Top 6 Signs of a Love Avoidant
In addictive-relationships, the anxiously attached Love Addict repeatedly attracts individuals with particular signs - and in turn, people with these particular signs are attracted to a person with love addict and codependent traits.
The type of person I am speaking of is someone who is Love Avoidant.
Like two magnetic forces coming together, both inevitably form an unhealthy and often toxic relationship.
See if you recognize the following signs that indicate someone who is avoidant in relationships.
SIX COMMON SIGNS OF A LOVE AVOIDANT
1. Fear of Intimacy- Evades Intimate and Emotional Connection
In romantic relationships evading intimacy and getting too close emotionally is the name of the game for a love avoidant.
Emotional intimacy is a vital component of healthy relationships.
Intimacy involves allowing oneself to ‘be known.'
Intimacy is about trust, vulnerability, sharing the reality of the self, communicating wants and needs, as well as expressing genuine feelings and emotions.
When there is authentic love, intimacy is at the core of that love.
Yet, intimacy and emotional closeness are the love avoidant's greatest fear. Because of early childhood experiences, they learned to associate intimacy with engulfment, suffocation, and being controlled.
So the closer you try to get to your partner- their response is not to reciprocate, but to distance and run.
Instead of healthy boundaries to protect their sense of space and themselves (something intimacy also requires), they use thick emotional walls- that make intimate connection impossible.
They are emotionally like a turtle that repeatedly pulls into his/her rigid shell when one attempts to get too close and connect emotionally.
You may get occasional glimpses of his/her real self, openness, or vulnerability-- only to see them retreat once again behind their walls.
* Interestingly, a love avoidant with children does not fear emotionally connecting with their children. They feel safe and are not at risk of being known, vulnerable, and authentic with their children- since children are powerless and cannot abandon, reject, shame, or control them. What's more, some love-avoidant parents can be too vulnerable and enmeshed- becoming love addicts in relation to their children.
2. Does a "Complete About Face” in the relationship– Becomes a Whole Different Person From Whom You First Met
As your relationship progresses, you notice a complete change in your partner’s attitude. A "complete about-face" occurs. Your partner is notably different from the person you first met.
In the initial part of addictive relationships, the love avoidant exhibits an illusion of intimacy, caring, and connection. They form an immediate attachment idealizing their love addict partner.
They come on strong and appear charming, strong, stimulating, caring, generous, and devoted - (all seductive maneuvers). Then the relationship moves forward and soon enough the true colors of the love avoidant emerge.
The charm, attention, and seductiveness go out the door- no more! The seemingly once available “magical” person you fell for becomes cold, devaluing, and disengaged.
As a love addict, you first cannot put a finger on what is happening, but you can feel it, and the shift in your partner is anxiety-provoking. You say to yourself or to friends/family, “He/she was so thoughtful in the beginning, where is the person I met. I’m confused and baffled. What am I doing wrong?"
You may make excuses and even blame yourself for the change you see in your partner.
Invariably, you try to give more, do more, be more romantic, or try to make things as they were. There is a pursuit of keeping the love relationship fantasy alive in order to recreate the euphoria experienced in the beginning of the relationship.
And the toxic dance is in order.
It is at this phase when a love avoidant is carrying out many of their strategies to avoid (3rd sign-next).
3. Uses Distancing Strategies to Avoid Intimacy and Closeness
You eventually feel a shift in your partner’s attitude. You sense your partner is not really ‘showing up’ in the relationship.
And it is true- because a love avoidant is busy with their behavioral or emotional distancing strategies which are used to impede closeness and squelch intimacy.
For example, the love avoidant will compulsively focus outside the relationship.
Instead of seeking intensity in the relationship, they seek intensity outside the relationship with the use of various behaviors and distractions (i.e., staying very busy with activities, hobbies, internet, partying, gardening, gaming, playing sports, shopping, spending all their time volunteering, or much more time with friends or family, etc.).
Some will use the distancing strategy of “no commitment” and never fully commit to the relationship.
They may say, “I love you, I care about you, I want to be with you, but I’m not quite ready for a relationship.”
They may use the distancing tactic of avoiding ‘I love you’, and make excuses for why they do so.
They may avoid physical closeness (i.e., not wanting to have sex, or share the same bed; or avoid touching or caressing; hugging, kissing or holding hands; walking ahead of you or at a distance, etc.).
Another strategy commonly used to sabotage intimate connection is by creating a lot drama in the relationship such as starting arguments, or constantly complain about you, people, the world, or grumbling about their personal problems they never seem to resolve.
They may sabotage closeness by criticizing, judging, being condescending, being passive-aggressive, attacking, lying, making threats, even by being accommodating (in certain situations) without being honest.
With a partner using strategies to avoid intimacy and closeness- a healthy loving relationship is unattainable.
4. Has an Addiction or Compulsive Problem - Blocking Intimacy
A love avoidant often has an addiction problem that significantly affects their relationship. Addiction is the ultimate cocktail to focus far-and-away from intimately connecting with a relationship partner.
They can have any kind of addiction, and there are many (both substance and behavioral) - gambling; drugs; alcohol; internet/computer; exercise, gaming addictions, and the list goes on. Many are sex or porn addicts.
Moreover, many are workaholics, that is they are excessively busy and preoccupied with their job or career (yes, work can be used as a drug to escape and certainly sabotage relational connection).
Additionally, a love avoidance partner can become a love addict- not in the relationship, but outside.
More common than many people imagine, they can be in a committed relationship (or married), and become extremely addicted and obsessed with a person outside the relationship. And they can go through excruciating withdrawal if their cheating partner leaves them.
An addiction is a powerful method to escape from and sabotage any romantic relationship.
5. Avoidants Can Often Be a Narcissist or Display Narcissistic Traits
People can be narcissitc and avoidant.
Love Avoidants are prone to narcissism but not all are a full-blown narcissists.
Nevertheless, many avoidants may present some traits of narcissism
Narcissism is an undeniable indicator that a person is not intimately engaged in a relationship.
A Narcissist may show two faces -- the one they wear in public, and the one they wear in close interpersonal relationships; which is not a good one.
On the outside in public, they can present a nice, pleasant exterior. People who are not close to them may view them as a fun, confident, charming, outgoing, and outwardly social.
Only those close to the narcissist have any idea there is more to them than this one fictitious face.
Behind their façade of tough-skin, strength, and charisma is a very fragile, wounded person who thinks the world is all about him/her and feels above their relationship partner.
One telling trait of narcissism is a sense of entitlement. They want what they want when they want it.
You can forget what you want- they do not care. They feel their needs and wants are all that matters, and their attitude is you should feel the same.
Furthermore, you should NOT expect to have your needs and wants to be met, or even heard.
They expect you to anticipate their every wish and if you do not – look out! - As they may lash with anger, rage, and strike back by devaluing and demeaning you as a person.
Narcissistic Signs and Symptoms:
-- Lack of empathy:
Emotional support or understanding is minimal at best. Inability to identify with and understand your feelings; fails to recognize or care about what you are going through or experiencing; cold and aloof towards your feelings; displays an inability to be caring or compassionate through difficult times.
-- Difficulty in taking responsibility or admitting mistakes:
When arguments or issues inevitably occur, he/she rarely feels accountable as being part of the problem. All relational troubles and predicaments are yours and yours only. They will never admit defeat. They have a selective memory of events, and seldom take ownership of past (or present) behavior that seems imperfect or unpleasant to them. They twist the facts, and in so doing, make you the ‘crazy’ one for even suggesting they somehow had a part of any problematic matter.
Is impracticable and idealistic in view of themselves. Has an extreme sense of superiority and self-importance; Their self-esteem seems high, however, it is false self-esteem as it is only gained by viewing others as “less than” and the self as “better than”. They comprise a brazen mental state that it is always and forever, about him/her. They have a need for unconditional admiration, admiration, attention, but only on a superficial level.
-- Easily becomes defensive/feels threatened:
If you are not propping him/her on the high artificial pedestal, he/she often becomes offended, slighted, or bitter. When you call them out or confront them on an issue, inappropriate comment, or behavior, or if you set a boundary, or share a differing view, opinion, or belief— they easily view it as a threat and consider it an attack on themselves. More often than not, their response is to become defensive and then strike back with rage, fury, power games, revengeful tactics, or passive-aggressive behavior.
* (You may also notice narcissistic behavior in your partner's relationships with others (family, friends, co-workers, etc.)
6. Resistant to Professional Help - Counseling or Therapy (for self and/or a relationship)
The love avoidant is often very resistant to change and rather content with the status quo as long as they feel in control of things (not mattering what you feel).
As a result, they will often refuse or resist help such as counseling, therapy, and treatment.
To seek professional help through a therapist or counselor requires one to be vulnerable, open, honest, and accountable.
In other words, it requires allowing oneself to be open to intimate connection, (remember, intimacy is their greatest fear).
Essentially for the same reasons, just as they run from intimacy and accountability within a romantic relationship-- they strongly shun therapeutic help even if it could benefit themselves, their partner, and potentially the relationship.
If they do come in for treatment (often by being pulled in by their partner), they do so with emotional walls.
Their defenses will be up and will avoid and distract from areas of emotional discussions, or issues of responsibility.
Even when gently confronted by a therapist, they will play a victim- act as the sufferer, make excuses, accuse, blame, and avoid any accountable part they have in relational challenges; thereby closing off any opportunity to create healthy change for themselves or in the relationship.
Here is something I commonly emphasize to clients and readers like you:
These avoidant signs don't necessarily mean that your partner doesn't love you. But they likely do indicate the capacity of which he or she has to love and give in a relationship. Furthermore if your partner is love avoidant or a narcissist, it is important to keep in mind—that his/her attitude and behaviors, and who they show themselves to be in the relationship are not about you.
You may have been too clingy, or too needy, and you may have made mistakes and blunders along the way--- but these are not the reasons for why they are the way they are.
Before you knew them, before a relationship started with you, he/she was the person they are with you. It is part of who they are and how they operate in relationships.
A love avoidant enters relationships with insecure attachment and dysfuntional core issues and they will leave a relationship with these issues. All of which they will carry in any other relationships they fall into. Who they are is not your fault.
If you want to have a happy, fulfilling, and healthy love relationship – it will be pretty difficult with someone who is avoidant (and by the way, it goes both ways).
Sometimes this is a hard reality to face- although, in the end, it is a reality that will set you free. Unless and only unless they are willing to look at themselves, can they change - BUT don’t bet on that.
Remember, love addicts, attract a dysfunctional individual because of their own dysfunction.
And the only way to stop it is by dissolving and resolving the dysfunction set in our minds and hearts… by doing the priceless work of recovering and loving self-care.
Author: Jim Hall MS is a trained therapist turned Love Addiction Specialist, Relationship-Recovery Coach, Author of 3 Books on Love Addiction and Healing. Jim helps people overcome obsessive relationship patterns, and develop the skills and self-assurance to create healthy, happy relationships.
For a personal consultation- advice, relationship and recovery guidance with Jim Hall -- Online Love Addiction Coaching.