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"Change occurs when one becomes what he/she is, not when he/she tries to become what he is not"
- A.Beisser-


Love Avoidant Partner: 
Romantic Partners Love Addicts Love to "Love"

By Jim Hall, M.S., Love Addiction Specialist
* love addiction  | relationship coaching

Love addicts invariably painfully attach themselves to one type of person in relationships, someone who is 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 intimate connection with romantic partners, at all costs. 

To Love Avoidants, intimacy is equal to engulfment, loss of control and independence. 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.

Avoidants 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.

Some example traits of love avoidance:

  • Very strong fear of intimacy; and expression of inner-reality (feelings, thoughts, needs and wants)
  • Looks down on partner and becomes more distant, the more he/she tries to connect.
  • Lacks spontaneity.
  • Resistance to risk taking (status quo in relationships)
  • Seeking intensity outside relationship- to avoid connection inside relationship.
  • A need to appear and behave emotionally independent and strong (vs embracing interdependence- healthy in relationships)
  • Views expressing feelings/vulnerability as a ‘weakness’ (which it is not).
  • Avoids intimacy by the use of distancing behaviors/tactics
  • Deep fear of being hurt/rejected/abandoned, “if another truly knows me”
  • Feeling guilt for not doing or being ‘enough’ in a relationship (but rarely will express it).
  • Difficulty being vulnerable enough to talk/resolve relationship conflicts.

Love Avoidant in Romantic Relationships

A Love Avoidant is the type of person love addicts love to “love’- well, at least in the beginning of the relationship, and vice-versa. For them, it can feel quite confusing or perhaps shocking, to experience the contrast of a Love Avoidance partner in the beginning of a relationship in comparison to the later stages. 

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 boundary and self-esteem issues-- it goes both ways.

Love Avoidants 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 give an appearance that they are emotionally available, while appearing strong, secure, and stable; but later in a romantic relationship reveal the extent of their defensive walls through denying problems, frozen feelings, and emotional inaccessibility-- leaving their relationship partner quite confused as to why they are , more and more, emotionally turning their backs. Any attempt of trying to get too close makes the avoidant feel as if they are literally suffocating. 

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).

Distancing to Avoid Intimacy

Avoidants utilize a number of distancing tactics or behaviors 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.

Love Avoidance on a Spectrum

As a specialist in the field of love addiction/love avoidance, I have come to view Love Avoidance on a spectrum. Some have Love Avoidance issues that are more severe, and some less severe. There are those with love 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 there are those with avoidance issues who are on the mid to upper spectrum, where their defenses, their emotional walls, are so thick, that the possibility of forming a fulfilling love relationship is virtually an impossibility.

Narcissistic Love Avoidance 

Avoidants are prone to narcissism. As I have mentioned in my other article on Signs of a Love Avoidant, most avoidants have some narcissistic traits that can show up in relationships, yet not all Love Avoidants are full- blown narcissist's. 

Nonetheless, Love Avoidants who are near, or on the higher Love Avoidant Spectrum, are more often than not, narcissistic individuals, and/or may actually qualify as having out-and-out Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).  

A few examples of Narcissistic Traits

•    Lack of empathy.
•    High sense of entitlement.
•    View self as “better than”/stronger/superior to others. 
•    Sensitive to differing views expressed- often becomes defensive or attacks other.
•    Strong desire for others to look up to them/put on a pedestal.
•    Needs constant recognition, admiration, attention- but only on a superficial level.
•    Inflate talents, achievements, or responsibilities in order to appear important/above others.
•    Expect others (a partner) to anticipate their every need and becomes angry/ disappointed when needs/desires are not met-- resulting in devaluing another.
•    Expect you to read their mind, and when you don’t, it is proof that you just don’t care or love them enough.
•    Great difficult in taking responsibility – instead they blame (you/others). When arguments happen, they rarely admit defeat, since admitting their wrong to them is to be controlled and to look weak- in their dysfunctional eyes.

To learn a whole lot more about a Love Avoidant partner; how their core issues sabatoge intimacy, why they are the way they are in relationships, how relationships with Love Addicts play out,  and much more-- you can order and read my book, The Love Addict in Love Addiction (immediately download and read)


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