How To Tell If Your Partner Has An Avoidant Attachment Style

I’ve dated many men with an avoidant attachment style. I’d say their love is, I imagine, equivalent to taking a hit of heroin.

You’re on top of the world with it, but the rest of the time, you’re miserable.

I went through this dance of chasing my partners and constantly stepping on their toes for a few years. I figured all relationships were hard, that tears were simply part of the equation for passion.

That is until I came across the Attachment Theory. This understanding of adult love made everything so clear; I realized why relationships caused me so much pain.

I craved love and dated men that couldn’t give it.

According to Attachment Theory, people form their attachment styles when they’re children; how our parents treated us affects the way we experience love, conflict, sex, and expectations with partners throughout our lives.

And there are three main attachment styles most people fall into: secure, avoidant, and anxious.

My anxious attachment style mixed like oil and water when it came to the avoidant men I dated.

But with this new understanding of why love didn’t work with these men, I was able to find a partner with which things work naturally.

If you’re wondering if a person has an avoidant attachment style, here are a few signs to look for:

They send “mixed signals”

With someone avoidant, you’re never sure of how they feel about you. The person may text you all day one day and then go radio silent for a week. They seem to miss you a lot, but when you’re in person, they pull away.

Someone avoidant will get easily spooked if things seem like they’re getting too serious. As a result, they play a game of cat and mouse, never being clear on what they’re looking for.

They have difficulty talking about emotions

There have been countless times when I felt strongly about a person and was sure they did, too. But when I brought the subject up, they became coy or made me feel crazy.

This kind of routine is common amongst avoidant people.

This could be because they don’t reciprocate those feelings or don’t want to deal with the intimacy that comes with expressing them.

A person with an avoidant attachment style may make you feel needy or stonewall you when having serious conversations about your relationship.

They talk a lot about their ex

An avoidant person wants the idea of love without being emotionally close. Because of this, they might continually praise their ex no matter how great you are. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with you; it’s that they’re focusing on only the positive parts of their past relationship.

I once had a partner that talked so highly of his ex that I never felt good enough. I constantly felt like he wished I could become her. But what I realize now is that he focused heavily on the good that came with his ex. He didn’t think about the reasons he broke up; he just wanted the good without the messy.

This kind of behavior is called romanticizing, and avoidant people are often guilty of this. They’ll remember only the positives and never the negatives of their exes.

This puts a strain on any relationships and could be a subconscious tactic to put you at a distance from them.

They don’t commit to you

If they keep dancing around the idea of committing while completely avoiding the topic, that’s a clear sign of an avoidant person.

Some avoidant people will get into serious relationships, but they will avoid talking about the future or clearly state things will only go so far.

Either way, avoidant people want to keep things casual and feel uncomfortable talking about a full-fledged relationship or anything resembling a future together.

They never want help with anything

A relationship is about having someone to lean on when life inevitably becomes hard.

But avoidant people often refuse to confide in their partner or seek help.

While it’s important to maintain your sense of identity outside of a relationship, it’s crucial to a thriving relationship to lean on each other when the going gets rough.

If your partner seems to pull away when things go wrong, it may be a sign of someone avoidant.

They avoid meeting your family

Meeting your family and friends is a big step. It’s introducing a new person to your intimate circle.

But for someone avoidant, they’ll try to get out of family gatherings or meeting your friends for drinks. If they’re roped into it, you’ll notice they’re uneasy the whole time.

Meeting the people closest to you will feel like things are getting serious. And for them, that might feel suffocating.

They love boundaries

Boundaries are great in a relationship. I am all about setting them.

However, there is a point when too many boundaries are in place. An avoidant person may clearly communicate what’s theirs and yours. They’ll keep your friends and theirs completely separate. They set clear times for when and how much you can see them.

They value their independence over everything

I once dated a man that continuously told me how he didn’t need anyone. He fixed his own car, lived on anyone’s couch that would take him, and threatened to disappear when we would fight.

While I too love my independence, I can see now that his strong sense of self-sufficiency served to avoid ever feeling like he needed anyone, including me.

An avoidant person often isn’t able to balance freedom and partnership. They only want the former and don’t see the positives of the latter.

If you think your partner or the person you’re dating is avoidant, it’s necessary to consider a few things.

First, remember that there is nothing wrong with you. You’re not “needy” or “crazy.” You might be dating the wrong person. If you need more than what your partner can give, then you’re better off finding a partner with a secure attachment style.

But if you’re set on making things work, knowing your partner’s attachment style can help you better understand how they function.

There’s still a possibility for closeness; it’s just going to look a little different.

About the author

Kirstie Taylor

Dating + Relationship Writer & Coach