Because of the trauma and insecure form of attachment involved, relationships with avoidant partners can be difficult. You are not alone in your attempts to learn better communication techniques for avoidant partners. After all, anyone may become confused if they discover their spouse abruptly becoming emotionally distant, raising questions about commitment, or expressing concerns about their mental well-being.
However, simply because you are in a relationship with an avoidant partner does not mean it’s all doom and gloom — you can certainly have a loving and healthy relationship by working on the communication style you practice with each other.
Avoidant people tend to be extremely insecure and intimidated by the presence of people, but they seek ways to satisfy their needs without being dependent on any extrinsic source and hence are viewed as people with high levels of self-esteem. While overtly anxious folks people tend to raise doubts about their self-worth, and securely attached people do not make any room for nervousness and insecurity in their minds, avoidants seek a considerable degree of comfort before making the first step towards effective communication.
The occurrence of an avoidant attachment style of behavior is the outcome of a series of negligence that happened over the years, starting from childhood. So, it is important to understand that avoidants are not necessarily intentionally cold and emotionless — they have built themselves up that way as a survival strategy.
Common examples of avoidant behavior include an individual trying to escape moments of intimacy, not expressing love, having difficulty trusting their partners, and dodging conversations about commitment.
This constant detachment from your bae can often trigger self-doubt about your self-worth and may tarnish the emotional connection between you and your partner but the good news here is that avoidants do care for affection secretively, thus there is some hope at the end of the tunnel.
What Is Avoidant Attachment?
The term “avoidant attachment” in simple terms refers to a style of insecure attachment that is characterized by extreme self-reliance and difficulty with being emotionally vulnerable. The root of this often lies in former relationships with a history of negligence primarily from near and dear ones. Hence, avoidants tend to see rejection from their loved ones as a threat and face difficulty with emotional expression.
Before you get on to the guide on how to communicate with an avoidant partner effectively, it is important to understand avoidants distance themselves from their loved ones and use deactivation strategies to make their minds believe that socially distancing themselves is the best way to eliminate an emotional showdown. However, avoidants generally tend to be invariably drawn to overtly anxious people because avoidants secretly crave affection and the silence and withdrawal behavior of an avoidant tends to trigger the anxiety of overtly anxious folks — hence plenty of push and pull dynamic and breakdown in communication becomes part of the relationship.
A series of consistent efforts along with an understanding of how and when to talk to someone with avoidant attachment, can help thaw the ice that has hardened over the years.
It is also important to understand that the breakdown of an unspoken silence between two people is not a one-night affair. Effective communication and empathy remain the stalwart traits of this approach which is a process.
The attraction between the anxious and the avoidant may resemble a tug-of-war of equal strengths, but by taking one step at a time with the foundation of effective communication, you can help the avoidant partner break through their shell rather than remain within it forever.
Understand the Avoidance of Your Partner
Avoidants desire to find solitude with themselves because they have an inert fear of being outcast or left alone in the future. They prefer to dissociate themselves from the first day to avoid this vulnerability from being exposed. Therefore, it is important to understand their inert need for affection and plan steps accordingly.
2. Offer Them a Secure Base to Open Up
Often avoidants have been denied love from sources where they expected it the most. Hence, romantic relationships may overwhelm an avoidant individual in the initial phase. Apart from quality time, an avoidant needs a secure environment to open up about their insecurities and feelings. To strike an emotional connection with an avoidant, it is important to offer them a secure environment and a feeling of no-judgment to help them open up. Avoidants do not want to be seen as weak or vulnerable, so when they are being vulnerable and sharing, it is important to hold that place securely for them and make them feel seen, heard, and validated
3. Show Your Appreciation for What They Do for You
Avoidant people tend to get easily triggered and are very vulnerable to criticism. They are subconsciously looking for someone who makes them feel valued. Hence, the simplest answer to the question of how to make an avoidant miss you or trust you with themselves is by complimenting them for the tiniest efforts they take towards accentuating their self-love and caring for people around them. These instances make them feel loved and gradually help bridge the gap in your relationship.
4. Try to Listen to Their Expectations
The avoidance exerted by your partner is a result of a denial of affection over the years. Therefore, avoidants usually keep their thoughts to themselves, and it is important to listen well, to apprehend better and enhance the quality of your relationship.
5. Do Not Throw Yourself at an Avoidant Partner
Holding onto one’s intimacy needs when one feels extremely low and defeated is a struggle for real. However, it is important not to be very susceptible and hungry for your partner’s affection as it would instill a fear of dependence within your partner and widen the existing fault lines. To keep the intimacy away from flickering, it is necessary to indulge in activities of common interests to enhance engagement among yourself.
6. Detach to Deliver Better in Your Relationship
Many people feel blacked out and remain shrouded in anxiety when their partners withdraw from them. They do not understand what to do when an avoidant pulls away. In such a situation, it is wise to spend some time away from each other and later get back to working together toward your combined relationship goals. A break without the intimidating presence of your partner provides clarity and makes the other person understand how your lack of presence is affecting the overall environment.
7. Understand Their Anger and Burnout
Avoidants often use anger as a defense mechanism to deal with tight-spot situations in romantic relationships. Hence, you need to understand that this behavior of your partner is hardwired and will take time to heal. So try not to take your partner’s anger and burnout personally as this may lead fault lines to widen on the foundation of your relationship.
8. Set Healthy Boundaries Around Personal Space
Avoidants may feel guilty about taking too much time for themselves when in a relationship, even if they know internally that they cannot function well without their much-needed alone time. A good way to navigate this is by setting boundaries around individual space — offer to spend time by yourself so that they understand that it is fine if they do too.
9. Avoid Interrupting Them When They Seem Engrossed
A good way to respect their alone time is by asking them when they are available and keeping anything you want to discuss with them on hold. Alternatively, you can wait till they have finished what they were engaged in and then ask if the present is a good time to engage in some discussion. This does not threaten their boundary and ensures that you have their full, dedicated attention.
10. Have Patience
As the saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day”, rather than telling your partner the effort undertaken by you to keep the communication in the relationship alive. Allow your partner the space to naturally reciprocate your feelings rather than demanding and being interrogative about their lack of response.
11. Avoid Being Clingy
Avoidants need to feel needed but do not respond well to clinginess in relationships. Instead of coming across as desperate and needy, try to be assertive and expressive of your feelings, thoughts, and needs. The trick is to express your desires but also have the self-worth to be able to flow away from the situation or the relationship if the need arises.
12. Do Not Demand their Attention When You Sense Evident Signs of Disinterest
The most evident signs of disinterest can be through eye rolls, being engrossed elsewhere, or just walking off to avoid any conversation. During such difficult times, it is important to allow your partner the space to be with themselves rather than forcing them to be in the moment and acknowledge your presence.
13. Do not Feel Disheartened by Your Partner’s Dissociated Approach
Your avoidant partner may need plenty of space to regulate themselves. If you find them pulling away just when you thought things were going all smooth, try not to take it personally. The closeness may have triggered their inner fears of rejection and hence, they may wish to dissociate and distance themselves till they get a “handle” on the situation. Your best approach would be to focus attention on yourself and reassure them that you are available.
14. Focus on Your Needs without Blame or Judgement
Feeling left out by a loved one can be heart-wrenching. But here it is for the other partner to understand that it is your disassociated partner who also needs help, and is in a much more vulnerable state. Instead of focusing on individual needs, or coming at them from a place of blame or judgment, let them know how you feel and what you need in the relationship.