7 Things You Need to Know About Dating An Anxious-Avoidant Person

by Kathrine Meraki 9 days ago in dating

Here’s the raw truth, from someone who was anxious-avoidant for years.

7 Things You Need to Know About Dating An Anxious-Avoidant Person
Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

Dating an anxious-avoidant person can be hard work. This was my attachment style for years. I’m certain the people I dated had whiplash from my push and pull behaviors.

I’ve studied attachment style in depth over the past 6 years, through college and as a personal interest. I researched attachment theory to understand why childhood experiences affect adult behaviors in relationships.

One line to sum up the behaviors of an anxious-avoidant person is “come here, go away!” And once you hit play, this behavior will almost always be on repeat the entire time you’re dating them.

I want you to know the truth, from someone who has been there.

Here are 7 things you need to know about dating an anxious-avoidant person.

What is anxious-avoidant attachment?

Dating is hard enough as it is. When you mix in insecure attachment, it throws a spanner in the works. And out of the 3 insecure attachment styles, anxious-avoidant is the short end of the stick.

It’s a combination of anxious and avoidant attachment types. Here’s my summary:

  • Anxious — Afraid of abandonment. Worried their partner doesn’t love them anymore so they cling on for dear life. They seek validation often.
  • Avoidant — Afraid of showing emotions, they may see this as a sign of weakness. Very independent, and will keep you at arm’s length to avoid opening up.

1. They’ll Push You Away If You Get Too Close

“What are we?” might just send them running if it’s not on their terms. You’re activating the avoidant part of them. And they want to feel in control of the situation.

When you start opening up to them, they’ll put the brakes on. They’re intelligent and use mental strategies to keep their emotions at bay, says Tracy Crossley.

Opening up to them when they aren’t ready (if they’re ever ready) — well, you’ve just crossed the line. And using sex to make them love you won’t work either.

Opening up to them when they aren’t ready (if they’re ever ready) — well, you’ve just crossed the line. And using sex to make them love you won’t work either.

Sex is easy. Intimacy is hard.

This behavior makes it difficult to get to know the real them beyond the surface level. And they’ll keep things surface level until you try and dip your toe in. When you do this, they’ll run — unless you’re the one to pull away first.

2. They’ll Cling on If You Pull Away

“Most people are only as needy as their unmet needs.” ― Amir Levine

If you pull away from an anxious-avoidant person (and it’s not on their terms), they’ll freak out. Ignoring them will make them feel like they’ve lost control of the situation.

When a woman I liked told me she felt the same but didn’t want to be with me… I felt like it was the end of the world. Your whole body feels overcome with emotion like you’ve lost control of everything around you.

They might go to desperate measures to try and get you to stay. I thought sex would keep people around — but it never worked in the long run. They may send you copious amounts of text messages or leave you 20 missed calls.

Anything to try to get your attention again. But once they get it, they’ll cool their jets… And then it’s back to being distant again.

3. They’re Independent

They do things on their own, and they’re happy about it. The moment you begin relying on them, they’ll feel triggered.

They don’t want anyone else to help them. They’d rather do things on their own because that’s how life has always been for them.

  • They don’t do well with responsibility
  • They want to do what they want when they want — on their terms
  • Feeling tied down triggers them.

In relationships, you both rely on each other in some way. But when you’re anxious-avoidant, it can feel suffocating. They want everyone else to be independent and not rely on them.

It feels safer for them this way. It’s never about what you want, it’s about what they want. And they’ll keep you at a distance, but just close enough that you’ll want more.

4. Emotions Are Overwhelming

The avoidant part of them often gets triggered when someone gets too close. Dealing with emotions is terrifying for someone who can’t express themselves well.

My family didn’t talk about emotions, we didn’t cry in front of each other. There were no cuddles or comfort when we were sad. I kept my emotions in because it didn’t feel right the express them

  • If anxious-avoidants grew up hearing “just get on with it” if they felt sad, they shove their feelings away.
  • They may have grown up believing emotions are a sign of weakness
  • Punishment for crying in the past will cause someone to avoid opening up and feeling the pain again as an adult

Chances are they won’t open up to you on a deep enough level for you to get anywhere with them. And if you keep pushing them, soon enough they’ll begin looking for petty things about you they don’t like.

5. They Want the Perfect Partner

Often anxious-avoidant people have an image in their mind of their dream partner. They might think you’re it in the beginning and put you on a pedestal like you’re the best thing since sliced bread.

But soon they’ll nitpick at your flaws when they realize you don’t meet their perfect partner criteria:

  1. Owns a Tesla
  2. The perfect haircut, no facial hair
  3. A college degree in Neuroscience
  4. Born vegan

You’ll never be their perfect partner, and not because you aren’t amazing the way you are. It’s because this perfect partner does not exist. Creating this unrealistic checklist of the qualities is a subconscious defense mechanism.

It’s a way to keep anyone from getting close to them.

And although they are afraid of this, it doesn’t mean they don’t want love. They do.

6. They Want Love but They’re Afraid

Anxious-avoidant people want to love and feel loved. The thing that often stops them is overwhelming emotions. When they feel triggered, these emotions flood their brain and bodies.

It’s a flight or fight response.

They feel like they’re reliving the pain of their past. If you tell them that you care and love them (or when you pull away and ignore them) it can set them off. And no matter how much love you pour into them, you cannot save them.

You can’t fix another person who doesn’t realize they have issues, they’ll blame you instead.

7. Feelings Are a Touchy Subject

When the “come here, go away!” pattern emerges, soon you’ll start worrying if sharing how you feel will scare them away again.

I felt this way with a woman I dated. She didn’t want anything serious, so I treaded lightly because she told me she liked me. I thought if I didn’t tell her how I felt, she would come around.

They never do.

When you have to walk on eggshells and not talk about feelings, you’re only hurting yourself. If they don’t want to talk about where things headed, you shouldn’t have to suppress your thoughts and feelings.

There’s someone out there who will be open with you and won’t be afraid to commit.

Final Thoughts

Dating an anxious-avoidant person is hard work, there’s no doubt about it. If you’re anxious-avoidant like I was, it can be tough for you too — but you still need to get help and deal with your baggage.

Other people won’t fix your problems for you. And it’s not their responsibility to fix it either.

Dating or relationships shouldn’t feel like hard work (to this extreme.) If you’re dating an anxious-avoidant person, your love won’t change them. Focus on yourself first.

People change when they’re ready, not when you want them to.


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Kathrine Meraki
Kathrine Meraki
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
Kathrine Meraki

Writer & Self-Improvement Lover 🌻 | Helping others with their personal growth | http://kathrinemeraki.com/ | IG: @kathrinemeraki

See all posts by Kathrine Meraki