People have varying communication and attachment styles that may show up in their close relationships, and one that can involve some nuance and challenge in communicating with is those who are “avoidant” in nature. The avoidant attachment style can be a struggle to deal with for some, but if you understand the possible underlying reasons for it and some basic strategies for how to communicate with someone who has this style, it’s easy enough to find workable setups.
At Sunrise Solutions, we’re proud to offer quality marriage and couple’s counseling to people around Sandy and Draper, plus several other forms of counseling as well. Here are some basics on how avoidantly attached people may behave or communicate within a relationship, plus some healthy ways of communicating with them on a regular basis.
How Avoidantly Attached People May Communicate
For many people who have this communication style, letting their “guard down” in a relationship can be difficult. As a result, they may do things like cancel plans often or keep conversations at surface level without going into deeper topics. They might also be more emotionally withdrawn or shy away from making commitments to their partner.
And within particularly stressful situations, they may exhibit some common behaviors:
- Getting defensive: A person may become defensive in order to protect themselves from potential hurt or rejection.
- Shutting down: This is a sign of avoidance and withdrawing from the situation.
- Attempting to control the conversation: Many people with an avoidant attachment style feel more comfortable if they’re in control, so they may attempt to control conversations by changing topics or steering the talk away from their emotions.
Just because it may be tougher to communicate with someone who is avoidantly attached doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, if you take the time to understand them and their attachment style, you can create a healthy relationship with open communication. This is what our next several sections will look into.
Don’t Rely on Guilt
Because an avoidant person may feel uncomfortable with too much closeness, it’s important to not rely on things like guilt or manipulation in order to get them to talk about their feelings. This can make the situation worse and cause further emotional distance between you two.
Instead, focus on small steps that can help improve communication gradually but surely. For instance, taking short walks together or having regular meals can be good ways to start building up trust.
Help Them Feel Safe
Another key way to create a better connection with someone who’s avoidantly attached is to help them feel safe. This may involve setting up various physical and emotional boundaries that you both can agree on, like agreeing not to bring up certain topics or giving each other space when needed.
When talking about tough issues, focus on staying calm and using clear language so that your partner can understand where you’re coming from. Additionally, avoid rushing them into decisions and give them time to process their thoughts so that they don’t feel overwhelmed.
Be Soft in Communication
Wherever possible, and particularly during any kind of conflict or disagreement, remember to remain soft and understanding with your communication style. Avoidant people may react negatively or withdraw if they feel like they’re being attacked, so always be sure to keep a gentle tone and use phrases that focus on solutions instead of the problem at hand.
Give Them The Benefit of the Doubt
It may sometimes sound like your avoidant partner is directly insulting you when they say certain things. But instead of getting mad or offended, try to give them the benefit of the doubt and keep in mind that they may just be scared of deepening their relationship with you.
With the right mix of empathy, understanding, and patience, you can help your avoidant partner feel safe enough to open up more and create a stronger bond with you. Just remember that it will take time, and that’s perfectly okay.
Finally, just like in many other kinds of relationships, patience is key when it comes to an avoidant attachment style. Your partner may not always be able to open up right away, so being patient and understanding their needs can go a long way in helping them feel more comfortable with sharing their thoughts and feelings with you.
Keep in mind that this process will take time, and that it’s okay to give yourself and your partner space when needed. Over time, the relationship should become more balanced and healthy as you both get better at communicating with each other.
Understanding an avoidant attachment style is essential in order to create a strong relationship with someone who has this type of communication style. While it may be tough at first, remember to focus on small steps and give yourself and your partner time to adjust. With a bit of empathy and patience, you can both create a strong bond with each other that is based on respect and understanding.
And at Sunrise Solutions, we’re here to help with marriage and couple’s counseling and various other forms of therapy for patients around Sandy and Draper. Contact us to set up an appointment.