Relationships certainly aren't always easy. After all, you're essentially trying to combine two unique people in a partnership, balancing everyone's individual quirks and preferences and values. There are bound to be an issue from time to time! And, one of the major things to consider in any relationship is attachment styles — although you may not even know what the different types are or how to identify them in your partner.
Basically, attachment theory initially explored the dynamic between a child and his or her parents, and in later years was extended to involve relationships between adults. Someone with a secure attachment style will likely have a healthy relationship — at least if you don't consider any other issues they may have in their life that could potentially impact the relationship.
Someone with an avoidant attachment style, on the other hand, will find it very difficult to nurture a healthy relationship for a variety of reasons. In fact, there are a ton of relationship red flags that may seem random but are in fact signs that your beau may have an avoidant attachment style.
Here are 20 things to look out for that may be an indication he has an avoidant attachment style, meaning you need to consider it when thinking about your relationship and how things are playing out.
People with an avoidant attachment style are often frightened of getting close to people, which means that the level of closeness in an actual, current relationship can seem a bit too much to handle. That's why they'll often find themselves reflecting on past relationships, where they can have all the positive memories without the threat of emotional vulnerability clouding things from their perspective.
However, thinking of past relationships and exes definitely hurts the bond between you and your current partner.
To an avoidant, it may be a way to be subconsciously putting some distance between themselves and their current partner to avoid being vulnerable; it definitely isn't fun to hear your partner wax poetic about his ex.
While you should definitely maintain your independence in a relationship and avoid completely losing yourself in your partner's needs and wants, there's absolutely nothing wrong with leaning on your partner from time to time. They should absolutely be a support system when you need it, a shoulder to cry on when you've had a bad day.
If you're dating someone with an avoidant attachment style, you may find yourself being treated as a needy partner, simply because you're looking for a bit of normal support from time to time. Independence is a positive thing, but that doesn't mean you should never reach out to your partner.
Have you ever dated someone who seems like a complete mystery? Well, there's a good chance he may have had an avoidant attachment style when it comes to relationships. Someone with that style wants to avoid closeness at all costs.
This means they don't really want to reveal a bunch of information about themselves that may make them feel vulnerable or like they need the support of their partner.
That way, they essentially are able to eliminate the closeness that comes from sharing your life with your partner, including all the gritty details in it. It's not that they're mysterious — it's that they're scared.
When it comes to the 'l' word, everyone is different. Some people feel totally comfortable saying it after just a few weeks, while for others, it may take a year or more. One thing is for sure, though — if he has an avoidant attachment style, he's definitely going to take ages to say the 'l' word- that is if he says it at all.
He'll keep it buried inside, and he'll also likely be hesitant to show grand gestures of affection because, well, it's just not his style — and that can be supremely frustrating. I mean, who doesn't love a few words of affection from time to time?
Sometimes, it can seem like men are from an entirely different planet, speaking an entirely different language. That's one of the reasons communication is such an essential component in any healthy relationship — miscommunication can happen so easily, and if you're not both trying to make sure you're being heard, disaster can ensue.
Someone with an avoidant attachment style will likely leave you even more confused than your average guy, though.
He'll alternate attention and talks about the future of your relationship with super distant behavior and cold feet — the minute he feels like things are getting too serious, he gets spooked.
The name of the game for avoidant attachment styles is avoiding building close bonds at any cost — and as anyone in a relationship knows, the physical component of a relationship is crucial to building a close bond. It's one of the things that separates romantic relationships from friendships.
While an avoidant may have no issue engaging in physical displays of affection, chances are, he'll try to keep things on a more casual level and avoid anything that really requires you to share an intimate connection. It can definitely be hard on the other person because, well, if you wanted that casual approach, you probably wouldn't be in a relationship, you'd be playing the field!
Everyone has a particular way they speak to their partner whether it's the tone of their voice or a certain nickname they use. Those in healthy relationships check in with their partner on a regular basis to make sure they're happy and they comfort their partner if he or she is feeling emotional about something, or struggling with something.
Those with an avoidant attachment style may be willing to help their partner with their problems, but it's not coming from an emotional perspective.
Instead, they're trying to problem solve things, as if the partner's worries were simply another task on their list.
There are certain people who are just more wary of a commitment than others for whatever reason — perhaps it's because they've been badly hurt in the past by a relationship. But more likely it's because they have an avoidant attachment style approach to relationships.
Since commitment is all about getting closer to another person and entwining your life with theirs, it makes sense that avoidants, who fear being vulnerable, would be hesitant to take that next step with another person. An avoidant may be happy to have a lengthy relationship, but the moment things get too serious, they'll start finding ways to create some distance.
Avoidants are unsettled by vulnerability and value their independence about all else, so when the former becomes too threatening or the latter is at risk, they respond by pushing the other person away.
It may seem subtle at first, a gradual process, but before you know it you'll find that there's been a distance created in your relationship that wasn't there before.
Obviously, it's not a healthy dynamic in any relationship to have one person continually trying to step forward while the other backs up, step by step, and it can be hard on the partner to be met with that kind of resistance.
I mean, this one is kind of a no-brainer. If an avoidant is afraid of commitment exposing themselves on a deeper level, he's obviously not going to go out of his way to find the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with, the one who makes him challenge all his inner thoughts and feelings. He's going to try to find a relationship where he's not really tempted to work on his own issues, and he can simply be along for the ride.
Just as an avoidant may enjoy looking at past relationships better than focusing on his current relationship, he likely enjoys relationships that don't have a future so he doesn't even need to worry about commitment.
Avoidants certainly aren't heartless, and if your partner has an avoidant attachment style, it doesn't mean he doesn't care for you. It's simply that he values space and independence above all else, which can be an issue in a relationship. An avoidant may find himself really missing his partner when he's gone, and missing that love and connection.
But at the same time, when their partner is around all the time they find themselves a bit antsy and eager to get their independence and space back.
It's a delicate balance that can be really frustrating to navigate, especially for the other person in the relationship.
Avoidants are usually not the social butterflies that have a vast circle of acquaintances with which they share everything about themselves. Instead, they nurture a handful of relationships and they're extremely close to those they actually have forged bonds with. They usually recognize that they have issues with commitment and letting someone get close to them, so when they have a friendship that makes it through all those barriers and makes a contribution to their life, they nurture that friendship at all costs.
It can be a huge source of hope for their partner, because if they can eventually develop that relationship with a friend, it may mean they can move forward with a healthy romantic relationship.
We're not sure how many ways we can say this, but given that it's basically one of the most important traits of someone with an avoidant attachment style, it bears repeating.
Avoidants want independence and become really uncomfortable when they feel like that's being taken away from them, so they're super vigilant about being controlled by their partner.
It's normal to check in with your partner on a regular basis, but the minute an avoidant's partner starts saying or doing things that may limit their freedom or threaten their independence, you'd better believe they'll be introducing some distance into the relationship ASAP.
When it comes to relationships, it seems that opposites often attract — and that's true when it comes to attachment styles as well. If two avoidants were in a relationship, both would constantly be trying to put distance between them and things would likely fizzle out quite quickly. The dynamic that's far more common is a relationship between someone with an avoidant attachment style and someone with an anxious attachment style.
Unfortunately, it's not the healthiest dynamic — it often involves one person always trying to introduce closeness and the other person trying to avoid it at all costs, leading to unhappiness.
One of the great things about being in a relationship is that you have someone in your life to lean on, no matter what. Sure, you should maintain your independence and keep your relationships with friends and family who can also help you if the need arises.
However, there's just something about being able to confide in your partner and get their opinion or help with an issue that comes up in your life.
Avoidants may not necessarily agree, though, as they often seek to assert their independence by making it clear that they don't need help with anything, even if it's obvious that they do.
Being vulnerable with your partner definitely increases the bond, and since an avoidant seeks to avoid that kind of closeness, it only makes sense that they'd close themselves off to their partner. In turn, it can make it extremely difficult for an avoidant's partner to read him and gauge how he's feeling.
Everyone communicates in different ways, with some being more verbal about their feelings and others expressing it in their body language, but avoidants will try their best to avoid expressing it in any way at all, which can make communication really difficult. After all, if you have no idea what your partner is feeling, how can you address any issues?
Everyone has a different level of comfort when it comes to discussing their feelings. Some are more than willing to wax poetic for hours while others need a bit of coaxing to really share what's on their mind and what's in their heart.
An avoidant, however, will find it difficult to talk about his feelings, period.
They don't want to risk being dependent on their partner for support and losing their prized independence. They also want to avoid the kind of deep connection that sharing feelings and making that emotional connection can breed. And, as any partner of an avoidant knows, it can be extremely frustrating in a relationship when your partner is unwilling to share his feelings with you.
Not only will an avoidant be hesitant to share any of his own emotions or feelings, chances are, he'll be a bit uncomfortable if you start displaying your emotions. He'd likely prefer to avoid all those messy feelings and things that lead to closeness at all costs, so your desire to reach out and make that kind of connection with him will probably be met with resistance time and time again.
It's definitely not a healthy relationship dynamic — everyone deserves to feel safe and secure enough in their relationship that they can share their feelings and thoughts and know their partner will be supportive.
Obviously, the way one is raised isn't the only thing that impacts someone, but it definitely plays a major role in an individual's development, for better or for worse.
It would be slightly odd to meet an avoidant who has a really healthy relationship with his parents.
More often than not, if you meet the parents of someone with an avoidant attachment approach to relationships, you'll find some kind of link — perhaps their parents didn't really approve of expressing emotions or didn't think of them as something that was an appropriate topic of discussion. That kind of perspective can shape you in a major way, often for the worse.
There's nothing an avoidant desires more than space, which means that he'll do everything in his power to set up his relationship in a way that gives him that much-needed distance. That often involves enforcing some kind of boundaries in the relationship to stop his partner from the very outset.
It may be an emotional boundary, such as an unwillingness to share his feelings or to share personal information about what's going on in his life. It may literally be a physical boundary, such as his unwillingness to let his partner see his own apartment. Either way, in his mind, those boundaries are set in stone.
References: MindBodyGreen, YourTango