Dating a person who is emotionally distant can make you feel like something is wrong with you. ?Am I not good enough?? You may wonder as you sip your morning coffee.
It often feels as though you?re not worthy of being in a relationship with them. And no matter what you do, they just won?t seem to open up. It?s like trying to pry open an Oyster.
In fact, I spent 6 years trying to swim through the sea to find an open Oyster. I didn?t find one. But, I did discover a lot of people had insecure attachment issues ? myself included.
My attachment style was anxious-avoidant, and I always gravitated towards avoidant people.
If you?re dating this kind of person, here?s what you need to know.
?Avoidants are not exactly open books and tend to repress rather than express their emotions.? ? Amir Levine
Avoidant people are self-sufficient, and they?ve most likely been that way since they were kids. As children, parents may tell them not to toughen up if they express emotions.
Parents may shame them for having emotions ?stop crying!? ? so the child learns to suppress them. They may feel as though they can only rely on themselves.
Attachment styles don?t fall far from the tree. So if parents don?t show their children love or affection in the way they need ? it?s probably because they were raised the same way.
So, avoidant people may believe showing emotions means weakness. This can affect the chances of them having deep and close relationships.
Tracy Crossley (Behavioral Relationship Expert) explains the traits of an avoidant person:
- Extremely independent and self-sufficient
- May hold the belief they are meant to be alone
- Avoids deep conversations, preferring to skim the surface
- Pushes their partner away if they get too close, and then pulls them back in if they back off a little too much for their liking
- May choose partners based on sexual chemistry, rather than emotional chemistry.
Dating An Avoidant Person
?We do as we have been done by.? ? John Bowlby
When I dated avoidant people, trying to get close was like pulling teeth. (And I?m sure they felt the same about me.) And when you?re not a dentist, it?s a terrible idea. My attachment style was anxious-avoidant, so I?d often attract avoidant people.
If I got too clingy, they?d pull away. If I asked them ?where are we heading?? they?d tell me they didn?t want anything serious. When you really like an avoidant person, you stop asking about feelings.
You go along with what they want and try not to step on their toes, hoping they?ll change their mind.
And no matter how much patience or kindness you show them, they still won?t want anything serious. If you?re anything like I was, you?ll burst and feel the need to ask (again) ?do you like me and want to be with me??
This is while you?re cuddling after sex, by the way.
And they?ll tell you (again) ?why can?t things just stay the way they are?? which is code for: emotions are scary! Soon after you?ll have an argument, and they?ll push you away?
Emotions are too overwhelming for them
Avoidants may sabotage new relationships out of the blue, due to a fear their partner will abandon them. ?So they get in there first.? Psychotherapist Allison Abrams explains.
It?s a subconscious defense mechanism used to avoid experiencing the same emotions avoidants felt with their parents. Abrams states that this is ironic, because by putting up the same wall from childhood, ?we are actually recreating the very thing we were trying to avoid.?
Feelings are like a big, hairy tarantula to people with avoidant attachment. Terrifying. Often they may not realize why they react the way they do and may blame others.
We blame others when we are lacking self-awareness.
I blamed people for hurting me when I was a part of the push-and-pull process too. It takes two to tango. And often, insecure relationships are lacking boundaries.
When someone tells you they don?t want anything serious (when they know you do) and still has sex with you? I don?t see any boundaries, do you?
Their Standards Are Unrealistically High
?Typically as the relationship ages, avoidants will begin to find fault and focus on petty shortcomings of their partner.? ? Jeb Kinnison
When avoidant people feel like you?re getting to close, they may start picking you apart. I used to do this to people, I?d find (ridiculous) reasons to not want them to protect my own snowflake emotions.
Here?s one of my stupid reasons (it?s embarrassing but I?ll say it anyway):
I was hyper-aware when I?d go on dates with people ? if they poured themselves water before they poured it for me ? I saw it as a red flag (I cringed writing this.)
But it?s because I was terrified of being hurt. And when you’re afraid of being hurt, you do weird things to keep people at a distance. Avoidant people craft an (unrealistically) perfect partner in their minds.
And when you’ve got a perfect partner in mind, you nitpick the qualities of the person you?re dating.
- They drive a 2002 model car
- They don?t run 5kms every morning
- They?re close with their family
- They don?t have a college degree
But guess what?
Avoidant people won?t find this ?perfect? partner because they don?t exist. Creating the perfect person is a subconscious defense mechanism used to avoid intimacy.
Insecure Attachment Doesn?t Define You As A Person
?The term ?Avoidant? doesn?t define you as a person. It?s used to better understand your behavior, where it came from and how to grow from it.? ? Tracy Crossley
Remember, no matter what your attachment style is ? there is nothing wrong with you. Our patterns and behaviors often stem from childhood, and this doesn?t mean we?re unlovable or damaged.
It is important that we grow our self-awareness so we can change and become the best versions of ourselves. Tracey Crossly says: ?You deserve happiness, whatever that looks like for you, and it is absolutely possible to have it.?
She?s right. I changed my attachment style to secure and found a wonderful, secure partner who I?ve been with for 2+ years. Once you become securely attached, your life and the way you experience relationships change for the better.
Avoidant attachment is hard. It?s painful and it can feel scary. You feel like you?re entire world is threatened when someone tries to get you to open up. It?s a whole-body experience ? it feels like a bear is chasing you.
But the more we go through life blaming other people for everything, the more we hurt ourselves. And often this is challenging because it?s a subconscious process.
The perfect partner can?t save you, because they don?t exist. When you spend your life trying to find this ideal person, you end up hurting yourself and ripping others apart for being themselves.
Taking responsibility for your actions and behaviors is the only way to change.
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