Some people find it so easy to let their loved ones know how they feel. Others even organize special events to make their declaration of love more memorable for their partner. However, there are also those who feel as if they’re being put through the wringer whenever they have to express their emotions.

Avoidant people tend to be very uncomfortable being emotionally intimate with others or expressing their emotions. If you are avoidant, you may find it difficult to form and nurture relationships. 

The Avoidant Attachment Style

According to attachment theory, the avoidant style of attachment is developed in early childhood. If as a child your parent always ignored you whenever you cry or express your emotions, you eventually learn to stop showing how you’re really feeling. Becoming avoidant then becomes a coping mechanism.

The avoidant attachment style is typically characterized by distancing behaviors such as being afraid of commitments, not being able to express emotions, and pulling away from intimacy.

In the face of an emotionally intense situation, the avoidant person tends to emotionally shut down. It’s as if they have a switch that can easily turn off their feelings, and they appear cold and distant. Someone who is avoidant also tends to be very independent and self-reliant. They don’t like it when their freedom is being limited.

How to Be Less Avoidant

In order to overcome your avoidant attachment style, you first need to be aware of it. Only when you do so can you move forward and learn new skills and behaviors that can help you become less avoidant in your relationship.

Understand why you behave the way you do

depressed man seeing a shrink

You didn’t just become avoidant for no important reason at all. It could be that such an attachment style was helpful for you when you were a child.

However, now that you are an adult and trying to make your relationship work, it’s important to understand what’s causing your avoidant behavior. Fear of undesirable consequences is almost always the reason why people develop avoidant behavior.

You would grow up believing that you should never show your emotions because you will just end up being criticized, embarrassed, or even abandoned if that’s what happened to you whenever you cried or showed your emotions when you were still a child.

Those with an avoidant style of attachment avoid their feelings because they believe that’s the best way to preempt threats or attacks. To better understand your avoidant behavior, you can think of it as a defense mechanism that you feel you need to do in order to protect yourself from perceived emotional threats.

Acknowledge your avoidant behavior

Part of being honest about your avoidant behavior is also recognizing what you’re trying to avoid. Once you acknowledge that you are behaving in an avoidant manner, it would be easier for you to identify specific behaviors that manifest your attachment style.

You will also find it easier to identify situations that trigger you to become avoidant. More importantly, it will be easier for you to identify and acknowledge to yourself and to your partner exactly what’s causing you to feel so apprehensive and defensive. Once you get to that point, you will be able to work out how you can stop being avoidant.

Name your feelings

People who are avoidant tend to be very good at identifying other people’s feelings, but not their own. If you’re avoidant, you may notice that you always find it difficult to put words to your own feelings. This can cause a lot of misunderstanding, especially when you say you’re angry when you actually feel hurt. 

When you practice giving your feelings a name, it’s not just about learning how to differentiate your emotions. It’s also about understanding yourself and acknowledging your emotions. This will enable you to more accurately identify your emotional needs.

Don’t just ask for space

couple having a fight

One of the things that avoidant people are notorious for is that they always ask for space. That’s basically their catchphrase for whenever they feel they need to distance themselves from their partner or from other people. If you want to be less avoidant, you need to know exactly what it is you need the space for.

For instance, don’t just say you need space and walk out of your partner every time you have an argument. Instead, you can say that you need time to think and calm down so that you can be more levelheaded when you get back to the discussion.

If you’re married or living together and you feel overwhelmed with everything that you need to take care of in the household, tell your partner what you need help with instead of just saying you need space. Say that you need help with the bills, or that the chores are taking too much of your time, or that you want your partner to be more involved in looking after the kids.

Get relief with your partner

Avoidant children tend to get relief from anxiety by escaping somewhere where they can be alone. However, if you still behave like that as an adult, such behaviors can contribute to the decline of the relationship. If you want your relationship to improve, try learning how you can get relief with your partner.

Instead of being alone, you can gain comfort and relief from your anxiety with your partner. For instance, when you’re feeling anxious, you can tell your partner how you’re feeling. Then ask your partner to spend time together in the same room without talking. You can listen to music instead.

The idea is to be with your partner as you try to calm down and relieve your anxiety. You can also try enjoying activities together like taking a walk, going hiking, or cooking together. Hugging while not saying anything is also an excellent idea.

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