A relationship with an avoidant can work and can be rewarding on so many levels. It can work with an avoidant, but you need more than an understanding of the interaction between your attachment styles.
As discussed earlier, an in depth understanding of the interaction between attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety is the first step to a functional, lasting and rewarding relationship with an avoidant. But just understanding how your attachment styles interact is not enough.
I have worked with so many clients who learned so much about attachment styles. They’ve read books, website articles and watched YouTube videos. But they feel that a relationship with an avoidant is just too much work. They wonder if they should give up and find someone securely attached.
Anxious-Avoidant relationships can work, but…
A relationship with an avoidant feels like too much work if you’re focused on, “this is my attachment style, and this is yours”. How do we get along?
This way of approaching a relationship with avoidant has its limitations. As long as both of you still have attachment related triggers; you will always have problems related to your attachment styles. You can manage these triggers better because you know what is happening; but it will not permanently end the anxious-avoidant dynamic.
The approach I use, and some of you may have noticed in my articles and YouTube videos is a little different. I focus more on “what can be”. The focus of my work is not just to help you make a relationship with an avoidant work, my goal is to change an anxious-avoidant dynamic to a secure dynamic.
When you are securely attached, you become the secure base from which an avoidant can learn to love and be loved without the need to distance. You change your relationship for the better, permanently.
A fearful avoidant is willing to risk rejection and abandonment if they feel that:
- You treat them like they matter, and their feelings matter
- They can trust you not to hurt them
- You understand that sometimes they need time and space from you
A dismissive avoidant is willing to put in the work to make a relationship work if they feel that:
- They can still maintain most of their independence and autonomy even in a relationship
- There is no pressure for them to be a certain way (the way you want them to be)
- You can and will meet most of your needs on your own.
It is hard to reassure a fearful or dismissive avoidant ex that you can do all of the above when your past actions have been the opposite. Even when you understand and accept that this is what they need; communicating this to an avoidant in a way they’ll believe you is not easy when you have attachment anxiety. Even just thinking about having these sort of conversation is triggering.
This will change as you work on becoming more securely attached
There is increasing evidence that a partner’s attachment security plays an important role as a motivation to maintain and persist in a relationship. Attachment security is also a factor in an avoidant’s willingness to open themselves up to the risk of hurt and rejection.
Safety and security for an avoidant (and for yourself) is even more important if there was distancing and hostility following the break-up. With time, your ex will be able to trust that you want what is best for them. It reassures an avoidant that you will be there for them when they need closeness; and will give them the space they need when they need their own space and time.
Repeated experiences of felt security are a necessary condition for mitigating the negative effects of a partner’s attachment insecurity. Repeated experiences of felt security also provide the opportunity for both of you to grow closer together; and for attraction and love to grow.
While you can’t directly change your ex’s attachment style, you can show up in ways that encourage your ex to reciprocate.
So before you leave or dismiss someone as avoidant and unlovable, ask yourself:
- Am I easy to love or difficult to love?
- Do I need more (validation, attention, closeness, intimacy etc.) than any one human being can give?
- Do I know how to ask for what I need or do I complain, nag, criticize, act needy and clingy, try to control the relationship and your partner, punish, end the relationship (or threaten to), cut off all contact when I should be trying to connect more, call others selfish, commitment phobe, narcissistic, “love-avoidant” because I didn’t get my needs met?
Sometimes… it’s not them, it’s really you.
This goes both ways. Avoidants, before you label or dismiss someone as needy and clingy, ask yourself:
- Do I know what the person I love needs to feel loved, wanted, validated, valued, cared for etc.?
- Do I know how to meet those needs in away that they feel loved, wanted, validated, valued, cared for etc.?
- Am I even trying to know their needs or meet them?
- Do I always put myself, my needs and what I want above my relationship and the person I love?
- Do I engage is distancing behaviours because my partner is needy and clingy or is my partner needy and clingy because I distance and push them away?
I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about your ex’s attachment style and what you can do to successfully get back together; AND also answer any questions on how to become more secure.
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex:1 – Attachment Styles Can Help
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 2 – How They Feel And React
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 3 – When They’ve No Feelings
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 4 – Avoidant Ex May Still Love You
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 5 – Avoidant Wants to Text But Not Meet
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 6 – Dismissive Avoidant Exes Reach Out
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 7 – An Avoidant Isn’t Texting Back
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 8 – Why Avoidants Avoid Contact
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex Pt. 9 – How They Push You Away
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 10 – Avoidants Can’t Change, Can They?
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 11 – What to Say to An Avoidant
How Often Do Exes Come Back? (Odds By Attachment Styles)
Avoidant Ex Or Just Not Interested In Getting Back Together
Incredibly informative. I can relate to this so much. Thank you.
Thank you for your expertise. I’m learning so much about myself and my FA ex.
I read parts 1- 12 and I don’t think I have ever felt more thankful for an article then I do right now. It gives me hope that I can attract back my FA ex.
Wow why a great series. I have learned so much and am excited to work towards being more secure as I am very anxious in relationships. I had put some of the pieces together but this makes total sense. My now ex is avoidant mostly dismissive maybe with some anxiety. We had briefly touched on attachment styles but it all makes sense now. I love him and want him back.
Written beautifully and exactly what I needed. Thank you.
Wow. Thank you so much. I’m so excited to work on becoming more secure.
Most accurate series of articles I’ve ever read on this topic. Thank you for the heart and brains you put in your work.
Thanks. I appreciate you.
Yangki, I have very strong dismissive tendencies. All my relationships have begun and ended on my terms. I pride myself on how quickly I forget and move on from relationships. Long story short, I once again ended things with my ex. We didn’t speak for a couple of weeks but then she reached out. I didn’t respond but after reading your articles I broke my avoidant tendencies and responded. She asked if she could call and we had a 15-minute conversation. Since then she texts me almost daily and I try to respond but I’m starting to feel suffocated. I don’t want her to think I want to be left alone but I also don’t like feeling suffocated, if that makes sense.
It does. Everything you wrote does… 🙂
It’s best to tell her how much contact you are comfortable with. Most people if you tell them respectfully understand some people need more contact and others need less. Don’t wait until it’s
too much” and pull away or tell her how you feel when you are ‘frustrated” (dismissive way).