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Dating an Avoidant? Here are Signs an Avoidant Loves You
Relationship Advice

Dating an Avoidant? Here are Signs an Avoidant Loves You

Is your partner emotionally unavailable? They may have an avoidant attachment style. Here's what that means and signs that show an avoidant loves you.

Together Team
April 20, 2022

Romantic relationships have natural ups and downs. The closer you get to one another, the more you’ll likely discover some challenges in your communication. An avoidant person, who doesn’t easily get close to others emotionally, may leave you feeling confused and hurt. But there are signs an avoidant loves you that you can use to build understanding. 

When your partner pushes you away, or they seem to freeze up when you tell them how much you love them, this leads to conflict, hurt, and possibly even shame on your part. You may be left wondering, “What did I do wrong?” The answer might not be anything you did.

Attachment styles affect how we develop, experience, and express love to other people. Attachment styles affect every relationship, but they’re most noticeable among romantic partners. This is because romantic relationships include a deeper level of commitment than any other type of bond. 

In this guide, we’ll define an avoidant attachment style, types of avoidant attachment, cover signs an avoidant loves you, and offer some tips on how to be in a relationship with an avoidant partner. 

What Is an Avoidant Partner?

An avoidant partner is someone who has an avoidant attachment style. This is one of four primary attachment styles identified by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in the 1960s and 1970s. 

An avoidant partner is someone who struggles with sensitivity and sharing their feelings. They don’t grow close to people right away, and they take a long time to “warm up” to others. They are independent and self-sufficient, which many people admire about them.

But an avoidant partner struggles to discuss what their relationship means to them. They may not be openly saying “I love you” often, or they might be prone to becoming moody, giving you the silent treatment, or seem to flip-flop between their feelings and affection. 

Attachment style forms during childhood. An avoidant attachment style can come from someone whose needs or emotions were ignored or overlooked by their caregiver. Not all parents deliberately ignore their childrens’ needs — being an avoidant doesn’t mean that your partner’s parents did not love them or try their best. 

Unfortunately, sometimes children have emotional needs they aren’t sure how to fulfill, and their personality may also cause them to form an avoidant attachment style. 

In other cases, a parent may have been abusive or neglectful, which made their child feel unsafe being emotionally close to them. This could cause the child to crave the security of their parents while not being able to ask for it. They felt rejected and unworthy, which carried into adulthood. 

Types of Avoidant Attachments

There are two types of avoidant attachment — dismissive avoidant and fearful avoidant. A dismissive avoidant person is more likely to push you away or reject your affections. They need to be in control to feel secure, so they are not comfortable getting close to others. In fact, the closer an avoidant person feels to another, the more likely they are to withdraw. 

Fearful avoidant attachment is more similar to an anxious attachment style. Someone who is fearful avoidant struggles to accept love from anyone, and they tend to have a very low opinion of themselves. At the same time, they crave being loved and want people to care about them. 

But because they feel like they are unlovable, they distrust people who show interest in them, and they will push them away.

Fearful avoidant attachment can be especially hard on a partner. They desperately want to help the person they care for feel worthy, but their best attempts to do so only seem to make them retreat more. 

Please know that if you love an avoidant, you might not be doing anything wrong. Instead, their attachment style may cause them to fear and flee from what is healthy, normal relationship behaviors.

This is why healing an avoidant attachment style takes compromise on both ends. You may have to communicate your love differently, and they’ll need to be more open to expressing and receiving affection. 

Avoidant Attachment Style Traits

Before you can understand the signs that an avoidant loves you, it’s important to know exactly what an avoidant attachment looks like. Everyone’s unique personality will affect how they express their attachment style. And sometimes, people can show these traits and still not be avoidant.

Your partner doesn’t need every trait to be avoidant. Remember that it is important to see these only as guidelines to help you better understand the one you love. 

An avoidant attachment is not a mental health condition, but it can cause emotional pain and struggles in a relationship. Be mindful of using any labels or making assumptions. Learning to understand your partner is just one part of learning to communicate with them. 

Signs of Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style

  • Avoids social situations or making new connections
  • Hides how they feel or doesn’t share their emotions
  • Blames a partner for being too clingy or demanding
  • Says that they need to “take a break,” “take a step back,” or “need space” when you two grow closer
  • Freezes up when you show them signs of affection or confess your feelings
  • Sends mixed signals, like happily going out together but withdrawing when you try to be affectionate
  • Has strong boundaries that make it difficult to get to know them
  • Doesn’t commit to you openly or avoids labeling your relationship

Signs of a Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style

  • Is highly sensitive and easily hurt by perceived criticism
  • Tends to assume the worst about how people think of them
  • May struggle with high stress and anxiety
  • Has a negative view of themselves and their abilities 
  • Struggles with mood swings
  • Has intense emotional reactions that may feel too extreme
  • Is difficult to console or comfort
  • Panics when talking about the relationship 
  • Avoids commitment, but still reaches out to you regularly 
  • May be more comfortable with physical intimacy, but they do not emotionally want to commit 

4 Signs an Avoidant Loves You

Being in a relationship with an avoidant can make you feel confused, anxious, frustrated, and even depressed. You might blame yourself for not being enough for them, and they could accuse you of being too clingy or “wanting too much” from them.

However, in loving relationships, an avoidant can still show signs that they care for you. These signs an avoidant loves you are guides to help you recognize your partner’s unique communication and attachment style.

Avoidants are not “emotionally empty” and they do not hate love. Instead, they are afraid of being close to someone and want to avoid getting hurt. Being open to another person makes you vulnerable, and an avoidant person is scared of being rejected, abandoned, or hurt by trusting someone else.

1. They Share Personal Details 

To an avoidant person, their personal security is everything. They have intense inner worlds that they safeguard from everyone. If they love you, they will drop their guard from time to time and let you in.

Pay attention to little things they share with you — maybe they reveal who their favorite band is, or they want you to read a passage from their favorite book. They might even share fond memories or confess a fear they have.

Revealing personal details, even ones that seem mundane, is actually a big deal for someone with an avoidant attachment style. They just may reveal little by little, as this is their way of testing whether they can trust you.

Don’t take this personally. An avoidant doesn’t trust anyone easily, and it’s not because you’ve done anything wrong. Instead, they just need time to see that you are really interested in them for who they are.

2. They Willingly Spend More Time With You

For someone who is avoidant, being alone feels safe. Many avoidants are also introverts, so being by themselves gives them a chance to recharge emotionally. However, when an avoidant loves you, they will start to let you into their free time more often.

Spending time with you, even if it’s just doing nothing together, is a strong sign an avoidant is comfortable around you. 

3. They Make Small Gestures to Show They Care

Sweeping you off your feet might not be on the table for an avoidant, at least not when they first start dating you. Instead, they’ll show you by remembering things you tell them, complimenting you, and doing small acts of kindness for you.

Small is safe for avoidants, so look for little gestures that actually took them a great deal of courage to perform. This doesn’t mean they don’t care — it’s just the safest way for them to express their love. 

4. They Call You Their Partner

This is a major step for anyone with an avoidant attachment style. If they call you their partner, and if they introduce you as such to others, this is a huge sign that their feelings for you are real. It may take time for an avoidant person to become comfortable with labeling their relationship. Be sure to respect this limit, but at the same time, don’t compromise your own needs. 

This is why learning how to be in a relationship with an avoidant is all about boundaries and communication.

How to Be in a Relationship With an Avoidant

For couples with a secure attachment style, it seems almost second nature to get into a relationship. You’re open about your feelings, you share them willingly, and you both feel like you’re on the same page. 

If you try to rush into a relationship with an avoidant, they will likely run in the opposite direction. 

To be in a healthy relationship with an avoidant, you must be patient. Let them know how you feel, but do more to show rather than tell. Words are not proof to an avoidant person that you are trustworthy. They need to know that you won’t leave as soon as they say or do something you dislike.

Controlling your own emotions is also crucial. Avoid yelling or ever raising your voice — this can signal rejection to an avoidant, and they’ll likely shut down and close you off emotionally. 

Setting boundaries means creating rules that you won’t break to be with someone. This includes not having sex outside of a committed relationship and not spending the night with someone if you are not openly together. 

Be open about what you’re looking for, but try to respect their need for space. It will take an avoidant person time to grow comfortable, and too much relationship talk upfront will scare them off. 

How to Communicate With an Avoidant 

The best way to communicate with an avoidant is to use “I statements.” This means you lead with how you’re feeling. For example, you could say, “I would really love getting to know you more,” is much safer in an avoidant’s eyes than, “You never tell me what you’re feeling.” 

It’s also important to recognize and appreciate their need for space. Don’t take it personally — all avoidants need alone time to process feelings. 

You should also be open about how you feel without placing demands on your partner. Instead of talking about what they should or don’t do often enough, express appreciation when they show affection. 

The best thing you can do for an avoidant partner is stay consistent and reliable. Avoid any over-the-top expressions of emotion. They need to feel like you are a safe person, and that requires presence and patience. Over time, they will grow to see that they can trust you.

However, it’s important to recognize that the responsibility is not just on you to make the relationship work. Your needs are important, and you deserve to feel loved, too. You should not tolerate any insults, negative comments, or constant attacks from an avoidant partner. 

While you may be willing to wait for them, bear in mind that not every person will warm up to a relationship. Set healthy boundaries for yourself to avoid falling into any unhealthy patterns. 

Can You Heal an Avoidant Attachment?

Healing an avoidant attachment has to come from within. Even if you are the most amazing, attentive, kind partner, it won’t “fix” someone else’s attachment. Although you can take steps to make them feel loved, it’s up to them to recognize ways their attachment style may negatively impact your relationship.

The best thing you can do is be open about your feelings and work together. You may decide to speak with a couples therapist about your relationship for more advice on how to be in a relationship with an avoidant. 

An avoidant person can also seek individual therapy to heal from childhood trauma, address their fears, and learn how to express their emotions in a healthier way. 

Having a Thriving Relationship With an Avoidant

Now that you have a better understanding of what an avoidant partner is and what are the different types of avoidant attachments, you should have a better idea why your partner may be pushing you away when you bring up commitment. 

Since attachment styles are formed during childhood, keep in mind that it’ll take time for your partner to open up to you. If you start to see signs that your avoidant partner loves you, be sure to use actions to show your partner that they can trust you. Proper communication not only helps your partner feel safe but will also be key in maintaining a healthy relationship with an avoidant.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Together Team

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