People with Avoidant attachment styles: “…you connect with romantic partners but always maintain some mental distance and an escape route. Feeling close and complete with someone else – the emotional equivalent of finding a home – is a condition that you find difficult to maintain.” Attached, Amit Levine MD and Rachel S.F. Heller MA
What is an Avoidant, you ask?
Well, we all have different attachment styles. We are either Anxious, Secure, or Avoidant. And while no one style is better or worse than the other, the Avoidant attachment style presents some challenges that make it incredibly difficult to sustain a healthy relationship. So it’s worth looking further into that style (in case it’s you or your partner).
Of course, at first glance, everyone thinks they’re the Secure attachment style and that their partner is either the Anxious or Avoidant attachment style (those are the only three options).
But that’s far too easy…
Secure = Easy to be in relationship with
Anxious / Avoidant = Difficult to be in relationship with
But that’s never the whole story. It really is worth determining who you are and who your partner is – without judgment or predisposition. (You can do that here.)
If one of you in the relationship is Avoidant (which is where I’m going to focus this blog post), that could shed a light on why none of your relationships ever felt “right.”
If you’re Avoidant then nothing will ever feel quite “right” as long because you’re holding unrealistic views of what a relationship should be, holding onto the idea of the “the one” (likely a former lover), and never resolving disagreements.
As I read these traits, I found some of them in myself (mostly from ten years ago in my first marriage, but still…)
Value independence and want to maintain emotional and physical distance.
Will resist resolving conflict because that could bring them closer together.
Will avoid talking about what’s going on in the relationship.
Maybe that sounds familiar – but more like your partner than you. Here’s what you need to consider to determine if your partner is Avoidant:
If you want more closeness and intimacy, your partner actually values independence and will use actions to create more physical and emotional distance.
In the event that you want to work through disagreements, your partner will avoid resolution in order to maintain their position of emotional distance.
If you start feeling good about yourself, your partner will use words that will make you feel needy and incapable, causing you to beg for their attention which makes them feel independent and more powerful.
I have had the unique position of being in all three of these places, based upon who I was in a relationship with:
In my first marriage, I can clearly see how he was secure, but I was Avoidant…really not wanting to make it work
In a narcissistic relationship where he made all the rules, this Avoidant woman became completely Anxious and let him set the tone, while I continued to not get my needs met and not sleep at night
And in my current marriage with D (who is Secure by all definitions), we can communicate well, talk through disagreements, and treat one another with love and respect, knowing that how we show up impacts the health of our relationship.
The best book I’ve ever found that discusses attachment styles is Attached by Amir Levine, MD and Rachel S.F. Heller, MA – so if this speaks to you, I encourage you to look into it.