Girl Avoiding Meeting Toxic Girlfriend Ignoring Her Greeting Walking Outdoors⁠

Dating when you have an avoidant attachment style

An avoidant attachment style can leave you without any close relationships. But are you truly happy after you’ve pushed your loved ones away?

Today, we’re diving into what it means to be an avoidant attachment style. Whether you’re dating someone with this style or realising you’re an avoidant, this guide is here to help you get to the bottom of the behaviour.

Ready? Scroll down to learn more about avoidant attachment.

What is an avoidant attachment style?

Also known as anxious-avoidant, an avoidant attachment style is a name for someone who struggles to build healthy relationships and doesn’t tolerate emotional or physical intimacy. Like a “lone wolf”, these individuals tend to brush off relationships and flee when things get too serious.

What causes an avoidant attachment style?

Psychologists theorise that attachment styles start in early childhood. How we interact with others while we’re young shapes how we will build relationships when we’re adults.

Avoidants might not have met their basic and emotional needs, which means they have difficulty trusting people in the future. For example, an avoidant might subconsciously view relationships as unsafe and, therefore, develop an insecure-avoidant attachment style.

What are the other attachment styles?

Avoidant attachment isn’t the only attachment style psychologists use. Other styles describe different behaviours. Here are the three main other types:

  • Anxious attachment – Also known as codependent, those with anxious attachment want closeness with their partner and tend to put other’s needs before their own to get it
  • Fearful-avoidant attachment – Fearful-avoidant attachment is also known as “disorganised” attachment. These people want closeness but fear it, so they switch styles
  • Secure attachment – The last style is secure attachment. These people are comfortable with intimacy and separation and take a healthy view of relationships

Quarrel, relationship problems, ignoring spouse and avoiding⁠

Why do avoidant attachment styles fear intimacy?

The simple answer is that those with avoidant attachment have been taught that intimacy isn’t safe. This is usually through emotionally unavailable parents or caregivers.

Avoidant attachments learn early on that they can’t rely on others to meet their needs. So, rather than trusting others or expressing feelings, they bottle them up and aim to become self-sufficient.

Finding relationships scary is normal, but if you’re avoiding all big emotions and shutting yourself off from connections, it can be a problem.

Signs you might have an avoidant attachment style

Do you or someone you know have an avoidant attachment style? Here are some of the potential signs to look out for:

  • Lots of surface-level friendships and relationships
  • Shutting down as soon as a relationship gets “deep”
  • Having lots of friends but not letting them see their real self
  • Avoidance of strong displays of emotions or intimacy
  • Always looking for a reason to end the relationship (e.g. getting annoyed by partner’s minor habits or appearance)

On the outside, avoidant adults often appear confident and have high self-esteem. This is because they’re independent and used to doing things on their own. However, when you look closer, the above signs will show up again and again.

What to do if you have an avoidant attachment style?

Realising that you have an avoidant attachment can be uncomfortable. However, reflection and realisation are the first steps to building a healthier approach to relationships.

Working with a professional counsellor or therapist can help you understand your feelings in a safe space. They can also provide helpful resources to aid you on your journey. But you don’t have to work with someone else to unwrap your attachment style. You can also reflect and grow by yourself.

If you want to start working on how you approach relationships, start by paying attention to how you feel concerning emotional intimacy. Do you feel uncomfortable? Embarrassed? Do you need to distance yourself?

Once you start breaking down your feelings, you can identify and analyse patterns. This way, when they arise in the future, you can stop, breathe, and react differently.

It’s also helpful to analyse what your emotional needs are. You may push away emotional connections, but deep down, you might feel lonely or wish you had someone to connect with.

When you feel ready, you can try to connect with others and slowly build close relationships. This will take time and lots of reflection, but you can change your attitude to intimacy with clear communication.

Unhappy couple avoid talking after family fight⁠

What if your partner has an avoidant attachment style?

Have you noticed that your partner draws away at the slightest sign of affection? This can be difficult to deal with as a partner, especially if they’re not ready to discuss why they’re an avoidant attachment.

However, you can learn how to navigate dating someone with an avoidant attachment style while they work through their own feelings.

For example, if you notice your partner does their own thing and is dismissive about working together, don’t criticise them or push them into collaborating. Giving them some space is important.

If they start to pull away or run at the sight of intimacy, let them know you support them and are there for them when they’re ready.

Ultimately, it is not a good idea to be more clingy when an avoidant pulls away. Instead, let the avoidant be independent and give them breathing room.

Protecting yourself when dating an avoidant

It’s critical to note that you can give an avoidant all the space in the world, but if they don’t work on their behaviour and keep being “hot and cold,” you need to assess whether it’s fair for you to stay in the relationship.

You also need your needs met. So, if your partner is pulling away and withholding affection, it might be a sign that you need to put your needs first and decide whether the relationship is truly serving you.

The takeaway

Whether you’re dating an avoidant or assessing your own attachment style, we hope this guide has explained the basics of avoidant attachment. If in doubt, talk through your feelings with a trusted loved one or a professional for unbiased advice.

Read more about sex and relationships on the Vivastreet blog.

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