you approach and connect with others, whether platonically or romantically. Have you ever wondered what loving someone with avoidant attachment is like?
An avoidant partner tends to depend solely on themselves, which can put a strain on closeness, interdependence, and a romantic relationship as a whole.
The needs of both romantic partners have to be met. Otherwise, the relationship is not healthy. With this in mind, it can be frustrating when your partner can’t or won’t give you what you need.
In this case, if you are someone who seeks closeness and are dating an avoidant person, it is more than likely that some emotional needs will not be fulfilled on either side.
In this in-depth guide, we will cover everything you need to know about loving someone with an avoidant attachment style and how you can approach your loved one to maintain a healthy relationship despite your differences.
How Avoidant Attachment Style Affects Romantic Relationships
It is safe to say that avoidant attachment puts a strain on a relationship – both on the avoidant person and their partner. Here are the ways avoidant attachment affects and changes a relationship between two people.
1. Emotional needs
If you have a secure attachment style while your partner is anxious-avoidant, there are many issues that might arise in such a relationship.
You seek words of affirmation, cuddling, bonding, physical touch, vulnerability, and trust, while your partner feels repelled by all of this. Your avoidant partner needs personal space, independence, and freedom, which might hurt you in more ways than one.
As a result, neither your nor your partner’s needs are met.
2. Intimacy issues
Avoidant people tend to have more sexual partners than securely attached individuals. They might accept sex even though they are not attracted to the person or not in the mood.
However, they make this choice because of the overall confusion caused by needing love and attention but being repulsed by the thought of emotional closeness.
So, these individuals might turn their backs on you the second the relationship gets more serious (or boring) and very easily move on to someone else.
It’s not because they tend to change sexual partners and engage in casual relationships and affairs. It’s all because they’re afraid of getting too intimate with someone, and that is their way of avoiding building an intimate connection with another human being.
Due to having a hard time expressing emotions and thoughts, avoidant partners are difficult to communicate with. They avoid uncomfortable and (in their opinion) unnecessary conversations about feelings and issues.
If you feel like you have not been treated properly or your loved one has said something that hurt you, it is practically impossible to have an adult conversation about it with an avoidant partner.
They will either leave the room or diminish your feelings to the point where you think you are overreacting. Sometimes, you’ll start thinking that talking to your avoidant partner is the same as talking to a brick wall.
4. Family issues
If you are starting a family with an avoidant person, it is more than likely that your child will develop the same attachment system. Infants are like little sponges. They feel what you feel and behave how you behave.
Furthermore, introducing your avoidant significant other to your family might be very hard. And time will pass until they finally decide to introduce you to their loved ones.
5. Unaligned love languages
I need to repeat this again: loving someone with an avoidant attachment style isn’t easy. Different love languages are just another reason why that is so.
Your love language is words of affirmation – your avoidant partner thinks that’s clingy.
Your love language is touch – your avoidant partner does not like intimacy.
These are very opposite approaches to a relationship, and conflict may arise when either partner’s boundaries are ignored.
The fact is, for a healthy relationship, you don’t need to have the same love language as your partner. However, you definitely need to understand and accept theirs and vice versa. With an avoidant partner, that will be difficult because they only understand their love language.
What An Avoidant Person Can Do
The first step is realizing that you might have an avoidant attachment style. This is the hardest of all steps. After this, you can find help and improve your emotional mindset.
1. Look into therapy
If you are well aware that your reservations stem from childhood, therapy would be very beneficial. You can find out about your own attachment style.
It would help to uncover certain life experiences such as childhood trauma, ignored needs, and ways to start expressing your emotions to a loved one. Your adult attachment does not have to be the same as your childhood one.
If you start looking for ways to move on from your avoidant attachment style towards secure attachment because you want to keep your significant other in your life, it’ll be huge proof of your love for them.
2. Don’t be afraid to open up to your partner
Whether you have the avoidant or anxious attachment style or any other, you should never be afraid to share it with someone you care about.
The truth is, sooner or later, they’ll figure it out by themselves.
Open up to your partner and let them meet you through your avoidant attachment style. If they accept you with it, it’ll be a big sign they’re really into you.
Also, this will help avoid many conflicts that would arise from differences in love languages, healthy boundaries, and all the necessary components of a sustainable, loving relationship.
3. Try to be more self-considerate
Digging into those negative memories that have caused you to build a stone wall around yourself will uncover the real reasons you developed such a coping mechanism.
Remember: there is nothing wrong with wanting validation, emotional intimacy, and general well-being, even if it requires you completely opening up about your traumas, caregivers, and whatever led you to form a fearful avoidant attachment.
What You Can Do for Your Avoidant Partner
Both partners need to work and put equal effort into making their relationship work.
Above, I gave a few tips for the avoidant partner. Now let’s talk about what you can do for an avoidant lover to help them move to a secure attachment style.
1. Stay calm and patient
It’s a clear fact already: loving someone with an avoidant attachment style can be painful. However, if your avoidant partner realizes their attachment system, you should be patient. Improvements will not be visible right away.
This doesn’t mean that you should bottle up your emotions – express them calmly. They are fighting as much as you are.
There is really no need for raised tensions and creating an unhealthy atmosphere. If you have to confront them with something, do it in a calm and healthy way by communicating.
2. Offer couple therapy
Going to therapy on their own might be a scary step, but going with your loved one to resolve your issues can be a better way to go.
With the help of a professional, you can really make a difference in your relationship where both of your needs will be met. Of course, don’t expect your partner to accept this proposition immediately.
However, if you truly want to make things work between you, you need to be patient and persistent. I know it’s difficult to be both of those things at the same time, but you’ll need to find a way to be both patient and persistent if you want to build a healthy relationship with your avoidant partner.
3. Suggest activities your partner enjoyed as a child
Whether it’s coloring, playing basketball, or riding a bike, initiating activities that brought joy to your avoidant partner might help them heal their inner child. The root cause of the avoidant attachment style lies in bad childhood experiences.
The neglect that they experienced in their childhood did not allow them to continue enjoying activities suitable for children but to grow up and quickly become independent.
4. Remember: Your avoidant loves you
These individuals might suffer from a personality disorder as well. Their cold and uninterested behaviors are what they learned from their caregivers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love you.
They just don’t know how to show it. And even if they have some ideas of how to prove their love to you, they avoid doing that because their own fears stop them.
They may be sure of your love, but deep down, and because of some of their old wounds, they’re still dealing with some awful doubts. Their fear of abandonment makes them think they should doubt your feelings even though they know for sure you love them.
5. You can’t accept it, but try to understand their avoidant behavior
In order to accept your partner’s avoidant behavior, you’ll probably want to know where it comes from first. On that note, let’s dive into the roots of avoidant behavior.
The anxious-avoidant attachment style stems from childhood and caregivers. In such cases, the caregiver is not completely absent from the child’s life but instead detached from any emotional availability and support.
These parent-child and romantic relationships are explained by attachment theory. The first attachment theorist, John Bowlby, defined attachment as “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”
The central dogma of this theory is that the primary caregiver needs to provide security for the infant. With such an approach, the child knows that it can depend on that person.
So, besides having a reliable place to fall back on when needed, the child is pushed to explore the world around it with the help of its adult protector. This goes way beyond just humans, as these behaviors are observed in many different animal species.
The 4 Stages of Attachment
It may also be useful for you to know more about attachment in general because it’s definitely not something your partner will deal with in a hurry. You’ll both need to put in the time and effort to deal with their insecure attachment style.
• Pre-attachment: from birth to 3 months
Infants do not show any specific attachment to caregivers. They just call for their presence by crying and keep them close by being calm.
• Indiscriminate attachment: from 2 to 7 months
Infants begin to differentiate between primary and secondary caregivers but have a more positive attitude towards the primary one.
• Discriminate attachment: from 7 to 11 months
A strong link between the infant and a single primary caregiver is formed, and the child experiences separation anxiety when that person is away.
• Multiple attachments: after 9 months
The ability to bond with more than 1 person occurs in infants, as they become attached to other family members as well.
Although it may seem unreal, the amount and quality of attention given to an infant greatly impact further childhood and adulthood, as well as mental health.
Adults who develop a secure attachment style during infancy and childhood are at less risk of developing anxiety and depression, can form meaningful bonds with other people, maintain healthy adult relationships, and have a great basis to be potential partners and a caregiver.
However, when there is a disruption in the attachment process, the child might develop an avoidant attachment style. The caregiver either wants the child to be completely independent at a very young age or does not have time to focus on their child’s needs.
Apart from lacking security, emotional transparency is impeded as well. Suppressing any kind of emotion, whether positive or negative, is done simply because the parent can’t or won’t bother.
Crying, being sad, and seeking attention are instantly blocked by the caregiver’s anger and belittlement of the child’s emotions.
Happiness, or being proud of an achievement, is also inhibited by the parent’s lack of interest or emotion regarding the child’s excitement. Children then do not feel safe around the caregiver and have to turn to themselves for support.
Issues are not faced, problems are not solved, and the child learns to ignore the negative things without healthy processing, leading to overly independent adults who can’t form meaningful connections with other people.
Signs of Avoidant Attachment Style
1. Avoiding commitment
Avoidant individuals tend to be afraid of long-term commitment. This mostly stems from their fear of abandonment.
Ending a relationship when things get more serious is a common step that most anxious-avoidant people take. Including, leaving a conversation when plans for the future are being made.
For instance, you suggest a vacation or a family meeting. Your partner might seem into the idea but ends up backing out.
2. Demanding complete independence
Just as they don’t want to depend on anybody, individuals with an avoidant attachment style also do not like anyone depending on them. This gives a sense of seriousness and closeness, further leading to the formation of intimate relationships (which are a ‘no’ for avoidant partners).
Furthermore, these individuals think they can only rely on themselves and don’t need others. With such a mindset, it is almost impossible to rely on an avoidant person.
3. Being emotionally distant
Emotional availability is considered being vulnerable by avoidant people. Listening to their feelings and expressing them is very hard for them.
They might dodge any emotional questions or conversations that require them to say how they feel. It could be anything from “How do you feel about this?” to “How do you feel about me?”
On the other hand, when you put your cards on the table (whether positive or negative), avoidant partners prefer to completely disregard your emotions, either by telling you that you are too sensitive and overreacting or by reasoning you out of those feelings.
4. There is no trust
As the avoidant attachment style makes people prone to independence, freedom, and fear of abandonment, it is difficult to trust others.
They might see you and your actions as a threat to their liberty and autonomy. Likewise, fear of abandonment is very strongly expressed, leaving avoidant people believing that you will move on more than believing your words and actions of affirmation.
5. Rigid rules
Rules that these individuals blindly follow throughout their lives are very important because they are the core of their freedom and independence.
This also allows them to set their priorities with you at the very beginning of the relationship. For example, saying that their job will always be their top priority or that they will never marry.
Disobeying these rules is a deal breaker for avoidant types as they would never allow you to affect the base of their independence.
6. Lack of interest
They can’t focus on what you’re saying and will show no interest in your hobbies, music taste, or even personal issues. Additionally, they will show no interest in your relationship or how to maintain it in a healthy way.
Instead, avoidant people focus solely on themselves.
7. Choosing alone time over bonding
Avoidant partners don’t know how to approach intimacy, so they avoid it. They are also repelled by behaviors that promote closeness, spending time together, and non-sexual physical touch – this is clingy for them.
When a partner suggests a bonding activity, an avoidant person will point out their neediness and clinginess, requesting more space and alone time.
8. High self-esteem combined with negative views of others
People with avoidant attachment only focus on themselves. They highlight their successes and exaggerate when it comes to their positive characteristics.
At the same time, avoidant individuals think poorly of others. This can be a connection to other properties of the avoidant attachment style, such as trouble trusting others and being dependent on someone.
9. Suppressing negative memories
Avoiding talking about traumatic events is a coping mechanism for avoidant people. Instead, they would rather focus on themselves.
Processing and discussing negative memories requires emotional vulnerability and availability, which is extremely hard for them. So, it is easier to ignore the problems and ugly thoughts than deal with any issues coming from within.
10. Steering clear of conflict
Their lack of interest and care for others’ feelings does not allow them to enter any uncomfortable conversations or situations. They are never wrong, but everyone else is.
Blaming others for overreacting, being too sensitive, jumping to conclusions, and just being needy is a very common occurrence. However, when they are finally called out on something, they will not engage in any kind of discussion.
Research has shown that avoidant individuals, especially those with dismissive avoidant attachment, tend to spend more time on social media. This gives them the ability to feel connected to people, but without any social interaction.
How does an avoidant show love?
It is hard for an avoidant person to show affection or be intimate. However, an avoidant shows love by including you in their personal life, meeting their family and friends, initiating and sticking to plans for the future, and letting you see a glimpse of themselves.
Furthermore, sometimes they turn to nonverbal communication, encourage you to have your personal space, and listen to you even when you are pointing out some issues in the relationship.
How do you tell if an avoidant loves you?
You will know that a person with an avoidant attachment style loves you when they start including you in their everyday lives without fear that you will take their freedom away.
You can also tell by their attempts of increased intimacy, emotional closeness, and putting you first.
How does an avoidant fall in love?
Avoidant people don’t allow themselves to fall in love. But, when they do fall in love, they fall hard!
It is likely that an avoidant will fall in love with someone who respects their boundaries and suggests activities that the avoidant enjoyed as a child. This gives them a sense of security that they never had back in their childhood.
Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with an avoidant?
Yes, it is possible. Avoidants are people and have feelings too.
They just don’t like to show them. With the right amount of communication, inner child healing, and therapy, a healthy relationship with an avoidant is possible.
How does an avoidant feel about marriage?
Many avoidants like to set the rules at the very beginning of a relationship. Some of those ‘rules’ might be that they will never get married.
This is because they think their freedom will be lost, which is one of the most valued aspects of their lives. But, not every avoidant is the same. Some avoidants might feel more strongly about marriage than others, and many factors, such as therapy, might have an effect.
Is it possible to love an avoidant?
Avoidants are people too. Depending on your attachment type, it might be easier or harder to be in a relationship with an avoidant person. But definitely, yes, loving an avoidant is perfectly possible.
On the other hand, when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship with them, there might be a problem. You’ll need to work hard to understand them and help them move to a more secure attachment style.
What are some ways to show love to an avoidant?
Allowing them to have as much personal space as they need. Not pushing them to be more emotional when they are already trying, that is, giving them time to open up to you.
Most importantly, through understanding and letting them know that you will be patient with their journey are some of the ways to show love to an avoidant partner.
What are the benefits of being in a relationship with an avoidant?
You will never have to worry about having your personal space, that’s for sure!
You will have all the freedom and independence you need. But the most important thing of all is that, when in love, avoidants will give anything just to make you happy and fulfill your needs.
What is the biggest problem in an avoidant relationship?
An emotional and physical distance is the biggest problem in these relationships. Having very different needs creates a massive gap between two people who can’t satisfy each other.
If you crave attention and cuddling, and you are dating an avoidant, it is more than likely that it’s not going to happen without professional and long-term interventions.
Having an insecure attachment is very complex, both for the person suffering from it and their loved one. It’s true, loving someone with avoidant attachment might be hard sometimes.
However, if you truly love your avoidant partner and want things to work, you need to understand the whole background of their behavior.
Avoidant attachment style chose them, not the other way around, so try to be more accepting and less judging. Offer them an infinite amount of support during their journey of becoming an individual who can form stable attachments and finally give you everything you want.