21 Ways to Increase Intimacy and Communication with Avoidant Partners (2022)

Avoidant partners tend to create distance and have trouble with communication in romantic relationships. This can make their partners feel frustrated, hurt, confused, or abandoned.

Relationships of any kind take work and compromise — and having an avoidant partner can bring a specific set of challenges.

People may show avoidance behaviors in a relationship for many reasons. They often date back to a person’s early relationship dynamics and attachment style.

Avoidant attachment may come from having strict, emotionally distant, neglectful, or dismissive caregivers. This can lead to the person having trouble with physical and emotional intimacy.

Though avoidant partners might not seem as emotionally available or connected as others, their emotions and need for connection are often the same as anyone else. With some understanding and support, it’s possible for avoidant partners to open up and create greater emotional intimacy.

We spoke with relationship experts to learn about ways you can increase your connection with an avoidant partner.

Change is possible, but it may not happen overnight.

Your partner has learned that being avoidant is necessary for their survival, says Dr. Heather Ambrose, a licensed clinical mental health counselor in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“It is important to give them time to learn how to express themselves in ways that have not been safe for them to do so before,” she says.

Your avoidant partner might have some different values and thought processes than you. Understanding their perspective can help you meet in the middle.

If possible, try to accept your partner as they are. When they feel safe to be themselves, you will find that your ability to communicate and the level of intimacy will increase, says Ambrose.

If your partner comes from a culture where they don’t share feelings, your partner may express feelings in other ways — and that’s OK. Ask how they would like you to convey your feelings to them, says Ambrose.

You may also find it helpful to learn each other’s love language, as they may place different amounts of value to you on the following types of connection:

  • words of affirmation
  • quality time
  • physical touch
  • acts of service or practical support
  • receiving gifts

4. Try to understand how they view ‘needs’

(Video) How to Spot the 7 Traits of Avoidant Personality Disorder

As children, avoidant partners likely had to learn how to be seen as less “needy” in order to keep caregivers around, says Dr. Krista Jordan, a national board certified psychologist who specializes in attachment in Austin, Texas.

As such, your partner may not put their needs out there, and they may get confused when you do, she says. “In their world, people are supposed to take care of themselves. They generally enjoy other people and like to date, but they don’t understand the idea of mutual dependency.”

With this knowledge, you can try to widen your support network and self-soothe at times.

It can be frustrating when you don’t feel validated or supported. With that said, try to avoid the temptation to control their behaviors to get your needs met, as it could backfire.

“Avoidant partners also have a tendency to be sensitive around feeling controlled by others because they are used to so much independence,” says Jordan.

Healthy boundaries are the cornerstone of any successful relationship.

Avoidant partners often require some alone time each day, which may be a source of shame. If you beat them to it and offer the time alone first, it can help them feel more accepted, says Jordan.

“For example, saying ‘hey, why don’t you spend some time in the park after dinner and I will go do my own thing for a bit’ can make them feel validated for their solitary leanings,” she says.

Avoidant partners may have spent much of their childhood alone, so they may get lost in their work, projects, or hobbies, says Jordan. “When you pop in and start conversing, it can take them a minute to recalibrate. You may see them startle or look annoyed.”

Jordan says you may find it helpful to:

  • avoid calling their name from another room
  • avoid interrupting them in the middle of a flow
  • give them a transition period from being alone to being social

If possible, try to avoid pushing your partner into doing something they are not comfortable with, says Ambrose.

(Video) How To Get Closer To A Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style | Romantic Relationship Advice

“If they don’t want to engage in social activities with others, do not try to force them to do so,” she says. “Offer them the choice to participate and provide them with an opportunity for escape if they find themselves becoming uncomfortable.”

Physical affection and sex may be different with an avoidant partner.

Some avoidant partners may be sensitive about physical touch. They may not enjoy long hugs or feel unsure about frequent contact, explains Jordan.

Let them know that you realize that they have different preferences, she says. “Then tell them that you want to find a compromise so that you can feel connected some of the time through touch, but also so they can feel comfortable in their own skin and not feel overwhelmed.”

An avoidant partner may have a typical sex drive while you’re dating, but they sometimes lose interest over time and prefer time alone, says Jordan. It can help to talk with your partner about your own preferences around sex so that you can understand one another better.

There may be times when your partner is not sexually, physically, or emotionally available. Try to take a deep breath and remember that this isn’t because of you.

“If you take their tendencies personally and accuse them of not caring about you, they will invariably feel shame and need to distance from you.”

Effective communication is the key to better relationships.

If possible, try to state how you feel without being accusatory. “When you take ownership of how you are feeling or what you are experiencing, it takes the blame away from your partner,” says Ambrose.

An example of an I statement would be “I felt hurt and unimportant when I didn’t receive a response,” compared with “you hurt me and made me feel unimportant when you didn’t respond.”

13. If possible, talk when you are calm

(Video) How To Inspire Your Partner To Meet Your Needs If They Have An Avoidant Attachment Style

Try to talk about issues when you are not engaged in an argument. It’s much easier to address issues when both of you are calm, says Ambrose.

Compliment your partner when they do something you like, and try to avoid criticism, says Ambrose. “Complaints focus on specific behaviors, whereas criticism cuts to the core of who your partner is as an individual,” she explains.

Asking your partner to start doing something will have a more positive interaction than asking them to stop, says Ambrose. “If you want them to stop doing something, state what you would like them to be doing instead.”

For example, instead of criticizing them for indecision around restaurant choices, you might say, “I love when you pick out the restaurant we go to.”

Your avoidant partner may have a hard time with emotional conversations. When you talk about feelings, they may get overwhelmed, says Jordan.

You may find it helpful to wrap up, she says, if you notice:

  • anxiety or stress
  • “checked out” facial expressions
  • zoning out

“Ask to continue the conversation a bit later so that you can get your needs across,” explains Jordan. “Continuing to talk to an avoidant person after they have hit their limit is pointless and triggers their fear of being held captive and dominated.”

Avoidant partners often see issues as a win-or-lose situation. Try to remind them that compromise is possible, says Jordan. “That helps them know that there is room for their perspective in the interaction.”

For example, you might say “I would like to hold hands in public, but I realize we may need to compromise.”

18. Validate their feelings

(Video) Navigating Conflict With An Avoidant Partner

When your partner chooses to express their feelings, validate them, says Ambrose. “You do not need to agree with how they feel, but you do need to accept that their feelings are okay and just as valid as yours.”

Your avoidant partner may not articulate their needs for fear of looking needy, says Jordan. “Probing a little bit and making sure that they are telling you what they really want can help them feel loved for who they are.”

For example, you might ask “Is this movie really OK with you? I want you to be happy and not feel like you gave in.”

If your partner has avoidant tendencies or avoidant personality disorder, you don’t have to do this alone.

Couples counseling can really be beneficial, says Ambrose. “Not only could it assist you and your partner with increasing intimacy and improving communication, but it can also help in understanding each other’s perspectives and experiences.”

You may find it helpful to use Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support resource to find a couple’s therapist.

It can often be helpful to explore relationship patterns experienced in your families of origin in order to change them in your current relationship, says Ambrose.

You may find it helpful to learn about your attachment style in the book, “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find — and Keep — Love” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller.

Avoidant partners behave in ways that make them feel safe, often stemming from childhood. While these behaviors are hard-wired, change and compromise are possible with time, patience, and support.

You may find it helpful to work toward accepting your partner as they are, communicating your needs gently, working with a couple’s therapist, and learning about your own attachment style.

FAQs

What do avoidant partners need to hear? ›

Talk about your fears. Avoidant people learned to suppress their emotions and vulnerabilities when they were children. So, with some avoidants, talking about your own fears and imperfections can help them open up. Of course, you have to build trust before communicating with an avoidant partner about this topic.

What do Avoidants really want? ›

Often, the Avoidant person will come out of a period of loneliness with a renewed commitment to see a new partner in more a positive light. They want to give relationships another shot, hoping their resolve will continue and for a while they will be happy with a new opportunity.

Do Avoidants crave intimacy? ›

Avoidants avoid intimacy because of an intense fear of being used, engulfed, controlled, or manipulated if they share themselves with someone else. These fears come from childhood where caregivers used information to manipulate them into taking care of the caregiver.

How does an avoidant show love? ›

One of the main signs an avoidant loves you is that they make the first move! It is unnatural to make a move on you unless they are deeply in love with you! So, if they are reaching out, try to play coy and let them show you with attention!

How do Avoidants show they care? ›

Avoidants tend to not want to give anything or anybody their time or their energy. If it doesn't serve them any purpose, they won't do it. So if they are with you and they are giving you their time, that is a really good indication that they care about you and they are putting you as a priority.

How do you build emotional intimacy with Avoidants? ›

How to Increase Intimacy and Communication with an Avoidant Partner: 21 Ways
  1. Be patient. ...
  2. Create an atmosphere of safety. ...
  3. Respect cultural differences. ...
  4. Try to understand how they view 'needs' ...
  5. Avoid controlling their behaviors. ...
  6. If possible, offer alone time. ...
  7. Try not to interrupt their space.

What do Avoidants fear most? ›

High levels of avoidance

They fear closeness to their partners and avoid them because of the possibility of rejection. They don't feel comfortable getting close to others. Avoidant adults worry about being hurt if they allow themselves to become too close to others.

What attracts Avoidants to anxious? ›

The anxiously attached person craves more connection and closeness and feels triggered by the avoidant person pulling away. Meanwhile the avoidant person feels triggered by the anxious person's desire for closeness because they themselves value their independence and freedom and fear being consumed.

How do you make an avoidant partner miss you? ›

Give them space when they pull away. Avoidants need lots of space to feel comfortable in a relationship. Since they're afraid of commitment, spending too much time with them will make them feel smothered. When they start to grow distant, respect their need for time apart, even though it might be hard.

What triggers an avoidant person? ›

Avoidant / dismissive adults still self regulate in unhealthy ways; they might feel threatened by triggering dating or relationship situations, such as a partner trying to get emotionally close, and they might shut down their emotions in an attempt to feel safe and avoid feeling vulnerable.

What does no contact do to an avoidant? ›

The avoidant, or the dismissive avoidant will avoid all things about their ex after a breakup (this usually happens during the no contact rule.) After enough of this avoidant behavior feelings slowly begin to bubble to the surface. This makes them want to suppress those feelings.

Do Avoidants like physical touch? ›

People with a so-called avoidant attachment style have reported in previous research that they like touch less and engage in it much less than the average. Thus, they were the perfect candidates to investigate people who could benefit from less touch.

What are signs of intimacy issues? ›

Watch out for the following signs in yourself that may indicate a fear of intimacy: An inability to express what you need and want from those in your life. Poor communication or avoidance of serious topics in your relationships. Trouble trusting your partner with important matters or decisions.

Do Avoidants want to be loved? ›

Avoidant individuals need (and want) closeness and love just like the rest of us. Research shows that avoidant children are distressed by the separation from their caregiver even though they don't show this with their behavior.

How can you tell if an avoidant partner loves you? ›

Want to know another big sign an avoidant loves you? They initiate spending time with you. To understand this point, you must know that avoidants like spending time alone. They often prefer to be alone rather than spend time with a romantic partner.

Do Avoidants make eye contact? ›

Signs of Avoidant Attachment

Children of avoidant parents or caretakers may not outwardly express need for affection or care. They are likely to: Avoid physical touch. Avoid eye contact.

What are avoidant partners attracted to? ›

Whereas anxious attachment styles crave emotional and physical intimacy, avoidants prefer to minimize emotional closeness and prefers sexual intimacy. To some degree, their desire for independence stifles their ability to be in a partnership.

What do Avoidants struggle with? ›

The avoidant personality seems to desire affection and acceptance, but doesn't know how to fully experience or obtain it. Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder includes: Avoids activities that include contact with others because of fear of criticism, rejection, or feelings of inadequacy.

Why do Avoidants act like they dont care? ›

People with a dismissive avoidant attachment style are often described as lacking the desire to form or maintain social bonds, and they don't seem to value close relationships. These people report, for example, that they are comfortable without close emotional relationships and prefer not to depend on others.

How do you talk about feelings to Avoidants? ›

What to do when an avoidant partner pulls away
  1. Ask if they can express themselves and their needs more clearly, while staying in a loving mindset.
  2. Find common ground around the issue or situation at hand.
  3. Show respect and acknowledge their behavior.
  4. Understand that they feel unloved or rejected in some way.
26 Jan 2022

Why do Avoidants fear intimacy? ›

In a Love Avoidants mind, intimacy with another person is equivalent to being engulfed, suffocated, and controlled. Too much closeness can literally cause them to feel like they are losing themselves, and yes, it can even feel like dying. (that is how intense their fears can be).

How do you seduce someone with avoidant attachment? ›

Here are some tips on how to date, and love an avoidant type:
  1. Communicate with words, not tantrums.
  2. Practice patience when he pushes you away.
  3. Look at his intentions.
  4. Support, Not Fix.
  5. Avoidants need and want love, just as much as you do.

Should I text avoidant partner? ›

Avoidants withdraw from their partners when they're stressed. This means they won't text their partner as much or won't text at all when they're going through stressful times. If you sense that an avoidant is under stress, do not text them. Give them time and space to work through their stress.

Do Avoidants give gifts? ›

They prefer gifts that are prestigious, functional, and fun. In return, they expect romantic partners to express gratitude. On the other hand, avoidant individuals do not manifest these behaviors, and they don't volunteer to give gifts.

Are Avoidants scared of being alone? ›

People with avoidant attachment styles are more likely to feel alone in their experience of the world, according to new research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. The study also provides evidence that feeling existentially isolated is a distinct phenomenon from loneliness.

How do you set boundaries with avoidant partner? ›

Space, independence, and patience are key for being with an avoidantly attached person.
  1. Let them take space when they need it. ...
  2. Remember, they'll easily feel overwhelmed. ...
  3. Don't take things so personally. ...
  4. Open up space for them to talk about their past. ...
  5. Set boundaries so you feel respected.
5 Mar 2021

When should you walk away from an avoidant? ›

Their avoidance creates uncertainty and anxiety in you. If this happens consistently, you may decide to walk away from your avoidant partner to relieve yourself of the uncertainty and anxiety. This is especially true for those with anxious attachment styles.

Do Avoidants want you to reach out? ›

They're always looking for the red flags, and they will find them, so when you go no contact with the dismissive avoidant, don't expect them to reach out to you. They won't text you because likely when you were in a relationship with them, you were the one to initiate most of the contact.

Can Avoidants be happy? ›

Adults with the dismissive / avoidant attachment style seem to be pretty happy about who they are and where they are. They might be very social, easy-going, and fun to be around. In addition, these individuals might have a lot of friends and/or sexual partners. Generally speaking, they are not alone or lonely.

What do you do when an avoidant partner pushes you away? ›

What you can do: Don't take it personally if they need some emotional space for a short time. Let them feel safe with their own thoughts and desires, and don't push them to talk to you about it until they are ready. If you try to push them too much, they will only withdraw more. Be patient.

Do Avoidants give mixed signals? ›

7) Mixed messages

Avoidant partners maintain distance by sending mixed signals, sometimes drawing you in with bids for closeness, other times pushing you away. They may say one thing but do another, such as telling you they want to spend more time together but then cramming their schedule with other commitments.

How do you make an avoidant want you back? ›

The first thing that you want to do in order to re-attract your dismissive avoidant ex, is to back away and give them the time and the space. That can be really difficult for the anxious preoccupied to do because they are often triggered and their anxiety is going all over the place.

What does an avoidant attachment need in a relationship? ›

Even with all the support in the world, someone with an avoidant attachment style will still need personal space from time to time. This is because avoidant attachers are driven towards independent experiences, but this doesn't mean that they don't equally value their time with their partners.

Does an avoidant get jealous? ›

Some studies showed that differences in attachment styles seem to influence both the frequency and the patterns of jealousy expression: individuals with the preoccupied or fearful-avoidant attachment styles more often become jealous and consider rivals as more threatening than those with the secure attachment style [9, ...

Do Avoidants get defensive? ›

While avoidant behavior often feels aggressive to the other person, it is a fundamentally defensive behavior pattern that individuals engage in to protect themselves from real or perceived emotional or literal threats.

Why does an avoidant disappear? ›

Avoidant-attachment style personalities aren't emotionally mature enough to tell their partner the truth about how they feel, so they disappear when they become threatened with feeling vulnerable or close to someone.

Can Avoidants have successful relationships? ›

Can Avoidants Have Successful Relationships? If you have avoidant tendencies or have a partner who does, it is likely the case that you struggle to find ways to make the relationship work. If you feel engulfed and overwhelmed by your partner's needs, you may find it hard to trust and respect your partner.

How do Avoidants apologize? ›

According to Schumann and Orehek, avoidant individuals were less likely to offer a comprehensive apology. Instead, they were defensive, prone to justify their behavior, blame the other person and make excuses.

What are Avoidants like in bed? ›

For these reasons, avoidant individuals tend to have fewer long-term relationships and prefer to either abstain from sex or have short-term and casual sex encounters. They are likely to use fantasy or pornography as a substitute for intimacy (similarly to the anxious group) and engage in emotion-free sex.

Do Avoidants have lots of friends? ›

For this reason, and the fact that they find emotional closeness difficult, avoidant adults may be more likely to have a lot of friends rather than a few close ones. Avoidant attachers are often the life and soul of the party due to their elevated confidence and high self-esteem.

Can Avoidants be clingy? ›

As an adult, a person with an avoidant attachment style may experience the following: avoiding emotional closeness in relationships. feeling as though their partners are being clingy when they simply want to get emotionally closer. withdrawing and coping with difficult situations alone.

What are the three C's in a relationship? ›

A strong and healthy relationship is built on the three C's: Communication, Compromise and Commitment. Think about how to use communication to make your partner feel needed, desired and appreciated.

How do you fix lost intimacy? ›

Gottman Relationship Coach: Enriching Your Sex Life
  1. Change your pattern of initiating sex. ...
  2. Hold hands more often. ...
  3. Allow tension to build. ...
  4. Separate sexual intimacy from routine. ...
  5. Carve out time to spend with your partner. ...
  6. Focus on affectionate touch. ...
  7. Practice being more emotionally vulnerable during sex.

What are an Avoidants needs? ›

Avoidant people need independence and autonomy such that intimacy can feel threatening. That's why it's important to avoid surprises when communicating with an avoidant so they don't feel out of control. So, plan quality time together well in advance.

How do you make a avoidant chase you? ›

10 ways to make an avoidant individual chase you
  1. Don't chase the avoidant. The very first thing you have to do when it comes to learning about how to get an avoidant to chase you is to stop chasing that avoidant person. ...
  2. Stay mysterious. ...
  3. The waiting game works. ...
  4. Give them space. ...
  5. Patience is crucial. ...
  6. Don't rush them.
2 Feb 2022

How do you communicate effectively with an avoidant partner? ›

How to Increase Intimacy and Communication with an Avoidant Partner: 21 Ways
  • Be patient. ...
  • Create an atmosphere of safety. ...
  • Respect cultural differences. ...
  • Try to understand how they view 'needs' ...
  • Avoid controlling their behaviors. ...
  • If possible, offer alone time. ...
  • Try not to interrupt their space.

What does an avoidant attachment need? ›

Those with Avoidant attachment are likely to need a lot of emotional space and independence, and might be uncomfortable with strong displays of emotion or conflict (think of these like cats - a bit standoffish and aloof).

How do you handle an avoidant partner? ›

How Do You Deal With An Avoidant Partner?
  1. Give them plenty of space. ...
  2. Don't take it personally. ...
  3. Reinforce the positive actions that you like and tell them what you value in the relationship.
  4. Listen and offer understanding. ...
  5. Respect your differences.
23 Jun 2020

How do you make an avoidant miss you? ›

Give them space when they pull away. Avoidants need lots of space to feel comfortable in a relationship. Since they're afraid of commitment, spending too much time with them will make them feel smothered. When they start to grow distant, respect their need for time apart, even though it might be hard.

Do Avoidants ever have successful relationships? ›

You're never required to stay in relationships that don't feel good for you, and attachment differences can be particularly challenging. But if you're looking for ideas on how to have a healthier relationship with your avoidant partner, I have great news: It's possible.

What makes an avoidant fall in love? ›

Anxious-Avoidant Attachment

You don't show your emotions easily. You don't come to people too readily. But it doesn't mean inside you don't yearn for a happy relationship. You will fall in love when it's been proven to you that your partner is someone who's accepting, forgiving and non-judgmental.

Can avoidant attachments be happy? ›

Adults with the dismissive / avoidant attachment style seem to be pretty happy about who they are and where they are. They might be very social, easy-going, and fun to be around. In addition, these individuals might have a lot of friends and/or sexual partners.

What is the best therapy for avoidant attachment? ›

Avoidant attachment can be treated at any point in life, and it's never too late for someone to develop a more secure style.
...
Therapy for Adults With Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment
  • CBT.
  • Narrative therapy.
  • Schema therapy.
  • Interpersonal therapy.
  • Psychodynamic therapy.
  • Couples therapy.
4 Aug 2021

What happens when an avoidant breaks up with you? ›

Avoidants will use many justifications (to themselves as well as others) to avoid exposing these basic truths. They have fewer break-up regrets and feel relieved at leaving their partner, but will then seek out someone the same.

Videos

1. Why Does The Avoidant Attachment Style Fear Intimacy?
(Heidi Priebe)
2. How to Communicate With Your Partner When Your Needs Aren't Being Met | Relationship Theory
(Relationship Theory)
3. Do This If He Has An Avoidant Attachment Style - 7 Frustrating Signs!
(Antonio Borrello)
4. YOUR AVOIDANT PARTNER- This is how they think- PART1
(BecomeSecureNow)
5. The Dismissive Avoidant's Idea of a Healthy Relationship | Dismissive Avoidant Attachment
(The Personal Development School)
6. How To Rebuild Trust With A Dismissive Avoidant | Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style
(The Personal Development School)

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