I’m dating an avoidant woman, or I was.
We’re now in a serious relationship, but it took much work and understanding to get to this point.
Now I’m going to share it with you, the top ways to get an avoidant to commit to a relationship.
1) Attachment styles explained
Attachment theory was developed by the British psychologist John Bowlby and is still influential today and used by many therapists and behavioral analysts.
Bowlby believed that early childhood experiences have an influence on the way we give and receive love and intimacy later in life, which he calls our “attachment style.”
He had three categories of attachment styles:
The anxious: received fluctuating and unreliable attention and affirmation as an infant and child.
They have a deep fear of being abandoned or not getting the attention they want and respond to it with desperation.
Feels constantly not good enough and seeks approval, validation and reassurance from the outside world and romantic partners.
The avoidant: received insufficient attention and affirmation as a child, leading to feeling they don’t deserve love or that it is unnatural or untrustworthy.
They feel that being abandoned is the natural way of life, and fear and feel strange around those who seek to make a link with them.
Feels constantly over pressured and limited by the affection and intimacy of others and seeks space and distance from intimacy and romantic commitment.
The secure: received a balance of freedom and love as a child, leading to feeling comfortable giving and receiving intimacy.
Feels happy to be in a relationship and respond to interest and affection as well as show it.
A fourth category was later added by researchers:
The disorganized: received erratic and inconsistent care and affection from their parents or care providers.
They have a lack of trust but don’t have any one attachment style and cycle between all three at various times.
2) Dealing with someone with avoidant attachment style
My girlfriend has a strong avoidant attachment style that has been a big struggle for her.
We were “on again, off again” for a few months and I felt extremely confused.
Every time I showed strong interest or told her how I felt, she would go really quiet like a chill came over her and not really say anything.
Then she’d change the subject.
I didn’t get it, like, at all:
Aren’t guys the ones who are supposed to have commitment issues?
Here I was telling her I’m really into her and she looks like a deer in the headlights.
I now understand how deep her avoidant attachment style goes and why this kind of strong interest from me scared her so much.
She didn’t feel comfortable receiving love and strong interest, and the idea of a firm commitment felt inherently unnatural and scary to her.
3) My journey to uncover the roots of the problem
When looking for ways to get an avoidant to commit to a relationship, it needs to start with understanding.
Coming to realize my girlfriend had a real aversion to getting more serious beyond casual dating was a wake-up call for me.
I started researching more in-depth about attachment theories and how they work. I started going in-depth on them.
I also contacted a relationship coach at Relationship Hero, a site that had been recommended to me by a friend.
I was expecting pretty vague advice, but the love coach I spoke to blew away my expectations and far exceeded them.
He had a clear understanding of attachment styles and immediately grasped the dynamics of my relationship and what was going on with my girlfriend.
This helped me enormously, because I started to be able to separate my own reactions and emotions from what was going on in her world and see that a lot had nothing to do with me.
I was able to work through this with my love coach and make progress on also talking to my girlfriend and begin communicating with her about what was going on and how to approach it patiently and without pressure.
If you’re wanting answers about getting an avoidant to commit to a relationship I highly recommend Relationship Hero.
4) Demonstrate your own reliability
Trying to talk an avoidant into getting serious has never worked and it never will.
I realized that immediately after watching my girlfriend’s reaction to my comments about getting more serious and the future.
It’s not just that she didn’t like it:
She had a kind of visceral reaction to it as if she’d been bitten by a snake or something.
The words scared her and triggered something deep inside her that feared and was revolted by shows of intimacy and commitment.
Instead of the warm fuzzy feelings that many of the rest of us get, she got a cold chill inside, a kind of emotional nausea.
Reading up more on avoidants and their reactions I was able to understand more of what she was going through and I understood that I would never convince or talk my girlfriend into being my “one and only.”
It would have to happen through actual actions and a physical bonding process, not through outer labels or words and promises.
The thing is that you have to actually demonstrate that you’re trustworthy and someone that can be depended on.
Neediness from you will lead to an avoidant running completely in the other direction, which is why anxious individuals so often end up chasing an avoidant more and more and pushing him or her further away.
The avoidant needs to see that you are secure or that you have tamed and overcome your impulses towards being insecure.
This leads directly into the next point…
5) Prioritize action over words
If you want to know how to get an avoidant to commit to a relationship, you need to prioritize action over words.
You need to have some trust about where the relationship is heading and your partner.
With my girlfriend I had to shift into another gear where we did more things together instead of just hanging out and kind of doing nothing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with her even just doing nothing or relaxing and watching a movie.
But part of the process in deepening our commitment wasn’t just about spending time together it was about actually doing things together.
I’m talking about going bike riding together, hiking up a nearby mountain area, cooperating on an awesome photography project together of birds at a nearby river, and so on…
We bonded so much over these kinds of things that I didn’t even think to “check up” on where our commitment level was at.
We were just “vibing” together for lack of a better word.
We were growing in our relationship and our love without having to talk about it or define it.
And for an avoidant it’s these kinds of experiences and bonding that make the difference in the long run.
6) Build them up and appreciate them
As you bond and get closer in your real relationship, build up your avoidant partner and appreciate them.
This isn’t empty flattery or “oh my God you look so good today” type stuff.
This is for real appreciation.
Small things like making dinner for them or giving them a generous back rub after a long day…
Telling him or her what you appreciate about their personality in a way that expects no response, just letting them know!
Don’t make it overly dramatic or like some soppy scene from a soap opera.
This is just you letting them know you see them and appreciate them.
The avoidant has deep roots of feeling like love is unreliable or always attached to conditions or scarcity.
By showing them that you give out this affection freely without wanting anything back, you build up trust and intimacy and, yes…commitment.
But how do you offer love and affection without wanting anything back when really you are hoping they will eventually commit?
Well, herein lies the paradox and tricky part of getting an avoidant to commit.
You have to practice the art of wu wei….
Read on to the next point to find out more…
7) Don’t attach conditions to your love
If you attach conditions to your love or seek a specific outcome, the avoidant will feel it in every pore.
When I decided to get more active with my girlfriend and focus on activity together I didn’t do it with the goal of taking things to the next level.
I did it out of a real desire to get closer to her when I realized that talking it through wasn’t going to be the way.
If we’d spent months bonding through activity and our photography project and she had ghosted me, I admit I would have been heartbroken.
But I would never have said: “but this isn’t what was supposed to happen.”
You have to maintain this kind of balance and paradoxical approach.
It’s what is called “wu wei” in ancient Chinese philosophy. It essentially means “effortless action” or “doing without doing.”
If that sounds like a contradiction, not so fast…
“This is the paradox of wu wei. It doesn’t mean not acting, it means ‘effortless action’ or ‘actionless action’.
“It means being at peace while engaged in the most frenetic tasks so that one can carry these out with maximum skill and efficiency.”
What this means to me is that I acknowledge that somewhere deep in me is a desire for commitment and having this girl by my side for life…
But simultaneously and in all I do with her, I am letting that go.
I’m truly relinquishing any expectation or “goal” of that happening.
It is my desire, and it’s real, but nothing I do with her has any dependency on it happening.
Wu wei: trust, and be present.
8) Respect their need for space
Part of letting go of expectations is allowing time and space for the avoidant when they need it.
The fatal mistake here is to take it very personally.
I’ll be honest:
Any insecurity you have or fear of abandonment is going to be fully revealed if you’re dating an avoidant.
They will bring that out of you like gold being refined in a fire.
You will need to be willing and able to face your insecurities inside yourself and not vent them or express them to the avoidant.
Give him or her time and space when needed, because not doing so can absolutely sink any progress you’re making in getting more committed.
Decoding the avoidant
An avoidant can make you feel undesirable and unwanted.
They can make you feel like the love you want to give is toxic, dirty or “wrong.”
Any roots of anxiety or insecurity you have can be dug up by this and wither and die if you don’t water them well.
You need to water them with your own life and pursuits, however.
You cannot depend on your partner to do this.
You need to come up with a way to water your own roots without asking for sustenance from your partner.
The avoidant already feels like love is a burden, but you can’t take this personally.
You need to be secure in your value and the value of the love you are giving for any of the advice in this article to function.
Now back to the article…
9) Lower your expectations for communication
Respecting the need for space alone with your partner is a big power move.
It doesn’t require you to “not care” or completely detach.
You simply have to pursue your own life and have enough trust in what the two of you have that he or she will come back.
This can be the hardest thing in the world to do, particularly if you’ve developed really strong feelings for this person.
You’ll find yourself wishing so much that they could just see how much you care, or overcome their issues and be with you.
But that’s the thing:
This avoidant person isn’t somebody or something that you can pick and choose from.
They’re the whole package or nothing…
So often that’s the hardest thing about relationships and love. There is no such thing as “OK, I love this quality, but I’m gonna pass on that one and that one.”
I’m not saying people don’t change, they do!
But an avoidant isn’t going to fall into your arms and commit to you for life on the spur of the moment.
It takes time and patience, and deep security and consistency on your part.
10) Move at their pace
As you navigate this balance between wu wei and action, you need to slow your roll and move more at the pace of the avoidant.
Mark Manson writes about this in a way that’s really blunt and to the point.
“It’s a sad fact that relationships tend to be controlled by those who care least.
“Therefore, avoidants tend to be the ones in control in both friendships and romantic relationships, as they are almost always willing to leave.”
This is so harsh, and I hate to say it, but it absolutely needs to be said.
The more that you tend towards being anxious and insecure, the more chance that an avoidant will not commit to you and will leave you.
If you have anxious and insecure tendencies, you need to face those and truly resolve them as much as possible.
If you are scared of the avoidant leaving, it’s far more likely to happen.
If you live your own life and move at their pace and trust in any love between you to grow at its own pace, it’s much more likely to happen.
There are times when love and commitment needs a little push.
But when it comes to an avoidant, trying to push them or get “updates” on how they’re feeling toward you will blow up in your face.
The more you check their temperature, the more spooked they will get and the higher the chances they will leave you in the dust.
I thank God that I learned this without having to learn the hard way, and I give a lot of credit for that to talking to the coach at Relationship Hero.
We covered so much territory in our talks and I really had huge breakthroughs.
I honestly don’t think I would have reached those on my own.
11) Avoid labels and ‘big talks’
When you’re working on ways to get an avoidant to commit to a relationship, avoid having this as a goal.
I mean, it is your goal: but try to let the relationship progress naturally.
Avoidants can still fall in love and desire commitment just like anyone else.
But they don’t respond well to expectations, conditions and parameters being drawn out for them.
As such, you want to avoid the kind of “big talks” that sometimes come up in relationships.
These may be the norm for you from past relationships.
The kind of talks where you get into “what are we?” and such may be something you feel are normal and healthy. And sometimes they are.
But for an avoidant they are likely to prompt quite a backlash.