How do I support my Partner with Avoidant Attachment Style?

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Written By:

Clinical Psychologist - National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Visual Disabilities, Dehradun - M.Phil

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Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist - Ph.D. Relationship Psychology

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What is Avoidant Attachment Style? 

Avoidant attachment is a type of insecure attachment that is a childhood manifestation in adult romantic relationships. A person develops an avoidant attachment style if their primary caregiver were unresponsive to their emotional and physical needs. If the parent is dismissive, ignorant, or avoidant to the child’s needs, then the child is going to suppress the expression of these needs as a defense mechanism to protect themselves. Adults with such an attachment style often find it difficult to form proper emotional connections. They value their independence over everything and don’t feel the need to express their needs with their romantic partners. They have very rigid boundaries and don’t prefer to engage in deep connections. 

Causes of Avoidant Attachment Style 

Avoidant attachment style is caused by an irregular parenting style during the formative years of the child.  Parents who are overwhelmed with work or other personal issues tend to neglect their children and their needs. When a child’s needs are repeatedly not met or neglected the child will stop expressing their needs. Other behavioral patterns that can cause a child to close up are when the parents become angry or lash out at their children when they are crying or need some affection, love, and care. 

Signs of Avoidant Attachment Style 

As adults, avoidant attachment style manifests itself in the following signs and symptoms - 

  • Withdrawing from showcasing emotions 
  • Fear of intimacy 
  • Having a strong need for being independent 
  • High self-concept like high self-esteem 
  • Not being communicative 
  • Suppressing emotions 
  • Not being empathetic to your partner s needs 
  • Difficulty in trusting others 
  • Needing a lot of distance from partner 
  • Trouble seeking help from others

Managing Avoidant Attachment tendencies

Have you noticed that your partner exhibits the above behaviors? Have they explicitly mentioned to you that they have an avoidant attachment style? Perhaps you want to do something on your part to make it easier for your partner in the relationship. Here are some suggestions to help your partner out, 

Build Trust

Avoidantly attached people don’t feel safe enough to trust others. Because their needs were not met during their childhood, they find it safe to hide and suppress their needs. In order to support your partner, you must build trust gradually with them and show them that it is okay to express your needs and wants in a relationship. This can be done by creating a safe and trusting environment where you can be honest in your actions and words. If your partner is able to rely on you, then they will slowly open up to you about other things. 

Build Intimacy

People with an avoidant attachment style run away from intimate moments. This is because they have suppressed their emotions for years. To support your partner and help create a fulfilling relationship for both of you, it is important that you build intimacy with them. Avoidants don’t have an experience of feeling loved and cared for and that is why they run away from such moments. If you gradually build intimacy with them you are creating a safe space for them to receive and reciprocate love and care.  

Give them Space

While keeping the above point in mind it is important to remember that avoidant people are likely to feel overwhelmed quickly with all the love and affection you show them. From time to time it is also important, therefore, to give them space. Your partner’s need for space must be respected and you must not pressurize them to reciprocate feelings of intimacy. The more you are needy or pushy towards them, the more they will pull away. 

Open Communication

You must keep all lines of communication open with your avoidant partner. The best way to communicate with an avoidant partner is to be clear and direct. It is helpful to use “I” statements when expressing problems or concerns because it leaves no room for blame to be created. You must clearly express what is working for you and tell your partner that they must do the same. Practicing empathetic listening is also useful to help your partner open up more. When you are able to understand things from your partner’s perspective, they will be more encouraged to open up to you. 

Maintain Individuality

Remember that in every relationship, irrespective of what attachment style your partner has, it is important to maintain some form of individuality. It is healthy to rely on your partner but it is not healthy to be overly dependent on them for every small thing. That is why you must strive to build your own individuality. When you respect your partner’s need for space, give yourself the same respect and take time out for self-support. When you are in a relationship with an avoidant partner it is normal to feel like you constantly need to do something to keep them engaged. But the more pursuit you follow, the more you drive them away. So it is best to save yourself some anxiety and indulge yourself in some self-care activities and hobbies. 

Having a partner with an avoidant attachment style can be challenging and confusing at times. Now that you have taken a step forward to improve your relationship with them, remember to take time to care for yourself as well. This way you will be able to build a fulfilling foundation for the relationship. 

Ms. Priyanka Walia
Ms. Priyanka Walia M.A. Counselling Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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Ms. Muskan Maheshwari
Ms. Muskan Maheshwari M.Sc. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 02 years of experience

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Mr. Nishant Sharma
Mr. Nishant Sharma M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 07 years of experience

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Ms. Akshita Bakshi
Ms. Akshita Bakshi Ph.D. Relationship Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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