Identifying Love Avoidant Behaviors In Your Relationship And How To Cope

By Tanisha Herrin|Updated July 25, 2022

Signs An Avoidant Loves You And How To Cope With It

If you've identified love avoidant behaviors in yourself, friends, or other people you’re spending time with, it can be disheartening. However, there are ways to understand these behaviors and work through them with an avoidant partner or close friends. Having a talk with a counselor or therapist may be an excellent way to understand the avoidant attachment style and behaviors and get tips on how to improve intimate relationships with someone who has problems with emotional closeness. On top of that, therapy can be great place to work on yourself and foster healthy habits within your relationship with others and with yourself, even if you aren’t avoidant.

Love Avoidant Behavior

Describing a love avoidant person may seem pretty straightforward. At its simplest, it’s a person with an attachment style that includes avoiding showing love for their partner. But in many cases, it is deeper than that due to past experiences or unresolved emotional conflicts that make moving forward in a relationship with anyone a challenge. Love avoidant behaviors are characteristics a person may show when they don't express intimacy and want to maintain distance from their partner. There are different reasons why this occurs and why it is important to know what to do if you recognize related signs in someone you love. For some people who are avoidant of close relationships, the problem stems from an avoidant personality disorder. For others, an avoidant attachment style has more to do with a person’s sense of independence and having a different comfort zone about intimacy in relationships.  However, people who are genuinely avoidant are overly sensitive to rejection, extremely shy, and feel emotionally vulnerable in situations where most people would feel secure.  Online therapy can help you sort out these behaviors, find a pattern, and figure out how to love avoidants you know in a way that doesn’t make them uncomfortable.

Signs Of A Love Avoidant Person

love avoidant

Expressing Intimacy Can Be Difficult

It is common to experience feelings of anxiety in a relationship when a partner doesn't want to be intimate physically or emotionally. You may wonder if you did something wrong to hurt your partner’s feelings or wonder if something happened in their past that's creating an emotional block preventing them from showing their love. Relationships vary since no two people are alike, but sometimes, when looking at characteristics of each partner and what they bring to the relationship, there could be obvious signs that stand out, including love avoidant behaviors. It might not seem like a big deal at first, but if one person is not seemingly as interested in the relationship as the other, the other person is likely to eventually feel insecure, longing for a deep connection that is not there. 

In a nutshell, you probably know of a few love avoidant behaviors off the top of your head such as not returning calls or text messages, being stood up for a date or special occasion, conversations about commitment or marriage being diverted to something else, or someone not expressing their feelings for you by saying, "I love you." These are things you may notice at the surface of the problem. The following provides a detailed look at common signs to recognize to help you understand how your relationship could be affected:

Avoids Physical And Emotional Intimacy Due To Fear

When two people feel a romantic connection, it feels natural to show intimacy as part of a healthy relationship. Intimacy is important because it shows you trust your partner while being honest and genuine about each other's emotions and feelings, and it lets you reach a deeper level of connection as a couple. It helps you feel close to your partner, and it helps fuel the love you have for each other. A love avoidant person may find it difficult to be intimate if their past involved a violation of their personal space and boundaries that led to being hurt by someone they loved. They may have emotional walls so thick it makes intimacy seem impossible. Avoidant people may show vulnerability or openness for a short time before hiding behind their emotional wall again.

Noticeable Changes In Their Behavior Or Attitude

It seems like the person you fell in love with early in the relationship has changed as things between the two of you progress. It's like the person did a 180, and the things you liked about them are no longer present. You say they were warm, kind, and caring. They may have expressed their feelings for you at one point, but it seems like their true colors are showing with the love avoidant behavior. You're now left baffled, confused, and scratching your head, wondering what happened. You may have noticed things were changing between the two of you gradually as you think about what is happening. You may even blame yourself for what is happening and try to do more to make things better. Your partner has likely been doing different things to keep a distance between you both, but you're just now recognizing it.

Strategies Or Actions Are Used To Maintain Distance And Avoid Any Form Of Intimacy

These are signs you may notice if your partner’s emotional unavailability is due to an avoidant personality issue. You might notice their attitude is different, and they seem like they are not part of the relationship. Experts note such actions are emotional distancing strategies to keep their partner from getting too close. They may seem too engaged in other activities such as a hobby or work to initiate spending time together. Or, they are spending more time with other people like family members. They won't hold your hand or let you hug or kiss them. They may create conflict for no reason, leading to an argument, or complain about problems that go unresolved. Some may say they love or care about you and feel affection but are not ready for a commitment. They might make excuses about why they don’t want to spend time together or have a reason why they tend to be aloof, as part of their avoidance tactics.

Compulsive Behaviors Or Addiction Is Used To Block Intimacy

Some partners avoid showing intimacy by engaging their time and energy into activities with addictive tendencies. They may use the internet, digital games, drugs, alcohol, gambling, exercise, porn, etc. Some spend more time doing work at their jobs, becoming workaholics and using their job to sabotage efforts of emotional and physical connection. Sometimes a partner is cheating with another person, and if that person is no longer in the picture, they may experience a withdrawal of emotions. Using an addiction is a common method of escaping from making romantic connections in a relationship and one of the signs an avoidant person might display.

Narcissism Traits Might Be Present

A love avoidant person may not necessarily display such traits, but some are known to, depending on the situation. It is an indication they may not have as much interest in the relationship as you do, or they show questionable actions that make them appear two-faced. A person with a high level of narcissism may act differently in public versus in private settings. They may seem outgoing and confident to people just getting to know them, but they have fragile skin with a sense of entitlement. Narcissistic people put their needs and wants first and expect you to see their needs and wants in the same light. They might have an overblown need for respect or admiration, if they have narcissistic tendencies. They may view you as demeaning and get angry if you don't please them. They likely won't show empathy, be responsible, admit to mistakes, and are quick to get defensive. An avoidant person is not necessarily narcissistic, but some traits can overlap, making it confusing to sort it out.

An Avoidant Partner Might Resist The Idea Of Getting Help Or Talking To Someone About Their Relationship

The love avoidant person is often fine with things the way they are and doesn't want things to change. They might act as if they are perfectly self-sufficient and content with how things are. They may refuse any form of assistance, such as therapy, counseling, or having a talk with a relationship coach, as a couple or for themselves. Both partners need to be open and honest when considering getting help for their relationship to see change. Even if there is a benefit for you and your partner to seek professional support, this aspect may not be enough to convince your partner to participate. If they do, they may have issues sharing their feelings due to emotional walls and their avoidant attachment style. Your partner may become defensive or try to avoid discussions related to their emotions. Sometimes they play being a victim or act as if they were suffering or put on in a way that prevents them from being accountable for their actions in the relationship.

When recognizing these signs an avoidant partner might exhibit, there are a few things to keep in mind about your relationship. The attitudes and behaviors of your partner are their own and may not be about who you are as a person, or anything you've said or done. Maybe somewhere in the relationship you made a mistake or gave the impression to your partner that you were self-centered. Whatever may have happened is likely not an excuse for their avoidant behavior.

How To Manage Love Avoidant Behavior

Expressing Intimacy Can Be Difficult

The actions displayed by your partner are likely the same they've displayed before you met them, or before your relationship started. Many love avoidant people may start and leave relationships carrying the same emotional hurt without dealing with underlying issues they have. If you or your partner wants a happy relationship, both sides need to figure out how to make things work, or you'll continue experiencing love avoidant difficulties that may lead to ending the relationship.

It is important to accept your partner the way they are while being true to yourself. Consider what your needs are that are significant to your well-being and your health. Think about what your partner can do, and use that as a starting point. Can your partner say, "I love you"? Are they willing to make plans with you and keep them? Review what your basic needs are and determine if your partner can meet them. If so, you may be able to work on improving your relationship.

If the minimal effort is made on their behalf to improve, and they are still dealing with their love avoidant emotional issues, it may not be the end just yet. Trying to make things better and responding to what you say are potential signs an avoidant loves you and wants to work things out. Think about your actions in the past during your relationship and determine if they contributed to the avoidance. A couple's counselor may help assess your situation to give insight into what may have happened and help assess your partner's past experiences to learn what else is contributing to their avoidant behavior and help them deal with it. Such details may also include learning about insecurities behind the avoidance.

Signs An Avoidant Loves You

A avoidant partner is likely still capable of feeling and showing love for someone, even if they do it in ways that might baffle others. Here are few big signs to look for to know an avoidant loves you:

Does it seem like the avoidant misses you when you’re apart? If so, this is a good sign.

Do they sometimes share things important to them, such as hobbies, work, or religious beliefs? This can be their way of sharing quality time.

Are they less anxious when you initiate? Many an avoidant partner loves it when the other person makes the first move and lets them follow.

Are there occasional times when they reveal their true selves, expressing their fear, or describing their hopes for your lives together? If so, these can also be signs an avoidant loves you and wants to be in a relationship with you.

Deeper Connections With BetterHelp

There is an increasingly large amount of research showing that online platforms can be effective ways to get couples counseling. In one study, researchers examined the effectiveness of online therapy in helping couples experiencing various issues. The results show that online therapy can be a useful resource for helping foster better communication and overall relationship satisfaction for at-risk, distressed, or satisfied couples. Researchers also mention the convenient accessibility that is provided by online platforms. These findings are in line with similar studies finding that online therapy can be beneficial for helping with a variety of relationship concerns, such as intimacy issues, that may be related to an individual being love avoidant.

If you are uncomfortable discussing your relationship face to face, online therapy is often a more private, discreet option. With BetterHelp, you won’t have to go to an office or ever discuss your treatment plan with anyone but your therapist. Plus, you’ll have the option of participating completely anonymously by selecting a “nickname” when you register, if you prefer. The licensed counselors at BetterHelp know how to strengthen and deal with your relationship when love avoidance has been a concern. Read below for reviews of counselors, from those who have sought help in the past.

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