I hate to make sweeping statements, but I’m going to: Love Addicts need to avoid Love Avoidants. Period. People who suffer from love avoidance are not good or bad, but they are NOT the best choice for a Love Addict.
Of course, I was always attracted to love avoidant men nearly all my life. If I took inventory of the personality traits of all my exs, whoa, they’d almost all be love avoidants, which is to say, I was attracted to one easily recognizable type–said they loved me but avoided spending too much time with me, always had an excuse for why they couldn’t come over, lived seemingly quiet, uneventful lives, yet they were always very “busy” and never had time for me when I needed them, and so on. So, when I recovered, I was determined to avoid this “type” of character at all cost. I wanted to break the cycle. And that meant figuring out not only who this type person was that I needed to steer clear from, but how to do so…
Step One: Make a list of your personal VALUES: (ahem, if you have not done this yet, do it!). Knowing your values helps you determine what you absolutely cannot live with and what you absolutely cannot live without. And once you know those things, you can clearly determine if John, the hot guy at the coffee shop who just told you he loves to “party hard” on weekends is an appropriate person for you or not. If you happen to have “I will not ever date someone who drinks or takes drugs excessively” on your values list, you know that you need to order that coffee from John and then move on. Quickly. When we choose our values over relationships or people, they guide us down a path of self-respect,dignity and peace, and help us meet our basic and higher needs.
But what does this have to do with avoiding the avoidant? Well, everything. Your list of values needs to include, “I will avoid dating partners who neglect or avoid me”. That is the first step in avoiding the avoiding. Get clear about not wanting to date someone who exhibits the behavior of an avoidant.
Step two: Understand that love avoidants typically don’t start out avoiding you! Barring the bad boy/girl type love avoidant who treats you like crap and neglects you from the start, most love avoidants start out rather opposite, in fact. They can pursue you, be super flirtatious, fall in love quickly and come on quite strong–for a little while, that is. And then, a few months into the relationship, when they begin to feel too overwhelmed, their avoidant nature kicks in. At this point, they still may “say” they love you, but the action is no longer there. You start to wonder how someone can be so in love for the first few months, then turn it off so quickly. You wonder how someone can say they love you, but not put any effort into seeing you, calling you, talking to you or spending any time with you. You even start to wonder what YOU did wrong. Well, you most likely fell in love with an avoidant. But more than that, you bought into the idea that love can and should happen impetuously. Both love avoidants and love addicts are highly impulsive. This impulsivity plays nicely into addicts’ and avoidants’ defense mechanism of latching on quickly to someone–anyone–so as to avoid facing any more pain. So, just because someone falls in love with you quickly, or pays you loads of attention for the first 6-9 months, it doesn’t mean they won’t eventually show their true colors. A good rule of thumb is the old cliché: if it started fast, chances are it will end fast. Your job, therefore, is to not assume that you’re in the clear just because your partner is really into you. Take a step back. Ask yourself questions: Has he been consistent in his words and actions? Has he been predictable? How long as he loved me with actions, not just words?
Step three: Get to know the stereotypical qualities of love avoidants. Yes, I know, you’re not supposed to stereotype and everyone is so different and blah, blah, blah. I am the first to repeat that you cannot think in terms of all men are this way or that. But, let’s consider this. The human brain stereotypes for a reason: to make intelligent deductive and inductive conclusions about the world so as to be safe and protect himself. When you stereotype you do not say, “All men are assholes.” Instead you say, “Most people from this particular group share these qualities.” This type of thinking in an extreme sense can turn into racism, or racial profiling. But from an evolutionary standpoint, it can help you predict people who share similar qualities or not. In other words, stereotyping can predict danger. If we didn’t have this inherent sense of stereotyping, we would constantly be walking down dangerous streets filled with gang members, or strolling into bars filled with people who clearly don’t want us there. Having the ability to form a general idea about whether or not you belong to a group is highly beneficial. Especially for avoiding avoidants. They too can be stereotyped. Here are some of the qualities to look for:
- Over the age of 40 and never been married.
- Over the age of 35 and never been in a serious, committed relationship longer than 6 months to a year.
- Possibly drinks excessively, smokes pot or does drugs.
- Has not treated women well in past relationships.
- Avoids responsibility in his life (financial, social and personal)
- Doesn’t take care of himself well.
- A Peter Pan (someone who exhibits signs of wanting to remain eternally youthful and never grow up).
- Falls desperately in love with women within the first weeks of the relationship.
- Not interested or ambiguous about commitment of any kind.
And here are a few more personality traits on Avoidant Personality Disorder from the DSM-IV:
- Hypersensitivity to rejection/criticism
- Self-imposed social isolation
- Extreme shyness or anxiety in social situations, though the person feels a strong desire for close relationships
- Avoids physical contact because it has been associated with an unpleasant or painful stimulus
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Severe low self-esteem
- Mistrust of others
- Emotional distancing related to intimacy
- Highly self-conscious
- Self-critical about their problems relating to others
- Problems in occupational functioning
- Lonely self-perception, although others may find the relationship with them meaningful
- Feeling inferior to others
- In some more extreme cases — agoraphobia
- Utilizes fantasy as a form of escapism and to interrupt painful thoughts
Before you let your inner-caretaker take over and convince you, “this is a great guy! I feel sorry for him already.” Remember your VALUES. These are the types of qualities in people you want to avoid.
Step four: Use your logic when you date. This is one of those things that sounds easier than it actually is. So often we meet someone, and whether we like it or not, our emotions take over. We feel like we’re just along for the ride and that we’ve been “love struck,” as if this relationship happened quite beyond our control. Well, get over it. Stop letting your emotions control your behavior. Your emotions are there for a reason: to tell you when you’re hot, cold, angry, sad, etc. They are reflectors of the bigger picture. But they do NOT have the ability to make critical, logical decisions that will guarantee your safety.
If you have a human brain, you need to use it. So often even the healthiest people depend on their emotions to guide them. This is not always good. There needs to be a balance between logic and emotion (but ONLY if your emotional side is healthy!). Your logical brain is the adult in you. It is capable of shrewd, emotionless analysis of a situation. It is very possibly the side of you that recognizes the red flags and says, “You need to stay away from this guy. ” The emotional side of you is the child within. If it’s healthy it says, “He’s so hot! But I am afraid of getting hurt. I will listen to my logical brain that tells me to slow down.” If your emotional side is not healthy it will tell you, “He’s so hot! He makes me feel good. He makes the pain in my life go away. I have to have him, and no matter what, I don’t want to let go.”
If you have an unhealthy emotional side of you (the child within) it will most likely not recognize red flags, it is apt to put its hand in the fire, and will run out into the middle of oncoming traffic to chase a pretty bouncing ball. This is not the appropriate behavior to employ when making life decisions about things like work, money, housing, and relationships. You were given a brain. You need to use it. Especially when dating. That means giving up certain long-standing dreamy concepts like “love at first sight.” It means no more “falling” in love. And it means that you don’t have spontaneous, careless, throw caution to the wind sex on the first date. This is reckless behavior for a love addict. And it’s as dangerous as letting a toddler hang out an open window ten stories up. That toddler is you. Close the damn window and be responsible. This brings me to Step Five…
Step Five: Take your time when you date. This means simply enjoying a person with no hoped for outcomes. It means getting the whole “I wonder if he’s the one” out of your brain. And it means giving up the notion that dating is romantic. It’s NOT! You may be attracted to someone, and they may be attracted to you. But dating someone new is partly awkward, and mostly filled with the unknown. I hate to take the thrill out of it. But it’s work. It’s the part of the relationship where there really isn’t a relationship yet. Why? Because relationships take time. Dating slowly and getting to know someone over months, not just days or weeks (and not just online, but in person!) is possibly one of the best things both of you can do for eachother. Only time reveals a person’s true character and allows you to see what they may initially want to hide, or things that naturally take time to come out (like their insecurities about intimacy or their fear of commitment). When you use dating as a guide to help you get to know someone as opposed to using it as a means to an end (we’re in this relationship now!), it gives you both the freedom to come and go if it doesn’t work out. And while this lack of security may horrify a love addict (who desperately craves love and relationships as security), it also buys her time to protect herself and know if she is getting involved with a love avoidant. Time allows you to make an educated choice about someone and thus, love consciously, as opposed to just falling for someone recklessly, without thinking.
Step Six: Choose shared values as the basis for a loving relationship versus chemistry. Love addicts are often attracted to love avoidants because, let’s face it, we are opposite sides of the same coin. They seem to have what we lack, and vice versa. It almost seems like it should be the perfect match. Well, it’s not. Love addiction and love avoidance are EXTREME personalities. Imagine a straight line. In the center is a perfectly healthy person. Love addiction would be far left and love avoidance would be far right. Neither are healthy places to be. If anything, these two in a relationship perpetuate the dis-ease of the other. So, just because there’s chemistry, or clicking that doesn’t make it a good, healthy relationship.
And speaking of chemistry…The biological cocktail of chemicals that ignites when you first meet someone you have chemistry with is part of the animal urge in us all to procreate, but, it’s not able to determine if a relationship is safe, healthy, compatible or loving. And it won’t tell you if your partner is respectful, attentive, or caring. We can “click” with darn near anyone. If you are older and wiser, you know this already. I clicked with so many people I’ve lost count. Imagine a teen’s collection of selfies on their mobile phone. That’s how many times I clicked with someone. I found out that clicking didn’t necessarily mean that these men would make for good boyfriends. Having chemistry with someone is a great precursor to a healthy relationship, it may even be a good “sign” that you will get along. But it by no means, and I repeat…BY NO MEANS signifies the health of a potential mate or the health of the relationship you might have with them. You can click with an axe murderer. But you wouldn’t want to date one, would you?
Now here’s the real clincher: avoiding the avoidant also means NOT BEING A LOVE ADDICT. Your avoidant partner is not necessarily avoidant because he has a disease, per se, (we’re not talking about the narcissist types of avoidants) and if he goes to therapy or takes meds he may get better. He may be avoidant because it’s a response to who YOU are.
But hear me out. We so often think that our PoA (person of addiction) is the way he is with everyone. That avoidant personality disorder is a static characteristic. This is not entirely true. While some individuals’ traits are set in stone (narcissists, for example), others are malleable. We can be different with different people. Some people trigger really bad behavior in me, others do not. They keep me peaceful. Avoidance and love addiction are, believe it or not, tend to be situational. And more than that, they can be symbiotic and inter-dependent. One often does not exist without the other. They are responses to who we are with. I can be an avoidant. But, ONLY when I am paired with a love addict. When I am paired with another avoidant, I become a love addict. It’s a balancing act, because, simply, nature seeks balance. And therein lies the key…until YOU become balanced within yourself, you will continue to find and attract avoidant personality types. Get right within yourself, and voila! The avoidant disappears. Sadly, that doesn’t always apply to the person you are with now. You may have to kiss that relationship goodbye.
99 thoughts on “How to avoid the Love Avoidant”
Wow, everything on that list, except for the first two (my dude was married and lied about being single) describe my qualifier to a T. If I thought about it, it probably describes most of the guys I got hooked on.
A little scary that there actually exists a “type” of person like this and that we keep finding them and dating them! hah. Well, I guess the point of this blog is that we are our own “type” and the best thing to do is move into another type. One of the first steps in doing that is to avoid dating these types of people. The other thing is, which I don’t say within the post, we are the opposite side of this same coin! A love addict is really A Love Avoidant as well. The difference? Where Avoidants avoid other people and relationships, we avoid ourselves. What a paradox.
So true. I forgot to mention that a lot of the characteristics on that list could also be used to describe me.
I’m with “Imperfect” in that I see myself in the avoidant traits as well. I read somewhere that LAs and LAvs are the same but inverse: LAs fear abandonment, subconsciously intimacy; LAvs fear intimacy, subconsciously abandonment.
Really good write up, June. Just wish I’d known all this 25 years ago.
Its so true LJ–funny how theses things come at the right time. I fit all the criteria (except for the doing drugs part) for the avoidant! I have come to the startling realization that I do not actually want a relationship. I have just been filling my time with blaming someone else for not wanting the relationship or the same intensity, etc. This is actually quite terrifying to me. But I found myself repeatedly questioning “why would any want a healthy relationship?” So I realize I have some work to do before I even know how to value a healthy relationship as a goal.
Maybe you just need to take a break, Lola and go at your own pace for awhile. That’s OK! In fact it’s a good thing. We should not have to be defined by our relationship status, but by our characters and our ability to bring the gift of who we are into the world.
Hey, thankyou for this post. However, I think avoidance in terms of attachment- in therms of how people relate to their romantic partners- that you’re talking about is actually different from the Avoidant Personality Disorder criteria you’ve also outlined. That’s a different kettle of fish, really:)
I think it’s the same thing, just a matter of degrees. Extreme cases of avoidant attachment is a personality disorder.
I COMPLETELY agree. And yet, we’re all avoiding something aren’t we? WHile the classic avoidant avoids his partner, the love addict avoids herself. Neither are healthy places to be.
If Love addicts attract avoidants as a result of fear of abandonment caused by childhood emotional trauma, it would be best to treat our fears so that we can attract healthier partners in the future.
That is 100% correct! What are you afraid of? Figure it out and try and resolve it.
I’ve been in a relationship with a love avoidant for 13 years. It’s embarrassing to even admit it’s been that long. Everytime we get to the subject of marriage (which took many years to do) it seems he’ll do something to sabotage the relationship and we never make it. He will find any minor reason to walk away and distance himself. Of course, it’s always my fault that he walks away. This last time it was because I told him my needs weren’t getting met. We weren’t spending enough time together. Which was true – I was seeing him maybe once a week! Then he’ll become that “perfect” man again and I’m hooked into another cycle. He’ll point a finger at me and say “you are the one who won’t marry me”…..making it sound as if I’m the one who keeps us in limbo. Well, lately that’s been true because I don’t feel secure with his constant walking away. I’ve said many times that he needs to stop the cycle so I can trust him and feel secure enough to marry him. This last time he walked away for almost 2 months. The longest it has ever been. I decided to cut the cord and went on a dating site. His friend told me he saw me on the site and of course, he wanted me back. I know I’m really not ready to date other men but if I’m honest with myself, I did it as a distraction from the relationship. This time I haven’t bought into his “promises” of changing. It’s difficult, because I am alone. But I don’t want to go through another 2 months of being ignored and stonewalled. That was even more painful. I’m hoping that I’ve read enough books on Love Addict/Love Avoidant, been to enough websites, etc, that maybe I’m beginning to actually gain enough insight into my situation. I don’t feel like I have alot of the love addict characteristics (I’m not really needy) but there’s something not right or I wouldn’t tolerate his avoidant personality. I’m trying to get some clarity on myself and why I’ve tolerated this for 13 years. I’m in executive management and very successful in my personal life – so I don’t need him in a financial way. I feel I’m a strong person in all other areas of my life! I should’ve walked away myself long ago but I was ignored by my father as a child (not abused, just ignored in the household) and I realize I’m trying to get that attention back through this relationship. It will never happen and I just need to let it go. I’m 51 and I’ve wasted all of my 40’s on this man and I don’t want to waste this decade too. I just want a healthy happy relationship. I already feel guilty for not being a better example to my 16 yr old son and 21 yr old daughter. I’m a good mom and good provider but I haven’t given them a healthy example of what relationships should be.
YOur story sounds a lot like mine! Good for you for taking the first steps. But I have news for you…you ARE a love addict if you can’t leave in 13 years. And I have more news for you. You said: “I was ignored by my father as a child (not abused, just ignored in the household) and I realize I’m trying to get that attention back through this relationship.” This is not entirely true. You are not trying to get attention from this person, as much as you are trying to replicate the way your own father avoided you! Because your dad avoided you, this became your model of love. In order to get healthy, you have to create a new model of what love is. You also have to accept new and different models. I used to say that I could not choose my father but I could choose a boyfriend and he didn’t have to be in any way similar to my dad. Start there.
ALso, and most important, Recognize that you are the problem. Not the avoidant bf. He’s just doing his thing and you either love him and accept him as/is or you move on. When we don’t like a large chunk (or even a small chunk that tends to give us a lot of grief) of who we are dating, it is our responsibility to ourselves to get out and move on. It is our DUTY to take care of ourselves and feed ourselves what we need. You needed your dad. You don’t need him anymore. You’re a big girl. Time to go out in the world and find the model of love that represents best what you NEED. Remember too, when we date avoidants or people that ignore us, it’s because WE are are unavailable and WE don’t recognize what it takes to be intimate.
Recovery takes a lot of soul searching and learning. Not about the avoidant people in the world, but about YOU. Glad you got started!
That helps me, thanks. I helps explain why I diddn’t even recognize the severity of the problem for many years in my relationship 17 yr married. I was quite aloof earlier, but still not nearly as closed off as my wife. She got worse, and I got busy trying to fix things. Which made her withdraw even more. I learned about the importance of intimacy and touch in relationships and It really resonated with me. I could not tolerate the distancing any more. My mom was dying and I needed a shoulder to cry on, instead, she said she wanted a divorce. It has perplexed me why I put up with it for so long.
I sound so much like you, Debbie. I’m 40, divorced (married 12, kids are 10 and 7) for 3 years from now what I realize, a classic avoidant (alcohol and pot major issues), had an emotionally absent father, but am successful with a thriving business and lots of friends and other interests. Pretty independent, except when it comes to men. I will lay down on the tracks for them… Maybe my recent story will resonate with you. I started “dating” a man 7 months ago. He presented like we were on the same page. He was deep, attentive- sharing meaningful stories and responding to my thoughts… I was so excited. We mostly emailed and texted- he is a great writer, super smart musician who plays 10 instruments, travels around the world for a living… I really felt like I knew his inner person before we even met. Then we did meet and that was fantastic….then he avoided…then he would get intense…then he avoided…just put that record on repeat! I have realized that I have held on to that early version of him. Meanwhile, I get sad and distracted for weeks when he stops communicating. I really good at creating lots of excuses for him, based on what he tells me: “I’m in the middle of scoring a movie. I’ve been in a creative zone. I’m an obsessed artist.”…. I think for me, I can see what a great person he could be. I sense that his hurt and pain from his childhood could be an avenue for a deeper relationship if he wanted to heal…for us both to heal. Problem is, he would have to want that and be vulnerable in accepting that and not constantly allow his music to be his private island of escape when emotions run high. I’m really just now allowing myself the freedom to let that first version of him go…he has not been that person in action and it is ultimately disrespectful. No matter how great I think he is, he would have to think it too. The last thing I’d want is to be his “teacher or healer” but I do think love can heal anything if the person wants it. I love love, hence my own admission of the reciprocal nature of this relationship… When I realize he is another version of my ex husband I know I have to keep working on myself! The advice to go slow is smart. Next time I’m going to try hard to not jump ALL in…real love would be OK with that…
Dear Debbie, I could have signed my name to your story because of our similarities! I just ended a 6 year relationship with my avoidant and I’m also in my early 50s. It’s been so hard but what I did was to get a restraining order just to set my own boundaries so I wouldn’t go back, not to mention the fact that he started getting abusive and drinking and emotional affair with an ex for his addictions to distance himself from me. It is true the childhood trauma and we must heal and recover apart from them. I’m reading “Facing Love Addiction” which comes with a workbook. I’m also talking daily with friends, going to alanon, and grieving him and my childhood! We can do it. I hope you know there are many of us out here in your shoes. My biggest worry is that I won’t have passion with someone new who is normal and securely attached.
I am very happy that other women in their 50’s are learning and trying. It’s taken me a long time, though at nearly 51, I think I finally got this and am going to be OK. I wasted my 40’s in a relationship with an older narcissist and the past two years dating really messed up younger men. Don’t know what I was thinking, but I’m on the right track now. It takes what it takes.
Thank you 🙂
Im just starting to understand..after a breakup 3 months ago. Do we really recover?
YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!! I didn’t think it was possible, but it is, Mia! Trust yourself. You will heal.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I just came across this blog as I was doing MORE research on love addicts/love avoidants. I have been on and off with my love avoidant ‘whatever you want to call him’ BF for over a year now. The first 8 months were a constant dance of the push/pull tango. I finally had enough and broke up. I had met someone else and started dating him right away. We ended up dating for 8 months in which 4 1/2 months of those we actually lived together. I thought I was still in love with my ex (and still am today) so I broke up and moved out. My ex and I started seeing each other a little bit. Things would be very intense and then he’d shut down and/or turn me off. We have been doing this on again off again thing since May. Everything will be going great and then he’ll shut me off again. It is so painful and I can’t do this anymore. I know he loves me. The only thing different this time is that he is actually going to therapy now. I just don’t know how long it’s going to take him to ‘get better’….or if he ever will. I spoke to Susan Peabody who wrote the book Addiction to Love. She said that he first needs to ‘commit’ to me and us for 6 months. During that time we need to work with a therapist/life coach to develop a plan for how we can try to make this work between us. She said we should continue our separate therapy sessions too. I can’t even get him to do that. Like I said he just started therapy and is dealing with issues from childhood (alcoholic dad, molested by swim coach, etc). I am doing what you suggested….accepting him and loving him while he does this deep work on himself. I haven’t seen him now in over 2 weeks. It’s killing me. I just don’t know if it’s ever going to work. Any advice would be really helpful. Thanks!
Karin, We are usually attracted to men like this (avoidant or unavailable) because WE are the ones who are unavailable. We cannot handle too much intimacy and so we are attracted to men who keep their distance. Perhaps our fathers or mothers were also distant and so, we buy into the idea that we too need to find a relationship that mimics the one we had with our parents. I also want to explain that just because someone loves you and you love them, IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE BOTH, TOGETHER, CAPABLE OF HAVING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP. We can be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually attracted to someone who is not ideal for us. Knowing that, you need to know what your VALUES are so that you can find someone who SHARES your same values. If one of your values is, “I want to be with a man who does not avoid me” then this man, obviously, doesn’t fit the bill. What are your other values? Do they include you finding someone healthy? Someone who is stable? Trustworthy? Respectful of you? Consistent? All these things have little to do with “love” and “chemistry” between two people and have more to do with healthy behaviors, values and actions that two people in a healthy relationship can take. Bottom line? Do you want just love and emotion, or do you want love within a healthy relationship? You need to choose.
First of all, I wanted to say that I wrote my above comment before I really had a chance to look over your entire webisite/blog…which I believe I’ve covered the majority of by now. I only wish that I had found you sooner…..but then again, our journey is suppose to happen just as it happens, right? So much of your advice is so right on. I love your ‘to the point’ mentality so much. It’s definitely what I need….the cut to the chase/no sugar coating….period. The article you wrote called ‘GO AHEAD, GO BACK’ is just what i needed to hear. Your sarcastic tone and a little bit of tough love is the perfect combination for me. : ) I took what you wrote and actually tweaked it some so that is was personalized to me. I have printed it out and have reread it several times. I also read it to my PoA over the phone this morning. After not seeing him for 16 days with only 1 phone call, a few emails and several texts, he called me this morning. We had talked (via text) yesterday about possibly seeing a movie today. As much as I wanted to see him, when I heard his voice on the other line, I know I needed to read the ‘GO AHEAD, GO BACK’ article to him. To make a long story short (which you’ll find I don’t do very well), he eneded up getting upset and pretty much hanging up. Instead of me frantically texting/calling him, I decided to ‘pause’ like I’m learning to do by reading the book ‘Radical Acceptance’. I decided to jump in the shower instead, get dressed (in a cute little sundress of course—cuz I’m a SLAA girl for sure) and head over to his house for ‘closure’. hahaha…..I know everybody reading this can probably relate. My compassionate loving heart told me to go there so I was really just following my heart, right? He was home. I told him that I just came over to give him a hug and tell him I loved him. I also apologized for breaking up with him last year (after our 8 month ‘dance’) and especially for dating someone so soon right afterwards which was only like a week later. My mother has told me all my life, ‘Karin, you aren’t in love. You’re in love with being in love.’ I always cringed when she that to me but I have finally decided that she was absolutley 100% correct. I might as well be on the cover of the book ‘Women Who Love Too Much’. I have been sober now for a year and a half. Maybe my brain is finally starting to think clearer. Who knows. I have also have ADD which will probably drive a lot of people crazy reading my posts as I go off on tangents but usually come full circle in the end with a logical (if that is possible) ending. So back to my visit to T’s house. Oh, I don’t think I mentioned that he doesn’t live in my town. He lives a good 60+ miles away. He actually seemed ok with me stopping over. We ended up hugging for a long time…and then kissing….and then yup, you know what else. He told me he loved me. He actually said (while we were making love) that we would have a really cute kid. And then he actually came inside me which I totally allowed and encouraged. —Ya know, the whole sex for love thing. Besides, I’m 43 and chances are my eggs are most likely shriveled up and dead by now. At the moment, however, it just seemed so perfect as it always is when we’re together….which like you said in the article–is far and few between. When we were finished making love or whatever you want to call it, he needed to go meet his sponsor. He is a recovering addict as well. The end was sad before I left. I basically just said that we were nothing (as we probably had always been…nothing) and that I need to do the NC (no contact) thing. He seemed totally ok with that which just makes me believe that he doesn’t really love me like he says he does. I know he is dealing with childhood issues that he has never dealt with before and he lives and almost thrives in constant fear. However, I took your advice and came up with a list of VALUES. Ha, what a concept by the way, right? No wonder I am not valued by guys…..I don’t even know values are. The top of my list is that I need to be with someone who is on the same spiritual path with me and is willing to go to any lengths to be with me IF he really loves me. He obviously can’t be on that same path with me right now. So….I said goodbye, drove away and am not looking back. Unless of course, I find out in a few weeks that one of those ‘shriveled up and dead eggs’ of mine aren’t so dead. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I am writing this because I need to be held accountable to all of you out there who have either experienced this or who are going through something similar. We learn by hearing/sharing our experience, strength and hope just like this wonderful blog was started by LovelyJune. ..and Thanks again for that! I hope that I will have a happy & very healthy relationship when I learn to love myself more than the unavailable guys I have invested my life in for probably over 20 years.
Thanks for listening and sending any advice my way. I am planning on attending a women’s SLAA meeting tonight. I wish there were more LAA meetings out there. However, like I mentioned earlier, I do use sex to get love so i guess I technically am a sex addict too, right. Peace, Love & Happiness to all you crazy Love Addicts out there! –Please know you aren’t alone. : ) k.
Here’s the article I tweaked and read to my PoA today:
Karin, go ahead. Go back to T! You know you want to. AND if you want to and feel as though you should, surely that means it was meant to be, right? Why not! Every emotion you have, even a burp or a fart has huge significance. Right? A sign from God. So follow it and go back to him.
And when you go back….enjoy! And be happy! Be happy that he’s IGNORING you. You don’t deserve to be paid attention to anyway. In fact, everyone including friends and loved ones SHOULD ignore you. Because what you have to say is not very important. You are not important. Other people (friends,work people, AA friends/sponsees, admirers of his books, FB friends, etc) are so much more important than you.
And when you go back….feel the amazing feeling of the CONFUSION. It’s fun and exciting to never know what to expect from one day to the next. T runs hot and cold! One day he loves you, the next he doesn’t–or so it seems at least. Perfect. Instability is probably just what you’re heart desires.
And when you go back…feel the intense love that, let’s face it, you are most likely creating on your own, because, let’s face it, half the time he’s off with another woman. Oh the LIES, of the BETRAYAL! WHen I was a child. I always dreamed of having a loving relationship filled with these things. I also wanted a guy I had to fight for. Nothing comes easy! Love is meant to be painful and filled with suffering.
And when you go back….celebrate the good times! Because they are very few and far between. And well…they don’t exist anymore. Because he’s usually gone again before you know it. But who cares! He comes around every so often, and isn’t that a sign from God that he’s still hanging on and wants to come back? Because people who love you really only want to spend as little time as possible with you. Ah…the memories! They will keep you warm at night.
And when you go back….rejoice in the REJECTION and the SCRAPS that he’s feeding you. Why take anything else? You are not ready for anything better. Rejection and scraps are right up your alley and you are worth it! There’s no way you could handle a decent, warm meal. Not you! You’re too rugged for that. You prefer to eat your meals out of the garbage can.
……so SAD but yet soooooooo TRUE!!
SO yes! Next time you wonder if NC (No Contact) is just getting in the way of this great relationship of yours, if NC is not worth it, if NC is just a waste of your time…then I DO suggest going back. And maybe then, you’ll remember why you left in the first place.
I am writing in hopes that use of this blog will be helpful as my relationship with the avoidant just ended…he ended it but I was ready….the pain was unbearable….and interestingly enough my therapist called me the love addict and him the love avoidant…investigating further brought me here. Your opening article parallels his persona. I too, like many others I am reading about, am a highly educated female that really has enough brains to know better. I was married to the love addict for 13 years…and find it interesting that you say love addicts can be avoidants as well….that was so true in that marriage as I would have been both. For 7 years I find myself now to be the love addict and attracted to the love avoidant. There is one man that I have had the on and off relationship with for 7 years and during that time….not one time has he said I love you….all along excuses, justification, accusation of my behavior or emotional outbursts being the ‘reason’ he won’t emotionally invest. My ‘modified behavior’ is the only reason he won’t emotionally invest. What he fails to see is that HIS avoidance creates this feeling of not good enough and triggers the core within me. He would always say ‘go find yourself’ and because I had other issues to deal with, I always justified understanding why he couldn’t love me. It becomes very difficult to sort out responsibility nonetheless I know that I ‘hang onto this hope’ that after he goes through his own therapy (which he states he is going to) that he will be able to verbalize his feelings to me and we can be back together. For me now….am hopeful this blogging becomes part of my recovery.
Hi Michele– I’m happy you’re here. Keep reading and learning! One thing that struck me in your post was this: “What he fails to see is that HIS avoidance creates this feeling of not good enough and triggers the core within me.” THIS IS SO TRUE. Your moods and behavior are most likely inspired by this person, BUT (and here’s the part you’re not going to like to hear), YOU determine whether or not you stay with someone who creates this less than desirable behavior in you. We are different with different people. Don’t try to change this person. He can’t say I love you. Too bad for him. What you can do, is get your control back and recognize that you deserve to be with someone who says “I Love you!” You are worthy of that. We so often think that when we “LOVE” someone, it can be one sided, or we will work with what we’ve got. That’s pure silliness and it’s not love. I don’t know what it is–maybe limerance–but it’s not love. Love is mutual. It is not only spoken between two people, but it is a clear action. Think of the people in your life who really, truly love you. Your mom? A sis? A friend? How do they treat you? Do they tell you they love you? How does that make you feel? Your romantic relationships should imitate your favorite relationships in your life. And remember, it’s not all about what you call “love.” Any two people can love each other. It’s about having a healthy relationship– and for that to occur, you need a whole bunch of other stuff (respect, trust, friendship, kindness, compatibility, and so on). Again, keep reading! That’s the only way I learned and healed.
Thank you lOvelyjune and to keep reading does help simply because what I read from you is no different than what I had heard when our relationship ended in the past and I sought professional help or what my closest friends would tell me….I truly don’t think I had the strength to feel ‘ok’ in the past…..everytime we connected again in a relationship I know now that I continued to go back to that ‘comfortable environment’ or ‘all I knew’ from my own baggage to be in a set up of where I had to prove myself. I remember feeling the desperate, anxious, love addict behavior 🙂 to need to return to him….and feeling oh so gracious because he took me back. I truly do not feel that now. I am sad it is over….there are endearing qualities I do miss….but that anxiety is gone, that lonliness is gone and I truly feel at peace in the big scheme of things. Because I had my own past issues to deal with over the years, his comment that I needed to ‘find myself’ worked for a while. Any emotional outburst I would have….and there were a few….was always bar none related to his lack of emotional investment…striking my own adult child core. My final thoughts to him were that our relationship was very consistent of the chicken and egg concept. His claim to NOT emotionally invest was because of my not finding myself (which is a crock in every other aspect of my life) and without that emotional investment the relationship would not ever create the environment and atmosphere that 2 people should have. Finding myself meant to leave because the pain was too great to stay. Interestingly that you say any two people can love….fundamental element with his own issues in that he saw love as such a separate feeling or level of our relationship and because of his own issues saying it must have created such a great sense of suffocation. He was incapable of loving much of anything just because….he told me once that when his eldest was a baby….he had no idea what to ‘do’ to love her. I remember thinking then….you don’t ‘do’ anything….you just ‘feel’ it yet I don’t think he could. My therapist had seen us together twice; he adored me, cared deeply for me and it most likely scared the sh** out of him. I think most helpful on your website is the characteristic list of the avoidant….totally amazing to be in a place now where I ‘see it’. Thanks again….Michele
Very nice that you’re moving on. But a word of caution. One of the things I tend to “preach” on my blog is this: when we date people that cannot love it means we can’t either. When we date men who are emotionally unavailable, it means that we are not emotionally available either. How can that be? you might say. I was desperate for his love. I was ready and willing to be emotional with him!
And yet, like attracts like. Water seeks its own level.
Time to stop looking at him and his flaws and start to question why YOU would date someone and stay with someone who could not love. Only then, do you truly get to the bottom of it all and recover! 🙂
I totally understand and hear what you are saying and I would agree that the avoidant behaviors were and ‘are’ to some extent existent within me as well….I also would tend to believe I fell more into the love addict definition (not that that is much better :)) albeit I understand the carryover of one to the other. I think one of the reasons our relationship was what it was for so many years was that he used a lot of his psycho babble on me….in regards to my own issues I had not dealt with…and when we met I had not. The obvious missing element of ‘finding myself’ was absent….I really didn’t know what values there were in life and really have the ability to examine those from what your site posts and see what resonates within me to be missing as well. When I was with him, all I saw was that I was a graduate degreed successful, hard working single mother with a lot to ‘give’….time, energy, money, affection etc and since the sexual part of our relationship was enhancing….it was ‘enough’. My kids went through their own addictions several years ago and it forced me to 12 step and individual therapy. The glowing theme through any individual sessions was that I was accepting of crumbs. I didn’t believe myself to be ‘fixed’ and because my past still haunted me….the relationship was one in which I didn’t realize was of choosing a partner because of a comfort level of discomfort. We went to Europe this summer….and while it should have been the most romantic time for a couple, I found it to be quite miserable at times. Much the same as the relationship has been since. I was no longer comfortable with the emotional unavailability….and it wasn’t because of me not seeing the affection. It was his dissatisfaction and irresponsibility with most everything in life. The Debbie Downer and Negative Nellie just reeked in nearly every conversation of every aspect. There have been several times over the course of the years that we had an explosion but always reconnected…always had the second chances and I always had this craziness within me while we were apart to check up, bring gifts, send how are you dear messages and anxiously waited till we wiggled back together. I don’t feel any of the anxiety now…I have no desire to check up, bring gifts or hope for a reuniting. I am okay with the relationship being finished. It is not because he is ‘screwed’ up but more because I feel very happy within myself. All the therapy I have had (and still am going) continues to bring me a bit of peace that Michele is okay. I am worried that I may be in denial and still missing something 😦 and is why I am not jumping into dating or ‘finding the one’. I want to be okay by myself and discover more about me. It is scary….I met and married my ex at a very young age so being ‘alone’ is very new. I supervise most of my friends…so I need to develop friendships in my neighborhood and truly take life a day at a time. Other suggestions? happy to hear them 🙂
I like this part of your advice…..Take your time when you date. This means simply enjoying a person with no hoped for outcomes. It means getting the whole “I wonder if he’s the one” out of your brain. And it means giving up the notion that dating is romantic. It’s NOT! You may be attracted to someone, and they may be attracted to you. But dating someone new is partly awkward, and mostly filled with the unknown. I hate to take the thrill out of it. But it’s work. It’s the part of the relationship where there really isn’t a relationship yet. And it’s both of your jobs to see if there should be a relationship or if it’s JUST chemistry.
I disagree with a post above. I am preoccupied. As a preoccupied, I CAN handle love in all its depth. What I have realized is that I seem to be looking for someone who has issues, that will change (for me, also combined struggles potentially create more emotional closeness) so I can say to myself “See! You ARE lovable and you ARE worth it for someone to go to greater depths to be with you!” (And, by proxy, I’m looking towards my mom – who didn’t know any better – and nodding).
I am a bit confused, about what ` stereotype` i am myself.
Can it be that one can be a love avoidant in some relationships and in others a love addict?
To me i think in the early years, i have avoided any commitments, never got married, didnt want kids, focussed on work and made a career while numbing my feelings, and now since my spiritual awakening that i have been looking for love in a different and mire meaningful way and as a result attracted a love avoider who triggered all my wounds, and started to enmesh and go crazy?
I have read about `switch hitting` and maybe that is what happened to me, and it came with the increased spiritual awakening?
Now i am focussed on getting my ` self inventory` in order but the last thing i want is to get lost again in a relationship with an avoider(woman) , or alternatively be in a relationship which is not nurishing and i am the avoider because i am afraid?
Sorry for the late response. I too could be a love avoidant AND a love addict, and in that sense, I began to see myself as “Ambivalent.” I guess you could call it switch hitting too. The thing is, nature seeks balance. And when two people fall in lust for eachother (not love), there’s a balance that is subconsciously, automatically saught. If one person’s level of intimacy is extreme and overwhelming, the other person will noticeably start to back away and seek breathing room. The tables can turn within the same relationship too, especially if two moody, drama-driven people have fallen in lust. This is often due to poor communication skills. If, for example, he gets hurt by something she says, and he stonewalls her (ignores her), she comes running back and wants closeness. As soon as he comes close, she moves away again. It’s maniupulation, mixed with a high dose of ambivalence for the partner.
I guess my overriding point is, we need to seek balance. If you are not at peace with yourself, if you are extremely desperate for love, say, you will automatically attract people who are avoidant. If you are in avoidant-mode, you will attract love addicts. The trick is to be balanced within yourself. If you’re a love addict, you need to learn to feed your own hunger. If you are avoidant, you need to embrace the idea of intimacy. If you are both, then you need to learn more about improving your self-esteem, loving yourself with right action and making peace with what you think is a VOID within yourself. Does that make sense?
Your blog entry makes me sad. I guess you haven’t met the real guys with Avoidant Personality Disorder. The guys who don’t want to be recognized. The guys who avoid social contact, thinking that others would surely dislike them. The guys who don’t want to go out in the world, partly because of people like you telling things about them. I am a guy who was almost diagnosed with Avoidant Personality Disorder. I may fit the criteria of the DSM well, but i don’t fit any of your “qualities” stuff. I find it insulting to be put into one category with drug users. I hate drugs – don’t drink, don’t smoke.
PS: I hope you don’t think i lied to you…
This website is for love addicts. And unfortunately, love addicts and love avoidants do not mix. They are a toxic, unhealthy combination. Love Avoidants should also not be confused with people who suffer from Avoidant Personality Disorder, although they share many of the same traits. Finally, if you are looking for a romantic relationship yourself, I would strongly suggest staying away from Love Addicts. Their personalities are toxic to yours. Love avoidants, as I stated, are not bad people while they do tend to avoid healthy love and intimacy, this blog is not written expressly against them. But it IS written to the love addict who needs to find someone else more compatible and avoid seeking out or dating this personality type. I hope that makes sense?
Reblogged this on Tissues & Issues and commented:
This is an absolutely brilliant post for all of you CP addicts out there!
Thanks for this. I feel like I just received a good stern talking to , which is just what i need right now. I recently discovered I get attracted to emotional avoidants and I really need to get some insight & control over things. Sounds like you have come a long way .I am learning alot from your blog.
I got out of my first relationship last year with my ex who finally told me he had APD. I had no clue about it and had to research it. Traumatic experience. Never again.
Wow, thanks for the article. I am a LA and I am in *love* with the Love Avoidant for almost 10 years. We met when he was married and the first thing he told me was that we have no future. Still, we kept seeing each other and became very attached. When he and his wife would fight, he always told me he does not love me. When they went back together, so did we–because now he had a reason why we couldnt be together. At some point, I decided to let them live. I started seeing someone, but as soon as I engaged, I found out that my Avoidant ex was going through divorce. I asked him what should we do, but he told me to get married, because he would always hate me for being a reason of divorce. I had no idea he wanted to marry me, and I let it go. After I got married, I disappeared for year and a half. He re-married. We met, and he told me that after I got married, he had two suicide attempts, that he actually wanted to marry me and that he has no feeling towards his new wife. It took me few years to absorb it, because I never stopped loving him, but I already had children. Still,my life became unbearable. I never stopped loving him, and he was the one to push me away, I was waking up thinking about him every day, and though my husband is a great guy, none deserves this torture. My husband is also Love Avoidant, but I never felt towards him what I feel towards my ex.Recently, we’ve been communicating with my ex: I am severely depressed, and he told me that so is he. At some point, I decided to divorce, go back to him and finally be together, but when he heard it, he said that he loves his new wife, that he does not want me back, has no feelings for me and that he will never leave her. I know he is not happy, he is drinking a lot, works 24/7 and he is a typical avoidant, but I feel like I was hit by truck. I have no idea how to get him out of my head, and it hurts so much…
Sounds like you’re in a lot of pain. And rest assured it will continue with this man. He doesn’t want you. Ouch. That hurts. Especially coming from a total stranger! But listen to this: you don’t want him either. You might think you do, but you don’t. You want a fantasy, and so does he. Neither of you want or can handle reality. If you did, you’d be together. Period. The allure of this relationship is built on intensity and longing (two powerful, but superficial emotions, the end product of hours of fantasizing and creating a dream love). It’s NOT (I repeat, NOT) built on intimacy, which comes from one place, and one place only: reality. Intimacy is built on mutual respect, mutual love, mutual attraction, mutual availability, communication, negotiation, compromise, hard work, and a life lived together, with someone. Your relationship has none of those elements, of which I am sure you are aware. But in order to BE healthier and to get him out of your head, you need to create a new script–one that plays over and over and over again in your head that speaks of reality only, and not this fantasy. The fantasy script is telling you he’s the perfect man for you. The reality is, while you two may have chemistry and intensity, you most likely don’t know each other well enough, (yes, even after all these years)because you’ve BOTH been avoiding any opportunity of a real relationship. Any time one might pop up, he’d run the other way. You can’t KNOW someone in this light. You only know what your mind is willing to fantasize and create for you. So…the script that should run in your head, in place of the fantasy, should be based on more logical thinking: “I don’t know him,” “Why am I attracted to unavailable people?” “DOn’t I deserve a real relationship?” “Why am I myself so emotionally unavailable and what can I do to change that?” These are concrete thought patterns that have to replace the “this is torture. I must have him” script that’s been running in your head.
Keep reading this blog. You’ll get there. But, it’s hard work. He’s not worth all this effort. But YOU are. Keep that in mind.
Thank you. I am so happy I found your blog. It is one of the best sources I have found in my research into Love Addicts and Love Avoidants.
This was very helpful for me to read. I am a love addict but also exhibit love avoidant qualities as well. Almost 2 months ago my “relationship” with this man I was seeing for 2 years ended abruptly when I found out he was in a relationship with another woman. He had met her while he was with me and just kept us hidden from each other. I put “relationship” in quotation marks because we never really defined our status as a couple out-loud (because he never allowed us to get to a place where it was comfortable enough to say that), but everything we did was like we were together. We were boyfriend and girlfriend without the title.
He was very emotionally distant (he did experience abuse and abandonment as a child), and I thought that giving him time, not being needy, buying him gifts (he never bought me anything, ever), etc. would help him to change. I let him use me for sex and walk all over me. I was addicted to him. When I look back, he really was not able to give me what I needed in a relationship, but yet I was still so in love with him that giving him up felt impossible. Every text message, every phone call, every brief visit with him was like a high. I knew it was not a good relationship and I knew it would not end well (for me). But I held onto the hope that if I just gave him more time, he would eventually come around. He didn’t. Instead, he found someone else. I found texts from her one night when he was staying at my place. I kicked him out. I let her know what was happening via email. She said nothing to me, but she did get mad at him, as I found out from him later on.
After being brave and kicking him out, I felt the withdrawal. It came at me like a freight train. My mind was a mess and I was not able to make good decisions or function (mentally) normally. I started texting him and asking him to call me. He did. Every time he did, I felt a brief sense of relief, followed shortly by a long period of overwhelming anxiety when I didn’t hear from him. It played out exactly like a drug addiction. He said he wanted to do what he could to help me get through this (not get back together, but help me get over him). He didn’t want me back. That was the hardest part. He wanted her and only her.
I have been looking at her instagram constantly, which I know I shouldn’t be doing. I need to do NO contact, but it is so hard. Yesterday I got confirmation from her photos that they are together. Even after knowing he cheated on her for most of their relationship, she still took him back. Getting to know her through her accounts, it appears as if she is PERFECT for him. She is everything he would ever want in a partner. She is like a female version of him. This upsets me greatly. The man I loved so much, finds someone who is a carbon copy of himself with a vagina, and throws me to the curb like garbage.
Two months later I am still hurting so badly. I have not spoken to him in almost 2 months and do not plan on ever speaking to him again. It just hurts that someone who I shared my life, my bed, my heart with can so easily forget about me. The rational part of my brain KNOWS that even when it was “good” it wasn’t really good. I was just satisfied and happy that he was paying attention to me. I guess that fed my secondary fear of intimacy in that I knew he would never be truly intimate/emotionally engaged with me, which kept me hooked, and so the cycle continued until it all blew up in my face.
I think he cares about people on some level, he is just not able to express it. I was in the hospital for cancer at one point and he wasn’t supportive at all. But he did mention months later that when I was in hospital he was upset about it, but at the time he didn’t seem to care. Now I know that is because he emotionally could not get there, because that would have brought him/us to a level of intimacy that was way outside his comfort zone. He is now with this other girl and gets to live out a perfectly wonderful existence with her while I am left here in shambles. He was the one who cheated on two people, yet he gets everything he has ever wanted in her, because she forgave him. Do you think they will last? Do love avoidants repeat this same behaviour or can they jump into a relationship with the next girl and have it last and be happy?
Sorry for the long post, just wanted to share my story and hopefully get some better insight.
Hello A-M, and thanks so much for your comments. You seem to be at the point in this process which is probably the hardest for most. I know it was for me. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how I could be this great person, but then this guy who is clearly an avoidant, leaves me and has a successful relationship with someone else. It didn’t seem fair.
Sadly, life isn’t fair and what I had to learn is that just as I am a love avoidant with some people, I am an avoidant with others. We are different with different people. And here’s the thing that was the hardest for me to accept: a guy who was avoidant with me, might not even be avoidant with someone else!!! Ack! How unfair.
What you need to face and accept in order to move on is what hurts the most, but hear me out. What hurts the most is that he simply didn’t like or love YOU. Period. You can try to change to please him, but he just didn’t like you (are there people out there who just don’t like or love? Well, it’s the same). But now, here’s the tricky part that will help calm you if you understand it…IT’S NOT PERSONAL!!!! I know, I know. How can rejection of someone who clearly doesn’t like you for you NOT be personal??? Well, because you have realize that a.) not everyone will like or love you, and it has nothing to do with you, but rather, it has to do with their personal preference, and b.) there’s nothing you can do about it–you cannot change to be someone else-to be liked by someone who doesn’t like you.
The flip side of that is this: there are people in the world who will ADORE YOU. No matter what you do, they will love you no matter what. And that, my friend, is what you need to focus on. The fact that there are people out there that will love you, adore you, want you etc.
By focusing on “her” you are avoiding a very important learning lesson: figure out who YOU are, what YOU have to offer the world and where to re-direct your energy so that it is shared with people who genuinely appreciate you. By focusing on her, you also avoid asking important questions: why were you so willing to settle for a guy who could not commit to you? Focus on you. Obsessing over them is wasted energy. And lose the fantasy talk while you’re at it…imaging that they are “perfect” together is not realistic, nor is it constructive to your plan.
And to answer your question, love avoidants may only be avoidant with you, and then move into other relationships and not be avoidant. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Except…focus on the fact that you need to find someone who is not avoidant with you and you are not addicted to them. You have to walk down a different road. I know it’s hard. But the payoff is worth it.
Thank you so much for the quick response. I really appreciate your insight. For the first time in two months, I have gone more than 24 hours without looking at her social media. I realize that it is doing me more harm than good to keep focusing on her, just like you said… it is wasted energy. I was so caught up in finding out what was so great about her and why he likes her better than me. I suffer from low self-esteem anyway due to my childhood, so the rejection of me in favour of someone else was (and still is) extremely hard for me to accept. My whole life has been about others choosing my twin sibling over me, so rejection really cuts me deep.
It does make sense that someone would be a love addict with some people, and an avoidant with others. I am now noticing that when a man is avoidant towards me, I become an addict. When a man tries to be emotionally intimate with me, I become avoidant, resulting in him leaving me because he feels that I am not into the relationship . How does one break this cycle??
I notice that I tend to choose emotionally unavailable men. I think this is due to my parents own emotional unavailability to me as a child (we never talked about our problems or feelings), my mother’s mental/emotional abuse towards my father, and my sister’s (and my friends’) rejection and emotional abuse towards me. I am replicating these childhood relationships in adulthood. I fear the abandonment and rejection, yet expect it at the same time. When an emotionally unavailable person comes into my life, I chase him and do everything I can to please him, including changing myself because this is what love looked like to me as a child. Love wasn’t freely given to me by my sibling or friends (who were nothing but mean to me), I had to change myself, walk on eggshells, and chase it to earn it. When an emotionally AVAILABLE man comes into my life who will give his unconditional love, I run because if someone is able to love me that much so easily, there must be a catch and it’s better to emotionally disengage so the blow of inevitable rejection will not be as hard. I have never seen any sort of love between my parents, aside from the obligatory and unappreciated birthday/Christmas/Anniversary gifts. I was raised to believe through observing my parents that love does not involve emotion, it does not involve physical touch, it does not involve respect for your partner, and it does not involve talking about your feelings. Now at 30 years old, I am still alone. All of my friends and peers are happily married with kids and I am the chronic singleton who just can’t ever make it work.
I am moving forward to find myself in all this mess. I have never really gotten to know or trust myself before, because I was always told (both directly and indirectly), that I am no good, stupid, ugly, and inferior to my sibling. I have been my own worst enemy and biggest hater/critic for 30 years because of that. It’s time to make friends with me. Do you have any recommendations on first readings to start this journey? Any books that helped you?
So much to say here, so let me start with an answer to your question, “How does one break this cycle?? (of addiction and avoidance)”
I repeated the same exact pattern for many years, but, as the years went by and I became healthier and less needy the “extreme-ness” of my relationships started to get less and less extreme. All people, including healthy people, cycle like this. It’s known as the “dance of intimacy.” But the healthier you are the less extreme the cycling. And to become healthier entails improving your self-esteem, learning what you like versus what you don’t, working through your fears alone or with help, knowing your VALUES, etc. The healthier you are, the more you begin to attract healthier people with shared values. When that happens, the cycle is probably still going to be there, but so subtle it won’t cause pain or be problematic. In my current relationship I do notice very subtle ways I become both love addict and avoidant, and D does the same. But just enough to keep spice in our lives, never so much that it brings either of us down.
On your second point, congrats on such good soul searching! I think you’re right about choosing unavailable partners based on your parents. But one of my biggest teaching points is this: even though you learned emotional unavailability when you were a kid and you recognize it and it feels familiar to you, that doesn’t mean you like it now, and it especially doesn’t mean you have to put up with it anymore. YOU are the captain of your own ship. You are in charge of your own education. You can learn to love in different ways. Ways that feel more right to you. How do you do that? Get out of your comfort zone. Try to remain with an available person. BUT know that Not all Available people will turn you on. Some will. Try to recognize the difference, and then allow yourself a bit of awkwardness that, once you adapt to it, feels good. If the awkwardness still feels awkward and not right after sever months, you may have to move on. But give yourself time to learn about your limits. Do not just stay with a person because he’s available and healthy. Wrong approach.
Third, give yourself a break. DOn’t compare yourself to your friends. You are learning how to love at a different pace than others. Respect your own pace. Not only that, but all these peers of yours who are “happily” married, they are your tools for learning. Watch, learn and observe couples who look happy. Imitate positive behaviors. Imagine how a child learns to figure out his way through the world: by observing and then DOING.
Lastly, my reading list can be found here. I would strongly suggest reading all of them. If you want immediate recommendations, start with the Self Esteem workbook, as well as Susan Peabody’s “Addiction to Love.”
And good for you for beginning this journey at 30!!! Far earlier than I did. Go easy on yourself. You’ll get there. You already sounds WAY ahead of the game 🙂
PS. Read “Psst…Rejection, it’s a good thing” too, if you haven’t already.
Here I am again 3 month later (although it seems much longer than that!). I have been working on improving myself and doing a lot of reading and self-esteem work. I do feel better than I did 5 months ago when everything happened, however I still can’t shake this feeling I have of inner anger towards the ex I was talking about in my posts above. For 5 months I was still looking at my “replacement’s” facebook and instagram page. She had posted nothing of him or about him for 5 months, so I figured they were done since she is the type to take pictures of everything she does in her life. I thought “good for her, she kicked him to the curb for cheating on her (he was in a relationship with us both at the same time)”. I kept looking at her page because I wanted the confirmation. I was waiting for the confirmation that they either were or were not together. I needed that closure for some reason. I felt like I needed to know either way.
Well, this past weekend for the first time since May, she posted several pictures of them together. They went on a road trip to an event she was attending. She did take him back after all. It hurts me to know that he would go on a trip with her when he wouldn’t ever be seen with me in public at a restaurant or come with me to any of my events. I now feel like I have taken several steps back. I know my happiness and mood should not depend on what they are doing. It’s crazy to think that I am letting that happen. I know that on an intellectual level, but I just cannot shake the anger I have towards him for doing this to me. Everyday I think about it, and am often in tears over it. I think about what a terrible human being he is. I think about how they are happy together. I think about how he is the one who cheated and did the wrong thing, yet he is the one who gets what he wants in the end. I think about how he used me for so long until someone better came along and now she gets to enjoy a side of him that he would never show to me, a side that I was always wishing to see and tried so hard to get him to show.
I have tried to focus on other things in my life. I joined a club, started other activities, set and reached new goals, etc. and it is helping, but there is always this underlying feeling of anger at him. And along with that feeling of anger are feelings of pure loneliness. I have lots of friends but at the end of the day I come home and I am alone. I have been alone (relationship-wise) for most of my life and I am sick of it. I do operate fine on my own (I have a great job, my own place, a new car, etc), but I keep wondering when is MY time to find someone to share that with?? When will I be deserving enough to have someone? What is so wrong with me that everyone else seems to succeed in relationships and I can’t?
How do I shake this feeling of constant inner anger towards him that is eating away at me? I try to force myself to forgive him and be happy, but then I think about how happy they must be together and how she gets to enjoy the loving side of him that I worked SO long and hard for 2 years to get him to expose. Do you have any tips for moving on and getting past these feelings?
Thank you 🙂
I feel your pain and frustration.
You are still grieving the connection you had with him and plain and simple – that is why you still feel pain. It totally normal of course. When you have finally gone through that natural process, you will no longer give a hoot about him or her and whatever it is they have, or have been doing. You will
potentially continue to tie yourself in knots over this if you keep torturing yourself by thinking about him and making comparisons between what they do and how things were for you. Every relationship has its own unique dynamic. There will be things about your connection (the one you had) that will be more appealing for him than the one he has with her. Its true.
Best approach is to block him out of your life. Don’t look at his Facebook page if thats something you do, and where ever you are getting this feed of information from about them – stop it! Stop looking. Turn your thoughts back to yourself. Focus on your life. Only then will you truly start to allow that water to flow under the bridge which will eventually cleanse your mind and your soul. I promise this will work. The time taken is different for everyone, but it will work.
As for your own future in looking for a partnership. Improve yourself. Set out to be the best looking, the most fit, and wear nice clothes and smell good and make sure your hair is amazing. I don’t know you or what you look like, but let me tell you – if you are at all overweight – this will potentially have a huge impact on this aspect of your life. I hate to say it but to most men, an attractive figure is hugely important. We are all motivated by what we see visually. I know there will be a few doubting types who will swear that either it doesn’t or shouldn’t matter – but I promise you it really does.
Apart from that – get out and have fun. Life is short. Develop new friendships and try new activities. It never ceases to amaze me just how much opportunity comes from things you might have done that were spur of the moment.
Good luck. Hang in there – you will be fine.
Hi Paul Lee,
Thanks for your insight! That was very helpful. I really am grieving the connection we used to have. I miss him but at the same time am so angry at him and am upset that she now gets to enjoy that connection and I am left here with nothing but memories and a broken heart.
I have not looked at her page in the last 2 days so I will continue my progress from there and hope that I will eventually start to feel better. Now that I have confirmation that they are together, there is nothing else I can do but leave it be.
I actually am very fit – I lift weights, run races, etc. I have been using fitness even moreso as a way to improve myself through all of this by trying different things and setting new goals. I guess I could improve by wearing something other than gym gear sometimes, ha!
Thanks for your message 🙂
I know exactly what you are talking about with feeling that sense of despair because it looks like she is getting what you wanted and perhaps tried so hard for yourself. That really hurts. The truth is though, that there is someone for you out there who you will meet and have that special connection again. There is someone out there who will treat you well and not like this person has.
Sadly – we can’t always have what we really want because sometimes we fall for people who are just not really into us for some reason. That is often a case of chemistry and the natural balance of things, but it in no way means you are not a wonderful lovely person worth having. You are. And the ex will know this. He will have enjoyed aspects of your connection but for his own reasons he feels you are not quite the one for him. Thats really hard and it hurts, but you will get through this and be much happier with someone who really is into you and loves all the wonderful things about you.
Try to enjoy the journey in the meantime. You still have a life to live. You are still a fantastic person. Keep going. Don’t let the knocks slow you down. There will be goodness and happiness for you sooner or later. x
Hello right back at you!
Paul Lee had a great point about “grieving the relationship” in order to help you get rid of the anger, but often that’ll only help so much. Working and focusing on yourself is great too (possibly the best thing you can do, so, keep it up!). But I think understanding why you’re angry and still obsessing is an important part of the process too…
For starters, it looks like you have simply replaced your relationship with him with a relationship with her. All the energy that went into loving him and trying to have a relationship with him is now all being redirected to her. And once again, you’re not getting much of a response. He was unavailable, and she, obviously, is unavailable & not exactly a love interest of yours. And yet, you are consumed by her. Do you think that maybe you are using her to avoid facing other struggles in your life?
Remember, we tend to obsess over that which is not ours. We do this as a way to avoid facing ourselves. The more time and energy you spend on them and what they are doing, the less time you have to devote to your OWN life. A love addict doesn’t want to devote any time to their own life because it’s too scary or boring or lonely or difficult. But, unfortunately, you must, in order to get healthier. SO, understand that all your obsessing over whether these two people get together or not is not a matter of you wanting closure. It’s a matter of you avoiding YOURSELF. Every time you stalk her page, say to yourself, “What am I avoiding in me, that I feel the need to turn to her?”
Lastly, the issue of anger can be tricky. It appears that this guy really hurt you. That would make anyone angry. And it would make it seem that the only way to get over the anger for him is to “forgive him.” But, perhaps you need to tweak your thinking about this. Did he really hurt you, or, did you hurt yourself by remaining so long and so hopeful in a relationship with a completely unavailable man? Even before you knew of this other woman, he was not a good choice. And after you learned about the other woman, you still didn’t let go. So, all that anger towards them, it seems, is misdirected anger that you may really feel for yourself. And the only way that anger will go away is when YOU really let go and start living your life. Right now, they represent “living” to you, something you’re having a hard time doing.
So, my advice is to
a.) continue to focus on YOU, educate yourself, keep busy, face your responsibilities, face your aloneness and give yourself some hobby, chore or task where your brain can obsess in A HEALTHY WAY (exercise, run, work with your hands, create art, cook, sing–all these will work).
b.) take all that anger and redirect back on to you (at least for a little while). Own the fact that you’re probably not nearly as angry with them as you are with yourself for “not” living.
c.) let go of the idea of comparing yourself with her or anyone else. You made the right decision to kick this guy out of your life. She did not. She is KNOWINGLY remaining with a cheater. Why would you be angry with her? If anything, you should feel sorry for her. Just because she’s any old relationship doesn’t give her a better life than you. You need to recognize that you may be a little stronger than her, even if that means you’re not the one in a relationship. Sometimes having values and morals is the better safer choice than having the relationship. But that’s something you must learn. And until you do, you will not see your own personal value.
I hope this helps!
Thank you for this! This really did help me. I read it several times and sat on it for a few days. You are 100% correct. I was totally focused on them and what they were doing and so was avoiding myself. I was creating a barrier that prevented me from really moving on. All I have been doing is hurting myself by continuing to focus on them. I was so wrapped up in hoping and wishing he would get what I thought he deserved (which is having neither of us as a consequence of his actions and poor decisions). But now I realize that it doesn’t even matter anymore. Whether he is with or without her makes no difference to my life at all. Even if he is without her, I am certainly NOT taking him back or ever speaking to him again. He was a poor relationship choice and my gut told me that from the very first day I met him. He is not kind, he is not thoughtful, he took no interest in me or my life, he simply was using me.
You’re right that I SHOULD feel sorry for her. This whole time I was thinking of her as being somehow better than me since he chose her over me, but she is the one now making an unwise choice to remain in a relationship with an untrustworthy liar who cheated on her for their entire relationship. If cheating and deception are not deal-breakers for her then all I can do is wish her luck in making that dysfunctional relationship work and get on with my life and be thankful that I am off the emotional rollercoaster he put me through for 2 years.
Thank you again for your insight and honest opinion. I feel like I can begin to move on from here.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Brilliant! I’m happy for you A-M. I just posted, “You are your best investment…” Remember that and you will really start to heal and move forward. 🙂
A-M, I can see alot of myself in your post. You could read hes scared she scared or facing love addiction. One thing I read that stuck with me is no one can consistently give you the love you never recieved as a child….no one…well one person can….guess who????
Bottom line is once you heal from your dysfunctional childhood and start to love yourself then you will naturally attract a healthy person. You will beable to accept and give real love instead of chasing unrequited love or running from healthy love. Real love in the real world…not the fantasy we create in our minds. It not our fault we are like this…..we did not grow up with real love so it seems foreign to us. That is the reason we chase unaviable people. If your major care giver gave you consistant love as a child you would beable to accept that kind of love from a mate. Pratice being calm and at peace with yourself…pratice telling yourself you are ok.
best of luck to all who suffer from childhood wounds….
PS: Take a look at this youtube video that may help you also.
PS: Great article…really hit home. Did you write this article Tracy Shields?
I do not think that love avoidant or love addict or what ever disfunction you may have makes you a bad person. I do not think that a child wakes up one day and says I want to be like this. And a lot of young and old adults are not even aware they have an issue or how it started. It is really sad when kids do not get the nurturing childhood that creates a healthy person. The statistics show that something like 90 percent of men in prison grew up without fathers….
Keeping spreading the word to help wounded children….
yes, I wrote this. Glad you liked it. But, actually, it had to be re-written! THere’s a whole new version, if you care to read it again.
OMG – Kill me now!!
I have suffered a short string of unsuccessful relationships with cheating women……yes – thats right – cheating women. No I didn’t cheat on them…..anyway – I finally (I thought) found an amazing lady who was going to be the answer to all my pryers…..everything went so well…….even went to Malaysia with her (at my expense) – and when we got back – I find out she’s been seeing her ex the whole time we had been together. (She said she needed to process the relationship which ended the year before) I stumbled across an article on the avoider mentality – yes – it was her to a T.
Now I’m in love with her – and I can see she is going to break my heart….not to mention my children who have come to know her. Im so gutted……if it ends Ill run a mile from this personality type in future.
I don’t know how I missed this. Sorry, Paul Lee!
I don’t know what’s happened regarding your story with this woman over the past month. You’ll have to fill me in. But, it seems you have a “type.” And the type is AVOIDANT. We are attracted to avoidant people (and people who cheat too) because, for us, they are SAFE. They don’t place too many demands on us in the way of intimacy, communication, commitment and so on. They don’t do this because they’re either spread so thin with other relationships, or they simply avoid these things because they don’t know how to deal with them.
But Paul, if you read my article, you will know that when people like us perpetually go after this type, it means that we are the ones who are unavailable and avoidant–we are the ones afraid of intimacy. And while you are not choosing to distance yourself from these women by cheating on them, you are willing to “fall in love” with someone who most likely will not be able to fall back in love with you. Voila! You’re safe.
So, good that you will run far from this personality type. But, where will you run? Who will you choose instead? How about someone who is available, has a clean record of dating and committed relationships and who can experience a level of intimacy you are comfortable with? 🙂
Hope this helps!
Thank you for the feedback 🙂
I have since discovered that – long story short, she was/is not over her previous relationship. She tried to move on with me, but at the same time continued to have contact and communication with her ex. She kept this from me for 9 months – and I puzzle when I look back at different examples of her behaviour, moods, the way she was with me.
She was unable to invest in me much at all, though she probably wanted to, and liked the idea, but was just not emotionally available. So there it was – all my angst over the “why is she so distant” was actually because her head and heart were really in another place most of the time, but she could not or would not tell me. If she could have just found the strength to do that – it would have saved me many sleepless nights and long days at work. I still don’t know why she could not tell me – but logic says she probably just didn’t want to hurt me, and also didn’t want to let me go, perhaps because she genuinely saw me as the next good thing for her.
How did I discover this – I broke her confidence and looked at her text messages – I know I shouldn’t have – but it is what led me to discover the truth so I don’t regret it.
Ahhhh life – and its lessons. What fun we have don’t we 🙂
I think the real lesson here is this: you did not need to break her confidence by checking her texts, and you did not need to hear her words tell you she was interested in another man, what you truly needed was to trust your instinct (that she was not fully available) and to watch her actions. Both of these things would have saved you a lot of hassle. And put the power and control in YOU, not her.
We often think we need to hear words of confirmation from others as to whether they love us or not. We don’t. We need to be superb observers and watch their actions. This is where the truth lies. Next time!
Hi- i am a recovering LA and it is so helpful to read your blog! i have a question about something you said here, “Your avoidant partner is not avoidant because he has a disease, per se, and if he goes to therapy or takes meds he’ll get better. He is avoidant because it’s a response to who YOU are.”
i kind of get the part about balance and how we all swing a bit to either side depending on who we are with, but this part you wrote is confusing because i am learning to accept them as they are. One of my biggest fears is being left and replaced by someone “better” and this really triggers that! What is the difference between an avoidant and someone who is only avoidant with certain people?
Thank you for all you share!
Yes, this is a tricky concept to understand, let alone like. But basically, we are different with different people. In your life, I am sure there are people you like, but simply cannot communicate with. Or people you always fight or bicker with. It’s the same with love addicts and avoidants. If you have a personality predisposed to wanting attention, love and even control of another, and you happen to meet someone who is predisposed to having “enmeshment” issues, and a stronger fear of intimacy, the two personalities can be far more pronounced when put together. Like I said, the love addict-avoidant relationship is typically not a good one because the two personalities are at odds with each other.
However, that’s not to say that two people cannot love, respect, be kind and care about one another.
Depending on how “extreme” your love addiction is, and how “extreme” his avoidance is, is really the key. If you find yourself in pain or frustration over not getting your needs met by this person more often than not then you are most likely in the wrong relationship. Whether that “triggers” you or not is not the issue. The issue is you are in a relationship where this particular man cannot love you the way you need or want to be love. We can accept people’s nature, but only to a point.
If, however, your love addiction is mild and his avoidance is mild, there may be a chance. We all, to varying degrees, even healthy people, display intimacy like love addicts and/or avoidants. The trick is that both people are stepping up EQUALLY to the plate. That both people are kind, loving, trusting, and respectful to the other. That both people have SHARED VALUES and want to be in the relationship without pushing or cajoling.
My current husband has the freedom every day of his life to leave me for someone better. The reason he doesn’t, I’m guessing, is that we naturally get along, we share the same values, and there’s not a lot of pain or suffering in our relationship. We’re 85% HAPPY. Love addicts and avoidants don’t typically have those statistics. Their relationships are fraught with a bit more contention. Only you can tell how your relationship stacks up. Working on a relationship is great. But if you’re the only one doing the working, well, not so great.
I hope this answers your question!
I meant to say – I would love very much to find a lovely person to settle with. I definitely don’t prefer love avoiders – they break my heart and cause me much grief. I am in search of someone who actually wants to settle, have a partnership and get on with building a life. Ive found that in middle age – there are many wounded souls out there and for various reasons – they are not so available.
Ill keep searching 🙂
Thank you so much. Really helpful!
Glad I found this site. I am a LA. I fell for a Lav, and was wondering what was wrong with me? Why is he avoiding my calls, blows me off.etc.. Took me a awhile to really zen it is him.. I fall backwards and I am not completely out of this yet, but, I am getting stronger! I am not a plan B.
Dear l0velyjune, it may look like silly question, but i’m gonna ask it anyway. my avoidant boyfriend left me two and a half months ago.
after perfect and very quick and intense beginning of our affair he started to distance himself, i sensed that immediately and jumped into endless fear and pain, became needy and the thing scared me the most was thought that he is going to leave me. and it happened. i understand that i was unhappy all the time, he was unhappy with me being so emotionally dependent, because i appeared strong at first, but after sensing that something is not right, i have changed and couldn’t figure out why i became so weak, dependent, and what was happening to me. this paralyzing fear was something new to me, i have never felt like this in any of my past relationships. i guess i was looking for love for too long, so i just couldn’t let it go.
Thing is, that he is one of the most intelligent and interesting people i have ever met. in my mind, i will never find someone like him. i think this thought keeps me from moving on, sometimes i feel glad that everything was over, sometimes i think my life was over for me, because i know i still love him. when i think about that i cry. and he even didn’t bothered to wish me a happy birthday.
i read a lot, i go to self help group, we do not communicate at all.
my question is – how long does it take to feel all the pain that you suppose to feel after relationship is over? i understand, that this is not the same for everybody, but you didn’t mention that. How long did it took you to heal your broken heart? Sorry for my bad english, greetings from Lithuania.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hello underwater! And your English is excellent!!! 🙂 Sorry it took me so long to respond to this.
The reason “time to heal” is not mentioned is because it is up to you. Each individual CHOOSES how long he or she wishes to mourn the loss of a relationship. Some of us choose 2-3 years. Other choose 2-3 months. It is your choice, my friend.
One of the biggest “red flags” of an avoidant or an otherwise unhealthy partner (including you and me!) is that they are willing to fall in love very quickly. When this happens you are warned. So, try to see this break up as a gift. He was not a healthy choice for you. You have been saved! On top of that, try to get rid of the false thinking that you will “never find someone like him” again. Let’s hope not! 😉 In all honesty, the healthier you become, the BETTER chance you have of finding someone healthier and more compatible for you. Remember, it is YOUR choice to hold on to the pain and loss or let it go. What do you choose?
Thank you so much for this blog and to all the people sharing their stories what a wonderful self confirming experience it has been for me. I have been both the LAv and LA in my relationships and have yet maintained a marriage for 25 years drifting in and out of both personality types during this time. My husband and l would run both hot and cold including sabotaging behaviours however we have both managed to hang in there with each other as we love each other unconditionally we would go to therapy along the way when things got bad. My affair with a single LAv started over a year ago my mother had recently passed and l went fully into shut down shut out mode and met him. It was an intense mix me being LA in the affair and LAv in my marriage. The LAv affair moved away with work about 5 months after meeting him l was upset but also relieved as l thought now l can move on from it and ask myself why the hell l was so vulnerable to this when l loved my husband. We wrongly remained in contact and l justified an emotional affair as not being as bad as physical one (wrong) l believed he needed me more than l needed him. We shared a lot of truths as he knew l did not want to leave my husband and l knew of his other women (very destructive lowered values behaviour l would never had put up with this in my marriage) l was even prepared to cope with the outcome if my husband found out and would leave him to find someone better as l was so fkd up. I was choosing a man who could not love me and sacrificing a loving relationship for him purely because it triggered my own abandonment issues. Instead of judging you have to understand these issues are so deep seated they can be activated in moments of trauma throughout our lives if they are not addressed. l ended the affair with the LAv during his pulling away disappearing moments l realised how wrong l was to do what l have been doing l am sorry to have involved him in MY destructive path and l wish him nothing but the best (l have no hatred for him just sadness as l saw a kindred spirit both our avoidance of pain being played out in this unhealthy Union) I know what a good healthy love feels and looks like but l still fell into an old pattern the experience has scared me so much that l am now seeking a therapist who specialises in attachment types to work on myself. Thank you for the opportunity to understand these behaviour traights better and what one needs to do to overcome them.
Hello Jean, and thanks for reading my blog and finding it useful! You sound like a very sharp woman and I am happy to hear that you’re on your way to healthier behavior. No judging here, just fact: affairs are never the answer.The important thing to note is that they are tools. They help us to avoid ourselves and our own chaotic or poorly managed lives. You are right to say that these kinds of behaviors though are “deep seated” and “can be activated in moments of trauma.” But, be a force in your own recovery and actively participate in logical decisions, not emotional ones. By going to therapy and losing the Avoidant, it seems you are doing just that! Good for you. 🙂
The last paragraph is the key to this whole website. Bam. Perfect.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Fantastic article! Going to stsrt healing! Thank you :))
Having been in a few of these relationships and the last one being 18 years ago I feel like it is happening again. Only this time I am so aware of my feelings (my past addiction) and the potential partner’s behavior that I am totally sick to my stomach.
Here is the clincher: Is it worse to feel the pain of giving the benefit of the doubt and and after a few months ending something before it gets really started or the pain of never going there in the first place. For me as a lesbian, depriving myself of the chance to be involved with someone I am attracted to is like totally sad. However, I can not and Will Not accept bread crumbs to live on. The last partner killed my soul. Enough said!
Hi Jay! Both choices may cause you pain but only one is a healthy choice: staying away in the first place. You already recognize that you deserve more than crumbs! Good for you!!! But now you have to recognize that a.) the pain of giving up a relationship with someone you know is avoidant is only temporary and b.)attraction to this person is only ONE PART of a whole relationship.
It looks like you have a very strong value that are sticking to (will not accept bread crumbs to live on) and that’s the secret to success. Choosing your values over a relationship if the relationship does not abide by your set of values.
So, while you may be upset that you’ve discovered that this person is avoidant (the fantasy has been blown)you’d be making a very healthy choice by staying away from this person. Onward!!!! 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Great article..havent heard other therapists put it that way..and i was having the same thoughts as you..about how we are different with different partners..thku
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi, I appreciate your blog and need your external perspective in a current dating situation.
I met this guy via a mutual acquaintance and it was great to see shared common backgrounds, similar value systems in terms of family values, fitness, integrity, finances, etc. We do have complementary traits but with time I am enjoying being more social, while he has started trying out reading as a hobby. I also liked that he has his hobbies, his friends and his work. I wish I could say that pur courtship was steady, smooth but it wasn’t. While I felt more secure and liked spending time with him, I could sense some ambivalence from his end. We would have great communications but anytime if he shared something of a deeper nature, he would tend to withdraw but then each time we got back, I felt a renewed connection. Back then, He said his iffiness was due to a demanding job situation. He eventually expressed his desire to marry me, although I felt that we could have talked more to get to know each other, I agreed to make us official because I really liked him. I found out later that he had had one long term dating situation wherein he pursued a Ms Unavailable ( same interests as doing lot of travel, eating out, etc) on-off for 6 years until he broke off for good because she wasnt ready.
It’s been a year now. And worse because we are in a long distance relationship. Given the geographical distance, we have met 4 different times for a couple of days, stay in separate places but I missed a major red flag of him emotionally distancing from me. I feel more like an option, than a priority with him (he likes spending more time with his friends, doesn’t miss talking to me much, our conversations are more of superficial stuff) and somehow that’s making me very frustrated. He’s okay even if we talk once a week or sometimes in 2 weeks, texts most often and doesn’t share his feelings much, or shown a genuine desire to fully know me or make me feel like I am someone significant in his life. anytime I have a sense of intimacy building – in that he shares something significant from his life, he withdraws emotionally and doesn’t communicate for days. We are now engaged, know each other’s friends, his family is fine (no red flags I could see).
Here’s the weird part: while I am questioning if I made a hasty decision in getting engaged and involving our families, he doesn’t feel anything is wrong and wants to fix a marriage date! I thought people either fully connect or break up.
I really don’t know how to handle this hidden ambivalence in him (he doesn’t seem to register this), and it’s painful (if I take my space, he will come pursuing, but I know post a few calls he will go right back to his old self). You mentioned that it must be something within us that brings out avoidant nature in someone. I don’t want to enable a dysfunctional relationship nor do I know if maybe this is something that can be resolved. Can you share how I can improve upon myself and/or what is the best way to deal with such scenarios?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Listen to your gut Jillian! He may be perfectly fine and want to marry you because he is happy with his and your level of intimacy. But you don’t seem to be OK with it. This is not all about his wishes and his needs. It’s about yours as well. And becoming healthy means recognizing that your needs are equally important. It also means you will NOT be able to change this man. He will continue to maintain his sense of distance with you. Can you live with that? One of the bits of advice I give couples who are on the fence about marriage or commitment is this: if you two are truly committed, there’s no rush! Take your time. Live together first. Date a while longer. When we rush into things for the purpose of trying to make them right, we fail. Hope this helps!
This is an amazing blog. I am in the dance of a toxic r’ship, I am the avoidant and he is the addict. He sends me long emails declaring how perfect we are for each other and how much he loves me. It feels over the top and I pull back. We dated 7 years ago and that time was fraught with car wrecks, intense fighting, even police and courts. He was definitely the more unstable one but I see my part in it. He is sober now and had gotten his life back into a more healthy place. So we are trying it on again to see if we can have a healthy r’hip after all we’ve learned. I go to a therapist and ACOA, he goes to AA. Already we’ve had some issues that have given me pause. When I pause, he reacts. I keep thinking if I just commit to him, tell him I love him and he matters to me, the dance will stop. BUT I am concerned that we will always trigger each others’ stuff. We’re on the verge of living together to stop the dance. One day I think this is the right thing to do and the next day I think it’s a recipe for disaster. We’re both 50.
Hi Debbie! Thanks for reading. Have you read the blog post about ambivalence? You might glean something from it. Remember too that your level of intimacy with anyone is pretty much set in stone. What that means is that you have a certain amount of closeness you like, enjoy and need. Your partner has his own too. When we fall in love we don’t know our partner’s closeness-factor until one day we either realize he’s/she’s driving us nuts and we feel smothered, we ache for attention we are not getting, or it feels right. While you can make requests here and there for space (more or less), it’s one of those things that’s really hard to change. And…I have news for you: it doesn’t get better when you move in, it tends to get worse. To fall in love or like someone you do not need to share the same compatibility for closeness. But to remain in a healthy committed long term relationship you absolutely do. https://thelovelyaddict.com/2013/11/01/the-mystery-of-ambivalence-relationship-addiction/
I like a healthy degree of closeness and separation. I am sensitive to feeling pulled or coerced. In this particular relationship, he is always planning or pushing or pleading. I am unable to move forward, resistant and feel unable to pull the trigger either way. It’s as if I cannot say no. It’s hurtful and I am ashamed. Two steps forward, big leap back. And so it goes.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Read about ambivalence. That’s what it sounds like. Ambivalence is usually a sign that something is not right and you shouldn’t move forward. Give yourself more credit for KNOWING what to do in a situation that feels right. And be strong enough to know when it’s time to bail out. Even if that means not having a relationship. Lots to think about! Hang in there 🙂
Hi, I would just like to say that this blog is very educational and helpful however you comment about a love avoidant being that way because of YOU (the love addict) this is a very dangerous comment . Many so called avoidants are narcissists or higher on the narcissism spectrum than would be considered healthy , they can also be schizoid or borderline or OCPD . I do not say all avoidants but personality disorders or co morbid symptoms are out there. It is not the person dating this persons fault !! Yes love addiction is also an unhealthy mindset but whether love addict or normal you will experience this hot and cold behaviour from avoidants . If the avoidant does attach to someone non love addicted they will soon reverse as the relationship develops . There is no pill for narcissism
You’re right. We can never assume that all avoidants are the malleable types. Narcissists really cannot change. My theory only applies to avoidants who are avoidant simply in response to being in a relationship with a love addict. I don’t know which comes first the love addict or the avoidant, chicken or egg, but we do respond with love addict behavior when presented with an avoidant IF we are not healthy enough within in ourselves to see it happening. And vice versa. But the narcissists? There’s not much you can do within yourself to change their behavior. You are right.
Thank you for your reply and I’m enjoying and learning from your blog. I would just like to say any clingy or anxious behaviour is unattractive to anyone but I truly believe if someone is into you and your in the same mindset of actually wanting a relationship , unless you act like a complete nutcase , people should not be put off so easily or able to just switch off emotions , unless the emotions were never there to begin with . The infatuation stage is dangerous because “normals” and personality disorders experience infatuation . I think your advice about keeping your logic in check during this time is so vital
LikeLiked by 1 person
You’re so right! But here’s the magic: when you really know someone is into you, you naturally lose your clinginess and anxious behavior. There’s no need for it! Doubt, anxiety and fear over whether someone loves you or not usually exists when you sense that someone is not that into you. Not, when you sense someone truly loves you. Trouble is, we don’t listen to that little voice inside ourselves. 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
This is very brilliant. Thank you so much. The last guy said he thought we could have a good relationship (and we had been friends for a while first) and then didn’t text me back on something simple the second time after sex and then blew me off for tentative plans the next night. I waited until 7 that next evening and then ended up telling him how it felt. I had had nearly two years of crappy and neglectful and disrespectful treatment and this guy got the brunt of my upset, finally. It still really hurts me as he didn’t have much to say or much compassion towards my feelings, but he was a loser anyway. I think he had a coke problem so that was enough to get away from. I really liked this one and was attracted to him, but that was a bad sign and I wasn’t going to stick around like I had for the two before him. I guess maybe I will know when I feel comfortable – and after dating more responsibly and not jumping it right away.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you, LOVE your blog! Recently, after driving myself and someone else completely over the edge, I had a realization of what the hell was going on. I’ve always had a HIGH anxious style of attachment. I’ve always dated Avoidants. He was by far the worst Avoidant I have ever dealt with and possibly Narcissistic as well. I say that because he just sat there with no emotions as I cried my eyes out to him. I just can’t accept the final discard by them. It drives me to act crazy. It feels like I will die if I can’t resolve things with them and the need to constantly reconnect. I pretty much stay friends with all of my exes because I can never fully let go of anyone regardless how bad the relationship was. I desperately needed that connection. I don’t necessarily have to be emotionally tied to them, but I can’t live with the thought of not ever seeing someone again (unless they were severely abusive). I mean go crazy. I will fight, yell, cry, stalk, beg when someone is done with me. The anxiety is so high that if I sense something is going wrong in the relationship, I often times end it first to avoid my dramatics. Interestingly enough, after a relationship ends, I go completely into avoidant style for a period of time. I ignore everyone all together (friends, guys trying to date me, family). I did experience a secure style guy once and we dated for 7 years. I can say that I never felt such anxiety with him but he had entirely different issues and I was comfortable in ending things without feeling like a ball of anxiety. Naturally, he’s happily married now. After experiencing three very horrible avoidant men in a row, I long for that secure style man. The man that shows that he loves you and at the same time, enjoys his personal space. I’m realizing now that I CAN’T be with an avoidant. Also, I tried to date another Anxious style man and he drove me crazy with being annoyingly clingy so I left him. I get I’m annoying with my constant need for validation. I’m trying to work on myself to become more secure in myself and in relationships.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for reading my blog Gina. Hang in there! And keep learning and trying to figure yourself out. I have found that most of my relationship problems were resolved once I “grew up.” I stopped needing validation from others, I stopped having such high expectations of others to fill a void within me, and I stopped dating guys who i inherently knew were not good for me. It’s hard work, but might as well take the time to invest in yourself, otherwise, you keep repeating the same toxic patterns! 🙂
There’s a lot of comment about all the insurance and outs of this topic. All valid.
Just my view but what I now do is follow my instinct. If my gut says no…..it’s no. Works wonders
I ran into my first love 35 years after we split up from a six year relationship. I always thought of him as the one who got away and the coolest guy I have ever known.
Well, it has been an interesting seven months since first contact.
Classic avoidant behavior. Started digging around online for UA men and figured it out.
I approached him with the information a month ago and have not heard from him again. It is the best thing for us both.
Now I am working on myself. Great article and love the insight of the comments.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Sometimes the one who got away, got away for a reason. Glad to hear you’re working on yourself. 🙂
It would have been inclusive to add the gay community in on this . Not everyone is attracted to a man or a woman. The whole article focuses on a “man”. There’s more in the world than landing a “man”. Also you use “he”. This might have been your experience but I think if you included “her
or she” more people would be reading the entire article.
All in all it is a very good article. Seems like you learned a lot in your life time and I hope you will always be able to run for the hills when anyone else passes through your life posing as Don Juan or Dawn Juan for some of us.