Are you trying to recognize if your partner or the person you are dating is an avoidant?
Well, it’s not always easy to guess.
But these proven signs of avoidant attachment will help you come up with a fairly reliable self-diagnosis.
- Signs of Avoidant Attachment Style
- 1. Sends Mixed Signals
- 2. Devalues You
- 3. Values Independence
- 4. Keeps Ex Partners (and you) Away
- 5. Keeps Strong Boundaries
- 6. Has Unrealistic View of Relationships
- 7. He Is Mistrustful
- 8. Does Not Communicate His Intentions Clearly
- 9. Difficulty Discussing Feelings & Intimacy
- 10. Uneasiness With Your Families, Friends
- How to Test For Avoidant Attachment
- What to Do If He’s Avoidant
Why Should You Want to Spot Avoidants?
It’s a fair question:
Why should you even worry about it?
An obvious reason is that avoidant attachment types don’t make for great intimate partners.
So if you care about having a great relationship -and you probably should- and if you care about a supportive and intimate environment, then you should also care about spotting avoidant types.
If you are not yet sure what attachment type you are, take the attachment style quiz here.
Signs of Avoidant Attachment Style
These are the cues to recognize an avoidant attachment type early on:
1. Sends Mixed Signals
- Talks about moving forward, but somehow it never happens or he gets cold feet
- Sometimes he’s very effusive, some other time very distant
- Alternates period of lots of calls and attention with periods of no contact
2. Devalues You
This is the dark side of the avoidants.
Not every avoidant has it, but it’s another sign to watch out for (and a sign to watch out for with anyone, really).
Some of the signs:
- Makes fun of your body or your abilities
- Undermines you in front of others
- Jokes about himself and other women
- Talks about you being so into him
- Suggests you are overreacting, too needy or too sensitive
- He disregards your emotional needs
3. Values Independence
Avoidants place independence and, most of all, their own independence, above intimacy.
Many avoidants also value independence as a strong personality trait because they mistake independence for strength (in truth, as Levine explains, the opposite is true: strong relationship and strong intimate bonds make people stronger and mentally healthier).
Some of the signs:
- Encourages you to be more independent
- Looks down on what he calls “neediness”
- Has times of the day when it’s best to call and other times when not to call
4. Keeps Ex Partners (and you) Away
You can recognize avoidants because of their refusal to fully commit.
The most obvious signs are:
- His past relationships are short lived
- He had a long relationship, but never moved in
- His relationships tanked once they moved in
- He moves often
- Goes on holidays alone
- Prefers not sharing a bed
- Not taking your hand on his own initiative when walking
- You rarely know clearly when you’re going to meet again
Here is an example from Terms of Endearment:
5. Keeps Strong Boundaries
Here are signs of avoidant boundaries:
- “my things”, “your things”
- Wants to keep his family, friends, colleagues and partner as separate entities
- Has a strong preference for either his place or your place
6. Has Unrealistic View of Relationships
This one might seem counterintuitive.
But avoidants can sometimes seem romantic. They believe in the perfect partner, in “the one” and they don’t settle because, well… “it’s not perfect”.
The search for “the one” might be an unconscious mechanism to avoid settling down and getting intimately close to someone.
- Searches for “the one”
- Says arguments shouldn’t happen in perfect relationships
- Idealizes past relationships
- Has a preference for specific type of partners (often not easy to find)
7. He Is Mistrustful
Avoidants are afraid of getting close.
They tend to think that getting close will diminish their power, or that it will make them weak and prone to manipulation.
- Insists on pre-nups or on not marrying to avoid being taken advantage of
- Believes partners are out to limit his freedom
- Thinks that women act nice… Until marriage, then they change
8. Does Not Communicate His Intentions Clearly
Secure people know what they want: a strong and happy relationship. And, with time, they are not afraid of admitting so.
But avoidant never seem to move forward. And when you try to move forward or have “the conversation”, they will seem elusive and noncommittal.
Some of the signs:
- You are not sure where the relationship is going
- He leaves things murky and unclear
- Never says “I love you”
- Talks about possible big changes (relocating, taking a year gap) without consideration of what that means for you
9. Difficulty Discussing Feelings & Intimacy
- He shies away from discussion on feelings, the relationship and the two of you
- Makes you feel uncomfortable to bring up topics about the two of you
- When you bring up a hot relationship topic, he somehow avoids it
- He just doesn’t seem to get what your needs are
- He stonewalls or leaves during arguments
- Prefers facts over feelings
10. Uneasiness With Your Families, Friends
The avoidant partner will be uneasy around your family and close friends because that’s when he fears things are getting too close.
He might want to have you a bit closer, but getting to know the in-laws and your circle might be definitely too much for him.
And of course, he might be afraid that “things are getting too serious”.
Jack Nicholson wants to be an outsider. Because he is not comfortable with being part of the family. Too much intimacy and “obligation” for him.
He needs his space.
How to Test For Avoidant Attachment
What if you could not just passively look for the avoidant signs but actively test for them?
Well, you can, and I recommend you do it early, before you find yourself mired in a years long relationship and realizing that you are not happy and can never be happy.
Here are two ideas for you:
- Leave on purpose something at his place early in the relationship
How does he react? Is he annoyed by it?
- Do call him whenever you need him – even if it’s early
Why would you hold back? Because women dating books tell you to do so? That might not be a good idea. You can fake disinterest early, but you only increase the chances of ending up with an avoidant and being very unhappy later on.
better finding out early!
This is something that Amir Levine, author of Attached also recommends.
What to Do If He’s Avoidant
Now the difficult question.
What should you do if you realize he’s an avoidant?
Well, people can change.
But that doesn’t mean they want to change or that they can change easily.
As a matter of fact, changing is rare and it might be better for you to base your decision on the fact that he won’t change.
I offer relationship coaching, and of all the anxious-avoidant I have coached not a single one managed to fix their intimacy issues.
Still, I cannot answer that question for you while writing here. You have to decide that.
I can point you to a few more helpful articles though:
- How the anxious avoidant relationship looks like
- How to decide when to breakup
- How to get out of a toxic relationship
Spotting an avoidant attachment style is very important to understand how your relationship will look like. And with an avoidant, that means it’s low on intimacy.
Once you know that, it’s up to you to decide whether you’re OK with it or not.