But here’s the thing that you need to remember, people’s identities are not avoidant. Their behaviors are.
Do you ever wonder: how to communicate or resolve conflict with an avoidant partner? If you want to get through to someone with an avoidant attachment style, you have to start by understanding how they developed it in the first place. One of the biggest misconceptions and mistakes that we make here is that we’re so quick to snapshot, judge, and label somebody as an avoidant.
But here’s the thing that you need to remember, people’s identities are not avoidant. Their behaviors are. They developed an avoidant attachment style for one of two reasons: either one, they learned it and modeled it from a parent, or two, they developed it as a protection mechanism to protect them from the pain of vulnerability when it comes to resolving conflicts in relationships.
Therefore, the important piece here is to understand: why do the avoidant feel the need to protect themselves? Either they experienced abuse and past relationships, or they have spent so much time making themselves wrong and taking things personally, causing harm to themselves.
Unlike the anxiously attached person who feels everything, wears their heart on their sleeve, and goes above and beyond. Being an anxious attached person is pretty awful too because we give the keys to our self-worth to someone else.
People often think people with avoidant tendencies are living an easier life. On the contrary, avoidance is feeling the traumas, but in different ways. They feel that they need to pull away, they need to hide and not show parts of themselves because they don’t have the space to hold onto somebody else’s emotions, let alone even their own.
The only time you can handle an avoidant or being in a relationship with them is when they want to seek help when they want to do the work to become more vulnerable, break through the barriers and try to allow somebody in.
Consistency, transparency, stillness, and sensitive responses are so important to the fearful and disorganized avoidant.
Dive deep into the world of attachment styles and uncover the hidden layers of the avoidant attachment style on the Really Personal Podcast to better understand, communicate, and face problems in your relationships without avoiding pain. Discover the burning desire for love that lies beneath the surface.
Here is one key thing NOT to do with an avoidant partner
Avoidants feel like everything in their life is a checklist that they have to check off. When they become overwhelmed whether it’s with work, school, or family stressors in their life, they tend to shut down, withdraw, pull away, or self-isolate- a paralysis, in order to process those stresses that are going on, including relationships.
They can only process one thing at a time like a checklist that they have to check off. This is where they become overwhelmed. When their partner comes to them with things that are bothering them and issues that they have with the relationship, whether that’s emotional availability, communication, spending more quality time together, or affection- they process it as a list. Almost like a honey-do list! I need you to do this, this, and this.
They become overwhelmed and that’s where they feel when you hear them say “I feel like I can’t give you what you need.” It becomes too much, and they can’t tackle all of those things at once.
Keep in mind that when you approach your avoidant partner with things you want to work on in the relationship, don’t list a bunch of things to them. Rather, just tackle the one thing that means the most to you that you would like to work on.
Achieve that, work on that, and then go to the next thing. That way it feels like it’s manageable and that they are able to work on it, that they can meet that goal and meet that need. As a result, they will not feel criticized by the long list.
Here are some examples of things avoidances will say and what they actually mean:
#1: “Let’s go with the flow. Let’s not put a label on it. I don’t want to make anything too serious.”
What they’re trying to say is that they want to delay any kind of commitment. It’s way more than they can handle right now so they push it off by saying, “We’ll go with the flow,” because it delays them from having to make any decisions.
#2: “I’ll settle down when I find the right person.”
Oftentimes people will avoid intendancies and will say this because they make this perfect version of somebody that doesn’t actually exist- aka THE ONE! And so it allows them to continue on with this behavior and avoid that commitment, that love and getting deeper with somebody because they’ve just put it out on “well, I just haven’t found her yet,” when they actually in fact really give anybody the opportunity to become that.
#3: Mixed messages are also a sign of somebody avoidant.
When they say that they want to be closer to you and say they want to spend more time with you, but then all of a sudden they get really busy and the schedules can’t align. In their heads, they think that this is something they want, but emotionally it’s not something they can handle.
The only time you can handle an avoidant or being in a relationship with them is when they want to seek help when they want to do the work to become more vulnerable, break through the barriers and try to allow somebody in. When you have decided it’s the right time for you, to really meet someone, you go into love with a completely different intentionality.