So, according to attachment theory, how we relate to others in our adult relationships was shaped directly by our childhood experiences with our caregivers.
There are four attachment types: secure, avoidant, anxious, and disorganized. This article will deal with the avoidant attachment type.
Avoidants have trouble with emotional intimacy, which makes it challenging to maintain a relationship with them.
But don’t worry, while it may not be easy, there are ways to increase intimacy and communication with an avoidant.
Read on to find out more.
1) Understand your partner’s attachment style
As I said, there are 4 attachment types. You may have to do some reading to be sure that you’re actually dealing with an avoidant attachment type.
Here are some ways you can spot an avoidant:
- Avoidants appear emotionally distant or disconnected
- They avoid expressions of love and affection
- They don’t like being vulnerable
- They have a strong sense of independence
- They don’t want to rely on anyone, or for anyone to rely on them
- They are often scared of commitment
I strongly recommend reading some more about attachment styles to be sure that you’re really dealing with an avoidant and to understand more about the root of their behavior.
2) Give them space when they need it
Here’s the deal: They’re used to doing things their own way and they have a really strong sense of autonomy and independence.
This means that being in a relationship may be overwhelming at times.
So, in order for your avoidant partner not to feel suffocated and feel the need to run away from you and your relationship, it’s important to give them some space.
But there’s more.
It’s really important not to push them or pressure them into intimacy before they’re ready, as it could have the opposite effect of what you actually want.
3) Don’t take it personally
Easier said than done, I know.
I mean, how can you not take it personally when the person you love keeps pushing you away?
Well, you just have to remember that they’re doing it because they’re scared. That something in their childhood impacted them in such a big way that now they’re afraid that if they open up and get close to someone, they’ll get hurt.
Let me give you the example of a friend of mine.
Her father cheated on her mother while she was pregnant with my friend and ended up making the other woman pregnant. He then left her mother to start a new family with this other woman and this other child. Needless to say, he was absent from my friend’s upbringing.
And guess what? My friend is now an avoidant attachment type.
I’ve known her for a very long time and she’s always sabotaged every relationship she was in.
She’ll go out with guys who are way too young or way too old for her.
Or, when she finds a nice guy who is age-appropriate and things seem to be going well, she’ll start to snoop on his phone and try to find a reason to break it off before he gets a chance to cheat on her and hurt her.
She’s terrified that if she lets herself get close to someone, she’ll get hurt like her mother was by her father.
The bottom line is that your partner’s avoidant behavior has nothing to do with you, it’s something that they’ve been dealing with for a really long time.
4) Be mindful of how you express yourself
Look, it may not always seem like it, but avoidant people are actually extremely sensitive.
They may seem cold and distant, but that’s only a front because deep down, they’re terrified of getting hurt.
That’s why it’s important to be mindful of how you speak to them.
I know it’s not easy, but try not to get overly emotional. Don’t get angry. Don’t blame them.
Maybe try to use neutral, non-judgmental language.
It’s also a good idea to use “I” statements to express how you feel or what you want instead of “you” as it could make them feel attacked and then they’ll become defensive and withdraw.
For example, instead of saying, “You never make time for me. You don’t even care about me” you can say, “I feel like we see each other enough. It would really make me happy if we could spend some more quality time together, I think it would be good for our relationship.”
See what I mean?
5) Don’t wait for them to guess what you want from them
It’s not easy for anyone to guess what their partner wants or needs from them, and it’s especially hard for an avoidant personality because they have a hard time understanding their partner’s needs and emotions.
So instead of feeling disappointed that they didn’t do something that you expected from them, next time, be clear about what you want.
In short: Communicate your needs clearly to them to avoid misunderstandings and frustration.
6) Don’t make promises you can’t keep
As we’ve already established, avoidant attachment types have a hard time with emotional intimacy and connecting with another person. That’s because deep down they’re scared of getting hurt, so they keep pushing people away.
They feel like they can’t count on anyone, which is why you mustn’t prove them right. What I mean is, don’t make any promises you can’t keep!
You need to show them that it’s ok to rely on another person and that they can trust them to keep their promises. That’s the only way to get them to open up and increase intimacy and communication.
If you break your promises, they’ll just retreat further inward and away from you.
7) Don’t try to save them
It’s not uncommon for people dating avoidant types to try to “save” them.
They think, “I’m gonna be the knight in shining armor that will show them what love and intimacy are. With me, they’ll stop being afraid.”
But that’s not exactly how it works.
The only person that can save your partner is your partner themselves. To do that, they need to seek the help of a therapist.
So what can you do?
Love them and support them. And most importantly, encourage them to speak to a professional because you don’t have the tools to fix things by yourself.
8) Practice vulnerability
Opening up and being vulnerable is one of the hardest things for an avoidant to do.
But how can you have an intimate relationship without it?
You can’t. That’s why you can encourage your avoidant partner to open up and share their emotions by practicing vulnerability yourself.
Open up and share your own feelings and thoughts. Show them that you trust them enough to be vulnerable around them. In doing that, you’ll be creating a safe space for them to do the same.
9) Be patient
I’m not gonna lie to you, building increasing intimacy and communication with an avoidant partner is gonna take time.
They’ve been the way they are for a really long time, so you can’t expect quick results, and you definitely should try to rush the process.
If you’re sure you want to be with them, then you have to be patient.
You need to focus on building a foundation of trust and respect.
You should also bear in mind that some avoidant types remain avoidant types, even if they go to therapy and get all the support they need. I’m not telling you this to discourage you, but simply to prepare you for all possible outcomes.
10) Be consistent
Finally, it’s important to be consistent.
Your avoidant partner needs to know that they can trust you and depend on you. They need to know that you’re not just going to change your mind and walk out on them.
That’s why you need to be consistent and reliable in order to create an environment in which they feel safe.
Ultimately, this will help build trust and increase intimacy and communication in your relationship.