Dating an avoidant partner can leave you feeling frustrated, lonely, and confused. It can seem as though there’s a new roadblock or giant wall of ice that you have to get past every time you try to get closer to them. It can be hard to maintain a relationship with such a person, but it’s not impossible. With the right tricks and motivation, you can get a partner with an avoidant attachment style to open up to you and develop stronger intimacy with them.
Be honest with them about your needs. Unless you calmly and clearly explain your desires, your partner won’t have a chance to grant them. They might just assume that what works for them works for you. If you have specific ways that you want to be cared for, share those ways with them. Let them know your love languages. Find out what you can do to make the relationship more enriching and safe for them as well.
Wait for them to come to you. When your avoidant partner withdraws from you, give them space. If you go chasing after them, you might end up scaring them away forever. Letting them go for a while might hurt, but it’s only temporary. Fight the urge to shoot them a thousand texts or call incessantly. Let them cool off, process how they feel, and return to you when they’re ready.
Approach from a place of understanding. Try not to take your partner’s avoidance personally. Understand that their need to create distance or avoid revealing too much of themselves to you is born out of self-defense. It’s their way of coping that stems from childhood relationships with their parents or caregivers or from previous adult relationships. Somewhere along the way, they learned that the only person they could count on was themselves, so they find ways to shut people out. It has nothing to do with you.
Talk about what you want instead of complaining. One way to get your avoidant partner to communicate with you is by keeping the conversation positive. Rather than assigning blame and going on about all the things you don’t like, focus on sharing your desires. Talk about the things you like, stuff you want to do more of with them. Your partner will be less likely to want to close up and defend themselves. And more likely to listen and adjust their behavior when you voice your wishes or desires because they care about you.
Let yourself be vulnerable. I know that wearing your heart on your sleeve can sometimes make you feel like a fool. Like you’re doing too much for someone who doesn’t care. But vulnerability isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength. And if anyone takes advantage of that, it’s on them, not you. So don’t think of being vulnerable as setting up yourself to get hurt. Think of it as clearing a path to the purest form of intimacy. Your vulnerability can motivate your partner to put down their defenses and let you in.
Be mindful of how you express yourself. How you say something is just as important as what you say. Avoidant partners tend to get overwhelmed by intense or negative emotional expressions. They can respond by withdrawing or shutting down completely and refusing to engage. Try not to use a forceful or condescending tone when talking to them. Don’t pour out all your emotions about everything at once. Express what’s most important and let them address that before moving on to something else.
Show that you’re reliable and dependable. Avoidant partners already believe that everyone will eventually disappoint them. Don’t prove them right. You need to show that you’ve got their back. Even when they withdraw, let them know you’re not going anywhere. Tell them that they can talk to you whenever they’re ready. If you make your partner a promise, keep your word. If they know that they can trust you, they’ll be inclined to share their thoughts and feelings with you.
Ask them how they feel. Don’t wait until your partner’s behavior changes to talk to them about what they’re feeling. Make it a common occurrence. People with an avoidant attachment style have a hard time talking about their emotions without prompting. So unless you start the conversation, they’ll keep everything they’re feeling to themselves. Call them in the middle of the day to see how they’re doing. Ask them about work, their family, and other matters that concern them.
Use positive reinforcement to influence their actions. When your avoidant partner does something that pleases you, let them know. Appreciate the little efforts they’re making to be a better, more secure partner. What they’re doing might not seem like a big deal to you, but it probably wasn’t easy for them. So tell them how happy it makes you. Share what you love about them and the thing you value in the relationship. Give them compliments often so that it starts to feel natural to them instead of awkward.
Find common ground. It’s easy to talk about trivial things like your hobbies than it is to bear your heart, so find shared interests that you can talk about with your partner. These little conversations can make it easier for your partner to see you as someone they can confide in. It’ll make them accustomed to sharing their thoughts with you and eventually they’ll feel secure enough to delve into deeper, complicated subjects like their innermost feelings.