Top 6 Signs of a Love Avoidant
By Jim Hall, MS, Love Addiction Specialist
Are you in a relationship with a Love Avoidant?
In romantic addictive-relationships, the 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 the Love Avoidant. Like two powerful magnetic forces, a love avoidant and love addict form and inevitably create a very toxic ‘love’ relationship.
The following are six common signs of a love avoidant, see if you recognize them in your relationship partner or a past relationship partner.
SIX SIGNS OF A LOVE AVOIDANT
1. Fear 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 reality of 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 is the love avoidants 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 makes 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 maneuver's). 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 fallen 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
A love avoidant often have 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 like 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. Narcissist or Displays Narcissistic Traits
Love Avoidants are prone to narcissism. Not all are full-blown narcissists; nevertheless, a majority will almost certainly 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, social person.
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 is thinks the world is all about him/her and feels above their relationship partner.
One telling trait of narcissism is the 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 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.
More narcissistic avoidant traits:
-- Lacks 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.
-- Has difficulty 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, 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 then strike back with rage, fury, power games, revengeful tactics, or passive aggressive behavior's.
* (You may also notice narcissistic behavior's in your partners relationships with others (family, friends, coworkers, etc.)
6. Resistant to Professional Help (for self and/or a relationship)
The love avoidant is often very resistant to change and rather content with 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 defences 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.
A relationship with a love avoidant is in reality, not a real relationship at all— but a counterfeit emotional entangle.
If you are a love addict and your partner is love avoidant, 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, or what you did or say, or what you did not do or say.
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 dysfunctional core issues, and they will leave a relationship with dysfunctional core issues. All of which problematic behaviors they will carry in any relationships they fall into.
If you want to have a happy, fulfilling, and healthy love relationship – it will not happen with someone who is love 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 our 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 hard but priceless work of recovering and loving self-care.
Are going through a relationship breakup or love withdrawal with a Love Avoidant? In a romantic relationship with a partner who is Avoidant?
If you're breaking up and in the pain and obsession of withdrawal- learn how my most popular eBook will help you: Surviving Withdrawal: The Breakup Workbook for Love Addicts.
If you are in a relationship with an avoidant and are not sure whether you should stay or go; or wonder how you can better take care of yourself-- Then consider working with me. I want to help you help you gain powerful insights and discover how you can get unstuck from unhealthy relationship patterns- learn About Love Addiction Coaching.