You’re with a man who acts like he doesn’t care about you half the time.
Some of the time, he’s amazing. He’s passionate. He’s romantic.
But then he pulls away. He barely sees you. He acts preoccupied.
What’s going on?
You may have fallen for a Love Avoidant.
How It Feels to Be With a Love Avoidant
Love Avoidants drive you crazy.
You absolutely know that this could be the man of your dreams. He’s everything you wanted.
But then he acts in self-destructive ways.
It’s as if he’s trying to prove how little the relationship matters to him. Or maybe he’s trying to wreck it.
Why would he do that, if he loved you the way he said he did?
When he’s at his best, he takes great care of you. He’s your knight in shining armor. You trust him to carry you.
When he’s at his worst, it’s like he isn’t even there.
You do everything you can to catch his attention. You get his favorite things, you plan special evenings, you’re warm and inviting.
So you try to up the ante by talking to him about it, arguing with him about it, laying down rules or ultimatums…
Only for him to react like you’re trying to control him.
You’re not. You’re just trying to restore the closeness between you. Why doesn’t he get that?
You despair. You know this could be the relationship of your dreams, but right now it feels like a nightmare.
What can you do?
3 Ways to Spot a Love Avoidant
The first thing to know about Love Avoidants is that they’re not trying to drive you crazy. Not deliberately.
They’re caught in a pattern that shapes their behavior. They don’t know how to break free. (They may not even realize they’re stuck.)
Love Avoidants get triggered by emotional intimacy because of childhood experiences. They often grow up in an enmeshed relationship with a parent.
They felt controlled as a child, and now, as an adult, they’re quick to interpret their partner’s behavior as controlling even when it may not be.
Here are three questions that can help you see whether your partner has a pattern of Love Avoidance.
1. Is seduction his preferred form of intimacy?
Love Avoidants prefer seduction over emotional intimacy. Getting physically close feels safer to them than getting emotionally close.
When you pull back from your relationship with a Love Avoidant, the Love Avoidant will notice. He’ll respond by pouring on the passion, leading you to believe he loves you passionately and can’t bear to be without you.
But in fact the Love Avoidant is secretly afraid of abandonment. He’s afraid of being alone, too; he just hides that fear behind a mask of detachment.
Don’t mistake seduction for a promise of emotional intimacy.
2. Is his life or activities outside the relationship more important to him than the relationship?
Love Avoidants need an escape hatch.
When they feel engulfed, they need to put distance between themselves and their partner.
So they disappear into work, or disappear to the gym. They disappear into addictions, or their man cave, or their music.
You feel as if you aren’t the priority.
And, until he faces his love avoidance, you won’t be.
3. Do his boundaries feel like walls?
With healthy people, boundaries help you feel closer.
Boundaries are an agreement about what someone needs to feel safe and comfortable. When you respect another person’s boundaries, they can allow you in, knowing you won’t hurt them.
Love Avoidants use boundaries differently.
For them, boundaries act like walls. They’re a way of keeping other people out.
A Love Avoidant will often build strict walls around availability and communication to keep you out of his life or activities outside the relationship.
Ask yourself: is his boundary helping you feel more connected, or is it keeping you out?
What Can You Do?
Recovery from love avoidance involves facing the addictive behaviors that push away intimacy and confronting codependence.
It’s a long-term journey. It’s not a quick fix.
But you can make a difference.
You can step out of the usual role you play in the relationship.
Notice the ways you try to get him to re-engage in the relationship.
Do you pick a fight? Do you act helpless? Do you entice him?
What if you remained neutral instead?
Seeing his behavior as the result of an engrained pattern—and not a personal judgment on you—can help you breathe through those difficult moments without reacting.
Sometimes, we expect someone to be who we want them to be. We want them to be that person so much that we don’t accept who they actually are.
It may be hard to let go of your hope that he’ll be your knight in shining armor, but it’s the only way to see the real man underneath.
This is who he is. Can you work with that?
Or do you need to release this relationship so you can invite a more appropriate relationship in?