We really do find love in a hopeless place, because why else do we fall in love with avoidants?
They act like they don’t want it, place their need for independence above intimacy, distance themselves for no apparent reason, and basically have this ‘attachment theory’ that’s supposed to explain they’re so ‘allergic’ to relationships.
An avoidant partner keeps you on your toes no matter how long you’ve been together. You’re never quite sure of where you stand with them. Sometimes, when it feels like the relationship is finally on solid ground, you wade right back into the marsh. Such partners could give you the feeling that something is wrong with you.
Nevertheless, despite their iciness and uncertainty, avoidants tend to draw you in without even trying. They have a bit of mystery to them, never revealing enough about themselves or their intentions. They are the kind of people whose assurance you just want to win.
- 1 21 Ways to Improve An Avoidant Attachment
- 1.1 1. Learn about attachment styles
- 1.2 2. Know your attachment style
- 1.3 3. Respect your differences
- 1.4 4. Understand it is fear that makes them aloof, not that they don’t care
- 1.5 5. Also, do not pursue
- 1.6 6. Listen to understand, not to fix
- 1.7 7. Share, don’t complain
- 1.8 8. Be dependable
- 1.9 9. Be honest
- 1.10 10. Be open about your needs with each other
- 1.11 11. Watch your tone
- 1.12 12. Encourage your partner by acknowledging positive changes
- 1.13 13. Avoid being passive-aggressive
- 1.14 14. Embrace your vulnerability
- 1.15 15. Get comfortable with being alone
- 1.16 16. Cultivate interests outside of your relationship
- 1.17 17. Set boundaries
- 1.18 18. Avoid issuing ultimatums
- 1.19 19. Strive for balance
- 1.20 20. You can’t change your avoidant significant other, so don’t try
- 1.21 21. Seek professional support
- 2 FAQs
- 3 To Conclude
21 Ways to Improve An Avoidant Attachment
Besides your avoidant partner, you probably know or have dated another person with an avoidant attachment style because, according to this attachment style research, they make up 23% of relationships.
I’m willing to bet that all these people are not single. So, there are many couples stuck with individuals with avoidant behaviors, but their partners must be making it work somehow right? We already know communication is key in relationships, but how do you do it with an avoidant partner? Read on to find out.
1. Learn about attachment styles
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of attachment and the different styles, you may just see your avoidant significant other as weird or mysterious. And though those seem endearing at first, the charm tends to wear off as the heady days recede.
To communicate effectively with your partner, you first have to understand why they are the way they are. Their ‘weird’ behaviors probably stem from a negative experience they had many years ago, or even a few months ago.
Nonetheless, you shouldn’t limit your knowledge to the avoidants alone. Learn about the other types of attachment styles as well, and you might find that others (including you) are as unique in their own way as your partner.
2. Know your attachment style
Including the (fearful and dismissive) avoidants, there are four attachment styles. According to John Bowlby, the British psychoanalyst who formulated the attachment theory. The most common is the secure folks, while the ‘anxious-preoccupied’ takes about 20%. Recognizing which category you fall under is just as essential as knowing your partner’s, if not more so.
Sa, for instance, you have the anxious attachment style, you’re like the opposite of your avoidant partner in terms of the things you fear.
This means you may consciously have to clamp down your possible abandonment issues and need to constantly fish for reassurance. Otherwise, it would reflect in your interactions as a couple and ultimately tire your significant other out.
3. Respect your differences
Once you have more knowledge of the subject, it becomes easier to identify you and your partners’ differences. But rather than point them out any time you feel you have something to prove, let them act as incentives to be more mindful of the person you’re with.
That you want to move at the speed of light, but they don’t doesn’t mean your emotions are one-sided. There needs to be some kind of balance you strike as partners.
If they are still with you despite the constant chatter in their head selling their independence to them, it means they are giving closeness a chance against their usual logic. Therefore, try to respect where they are coming from, instead of forcing them to approach intimacy your way.
4. Understand it is fear that makes them aloof, not that they don’t care
Avoidant people develop self-reliance as a coping/defense mechanism, often from a young age. The attachment style stems from their early relationship with their parents or primary caregivers. Perhaps they didn’t get enough support from the authority figures in their life growing up or were disappointed so often that they concluded they are all they’ve got.
Thus this insecure attachment style begins. They’ll find ways to shut others out and depend on themselves solely regardless of their needs.
They close up and recoil at the thought of intimacy, and they intentionally seek relationships that are not likely to last so they can tell themselves, “I told you so.” The point is, don’t take it personally when your avoidant partner avoids you, running is their first instinct when they catch feelings or sense closeness.
5. Also, do not pursue
Avoidants will have their space once they need it, one way or the other. I get how you may want to reach out to make sure you didn’t do something that got them mad. And how your worries can get the best of you if you take the anxious attachment route. However, chasing someone who would rather be left alone only makes them want to stay away the more.
So, give each other space every now and then and don’t fuel his fear by being clingy. Let them know you respect their decision and that they can take as much space as they need. Validating their needs and letting them do things on their terms may earn you some goodwill and hopefully make them see that relationships don’t necessarily have to be stifling.
6. Listen to understand, not to fix
Whenever you and your avoidant partner have a conversation, try to listen to one another properly. ‘Properly’ in the sense that you’re not just hearing what they are saying so you can provide the solution or end the discussion. They may not say much a lot of the time, but everyone wants to feel heard, especially by their partner.
When they tell you about their feelings or the things they fear, be it why they don’t call you as often as you’d like or why they’re so afraid of commitment, just listen. Avoidants have needs, but more importantly, they need someone that would be willing to listen to their ‘crazy’ thoughts.
So, don’t come up with alternatives to whatever they’re asking for without understanding why it’s an issue for them in the first place.
I know how frustrating it can be to deal with the same issue repeatedly in a relationship. Your emotions can get the better of you at some point and make you want to give it to your partner exactly as you’re feeling it. So, you complain, again, in hopes that it sinks this time that you need more attention.
It does sink when you do that, just not in a positive way. It makes them feel choked, so instead of focusing on what you’re criticizing, they may take it personally. Therefore, try to make your wishes, feelings, desires, and whatnot known instead of making a fuss of pointing out what they’re not doing.
For instance, you can say, “I wish you’d spend more time with me” instead of “You never spend time with me anymore.”
8. Be dependable
If you’re dating or married to an avoidant, you have the opportunity (and frankly, responsibility) to reform their view of human connectedness. Not to mount any more pressure on you, but every relationship someone with an insecure attachment style gives a chance either softens or hardens their resolve about people.
Don’t repeat the mistake their parents probably made by being unreliable or dismissive of their needs. Be the individual who makes them want to give love a chance, not the person who pushes them farther away from love.
How to do this is simple, just be dependable. Don’t make commitments you’re not willing to honor. Let your partner know that even though you’re human prone to fail, your default mode will always be not to let them down.
9. Be honest
Avoidants may wear it on their sleeves more, but I don’t think even people who fall under the other attachment styles love to feel trapped in a relationship either. You have as much stake in your partnership as your partner, so whatever you do, please be honest with yourself and, of course, with them.
Don’t nod and say something when you really mean another. It helps them to know that your yes means yes and no means no. It gives them more peace to be able to trust that you can come to them with anything. That may also encourage them to bring their wall down.
10. Be open about your needs with each other
The secret to effective communication with someone who wants to know where your mind’s at but most likely won’t ask is openness. Make that the basis of your relationship dynamics with your avoidant by adopting the best policy (honesty) when expressing your needs and feelings.
Again, don’t conscript yourself to unhappiness by not making your needs known because you think they won’t be able to meet them anyway. For all you know, they may not even know their absence has been noticeable, let alone figure that you feel neglected when they don’t pay you enough attention.
Your partner can’t strive to do better if they don’t know they’re not doing enough. Therefore, normalize putting your desires out there as clearly as you can, and make them feel safe enough with you to do the same. This would improve the type of communication you have with one another.
11. Watch your tone
I hope you didn’t read that in a stern grandma’s voice. I meant, try as much as possible not to talk condescendingly or take a forceful tone with someone who has an avoidant attachment. They are already going around micro-analyzing all the reasons why they’d probably be better off without love or a relationship.
Remember, they’ve been through relationships before, and the others have probably resulted in the same thing, people misunderstanding them. Taking an intense tone with them will only reinforce that and make them withdraw or shut down (again.) So, unless you’re looking to trigger your partner’s release clause, I’d watch your tone with them.
12. Encourage your partner by acknowledging positive changes
The good news about attachment styles is that they are not set in stone. Given the right environment and the will, an insecurely attached individual can actually become more secure. However, it would help if you didn’t wait till they have changed all the way (which may never happen) before you appreciate their efforts.
Don’t let their tendency to focus on what’sgoing wrong in the relationship rub off on you. Acknowledge actions you know must not have been easy for them and let them know how happy it makes you. Weave this gratitude into your dynamic through day-to-day relations and compliments, so it feels natural and not awkward when you bring it up.
13. Avoid being passive-aggressive
Passive-aggressiveness is one of the most common tools partners use to get their significant other’s attention without being ‘overt.’ Unfortunately, silent treatments, one-word answers, and the likes won’t pass your message across the right way with an avoidant.
In fact, you might be bringing resentment upon yourself as they may take your silence as you not having anything to say instead of probing further. Rather than trying to make them notice you by playing games and getting upset when they don’t, revert to my earlier points on openness and come out straight.
14. Embrace your vulnerability
I say this to you as one woman to another, never see your ability to be vulnerable as a weakness. Yes, it makes you susceptible to getting hurt, but it also opens the door to emotional intimacy in its purest form. I’m afraid even in love, the rules remain the same; no risk, no gain.
Besides, one of the things your avoidant partner is most afraid of is to be perceived as vulnerable, or worse, weak. They put on a strong front even when they are mush on the inside. But it is not always as easy it sounds, they get tired of staying on their guard too.
Seeing their partner unapologetically set precedence for vulnerability in their relationship can motivate them to open up faster, thus improving closeness.
15. Get comfortable with being alone
Your partner will desire (read: take) a lot of space, and you wouldn’t want to be the dependent that gets in the way of that. Though they may not appear to be sometimes, avoidants care an awful lot about those they like too, so they don’t want to go away with the thought of leaving you lonely.
If they know you’re okay being by yourself, then they don’t have to carry around the guilt of not always being with you. Few things are as attractive to this lot as self-sufficiency in their partners.
16. Cultivate interests outside of your relationship
There is no offense in enjoying your partner’s company or wanting to spend a lot of time with them, it’s how feelings grow. However, one has to be careful not to be so taken by the satisfaction that you lose yourself. In other words, don’t neglect other aspects of your life and important relationships because you’re in love.
Nurture your friendships, enjoy your own company, grow a plant, anything. Basically, fill your time with other productive ventures that will help in the fulfillment of other projects outside of your love life. Doing this means you don’t have to fake being self-sufficient to keep your avoidant, you’d actually be.
17. Set boundaries
Being in a long-term relationship with an avoidant partner may mean realizing that some things aren’t just going to change and accepting that. But then, that you can live with some of the ‘oddities’ doesn’t mean you have to take them all as they come.
Be open with your partner about where you draw the line, so they also try on their part to find and stay within the middle ground. Hopefully, you are both dedicated to making your partnership work, and it’s not just one person trying.
18. Avoid issuing ultimatums
Putting your avoidant partner on the spot for any reason is most likely to be a great disservice to your relationship. As I said above about your tone, you want to watch how you communicate with this person if you want a positive response.
Don’t tell them you’ll leave the next time they do something if you don’t mean it. Statements like that trigger their emotional claustrophobia, so they may just call your bluff and retreat. In essence, keep your communication with them honest and your tone even.
19. Strive for balance
Let your interactions be driven by an ultimate goal – balance. It may be a myth, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting as close to it as you can. All healthy relationships have goals, you can make stability one of yours. This will require compromises on both sides as that is how partnerships grow, you know, little sacrifices for the big picture.
20. You can’t change your avoidant significant other, so don’t try
Some women have this cute little thing called ‘savior complex’ that makes them think they can change or ‘save’ their partner from whatever. If you’re one such lady, and you already have plans on how you can make your avoidant partner more secure, you might as well quit now.
First off, it’s unlikely that you’ll make headway unless they decide to work on it themselves. If they did, they wouldn’t need you breathing down their neck while at it, just your support. Third and most importantly, you’re not their therapist, so please don’t act like one.
21. Seek professional support
Your partner may or may not be interested in therapy, but that shouldn’t stop you from signing up with a counselor if you feel you need the support. You should consider this even more if this is your first experience dating an avoidant partner. No one has all the answers, but a relationship coach is better positioned to help you make sense of things.
You can ask them questions you might otherwise not readily get answers to. It’s also a good time to unload some of your own childhood baggage and get a clearer grasp of what you need to improve communication with your love.
An individual with an avoidant attachment style may not wear their feelings on their sleeve when in love with you, but you can tell from their communication with you. They pay more attention to you than others and carry a hint of melancholy in their eyes when they look at you. Generally, they will make more effort to come out of their shell for you, even if they take a break from time to time.
That your partner has an avoidant attachment style doesn’t mean you have to treat them that much differently. You essentially deal with them as you would any other individual you’re involved with, just that you pay extra attention to their triggers. They may not appreciate being singled out and treated uniquely, especially if it makes them appear as less.
Of course, it is possible, even if yours is the opposite of the avoidant attachment style. It would just take effective communication on both sides, with lots of understanding and willingness to compromise. Given the right motivation, an avoidant can become more open to closeness and intimacy with time.
Avoidants are human, so I’d say yeah, they can miss you. They’ve mastered how to hide their emotions, so they don’t come off to others as weak or susceptible. But inside, their hearts break like everyone else’s when they get separated from someone they have feelings for.
Avoidants cope with breakups by suppressing their feelings rather than let themselves get overwhelmed by them. This makes them more likely to seek rebound relationships as a distraction from facing their real emotions. This may come across outwardly as moving on quickly.
Communication with individuals with an avoidant attachment style requires patience and understanding. If you tend to lose it quickly, they may not feel safe enough with you to open up. Notwithstanding, you took a step in the right direction when you decided to read this article. I hope it improves your dynamic with your loved one and that it hopefully makes your lives better.
Don’t forget to leave a comment and share the article with other couples or individuals who may also be struggling with avoidant attachment.
As hopeless romantic I struggled tremendously in my love life. After many years of searching, trial & error, and countless failed relationships, I finally found my Mr. Right. It wasn't an easy road, but one that has taught me an incredible amount about the workings of relationships between men and women, and this is what I hope to share through my writing on this blog.