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  • There are, for many of us, few people as attractive as the avoidant; the sort that are permanently

  • a little mysterious; who don't speak so much; around whom one never quite knows where

  • one is; in whose eyes there is a faraway look, and perhaps a certain melancholy too; in whose

  • hearts we intuit a sadness we long to, but never quite can, touch; people who seem to

  • promise us intimacy and connection, and yet who remainhowever long we have been with

  • themmesmerisingly unreassuring. Unsurprisingly, it is not so easy to be the lover of an avoidant

  • person. The tendency, very often, after the heady early days, is to give into the insecurities

  • they end up provoking in us: do they really care? Do they love us back? Why are they never

  • the ones to call? Beset by such questions, we may get cross, tearful or stern. We may

  • accuse them of neglect and selfishness, of betrayal or egocentricity. These sort of inquisitions

  • can be counted on to fail. At the first signs of critique, avoidant people pull up the drawbridge.

  • They are experts at fleeing the messy consequences of other people's desire for them. They

  • go off to play sport, abscond on a long journey or discover new responsibilities at the office.

  • One is left hammering in vain at the gates of their personal citadel. On a bad day, they

  • may also get furious back. They will deny that we have any kind of point at all. They

  • aren't trying to deceive us; they genuinely can't see the issue. They aren't – they

  • assure us with mounting vehemencedistant and cold, they are simply busy and not into

  • certain kinds of sentimentality. It is weneedy, weak, hysterical and over-demanding,

  • as they put itwho are the problem. We almost agree.

  • To survive, we should hold on to the idea that, despite their robust outward manner,

  • the avoidant are, above all else, scared. Their frostiness is the result of fear rather

  • than indifferenceand what they are afraid of is to let down their guard and then meet

  • with betrayal and abandonment. Their outward strength masks a gelatinous interior. There

  • will, inevitably, be a rather touching backstory to their advanced subterranean fears. They

  • were, way back, most likely let down very badly by someone they depended on a lot when

  • they were defenceless. In response to a grave childhood disappointment, they grew an extra

  • thick skin and plated themselves with armour. They vowed, in a way they may not now even

  • recognise, never to trust anyone fully again. Related image So they are distant and prone

  • to put up barriers not because they don't care, but because being cared for with kindness

  • generates unfamiliar and daunting feelings for them. They skillfully undermine their

  • chances of being close, because they have no experience of reliable loveand are

  • drawn to try to spoil it to prove to themselves that it can't be real (and that they haven't,

  • therefore, missed out on quite so much). We should avoid getting stuck in cycles of claim

  • and counter-claim; that they might be too cold and that we might be too hot. Far better

  • to address the fears circulating beneath the surface. Rather than provoking their panic

  • or denial, we shouldas best we canmake closeness feel safe. We should remember that

  • we are dealing with someone who finds vulnerability frightening and therefore not meet their impulse

  • to flee with punitiveness. But more crucially,

  • we might along the way, start to ask ourselves a few key questions. How similar are we to

  • them, beneath the apparent differences? It is easy to claim that one has an uncomplicated

  • desire to be closeso long as one isn't put to the test, because one has carefully

  • picked out a person who has problems being so. Yet in truth, how simple is closeness

  • for us really? Might we not be as scared as they arebut simply have passed our share

  • of the problem on to them to hold? Shouldn't we be suspicious of the way that we managed

  • to reject other warmer candidates in favour of this distant figure? Is it really an accident

  • that we are with them? Or isn't it in some way satisfying to us as well, allowing us

  • to claim that we want intimacy without having to bear any of its costs? Through

  • such pointed questions, we stand to realise that, most probably, the fear of closeness

  • exists on both sides. It's just that they are directly distant and we are so by proxy.

  • We can break away from caricatures and, as a couple, own up to our mutual terrors of

  • dependence. We can start to sympathise with one another's techniques for warding off

  • anxiety and help each other to accept the common risks of love. That will be the beginning

  • of true closenessand braveryon both sides.

  • Did you know we also have an app to help you meet people with whom you can have deeper more meaningful connections?

  • Follow the link on your screen now to download it.

There are, for many of us, few people as attractive as the avoidant; the sort that are permanently

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B1 US avoidant closeness distant claim outward intimacy

How to Cope With an Avoidant Partner

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