Every relationship is unique, but there are patterns that emerge of how people act and react.
In particular, we sometimes find ourselves dating somebody who falls into an unhealthy attachment style.
One of those attachment styles is the avoidant attachment style where our partner hides from our affection and avoids us.
When this is happening it can be really difficult. Here are the best ways to respond when an avoidant ignores you.
1) Find out your attachment style
Your response to an avoidant ignoring you is going to depend on your own attachment style.
You need to understand where you’re coming from if you want to know how to address a person who’s avoidant.
We all have an attachment style of some kind, whose roots are often formed in early childhood.
In some cases, we may have a mixture of various attachment styles, with one dominating…
Or we may even have a certain side of us brought out more or less depending on the person we are in a relationship with.
I’ve found this free quiz from NPR really helpful in determining my own attachment style and recommend it.
2) Take care of yourself and make sure you’re OK
No matter what attachment type you are, you’re going to be feeling down if an avoidant ignores you.
Even a secure attachment style doesn’t enjoy being dismissed or pushed aside by a person who’s become a cone of silence.
Before interacting more with an avoidant who is ignoring you, it’s important to look after yourself and do things you love to do.
Instead, focus on your own life and emotional well-being for a time and use this as a period of no contact with the avoidant.
Then you’re ready for the next step.
So far this is all about you because the truth is that you need to make sure you’re as good as you can be before you start responding in any outer way to the avoidant ignoring you.
Make sure you are on a solid basis before reaching out or making yourself vulnerable.
3) Do not fall into the trap of doubling down
For an avoidant individual, their nightmare is a relationship in which their partner is completely in love with them and gives them no space.
Even when they meet an amazing guy or girl and are very happy if that person becomes overly focused on them it makes the avoidant feel stifled and panicked.
They begin to hit the panic button and try to eject at all costs, often to regret it later.
But part of the reason they’re doing this is an instinctive reaction that they have to someone getting too close and too serious in a way that bothers their attachment style.
If you’re dealing with an avoidant, the worst thing you can do is double down in your pursuit of them, demand to know how they’re feeling, or obsess over why they’re not contacting you.
You should also not blame yourself for what’s going on, beyond trying to look objectively at your own unhealthy patterns of behavior if there are any.
4) Dig up the roots of the problem
Our personalities are shaped for life by those closest to us.
As children, the amount of love we experience from our parents and early caregivers helps determine how comfortable we will be with attachment in adulthood.
Too much or too little can cause us to form relationships that reflect an unhealthy neediness or overly guarded stance on intimacy respectively.
What happens then?
Far too often, we misguidedly view attachment styles as being categorically “wrong” or “stupid”.
In reality, though, they are simply valid concerns and difficulties that can be taken to extreme levels.
Love is a risk – it’s true!
However, allowing these risks to balloon into an obsessive worry of not receiving enough love or getting hurt will only result in self-sabotage. Finding the balance between concern and contentment?
That’s where fulfilling relationships are made possible!
I’ll be honest: I had issues with an avoidant before I discovered how to make relationships work.
I was endlessly frustrated that I couldn’t break through the wall and make a connection with my partner.
It was only when I spoke with a coach from Relationship Hero that I began to understand how our attachment styles were playing a role in how we interacted.
My coach guided me on how I could create a safe space for me and my partner. This allowed us to express how we were feeling without any fear of judgment.
Eventually, we were able to open up and started creating a deeper connection with each other.
If you want to get a better understanding and an unbiased perspective on how attachment styles affect the way you interact with people, Relationship Hero can definitely help you.
Take the first step towards a happier life and get matched to a coach now.
5) Let them know that you aren’t placing expectations on them
Many avoidants know they are acting in an unfair or upsetting way but they can’t stop themselves from doing it.
Starting with deep roots and the power of habit, they find themselves instinctively pulling away when you get too close.
Even as the loneliness hits, they may resist opening up more to you because they are so scared of being hurt even more if you break their heart.
If you are accusatory to them or send angry or overly sad messages they will be more likely to permanently cut you off.
They may be open to getting back in touch, but if they feel like they are being forced to do that, their avoidant pattern will immediately kick back in.
That’s why dealing with an avoidant it’s important to let them know that you aren’t placing any expectations on them.
You care about them and want to reconnect when they’re ready. Although you can’t make any promises you’ll still be interested or available, you must also resist the urge to put an ultimatum or up the pressure.
This means that when letting the avoidant know that you have no demand on them you have to back up your words with action.
If they pull back or continue to ignore you, you must accept that in order for there to be any chance that it will change in the future.
If and when the avoidant sees that you’re serious about leaving the ball in their court, they’re much more likely to reestablish contact.
6) Do a closer investigation of self-sabotaging behavior
I’ve emphasized not to pressure an avoidant into getting back together or getting upset at them and venting.
But investigating more about your own behavior and theirs in a calm way is smart thing to do on your own.
Why is this happening?
You’ve looked at some of the roots of your attachment style and perhaps taken the quiz I recommended earlier.
Now you want to diagnose how this is playing out in the interactions themselves.
What are you doing that may be feeding into the issue or improving it? What is the avoidant doing to push you away or self-sabotage?
Are there things about the unique combination of the two of you that is worsening the situation?
Instead of only focusing on what they’re doing that’s making you frustrated, also focus on what they could do differently in a proactive way.
Think about what you do that you also find difficult and ways that you feel you could change your own behavior.
This comes from understanding your own patterns and those of the avoidant.
They say knowledge is power and that’s 100% true, including in relationships.
7) It’s normal to want them to love you (and feel sad if they don’t)
If an avoidant ignores you, it’s perfectly normal that you feel sad about it and wonder if they love you or care about you at all.
However, the best response here is to realize that there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with you.
Difficulties and disappointment in romance and attraction can actually be a big opportunity if we let them.
Watching this informative free video from the Brazilian shaman Rudá Iandê was a turning point for me in my own self-knowledge and ability to notice sabotaging patterns in others.
I was able to see that my sadness and disappointment in love could be the bridge to something better instead of the end of my dreams.
It made me feel so much more empowered and capable to clearly start seeing the ways in which I was selling myself short and my potential partners were also self-sabotaging without realizing it.
I’d recommend watching this talk from Rudá for really helpful advice about how to overcome the kind of codependent patterns we so often end up trapped in.
8) Calm the inner critic in your head
When an avoidant ignores you, you can’t force them to pay attention. The more you pursue them the worse it will get and the more chance of alienating them permanently.
I’ve emphasized to take care of yourself, find your purpose and understand the dynamics of you and this other individual that are contributing to the situation.
Next up you may find that you’re waiting for the avoidant to answer back a message you sent long ago, or that you have already been patient. Why won’t they get back in touch already?
Should you maybe just explain that you really really like them and then maybe that will open up the lines of communication once again?
I strongly advise against that. If you’ve made it clear you want to be in touch and that’s not happening then the ball is in the avoidant’s court.
If you’re together or still talk but the avoidant acts dismissive or rarely listens to you, this is also not something you can force.
It’s key to calm the inner critic in your head. Don’t believe the inner monologue telling you that you need to do more and “fix” the situation or get results.
Those might not be coming right now.
Which brings me to point nine:
9) If they are open to talking, take it easy…
If the avoidant is still open to talking and has some attention left for you, take it easy.
This is not an invitation to bare your whole soul, cry on their shoulder or let them know they’re the love of your life.
Maybe they are! But take it easy…
Think of this like interacting with a scared animal that you want to feed. If you step too far towards them and make too many affectionate sounds they’ll get spooked and run away.
But if you look at them quietly and offer a tasty treat and then sit back and relax and let them come to it in their own time, that cute chipmunk or animal is sure to start sniffing around and come up.
In order to get this avoidant feeling comfortable and building trust and intimacy between you, that space and that non-expectation is crucial.
10) Focus on listening to what they say
If the avoidant is still mostly ignoring you and not talking much, try to listen to what their silence says.
Then think also about why you react to their silence in the way that you do.
I’d recommend against too physical or trying to seduce them as a way to bridge the communication gap and reestablish a link.
The reason is that the avoidant is likely to feel you’re using intimacy as a way to try to lock them in again and this can restart the cycle of them bolting away and breaking ties with you.
11) Emphasize what you want, not what you dislike
If you are speaking to an avoidant person and reacting to them ignoring you, don’t focus on what you dislike about them.
Criticizing them is likely to just promote a backlash and make the avoidant feel confirmed in their running away in the first place.
Being overly loving or affectionate will also backfire.
Instead, focus on your own experiences and perspective. Present it almost like you’re just reading out your journal, rather than telling them that they have to be any certain way.
Show that you’re in touch with your feelings and experiences but that you’ve also accepted that they are not yours and may be beyond your reach.
12) Get active, together
Many times an avoidant is best reached through activity rather than talk or emotion.
Doing things together is a way to get more connected without having to focus on deeper emotional stuff.
Get together for a game of tennis or go to a movie.
Maybe you could take a short trip to see a beautiful area of your state or region, or do something else that’s more about what you’re doing and not about the two of you specifically.
Dating expert Sylvia Smith wrote about this, noting that “doing things together to create positive feelings will build trust over time.
Examples include reading, walking, and going to shows together, amongst others.”
13) Date around a bit more
If an avoidant is ignoring you it can be maddening. I know because I’ve been there and it drove me crazy.
I was going about trying to find true love and intimacy all wrong, though. And admitting that to myself was a big part of moving forward and approaching attraction in a more effective way.
Your last instinct right now may be to date around more, but I encourage you to do so for two reasons.
Firstly, this will get you a bit more out of your head and less focused on the avoidant. There’s nothing worse than hovering over your phone or jumping every time it dings only to be crestfallen when it’s not the guy or girl you hoped.
One-itis, or putting all your hopes and dreams in the hands of one person you are infatuated and attracted to, is very disempowering.
It forces you into a position where you are severely limited and can only succeed or fail in your own mind based on getting or not getting the one person you’re interested in.
Dating around more addresses this.
Secondly, dating around will introduce you to potentially interesting and attractive new people.
It’s true that dating can be stressful and boring, but sometimes it can be fun, too. Make a pledge to go out with someone who seems really active and social, for example. Let this be an antidote to the avoidant who’s plaguing you.
It will also give you a chance to observe how much of an interaction is up to the other person, not just you, which will increase your calmness and stop that inner critic and self-blame that may be cropping up.
14) Manifest love for real
When an avoidant ignores you it can be like a matador waving a red flag, particularly if you’re an anxious or anxious-avoidant type.
You want their attention, their love, their words, and their interest. But the more you push the more they evade you, sending you snorting and running in circles.
And we all know what happens to the bull at the end of the bullfight, so it’s not going to go well.
Instead of trying so hard to get the avoidant individual to pay attention to you once again, work on manifesting love.
The idea of manifesting comes out of New Age spirituality, but it makes a lot of sense.
I recently read a book on it called Manifesting Love: How To Unleash the Superpower That’s Deep Within You by Tiffany McGee.
She provides hands-on exercises to manifest the partner of your dreams and also for other areas of your life.
However, there’s a thing about manifesting that McGee emphasizes:
In order to manifest powerfully and effectively, you need to be open to new situations and people, not only what you set your mind on.
In other words, just like one-itis can be a problem in dating, it can be a big problem in manifesting, too.
The universe goes to work for you when you let it flow into the channels where it’s inclined to go, not just where you think it should go.
If you want to manifest an ideal partner there is a way to do this, but it involves being open a bit in terms of the specifics of who that ideal partner might be.
It may not be the avoidant person!
Or maybe it is!
But in order to manifest effectively, you need to let the energy flow where it needs to go instead of just where you imagine it would be best.
Why do attachment styles matter so much?
Attachment styles matter a lot because they are basically the way we give and receive love.
If they’re unbalanced or toxic, we can end up hurting ourselves and others in our intimate relationships.
The secure attachment style forms a loving connection and doesn’t overly avoid validation nor excessively seek it out.
The anxious attachment style craves more affection and closeness, while the avoidant fears too much affection and vulnerability, creating a vicious cycle with anxious types.
The anxious-avoidant individual, meanwhile, cycles between the two forms of loving, creating a whirlwind of confusion and pain.
The anxious and avoidant individuals can get sucked into a really vicious cycle, becoming codependent in an endless chase of validation and avoidance.
The attachment styles are ways that people try to find and give love.
They have roots in childhood most often and they dominate so much of what we do in love, often subconsciously.
They can be a real challenge, especially when you’re dealing with someone who’s avoidant and shies away from our affection and intimacy.
The truth is:
It hurts to be ignored
It hurts when somebody ignores us, especially somebody we’re attracted to.
Just remember that an avoidant has their own issues that often have nothing to do with us.
Your power, and your forward motion, lies in how you react to their avoidance of you.
While you can’t change them or force them to pay attention to you, you can offer the avoidant a calm and fairly neutral response that encourages them to open up…
You can focus your attention on your own wellbeing and purpose and begin dating around more so you aren’t placing all your eggs in one basket.
You can start to approach the search for true love and intimacy in a new way that puts you in the driver’s seat instead of somebody else.
Remember that an avoidant is ruled by fear:
Fear of being hurt…
Fear of disappointment…
Fear of being found unworthy.
You can’t fix that fear for them or push them to let it go. But you can provide an environment for them to begin letting go by conquering your own neediness and expectations of reciprocity.
If your love has a future then your patience will pay off.
If not, your patience will still be a deeply valuable learning experience for you and help you grow as a person.