Have you ever found yourself afraid to open up to a romantic partner because you just couldn’t trust them completely?
Have you been in a relationship with a partner who had trouble depending on you?
If so, you may have an avoidant attachment style.
Attachment style refers to how we connect with others.
Think of it as the lens through which we see our relationships. Avoidant attachment is characterized by a fear of closeness and the tendency to avoid depending on others.
You might even find that relationships don’t really seem all that appealing to you in the first place.
How to Communicate With an Avoidant Partner?
Psychologists from China have conducted a number of scientific studies to discover how avoidant individuals can still have healthy and intimate relationships.
Their suggestions are:
1. How to Work on Intimacy
Avoidantly attached individuals often have difficulty connecting with others. They seem like “closed” individuals who are afraid to share their intimate feelings or desires with others.
What you can do: An avoidant individual may be acting this way because they have dealt with betrayal, abandonment, or hurt in the past–usually from a trusted friend or relative. Know that the small amount of trust they have placed in you took a tremendous amount of effort on their part. Be grateful for what you have at the moment, don’t abuse the trust they have given you. Show them that you trust them to know what is safe for them to share with you.
If you are the avoidant partner in the relationship or have been experiencing difficulty opening up to your significant other, try experimenting with sharing your emotions. Test the waters with trivial things like a movie–get in the habit of sharing your emotions little by little with your partner until you feel safe and secure enough to share deeper feelings.
2. How to Support Your Partner?
Avoidantly attached individuals might feel like they are not being supported in their relationships. As a result, they may begin to withdraw and appear unsupportive themselves sometimes.
What you can do: Although you may think you know what to do for them, don’t try to take over their life and do everything for them.
Let them be in charge of the things that are most important to them, but offer to help with smaller things that they may be more willing to let you handle.
Show them that you are dependable and reliable with the small things first, and eventually, they will come to you if they need your help with something bigger.
If you are avoidant, realize that your partner is often trying to support you in ways you may not notice. If you feel unsupported, work on expressing this in a calm way to your partner and allow them to explain their intentions of support.
3. Respect Relationship Needs
Avoidant individuals are more likely than any other type of person to withdraw from relationships. This is usually a defense mechanism they use to avoid being hurt.
What you can do: Don’t take it personally if they need some emotional space for a short time. Let them feel safe with their own thoughts and desires, and don’t push them to talk to you about it until they are ready. Pushing them too much could cause this individual to withdraw more.
What your avoidant partner can do:
Recognize when you withdraw and recognize why you withdraw. There’s nothing wrong with taking a timeout, but be intentional about your efforts to re-engage with your partner after you’ve taken a break.
You and your partner will have individual needs. It is best to communicate openly about each of yours and your partners needs so you both know how to respect each others need for:
- space to think
- physical touch
- personal time
- time with friends
- emotional support
Communicate, in advance, if possible, of these needs so you and your partner can make individual plans. This will show your partner that you respect their needs and your needs will be respected also so you can plan on taking personal time while they focus on what they need.
Planning time together is just as important.
You must spend time enriching your relationship just like spending time developing yourself. Developing physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually together can greatly improve your relationship.
Examples to do together:
- Musical instrument
- Serving others through charity
- Working out
This can even take the form of taking an interest in your partner’s favorite hobbies and letting them serve you by teaching you what they love about it and how you can improve at what they are great at.
4. How to Use Positive Reinforcement in a Relationship?
When the avoidant partner does something you like, let them know! Reinforce these positive actions with praise and encouragement.
Talk about what you value in the relationship and what is working. Focusing on the positives can help to balance out the avoidant partner’s tendency to focus on the negative aspects of life.
Positive reinforcement in a relationship is a way of rewarding the behavior that you want to see repeated. This can lead to a behavioral change as people often repeat behaviors that lead to positive feelings.
The following are ways to positively reinforce your partners actions:
- Praise Actions
- Express Gratitude
- Give Attention
- Celebrate Wins
- Physical Touch
- Speak Forgiveness
- Be Consistent
5. Being an Individual in a Relationship
It’s perfectly acceptable to cultivate your own interests, have your own friends, and do your own hobbies. It is very important in a relationship for both partners to continue to develop themselves separately from one another.
Being true to yourself is important while in a relationship. You will develop an ability to ensure that during the difficult times you can still be there for yourself.
Which in turn..
Will allow you to be able to be stronger for your partner when they have difficult days.
When avoidant partners see you being self-sufficient with your own interests, it may spark their attention and draw them to you. They will worry less than you will become overly dependent on them and open themselves more to you.
Being in a relationship with someone who seems to avoid closeness and openness can be very frustrating. Many of us want to know what our partners are thinking, and we feel a sincere desire to help them through their struggles.
Maybe avoidant individuals can learn to open up to you like this further down the road, but for now, take things slow and when they do open up show them you will keep it safe for them.
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