Is My Partner Avoidantly Attached?

avoidantly attached partner

If you’re reading this, you might be feeling alone and confused in your relationship. You are someone who puts in effort and fights for your relationship, only to feel like your partner will never care as much about you as you care about them.

Rather than a partner who doesn’t love you, you might have an avoidantly attached partner. Maybe you know this and are wondering if anxious avoidant relationships can work.

I’m going to provide easy-to-identify signs that your partner is avoidantly attached and share with you how you can move forward together.

What is an avoidantly attached style?

What is avoidant attachment? Attachment styles and attachment theory come from developmental psychology. Very basically, the theory is based on the idea that humans need connection to others as part of their evolutionary survival strategy.

When the connection to others is threatened, we learn ways to protest that disconnection. These forms of protest are learned as children when we become disconnected from our caregivers, and many of us unconsciously continue to apply them in adulthood.

Because the strategies are a general threat response, avoidant attachment in men and avoidant attachment in women tend to present similarly.

Most commonly, the protest strategies are either hyper-activation or deactivation (i.e. fight or flight). An avoidant attachment style falls on the deactivating side of the spectrum. In other words, it’s a learned coping mechanism formed in response to past experiences.

Signs your partner is avoidantly attached

If you are looking for more of an avoidant attachment test, here is an avoidant attachment style quiz. Below are some avoidant attachment examples you can expect in a relationship.

Avoidant attachment deactivating strategies may look like:

  • They shut down when tension rises in a conversation
  • They deal with conflict by ending the conversation
  • They don’t believe conflict can be productive
  • They react out of defensiveness or anger because vulnerability feels scary or unsafe
  • They feel uncomfortable and push you away when you know more about their vulnerable emotions
  • They intellectualize- talk about thoughts and complicated matters instead of emotions
  • It’s much easier for them to trust and reassure themselves than to do so with others
  • They prefer their own and other’s emotions be kept somewhat private
  • They are successful in their careers because they can suppress their emotions when needed
  • They are task orientated, independent, and self-sufficient
  • They do not want to burden others and focus on their own reliability
  • They feel defeated if they think they aren’t good enough for you
  • They want to be able to fix things for you
  • They feel rejected when they aren’t able to show up in the ways you need, especially emotionally
  • They might not even know how to answer someone when asked about their emotions
avoidantly attached partner

can i help my partner change their avoidance?

If you recognize any of the above qualities in yourself or your partner, the first thing I want you to know that the attachment style is not your fault.

Attachment styles are formed early in development, long before we’ve met our intimate adult partners. However, it’s those partners who usually bring those deep-rooted patterns out in us. Your worth is not determined by your partner’s ability to connect with you and overcome their own attachment insecurities.

We all have autonomy over our own mental health. Changing any behavior, including attachment styles, is up to that person. But if your partner is motivated to work with you to improve your relationship, together change is possible. Remember, you are not responsible for fixing each other.

Because these patterns are so unconscious, changing them is difficult. Real change requires first an insightful awareness that these patterns exist. From this understanding, you can release old coping strategies and create a new dynamic in your relationship. Avoidant attachment healing is possible.

Emotion focused therapy, or EFT, is a cutting-edge model of couples therapy and avoidant attachment therapy based on attachment theory. The treatment will help both partners understand their own behaviors and emotions, even before they were in avoidant attachment relationships. Remember, these patterns originate early in life.

Working with an emotion focused therapist can help you and your partner to identify the coping strategies you both use when you experience threats to your connection. This avoidant attachment treatment can help you create new ways of interacting with each other that don’t leave you shut out.

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