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Signs You're Dating an Avoidant - Why it Matters and What to Do 


By Jim Hall, M.S., Relationship Coach


Article Summary:



Learn Common Signs Of An Avoidant Attachment in Dating


 Why Anxious Attachment Dating an Avoidant Don't Mix Well


What To Do If You're Anxious: Continue or Go? Important Matters to Consider




So You've Spotted an Avoidant in Dating– Now What?


Being a love addict or someone with an anxious attachment style, you tend to gravitate towards relationships with people who are avoidant and them to you.


Here is the problem: Someone who avoids intimacy can be very difficult to form a secure relationship with, especially for someone who craves closeness and emotional connection. 


If you are anxious or have a history of love addiction a love avoidant is one of the least likely to meet your relationship needs for intimacy, reassuarance, emotional availability, and security.


For most love addicts and anxiously attached-- these needs just mentioned are the most important relational needs for love addicts. And when you have a partner that can meet these needs, you can only feel safe, comfortable, and satisfied.


Moreover, being a relationship you have with someone love avoidant tends to trigger the most distress, anxiety, and pain - especially when you have to experience love addiction withdrawal once a breakup occurs.


So if you're serious about your recovery and finding the right partner to have a relationship you can be happy and secure in, then it will be in your best interest to avoid forming a romantic relationships with a love avoidant.

Note: Love avoidance doesn't make someone a "bad" person. It is one of several attachment styles. Nevertheless, who you choose to spend much of your life with is very important.


If you have an anxious attachment or are love addicted, someone who is emotionally unavailable or love avoidant is the least likely person to meet your relationship needs for intimacy, emotional connection, and security. * never feel shame about your needs



The love addict (who desires intimate contact) and a love avoidant (who fears & evades intimate contact), together in a romantic relationship, are like oil and water- they tend not to mix well! ... as both repel one another and are often unable to create a healthy and unified attachment.



Being anxious and/or love addicted, you probably experienced one or more relationships with a love avoidant (you likely did not know this).



Early on, the chemistry was likely intense and probably felt like fireworks, and you felt nothing but ecstasy and bliss.



And almost from the start, you concluded he/she is the “one”, and the fantasies proliferated.… with thoughts and images of being together forever “in love”, your needs being met- of affection, closeness, attention, intimacy, and love reciprocated back to you, and ultimately being rescued and liberated by your new “Soul-Mate And Redeemer.”


Of course, to your devastation, this does not happen.


Time passes, and within weeks or months, he/she begins changing from the seemingly charming, caring, and attentive person to someone cold, uncaring, distant, and unavailable.


From then on, he/she begins to reveal their true colors, their inability to connect. Your fantasies begin to collapse, and as hard as you try to get back what you “thought” you had in the beginning, you cannot change who a person is.


If you relate to this, have you ever thought, “I wish I could have known early on that he/she would turn out like this, being a love avoidant?"


Or have you ever asked yourself, “Were there warning signs early on that I could have identified to know he/she was love avoidant? If so, perhaps I could have prevented having to go through all the pain, distress, and heartache”?


Consider this —

When our partner reciprocates our need for intimacy and closeness, our happiness increases, and we can better thrive in other areas of our lives. On the contrary, when intimacy and closeness are one-sided, and our partner stifles it, our joy and satisfaction with the relationship decrease, our well-being decreases, and our capacity to thrive outside decreases…


It goes without saying that if you want a partner who enhances your well-being, happiness, and satisfaction in your life, you will be much better off avoiding getting attached to individuals who are emotionally unavailable/or avoidant.


For anxiously attached love addicts, the risks of choosing a partner who is love avoidant are clear - Avoid a love avoidant like the plague.


This leads me to my main point: You are not a victim of your circumstances.



As an adult, YOU have the power of choice.



You are not destined for relationships with love avoidants who do not have the capacity to meet your most important needs. From here on out, you can avoid relationships with love avoidants giving you a better chance to find a person to form a fulfilling relationship with.



How can you stop getting into relationships with someone with an avoidant attachment?


There are almost always early signs and indicators.


The key is knowing what to look for when you go on a date and when you're meeting potential partners. In other words being able to identify common avoidant signs in the early stages. 




Thankfully, most people reveal much about themselves early (it is true!).



The key is to learn and understand the Early Signs if dating an avoidant.



Once you know the most common avoidant dating signs and become a keen observer and well-honed listener you will be better able to reliably predict if a dating partner is love avoidant and take care of yourself from there.



To help you recognize when you are dating an avoidant, look for the following dating signs. 



Signs of Dating Someone with an Avoidant Attachment


1. Sends mixed signals; seems unreliable; words are incongruous to their actions (e.g., does/says one thing, and then soon after does/says the opposite).


2. Comes on very strong; is seductive, overly charming, flattering, and flirtatious; may quickly say, “I love you,” “You’re so perfect,” “Where have you been all my life,” etc.; may portray a “perfect/idealistic future together”; and/or quickly pressures you for commitment or loyalty.


3. Communication is foggy or vague; talks in roundabout terms about present circumstances or sharing past relationships/’s; seems secretive or mysterious.


4. Has not been in a committed relationship for a long period (years); he/she may attribute his/her long-term single status to external circumstances, such as not meeting “the perfect one”, or needing an “ideal textbook love partner/relationship”; (consider this sign if they are over 30).


5. Drinks, smokes pot, or does drugs excessively; and/or is a workaholic; or has some other apparent addiction or compulsion (gambling, porn, etc.).


6. Appears controlling; wants you to change your look (clothes, hair, etc.), or change what you do (your work, social activities, who you spend time with, etc.); may constantly text or call; expects/demands all of your time, especially on his/her terms-- may become angry, distant, moody or cold if you don’t respond.


7. Fiercely values independence, freedom, or self-reliance (he/she may or may not state this).


8. Wants or prefers casual sex; is okay having “friends with benefits”; words/discussions lean more on sexually connecting, much less on taking time to get to know one another; may try to pressure you to be physical/sexual.


9. Devalues, criticizes, even in subtle ways; may say or do things which make you feel inferior, incompetent, unworthy; may use sarcasm and claim ”I’m just teasing” as a method to demean you. May also degrade or speak negatively of others, previous partners, etc.


10. Reluctant to introduce friends or family members (especially troublesome after two or three months); may be hesitant to share his living environment * if kids are involved, flexibility should be given as he/she may be considering the child’s well-being, feeling it is too early for their kid/’s to meet someone new until a relationship is established.


11. Seems distrustful or suspicious of others, past partners, you; fear of being used or taken advantage of.


12. Says or implies, “I don’t think I’m ready for a commitment,” “I’m not good at relationships, “The timing is not right.”


13. Is married or in a current romantic relationship; history of cheating, affair/’s in past relationship/’s; may justify or defend reasons for behavior (e.g., “She/he was crazy,” “We didn't get along, it was over anyway”, “he/she never wanted sex”). * If the person says, “I changed” or “I’m different today,” w/o doing any counseling/therapy for a lengthy period- do not believe it.


14. The conversation is consistently all about him/her; asks few questions about you, your life, family, work, interests, etc.; and/or seems checked out mentally during conversations.


15. Is uncomfortable when you communicate candidly-- your feelings, needs, wants, or desires on what you are looking for in a relationship partner. You may say, “It’s important for me to have a partner who’s supportive, I can rely on, and wants to grow together”--  pay attention to their response; if he/she responds by ignoring, discounting, quickly changing the subject, or says for example, “You’re so sensitive/demanding/serious,” etc., count this as a big early warning sign.  * This Warning Sign May Be The Most Important, pay close attention



Knowing these early indicators of an avoidant attachment in dating is a powerful tool to uncover a person’s capacity to meet your needs for closeness, intimacy, and dependability.


Recognizing one or two of these signs may not necessarily prove a person is a love avoidant. HOWEVER, typically, when you find one or two, you will often find more- so pay close attention.


The effort you put into being a keen observer to whether or not a dating partner displays avoidant signs can pay off significantly in helping to promote future relationship happiness and duration.


That is good news if you are dating someone when no avoidant signs are apparent. Then you can move forward, take it slow, and continue getting to know this person.


On the other hand, what should you do if when you're dating someone and you start identifying a number of love avodiant signs?



So You've Recognized You Are Dating an Avoidant – Now What?


People with an insecure attachment often ask me how someone dates an avoidant person and makes a relationship work. Dating an avoidant person can be challenging, especially for someone with an anxious attachment style. It often doesn't work out well. Your relationship history may provide the evidence for this.


It's essential to be mindful on why love avoidants and anxious attach don't mix well and can be a recipe for disaster: Remember if you have an anxious attachment style you crave closeness and reassurance and a sense of safety in a partnership and these things are important to you (and I would argue important to most in relationships). Generally, avoidants will have great difficulty meeting these needs for you. And their emotional unavailability and distancing behaviors will likely trigger in you feelings of anxiety, insecurity, leading to a frustrating push-pull dynamic, toxic dance or love addiction cycle.

So what do you do if you desire a capable partner that has the capacity to display behaviors that show they consistently care about your needs and feelings and are reassuring -- but you discover a dating partner is avoidant?



If avoidant signs are apparent in a dating partner, then you must first make the obvious conclusion that he/she would surely be an unavailable and unreliable partner— and in the long run the relationship would be as painful as it is tumultuous, leaving you chronically dissatisfied.


Secondly, what you must do is straightforward — prioritize your own well-being and move on promptly.



You must detach from the person, or you risk becoming too attached and perhaps addicted.



Do not stall.

You may have a strong and powerful attraction towards the person but it does not matter.



You don't want to win them over, try to get them to love you, or try to get them to commit.


The Early Warning Signs notify you loud and clearly that this person is emotionally unavailable.



They are who they are, and you nor anyone will change them. Do not waste any more time or energy.


You need to communicate with him or her that you cannot continue seeing each other.


You could say something like, “It’s been good knowing you, but I know we’re not a good match, and I don't want to waste your time or mine; good luck to you.”


You do not have to say anything more.



Just be clear and direct.



Do not feel like you have to explain yourself- you do not.


Do not feel guilty if the person gets hurt-  he/she is an adult - they will be fine.



What he/she feels, thinks, or does in response is not your responsibility or issue.


You are not obligated to the person. You do not owe him/her anything else but your truth.


Even if you are attracted to other traits (even a lot of traits) that you find appealing in a person, and yet you recognize the warning signs, beware! He or she is still love avoidant.


Do not justify sticking around by thinking something like, “I’ve always wanted someone ambitious, has a fantastic job, loves traveling, and wants a family”.


Perhaps this could be true, nevertheless —the person is still a love avoidant! ...


One who likely cannot or will not meet your most important relational needs and who will make you feel dissatisfied and disillusioned.


If you want to find real satisfying love where your needs for intimacy, closeness, and reassurance are met ... Recognizing the Dating Signs of an Avoidant must be a bottom-line, a non-negotiable, a deal-breaker, yes, the ‘nail in the coffin’- period!


Also - do not leave any wiggle room for continued contact.


Do not say, for example, “We could be friends.”



If you do, you leave the door open for him/her to manipulate you back into contact and put yourself at risk of becoming attached.


Halting, early on, a relationship with a love avoidant -- is about honoring YOUR wants, needs, and desire to find a partner who is NOT avoidant, someone unable to meet your most important relationship needs. That is all that matters.

When early warning signs show up... Depart and let go with a clear understanding of why, then give yourself a big pat on the back and congratulate yourself for taking care of yourself.


Be cautious as you begin to search for a suitable partner so a secure healthy relationship becomes possible.


If you keep blinders on… ignore, disregard, or justify any observable avoidant signs, you will put yourself at great risk in wasting your valuable time and falling back into the trap of settling for crumbs… steering you back to great heartache, disappointment, and disillusionment.


Always keep this in mind...  The type of partner we choose to enter a relationship with can have far-reaching effects on our ability to flourish … having a great influence on our emotional well-being and physical health, our belief in ourselves, our self-esteem, and our future outlook and motivation to achieve our hopes and dreams.


You are important! You are enough! And You matter! Moreover, what you need and want most in a relationship partner, really-truly matters! So honor your needs 100%. If you are interested in helping yourself to better find the right partner on your dating path- I can help you- consider Relationship Coaching (see below).






Don’t settle. For less.



Early Signs of Avoidant Attachment - Key Points

  • Take Seriously - the Early Warning Signs.

  • Do not minimize or justify - Early Warning Signs.

  • Early warning signs indicate a person you would be chronically dissatisfied within a relationship.

  • Never play games in dating. Playing games may help you win someone over (unhealthy), but it likely will not be the right one.

  • Always be yourself; be real; and communicate clearly what you are looking for and what you want--this is what secure people do; so be that secure person by simply being authentic.

  • Do not let "feel good" thoughts deceive you; like, “but he/she really is so into me”, "the chemistry is amazing”… just because it feels right, does not make it right. Stay in reality – stay focused.

  • They are called warning signs for a reason – the are warnings so you can accurately predict, early on, if someone your dating is love avoidant (bad choice) or not.

  • A love avoidant is the least likely person to meet your needs for intimacy, emotional availability, and security; and make you happy in a relationship.

  • Remember: Love addicts equate love with obsession, infatuation, and intensity with love… this is NOT love.

  • If you are a love addict or have an insecure attachment style- intimacy and closeness are very important to you— do not settle for a person who would stifle what is important to you, your needs.

  • Never, ever feel guilt or shame about what you need in a relationship partner. Having a “need” is not bad. Stop being afraid of coming off needy, express your needs and as mentioned above, just be YOU, that is enough.

  • Oh and one more thing ... You will not change them! No one will. Do not try. They are who they are.


About the Author: Jim Hall, MS, is a former therapist turned Love addiction Specialist and Relationship Coach who helps individuals get over unhealthy attachment patterns -- and develop the skills and self-assurance to acquire fulfilling love in their lives.


with Jim Hall MS
Relationships | Effective Dating | Recovery | Love Addiction | Love Avoidance


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