Does your partner flip on you, very affectionate one day and cold the next?
Your friend gets engaged. Another friend gets engaged. Two friends move in together. Another friend is on vacation with a guy she met three months ago.
You check your phone.
You don’t have a response back from a text you sent last night.
What’s going on? Why does your boyfriend keep saying he’s busy and that you expect too much? Well, he’s not your boyfriend officially, but you’ve been dating for a couple of months, so at some point he’ll be your boyfriend, right?
Congratulations! You’re dating an attachment avoidant!
Does this sound like your partner?
“My partner always seems to be comparing me unfavorably to some past, or ideal future partner”
“My partner flips on me, very affectionate one day and cold the next.”
“My partner seems to find it difficult to emotionally connect with or support me.”
“My partner gets uncomfortable when I get too close.”
Conversations with an avoidant:
A: “I’m surprised that you’re angry that I was seeing (other friend), I thought you knew I was seeing other people.”
B: “Of course I knew you were seeing other people, you kept giving me your address and asking how my weekend was over and over and re-introducing me to your cat, and sending non sequitur texts that you were also sending to other people, and going offline for long periods of time. What is it that you want?”
A: “Oh, I don’t like to stay in anything too long if it’s not working.”
B: “It seems like you planned for failure- I didn’t hear from you much, and we weren’t really building on any kind of intimacy, because you didn’t want it. Romantic attachment is not something that just happens to you, like winning a lottery or being hit by a bus. It’s something two compatible people who like each other build. If you’re just running through women looking for the ‘right’ one who will make you have emotions, that’s not going to work.”
It sometimes feels like everyone on the dating scene is an attachment avoidant. That’s just because avoidants are busy meeting new people, like Alice’s White Rabbit, they’re always late for another date! Although it’s hard to believe, they only represent 25% of the general population.
50% of adults have a “secure” dating style, they’re people with healthy boundaries who aren’t afraid to connect with the right person, and who are actively looking for that connection. 25% are “anxious”, people who are obsessed with connection and overly concerned about their partner’s love and fidelity, and 25% are “avoidants”, who are always looking to meet but never to connect.
It can feel like everyone on the internet is an Avoidant because:
Secure people tend to enter into healthy, balanced relationships, and they tend to stay in them for long periods of time. If you meet one, it’s because they’ve left a long relationship, not because they just “have been dating around” for a decade.
Avoidants tend to bounce out of relationships pretty quickly, and they don’t date other avoidants, because if two people are avoiding returning a text, that fizzles out pretty quickly.
Avoidants see most people as “crazy” or “anxious” or “clinger stage 5” because they see healthy interest in another person as something to be avoided.
What do I do to stop dating attachment avoidants?
First thing– let go of the idea that it is naïve or old-fashioned to want a relationship. Relationships make us live longer, happier, more fulfilled lives.
Second thing– They say that the only way to find a prince is to kiss a million frogs. Your path to meeting someone who actually wants to get to know you and have a relationship is through filtering avoidant partners. Call ‘em f*ckbois, call ‘em ghosters, call ‘em whatever you want, but stop calling ‘em:
If you meet someone who says “All my exes are crazy.”
Or “You want to know if we’re dating? I really don’t like labels.”
Or “I need a lot of space.”
Or “Work’s so busy, I don’t have time for anything serious.”
Or “Women are always trying to trap guys into relationships.”
Or “I’m not ready to commit” (even after dating for months or years)
Just stop interacting with them. You don’t owe them anything. Keep meeting new people. When you meet someone you like who’s clear about wanting to see you again, who makes plans and keeps them, who listens to you and shares intimate details with you, think about continuing to see that person.
I was talking with a friend, and she told me a story about “my boyfriend, but he isn’t really my boyfriend, he’s just a guy I’m sleeping with, you know. I mean, who has a boyfriend anymore?”
I told her that I had one.
She asked, “How did you do that?” She thought maybe I had some grandfather clause or a deal with the devil.
I told her, “I have a new rule I’m following, and it’s simple: I don’t have sex with people who don’t want to be with me.”
She stared at me wide-eyed.
I continued: “I know it sounds weird and unachievable, but it isn’t. I met someone who was secure and who cared about me, and who wanted to be in a relationship. Before that, I made out with a couple people, and kissed lots of people, but I didn’t have sex with anyone until I met someone who really wanted to be with me. I’m not missing anything but a series of disappointing partners, feelings of rejection, and being made to feel unreasonable for wanting something more.”
It’s totally OK to date casually, but it’s also OK to want something more. Don’t listen to people who tell you differently. Date to find the people worth keeping, and move on from partners who don’t want the same thing that you do!
Based on quotes from Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller