How to Cope With an Avoidant Partner

How to Cope With an Avoidant Partner

There are, for many of us, few people as attractive
as the avoidant; the sort that are permanently a little mysterious; who don’t speak so
much; around whom one never quite knows where one is; in whose eyes there is a faraway look,
and perhaps a certain melancholy too; in whose hearts we intuit a sadness we long to, but
never quite can, touch; people who seem to promise us intimacy and connection, and yet
who remain – however long we have been with them – mesmerisingly unreassuring. Unsurprisingly,
it is not so easy to be the lover of an avoidant person. The tendency, very often, after the
heady early days, is to give into the insecurities they end up provoking in us: do they really
care? Do they love us back? Why are they never the ones to call? Beset by such questions,
we may get cross, tearful or stern. We may accuse them of neglect and selfishness, of
betrayal or egocentricity. These sort of inquisitions can be counted on to fail. At the first signs
of critique, avoidant people pull up the drawbridge. They are experts at fleeing the messy consequences
of other people’s desire for them. They go off to play sport, abscond on a long journey
or discover new responsibilities at the office. One is left hammering in vain at the gates
of their personal citadel. On a bad day, they may also get furious back. They will deny
that we have any kind of point at all. They aren’t trying to deceive us; they genuinely
can’t see the issue. They aren’t – they assure us with mounting vehemence – distant
and cold, they are simply busy and not into certain kinds of sentimentality. It is we
– needy, weak, hysterical and over-demanding, as they put it – who are the problem. We
almost agree. To survive, we should hold on to the
idea that, despite their robust outward manner, the avoidant are, above all else, scared.
Their frostiness is the result of fear rather than indifference – and what they are afraid
of is to let down their guard and then meet with betrayal and abandonment. Their outward
strength masks a gelatinous interior. There will, inevitably, be a rather touching backstory
to their advanced subterranean fears. They were, way back, most likely let down very
badly by someone they depended on a lot when they were defenceless. In response to a grave
childhood disappointment, they grew an extra thick skin and plated themselves with armour.
They vowed, in a way they may not now even recognise, never to trust anyone fully again.
Related image So they are distant and prone to put up barriers not because they don’t
care, but because being cared for with kindness generates unfamiliar and daunting feelings
for them. They skillfully undermine their chances of being close, because they have
no experience of reliable love – and are drawn to try to spoil it to prove to themselves
that it can’t be real (and that they haven’t, therefore, missed out on quite so much). We
should avoid getting stuck in cycles of claim and counter-claim; that they might be too
cold and that we might be too hot. Far better to address the fears circulating beneath the
surface. Rather than provoking their panic or denial, we should – as best we can – make
closeness feel safe. We should remember that we are dealing with someone who finds vulnerability
frightening and therefore not meet their impulse to flee with punitiveness. But more crucially, we might along the way, start to ask ourselves
a few key questions. How similar are we to them, beneath the apparent differences? It
is easy to claim that one has an uncomplicated desire to be close – so long as one isn’t
put to the test, because one has carefully picked out a person who has problems being
so. Yet in truth, how simple is closeness for us really? Might we not be as scared as
they are – but simply have passed our share of the problem on to them to hold? Shouldn’t
we be suspicious of the way that we managed to reject other warmer candidates in favour
of this distant figure? Is it really an accident that we are with them? Or isn’t it in some
way satisfying to us as well, allowing us to claim that we want intimacy without having
to bear any of its costs? Through such pointed questions, we stand to realise
that, most probably, the fear of closeness exists on both sides. It’s just that they
are directly distant and we are so by proxy. We can break away from caricatures and, as
a couple, own up to our mutual terrors of dependence. We can start to sympathise with
one another’s techniques for warding off anxiety and help each other to accept the
common risks of love. That will be the beginning of true closeness – and bravery – on both
sides. Did you know we also have an app to help you meet people with whom you can have deeper more meaningful connections? Follow the link on your screen now to download it.

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  1. If you want to chat more to your fellow School of Life audience members, be sure to download our free app:

  2. Welp… School of life just described my avoidant ass with 101% accuracy. Still single after 21 years of existence because I'm too scared to get close to others… Fingers crossed things will change one day.

  3. I have much love and empathy for the avoidant. I understand why he behaves the way he does. But I have to take care of myself. I just can't go down that co-dependant road. I recently adopted a 'no drag' policy…like the parents of young hockey players who refuse to drag their budding nhl'ers to the rink at 6am sat…i refuse to drag love, attention or commitment out of my partner. It must come willing or I must go. It can be a heartbreaking choice but not as heartbreakingly lonely as staying and being the low priority option of the one you love.

  4. This video is SPOT-ON! I am a secure attachment style. I recognized the signs something just didn't sit right with my ex-girlfriend. In over a year, I never met her family or friends even after I requested to do so at the eighth month mark. She would not introduce me nor talk about them. When issues would come up, I would calmly try to address the issues, but she would just totally shut down and zone out. Nothing ever got resolved. I suggested under my employer's Employee Assistance Program, that we or she alone could get free counseling from a certified therapist, since I knew there was something wrong, but just couldn't put my finger on it. She refused. I was kind, patient and caring. She would go out with her girlfriends for dinner with my never calling her during that time. When she got home she would send me a gif of a phone ringing, in other words, a sign to call her which she did consistently throughout the relationship. She came over to my house early on Christmas Eve to celebrate with my adult children and her minor child. She did not want to see her mother this night as they had a very unemotional bonding as she grew up. Her ex-husband she claimed was a narcissist. On Christmas Eve her visiting family went and visited her mother instead. Very late on Christmas eve, my children left to go drive back home. She did not even invite me to her house to celebrate Christmas morning with her family who were in town for that week. This was the first Christmas ever that I spent alone and I cried, seeing that I was not important to her. After a year of not seeing her even trying to get any type of personal growth on her end, I had enough. Life is too short to waste energy in a one-sided relationship. About three months later she called asking if I would like to meet with her and pick up where we left off. I said no thank you. I gave her space alright, I gave her the galaxy. Best decision I ever made was leaving my dismissive avoidant. I am now happy in life again. It isn't anybody's job to fix other people, other than themselves. In a relationship your job is simply to love them. Hardly any reciprocity on her end the entire year. you shouldn't hate these people, but feel sorry they never grew up with emotional attachments. No matter how much you love them, you should never make yourself a co-dependent due to their lack of effort as that's not healthy. Unfortunately, they push you away and self-sabotage the relationship. Go find your happiness.

  5. Ok how cute was it when the “needy” person patted the “avoidant” person on the head and it made them close their eyes alittle and smile. Aww 😂

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  7. Some people are avoidant because they don't want to put anyone else through what they've had to go through, something that was gifted to them. Something they still carry around, something still alive inside them that they haven't been able to put down, something they know they can't afford to let out. The correct answer is just to love them. In whatever capacity you are able, in whatever capacity they allow you to, in whatever capacity they exist, in whatever capacity circumstances permit. There is always a person within the mess.

  8. If you can handle avoidant Narcissist well done – go for it and love him with unconditional love. But don't be sad when he/she sleeps with others behind your back and creates brain-cells killing drama every day. Save yourself the trouble.

  9. I would really appreciate a video on communication in these types of relationships. Advice on how to talk to your avoidant partner, and tips for an avoidant partner to fulfill their partner

  10. I have been the avoidant partner in many of my relationships. The reason you avoid people most of the time doesn't have to do with fear but the fact that you don't like spending time with them. As simple as that.

  11. This is literally me LMAO. I do anything to avoid social situations. Like if I see someone I know at a store I go around the aisles and try to avoid them as much as I can

  12. I used to be a religious person as a teenager. Really believed that someone higher up there could change my fate, if I yearned hard enough.

    That obviously didn't go well. Looking back at why I'm so avoidant and suspicious, that's probably one major factor, aside from a few others. When the host mentioned betrayal, abandonement and being let down, that is it.

  13. I've loved an avoidant with all my heart. But he hurt me over and over again… While he would always keep the hope alive… Only to avoid me again and again in the future… 5 years of understanding him, of supporting him. He end up changing me for someone else while he was asking me for more understanding and time. This video doesn't help me to forget, it makes me feel like I didn't do enough.

  14. This animation was so adorable to this insightful video.
    After being w/ an Avoidant partner for almost 4 yrs I could definitely relate to this. The ? at the end here to ask myself, I have.
    I am also in fear when it boils down to it and so yea GREAT VIDEO!!!
    Thank U so much for sharing~ 🌬🙏🏻💗☺️🙌🏻✨✌🏻

  15. THIS IS MY CURRENT, DEPRESSING SITUATION NOW. That person always tells me I am overdemanding. Little does that person know, that entity does not know how to love.

    I wanna give up. I wanna fall out of love. It is getting a toll on my health. Too much misery.

  16. Or they are horrible partners – way too much energy to invest in the wrong people.
    This is also a ploy used by narcissistic individuals. ‘Vulnerable’ narcs – don’t bite!

  17. I've been struggling with being the avoidant partner recently. It feels like I'm making myself vulnerable by showing my love for him. I don't want to be perceived as needy, even though he's the one who's calling me like 15 times in a row just to hear my voice. But still, there seems to be this barrier that keeps me from showing how much he actually means to me


  19. What does distance by proxy look like? You haven't discussed that. I don't think you really even gave many ideas on how one helps an avoidant person feel safe other than avoiding criticism.

    I've been with avoidant people and I've continued to share my feelings, share my needs (often read as criticism by an avoidant even when it's not), share the scary things, and I've asked for their input, asked their opinions, asked what they feel, and I've also tried to give them space, not behave in a way that they might consider needy so as to not frighten them. (I have close intimate friendships where we've managed to negotiate conflict and still love each other.) It seems to me that what avoidant partners so often fear is the idea that familiarity will breed contempt. That is, if you knew how they felt about you when you did this or that, how they feel about themselves, what they think about something in disagreement to what you think, or how they feel or think what they've done, you wouldn't love them. Your love would be conditional. Also, the avoidant people I've been involved with seem to believe that if they were truly loved, their partners would be able to read their minds; they wouldn't have to take a risk. (Initially they take risks because they either want love or they want to hook you.) I've found that people who are fearful of being judged harshly may judge others harshly–perhaps this is a particular type of avoidant person. Meaning, like Groucho Marx, some avoidant people don't want to belong to a club that would have them and so they depreciate the person they're afraid will depreciate them. They abandon before they can be abandoned.

    Sometimes we're with avoidant people because of other aspects of their personalities. Yes, that too may speak to our own brokenness. We may be with them not because we're avoidant but because we have abandonment issues ourselves. (Not everyone with abandonment issues becomes avoidant.) Their willingness not to abandon us in relationship by not avoiding, by showing they can remain intimate with us, would help heal us just as our being there for them and not abandoning them when they reveal themselves might help heal them. I don't remember being fearful of actual physical abandonment by a lover, however, I am now concerned about being abandoned in relationship via lack of intimacy by my partner. You know, Imago Theory of relationships where we choose people because we're broken in ways that might help heal each other if we're willing to risk.

  20. Rather than the idea that reliable love doesn't exist, I find the more prevalent argument in my head to be that Love and any form of dependence on others is unnecessary, despite knowing beyond reasonable doubt that it's untrue.

  21. I’ve noticed dismissive avoidant men are catnip for attractive women who are bored with normal guys and seek validation from someone with an apparently impenetrable exterior. The tend to lose interest shortly after seeing who is behind the mask.

  22. I'm an avoidant, and I've always been critized for not "caring" that much for the other person. And isn't that way, I have to be pretty sure and trust 100% the other person, be sure that by the moment in wich I give all of myself, they won't hurt me or simply abandone me. We don't show that much but we actually care SO much for the other person but we are afraid to show it or to even feel that much for someone. And I felt so identified when he said that we felt that we can't trust no one fully again, cause was a promise I actually made someday.

  23. So the Kiwi is the Avoidant, but what attachment style is the Orange here? I thought secure until the reveal at the end that we date Avoidants to hide our own insecurities… Anyone?

  24. It is everybody ganging up on you and shitting on you like always so they can turn around steal your shit again and disregard laws and harass you….

  25. The last part really hit home for me. I'm the anxious partner disguising my fear of intimacy and vulnerability by being attracted to people who aren't able to give it the affection I'm longing for to me…

  26. I don't have the energy to struggle with this kind of mental boundaries and struggle. I prefer to find someone more simple or simply be alone.

  27. Bravo. 20 years ago my analyst observed, “You seem to be attracted to unavailable partners. Why is that?” The answer lay in my childhood, a careless Mum who was obsessed with her first child, nothing left for me. If I could gain the attention and affection of an avoidant it will somehow compensate. Or, I choose them because I know they’ll leave and I can avoid my own intimacy problems. The bad news? I’m still working on it.

  28. short summary of the video :
    orange in love w kiwi
    kiwi is all 😶😕😳
    orange is all 😍😭💔
    kiwi likes to stay in a lighthouse bcz it's snowing outside
    orange tries to get in but is left in the snow

  29. i love how almost accurately these Avoidant videos get, as an avoidant myself, i feel validated in my behavorisms when i watch these. everything about how previous relationships have shaped avoidants and their behavior is terrifyingly on point. everything applies to my situation, minus the aggression.

  30. Really great insight. Thanks for the upload. All this talk about "labels" – codependent this, narcissist that, etc., followed by blaming, and remaining stuck and repeating the patterns relationship after relationship, as we never heal.

    Both insecure and avoidant can act the same way, to varying degrees, and depending on various mitigating factors, all due to the primary emotion (which we may not even be willing to admit) – FEAR. The secondary (third and forth) emotion may be anger or a 1000 other emotional responses – layer upon layer.

    Thanks for the concise, yet broadness of scope.


  31. This is the first source I've come across that asks someone who desires intimacy with an avoidant personality WHY they would pick such a person instead of someone who is open, warm and caring! So much dating advice espouses how to cope with or even manipulate avoidant personality types instead of encouraging introspection. After all, why would a warm and caring person chase after an avoidant personality if intimacy was what they truly desired? They're setting themselves up to fail, so the truth is they have some issues as well. Bravo!

  32. Sitting in my bathroom thinking about all of the ways i expect to be loved but none of the ways i actually show myself love. If i dont show myself love, how do i possibly know what love is and WHY do i even expect it from someone else? Thats so selfish towards myself and my partner.

  33. I say be genuinely interested in healing yourself rather than focusing on fixing the other person. Accept who they are and move on to self care and love. Relationships go through phases and what matters is being there when you need each other. I have an attachment wound and am admittedly needy, been married to an avoidant man for 11 years. Personally I love and nurture myself and if he's there so be it. If not I'm ok.

  34. i'm in this video and i don't like it. literally every sentence about the avoidant is so accurate its almost scary- from the frostiness being the result of fear, to being let down very badly by someone they depended on a lot, when they were defenseless. fhdshg stop this
    seriously though, these videos have helped me feel more valid in my behaviorisms and that means a lot to me, and i'm sure, many others as well

  35. Wonderful knowledge. The bible says knowledge is more valuable than anything basically. Also peeps hit my short vid up too if u can thx! Superpayaseria

  36. Anyone fit the person described in this vid?? Also peeps hit my short vid up too if u can thx! Superpayaseria

  37. You can only establish connection with this sort of people provided they allow you to. Otherwise don't waste your time

  38. I recently broke up with my avoidant partner. At the start she put in effort, but as time went on there would be no physical or verbal intimacy unless I initiated it. I always felt like she didn't actually want to be with me, and whenever I brought it up I would be stonewalled or have to talk to her mother instead. I was told I had to be considerate of how she was, she could take years to open up, but how I felt was never considered. But I put up with it and dimly believed she actually loved me. The last straw was when I found out she was texting her ex in secret, and claimed not to tell me because she didn't want me to worry. She could put effort into talking to someone who was threatening our relationship, some days more than she talked to me, but couldn't even send me a good morning text when I sent her one every day. Some avoidants use their attachment style as an excuse to put little effort or empathy into the relationship, which means they can't properly bond with their partner, and would rather find a new relationship when the old one bores them.

  39. avoidant people should be removed from our proximity immediately. They are harmful to themselves and everyone around us.

  40. I’m terrified because i never realized i was afraid of being in a relationship. I’ve always been the one reaching for people who are impossible to be with…..

  41. This video was incredibly illuminating as it pretty much exactly described what my ex was suffering from. Unfortunately my weakness tends to be a more anxious style and this unfortunately did not make it work. I felt alot of empathy and compassion for where she must have been coming from. I wished I could have found this video earlier to have anticipated on her problems better but I am relieved to know now what was at the source of our relationship problems.

  42. It's a bit creepy that everytime I'm going through something a School of Life video pops up in my recommendation and it's always something related to that specific situation I'm going through. How?

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