Love Avoidant - The Partner Love Addicts Fall for in Relationships
By Jim Hall, M.S., Love Addiction Specialist
Love addicts are commonly attracted to and form an unhealthy attachment to one type of person in relationships-- a Love Avoidant (who also can be narcissistic). Love Avoidants are emotionally unavailable in relationships. They have a great fear of intimacy, closeness, and vulnerability—and as a result, evade intimacy and closeness with romantic partners, at all costs.
Intimacy and closeness is equal to being engulfed, controlled, and smothered. Lying beneath their fear of intimacy is a resonant fear of abandonment and rejection. The boundaries of an avoidant are as unhealthy as love addicts, but in contrast to a love addicts blurred or nonexistent boundaries, Love Avoidants boundaries tend to be rigid and closed off, or walled up.
They have a natural inclination to get nervous and fearful when others display any vulnerability and try to connect intimately. When a relationship starts to feel too close, they progressively begin to distance themselves.
Some have extended patterns of short-term relationships, jumping from one relationship to another. Others may stay in a relationship for the long haul— but is most often a relationship that lacks genuine connection and satisfaction. Still, others, may avoid romantic and sexual relationships for long periods (years), and occasionally all their lives.
Though on the outside avoidants often exhibit a seemingly friendly and self-confident exterior, even at times appearing vulnerable—the reality is they fear being known and will let no one in. A relationship partner may get occasional glimpses of their real self— just enough to get their hopes up— only to see them retreat behind their walls.
Common Traits of a Love Avoidant:
What type of person do love avoidants generally attract in relationships?
A Love Avoidant is the type love addicts unknowingly love to “love’- at least at the beginning of the relationship, and vice-versa. For a love addict, it can feel quite confusing or perhaps shocking to notice the contrast of their partner in the initial stages of a relationship in comparison to the later stages where they seemingly disappear emotionally.
Like Love Addicts, Avoidants tend NOT to choose a relationship partner who is genuinely secure (with healthy self-worth and boundaries), but those who are insecure with core relational boundary and self-esteem issues-- it goes both ways. Both are insecurely attached, individuals.
These individuals usually start off relationships attempting to form an immediate attachment, idealizing the new person in their life (as the love addict does). They usually move swiftly and with great intensity to win a person over through acts of seduction. They tend to be charming, flattering, and attentive-- presenting a false image of themselves, causing a person who is a love addict to feel quite validated and “special”.
They often expect their partner to meet their needs and desires, but give little attention or focus of meeting important needs and desires of their partner-- for an avoidant to do so, would reveal intimate contact and vulnerability (remember, this is their core fear).
Avoidants Fear Intimacy, Closeness, and Emotional Vulnerability
Because they fear intimacy and emotional connection, they create emotional walls by utilizing a number of distancing tactics or behavior's to elude intimate contact; such as stone-walling, passive aggressiveness, gas lighting, and belittling. When inevitable conflicts arise, instead of trying to negotiate or come to a resolution, they may blame or accuse their partner of being the whole problem; having no accountability; or unexpectedly become angry and accuse their partner of not doing enough or caring enough. They may undermine or sabotage their partner’s attempts at making things better in the relationship. * read more about how love avoidants evade intimacy in relationships.
I have come to view Love Avoidance on a spectrum. Some have intimacy issues that are more severe, and some less so. There are those with avoidance issues who are at the lower end of the spectrum, where I believe it is possible to form a healthy and satisfying relationship IF both partners are willing to do some individual work on themselves and the relationship.
Then there are those with avoidance issues who are on the mid to upper spectrum, where their defense's, their emotional walls, are so thick, that the possibility of forming a fulfilling love relationship is virtually an impossibility.