Avoidant communication style

Communication - Attachment Styles | Inner Flow Counselling

In the three previous parts of this series we explored embodied listening, gaining clarity, and how to re-establish our sense of self during periods of heightened stress. In this final part we will explore attachment theory.

Knowing your attachment style can help explain why you require reassurance from your partner or why you are more reserved in relationships, why you feel hyper-sensitive to your partner or why you are confused by them.  It also offers insights into why partners repeat the same unsuccessful communication patterns.

Attachment Theory

There are many factors that account for how attachment styles are formed: relationship with parents, temperament, social support, biopsychosocial stressors, and genetics. The first 18 months of our lives conditions our working models that define how we act in relationships.  This means that our guidelines for relating to others are largely unconscious.

It is important to note that attachment styles are not fixed, but they do tend to be consistent.  The more we experience secure attachment with others the more we move towards secure attachment patterns ourselves.

Attachment systems are biological processes that are connected to social interactions. Our actions are attempts to regulate our attachment system, usually through greater intimacy or separation. Karlen Lyons-Ruth, a developmental psychologist, equates the attachment system to a psychological immune system.

Secure Attachment

Secure types are responsive to the needs of their partners and demonstrate empathic qualities. They are comfortable with intimacy and have a steady attachment system – emotional responses are appropriate to situations. They employ connecting behaviour and strategies – thoughts, feelings, and actions that honour both their own needs and the needs of their partners.

Avoidant Attachment

Avoidant types are dismissive of their partners’ thoughts and actions. They tend to be self-focused and are less skilled at reading their partners’ needs. When it comes to intimacy they fluctuate between hot and cold. Avoidants create distance from their partners to deactivate their attachment systems.   These strategies include avoiding mental, emotional, and physical closeness. They also include a tendency to focus on their partners’ imperfections while ignoring their positive qualities. Avoidant type has a pattern of getting involved with people who are ‘unavailable’ and they tend to idolize past partners.

Anxious (ambivalent) Attachment

Anxious types are preoccupied with their relationships and their partners’ thoughts and actions. They are more focused on their partner and are less skilled at recognizing their own needs. An anxious type craves intimacy to try and regulate their amped up attachment system. They employ activating strategies – extreme attempts to re-establish a secure base – usually acted out while distressed. These strategies are marked by protest behaviours such as withdrawing, hostility, and keeping score.

Disorganized Attachment

Disorganized types are said to be the least common. They include both anxious and avoidant qualities. Disorganized attachment is characterized by role confusion where the object of affection is simultaneously feared and desired.  Patterns of extreme stress and abuse in childhood by primary caregivers inform this attachment style. To learn more about disorganized attachment please use the many resources specific to this type or reach out to me personally.

Attachment Styles in relationships

It is very common for anxious –avoidant types to enter into relationships with each other. It is rare that anxious-anxious and avoidant-avoidant types enter into relationships with each other.

Anxious Communication

Due to all-or-nothing thinking and catastrophizing, anxious types prolong asking for what they need – assuming that their needs will not be met – until they explode. If they are with a secure partner the damage may be repaired and needs will be met. If they are with an avoidant partner they are likely to get the opposite of what they need because the avoidant requires distance to regulate.

Anxious types are less likely to communicate their needs directly.  They should stop hinting; stop assuming; be direct; ask for what they need; and make inferences based on reality, not from the narratives in their heads. This can only be done if they communicate directly. There is nothing inherently wrong about requiring affection and reassurance from a partner. If one’s needs have been communicated in a responsible manner and their partner refuses to meet those needs, this is a clear sign that the relationship is in trouble.

Avoidant Communication

Due to a need for separation and a tendency towards all or nothing thinking and mind reading – assuming their partner has malicious intent – avoidant types tend to pull away from the relationship. If they are with a secure partner there is less chance of a reaction occurring or the secure partner will address the issue directly. An anxious partner will try to initiate closeness resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy of your partner wanting too much from you.

Avoidant types are less likely to take into account the needs of their partners. If one has a strong desire to push a partner away or flee then they should communicate their need for space to their partner, and try to find a way that both people get what they require. Timelines and reassurances work wonders if partners are anxious, they will be more likely to offer the space required.

Tips for communicating

Stay on topic. Don’t generalize the conversation. Pick one discussion and stay on point.

Don’t confuse your needs with your partner’s. You are two different people and as such will require different kinds of support.  Be willing to express your needs and listen wholeheartedly to your partner’s.

Be aware of how activated you are and take the necessary steps to maintain a regulated nervous system.

Above all, please do not assume that your attachment style is wrong. There is no right or wrong. There is simply awareness of what it takes for your attachment system to regulate. Asking for the support you need and receiving it allows you to move from insecure attachment to a more secure style of attachment. If your needs are continually denied or ignored this tells you a lot about the future of your relationship.

How to Communicate With an Avoidant Partner

Communicating with your partner can be a challenge if they have an avoidant attachment style. Just when you need them most, they may create distance and withdraw from you. Actions that would, of course, leave you feeling hurt, frustrated, and confused. 

It’s important to recognize that your avoidant partner’s distancing behaviors once served a purpose. They likely helped them feel safe in early life when their environment felt rejecting and unreliable. Yet, how can you forge a stable relationship when there’s a breakdown in connection?

This is where we at The Attachment Project can help. Building upon your awareness of how avoidant attachment presents in romantic relationships, as well as the effects of different communication styles, can help you (and your partner!) feel safe and more connected within your relationship. 

To help answer any questions you may have on avoidant attachment in relationships, this article will cover:

  • An explanation of the avoidant communication style
  • The common behaviors avoidant attachers typically display in relationships
  • How to effectively communicate with your avoidant partner (using 11 essential tips!)

Avoidant Attachment Communication Style & Behaviors

Someone with an avoidant attachment style may struggle to let their walls down in a romantic relationship. They might set boundaries to keep you at arm’s length –  preventing intimacy and emotional closeness – which can make relationships feel “surface level.

In situations where they feel threatened, such as during an argument, disagreement, or misunderstanding, someone with an avoidant attachment style may be more likely to use “deactivating coping strategies.” 

Deactivating strategies are behaviors that create distance between the avoidant attacher and their partner. These coping mechanisms could help an avoidant individual (unconsciously) suppress their emotions, making them less susceptible to uncomfortable feelings like pain, anxiety, and distress. 

When someone with an avoidant attachment emotionally “shuts down” like this, they may seem cold and uncaring to their romantic partner. But remember, these actions are subconscious – it’s not that they don’t care. They’ve just been taught from an early age to protect themselves by shutting down their attachment system.

In stressful situations, avoidantly-attached individuals may also:

  • Become defensive
  • Refuse to talk about the problem
  • Stop physical contact
  • Show black-and-white thinking (e. g., “So I’m the bad guy, am I?”)

It isn’t always simple to communicate with an avoidant partner, especially during moments of conflict. However, effective communication is very possible when you understand how to adapt your communication style to suit their attachment patterns. 

*Note: adapting your communication style is about reaching a compromise between your needs and those of your partners. At no stage should you sacrifice what you (reasonably) require in a relationship to feel safe and fulfilled.


Tips on How to Communicate With Someone With Avoidant Attachment

Communicating effectively in any relationship can be challenging, especially if you don’t understand your partner’s attachment style. But with understanding, patience, and support, it’s entirely possible to help your avoidantly attached partner to open up and become more emotionally intimate.

The following are eleven useful (and evidence-based!) tips on how to communicate with an avoidant partner:

#1. Soften Your Communication

According to research, people who use “soft” communication during relationship conflicts have a calming effect on their avoidant partner. 

Softening communication and behavior could involve:

  • Downplaying the seriousness of the problem
  • Naming your partner’s positive qualities and behaviors
  • Validating your partner’s emotions and perspective
  • Showing positive feelings towards your partner

This communication style utilizes positive regard and says, “I am trustworthy” to your partner. It also helps to prevent triggering feelings of shame and guilt in your partner and communicates that you are in control of your emotions.

A soft communication style may make an argument or disagreement feel less threatening to someone with an avoidant attachment style, potentially leading to a less defensive response.

 #2. Avoid Guilt-Tripping

Although easy to fall into the habit of, guilt-tripping typically isn’t effective when used on someone with an avoidant attachment style. When we think about common avoidant attachment behaviors, this makes sense. 

Guilt-tripping involves attempting to encourage change by triggering the uncomfortable feeling of guilt. Effectively, we’re saying, “if you care about me, you’ll change.” Guilt-tripping could look like emotional expressions of hurt, such as crying, sulking, or pouting, and telling your partner how their behavior hurts or upsets you. 

Guilt-tripping is a “negative-indirect regulation strategy” because it doesn’t directly confront the issue. Instead, someone who guilt-trips seeks reassurance from their partner. However, avoidant attachers can find dependence, control, and obligation suffocating. So, guilt-tripping often results in them pushing for independence.

Avoidant attachers may respond to such strategies with resistance and experience less motivation to change – making the problem much harder to resolve.

#3. Self-Regulate, THEN Communicate

When we show distress through crying, shouting, or anxiety, we may communicate to our partner that we are struggling to manage our emotions and need support. While this might be a natural reaction in anxiety-provoking situations, it could trigger an avoidant partner’s attachment traits.

As we’ve mentioned, independence is usually very important for someone with an avoidant attachment style. So, when someone communicates, “I need emotional support,” to an avoidant attacher, this could trigger their fear of dependence

Although it can be tricky to catch your emotions in stressful situations, learning to identify reactions and self-regulate is essential to avoid triggering your partner’s attachment style.

#4. Assume Positive Intent

When your partner emotionally withdraws or “shuts down” in conflictual or stressful situations, it can be challenging to remember that they aren’t doing so maliciously. You may fall into the pattern of thinking, “they don’t care,” “they never let me in,” or “they’re pushing me away.”

In these moments, it’s important to remember that these avoidant behaviors may have kept your partner safe from emotional pain when they were young. These actions might be the only coping strategy they currently have to manage their complex emotions. 

Reminding yourself that your partner’s intentions are good despite how they act makes it far easier to communicate with empathy, understanding, and patience.

#5. Make Your Partner Feel Safe

Due to their early relationship dynamics, someone with an avoidant attachment style may feel like they can’t depend on others and that their problems and feelings don’t matter. You can provide a safe space for an avoidant person by listening to them when they open up rather than responding defensively.

We call this “active listening.” It involves giving direct eye contact, positioning your body to face your partner, nodding when appropriate, and asking non-judgmental follow-up questions. 

Setting boundaries can also make people with an insecure attachment style feel safe. Boundaries make relationships predictable, which increases feelings of security. You may agree upon boundaries relating to:

  • Physical touch and affection
  • Communicating when you’re both calm
  • Giving each other personal space when necessary
  • Voicing issues in the moment
  • Taking ownership of your own emotions
 #6. Steer Clear of Criticism Using “I” Statements

Effective communication can bring about positive change in romantic relationships. However, to do this, we need to steer clear of criticism. Criticism can feel like a personal attack to anyone, let alone someone with an avoidant attachment style.

Criticism may likely activate your partner’s avoidant attachment traits, which could result in them withdrawing, resisting, or disengaging from the conversation. Therefore, the problem becomes even harder to solve and positive behavior change is less likely. 

In contrast, “I” statements take the heat off your partner, making what you’re saying about you, not them. This may help an avoidant partner understand the impact of their behavior without directly attributing it to them. 

The following examples are alternatives to criticizing statements:

Criticizing Statements“I” Statements
You never tidy up after yourself.I feel annoyed when I come home to a messy house. 
You never want to spend time with me. I feel lonely when I don’t see you much in the week.
You don’t show me affection.I get confused and upset when you aren’t affectionate with me. 
 #7. Consider the Interplay of Your Attachment Styles

For effective communication with an avoidant partner, it’s vital that we understand both individuals’ attachment styles our attachment style as they have the potential to affect relationship dynamics in particular ways.

For example, the anxious and avoidant attachment styles are prone to certain patterns within relationships. Typically, anxious attachment manifests as a fear of a romantic partner pulling away, so someone with this attachment style may seek emotional reassurance from their loved one. Yet, as we know, such behaviors may trigger an avoidant attacher’s fear of dependence, which could make them emotionally withdraw. 

This interplay of attachment behaviors could worsen the situation, making the couple less likely to constructively resolve a problem. 

If you would like to know how your attachment style may be influencing your relationship, you can take the free quiz on our website here.

#9. Give Your Avoidant Partner Space (If Necessary!)

Partners with an avoidant attachment style may need time alone, especially during arguments. However, this need can be a source of shame for some avoidant partners, making it difficult to ask for. 

To support your partner during a disagreement, you could offer to give them space. Doing so validates your partner’s feelings and needs without explicitly naming them. It also demonstrates that you’re in control of your own emotions, which can make an avoidant partner feel less smothered in stressful situations. 

 #10. Try Replacing Emotional Support With Instrumental Support

Evidence shows that someone with an avoidant attachment style may become calmer when their partner gives “instrumental” rather than emotional support. Instrumental support means offering tangible assistance, such as:

  • Practical help like offering services
  • Problem-solving
  • Providing a tangible aid
  • Using resources to help

Instrumental support could come in the form of offering your partner a glass of water when stressed, cooking dinner when you know they have had a difficult day at work, or giving them financial support. 

Research suggests that avoidant attachers may prefer instrumental support over emotional because it doesn’t make them feel dependent on their partner, so it doesn’t trigger their attachment pattern in the same way.  

#11. Practice Patience

While an avoidant partner’s behaviors during an argument may make you upset or angry, it’s important to practice patience whenever a situation involves attachment styles.

We develop our attachment patterns for a reason. As we mentioned, at one point in our lives, these behaviors helped keep us safe from hurt. 

It is possible to change our attachment style, but it doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. It takes time, patience, and determination from both of you.

Practicing patience will give your partner the time to change on their terms, not through pressure or control (which would likely make them do the exact opposite!).

Final Thoughts on Communicating With an Avoidant Partner

Romantic relationships can be challenging for anyone, especially when one (or both!) partner has experienced difficult early relationships. 

Someone with an avoidant attachment style may struggle to let their walls down and connect emotionally with their partner. Stressful situations may trigger their avoidant attachment behaviors, potentially leading to withdrawal, emotion suppression, and defensiveness.

Communicating with empathy, using “I” statements, and avoiding blaming and criticism are some of the ways to help avoidant partners feel safe enough to express their thoughts and feelings, as well as change their behaviors in time.  

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” 

Peter Drucke.


Jayamaha, S. D., Antonellis, C., & Overall, N. C. (2016). Attachment insecurity and inducing guilt to produce desired change in romantic partners. Personal Relationships, 23(2), 311–338. https://doi.org/10.1111/pere.12128

Johnson, S. M., & Whiffen, V. E. (1999). Made to measure: Adapting emotionally focused couple therapy to partners’ attachment styles. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 6(4), 366–381. https://doi.org/10.1093/clipsy.6.4.366

Mikulincer, M., & Florian, V. (1997). Are emotional and instrumental supportive interactions beneficial in times of stress? The impact of attachment style. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 10(2), 109–127. https://doi.org/10.1080/10615809708249297

Overall, N. C., Simpson, J. A., & Struthers, H. (2013). Buffering attachment-related avoidance: Softening emotional and behavioral defenses during conflict discussions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(5), 854–871. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0031798

Sbarra, D. A., & Borelli, J. L. (2019). Attachment reorganization following divorce: normative processes and individual differences. Current Opinion in Psychology, 25, 71–75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2018.03.008
Simpson, J. A., & Rholes, W. S. (2017). Adult Attachment, Stress, and Romantic Relationships. Current Opinion In Psychology, 13, 19–24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j. copsyc.2016.04.006

Avoidance style. Psychology. People, concepts, experiments

Avoiding style. Psychology. People, concepts, experiments


Psychology. People, concepts, experiments
Paul Kleinman


Avoidance style

Such children are more independent and do not rely on the object of affection in their exploration of the world around them. Moreover, the independence of the baby is manifested not only in the physical, but also in the emotional property; subjected to stress, he does not seek help and protection from the object of affection. In such children, the object of affection is characterized by insensitivity; he does not help the infant when he encounters difficulties, does not try to meet his needs, and is usually unavailable at times when the child is emotionally distressed. Ainsworth estimates that 15 percent of all babies fall into this category. The following forms of manifestation are typical for the avoiding style:

• Separation anxiety. When the mother leaves the room, the child does not show any signs of alarm and anxiety.

• Stranger Anxiety: the child feels completely at ease in the company of a stranger and behaves as usual.

• Reunion: the infant hardly responds to the mother's return to the room.

Ainsworth found that mothers and strangers were equally successful in soothing a child.

This text is an introductory fragment.


Style - steadily reproducible distinguishing features of communication, way of life, manners of behavior, habits, inclinations, etc., characteristic of a person or a group of people and revealing the originality of their spiritual world, the direction of a person's life through external forms


Style Musician. And if my style is like this? Gardener. It can hardly be called style. A person with an imperfectly developed taste cannot have style. Fashion designer. Imagine, my son, who is completely devoid of taste, is nevertheless sure that his style is impeccable. They have so

Style and handwriting

Style and handwriting Before we move on, Madame Flambe wanted to preface the class with a really fun and easy exercise that says a lot about our individual styles. She said that she often likes to do experiential exercises before intellectually

Style and anti-style

Style and anti-style Dona Carletta intervened at this point, saying that integrating and using both primary and secondary styles is a very difficult task. She gave the example of a female therapist who had a very compassionate primary style. Her secondary style was very

Rational style

Rational style As a rule, people who prefer to make decisions in their professional and personal life on the basis of rational thinking: • often refer to facts and logic, and do not like to talk about feelings; • consider fair and honest criticism natural and

Emotional style

Emotional style As a rule, people who make decisions based on feelings and emotions: • attach great importance to personal circumstances and subjective factors; • are guided by the heart; • strive to keep good, harmonious with everyone


STYLE I have already touched on "style" as the seeming source of creativity. Working with style gives a number of products, the novelty of which is based on belonging to a new direction. But the creator of these products does not apply personal creative effort to them, but only style. This view

Regal as your style

Royal as your style The leader must learn (sometime, when needed) to behave - regally. Justifiably or not, but each of us has (and very similar) ideas about how a significant, important, majestic person with a high social


Appearance and style

Appearance and style My face is my wealth ... From vinegar - they bite, ... from mustard - they are upset, from onions - they are disingenuous, from wine - they blame, and from baking - they become kinder. What a pity that no one knows about this ... Lewis Carroll "Alice in Wonderland" You like how you turn out on

Collaborative Style

Collaboration Style “Following this style, a person actively participates in resolving the conflict and defends his interests, but at the same time tries to cooperate with his opponent. This style requires more work than other approaches to conflict,

Compromise Style

Compromise style The meaning of this style is in mutual partial concessions in order to develop a compromise solution that would suit both parties in the main. Compared to cooperation, a compromise is more superficial. You are not looking for hidden needs and interests, as in the case of

Paranoid style

paranoid style The paranoid style is much more pathological than any other style considered in this book. This is the only style that includes a psychotic loss of reality. Normal activity extremely

Hysterical style

hysterical style The modern understanding of the nature of various neuroses in most cases correlates with the nature defense mechanisms more or less specific to each neurosis. From this point of view, the picture hysterical neurosis

Cognitive style

cognitive style Moderate confabulation is characterized by impulsiveness and emotional utterances and is similar in many ways to the hysterical cognitive style (see Chapter 6). The problem of cognitive styles has not been investigated using neuropsychological methods.

Trouble Avoider

Trouble Avoider ® He is the one you ask to be with you when you want to be alone. ® He is always there for you - as long as you do not need. ® As soon as he begins to express his opinion, he immediately becomes deaf.? Avoid Trouble - Weak

Trouble Avoider

Trouble Avoider If you want to communicate with the Trouble Avoider, try to catch him first, preferably before he gets away. The first thing to apply is the method of open protest. Don't think it will hurt him, it's none of your concern. On the contrary,

understand the types of attachment • Articles on the website of the publishing house BOMBOR

  • Articles
  • May 26, 2021

We talk about three types of attachment and explain what to do if your type interferes with building relationships with others.

More interesting things below

He wants to watch TV after work, but she misses him so much. She wants noisy parties, and he likes to be alone with his thoughts. And it seems like they can't be together. But it's not. It is not necessary to part with a loved one, scandal and hurt. It is enough just to find out your type of attachment and build relationships. And the book of family therapist Annie Chen "Attachment Theory" will help with this.

Anxious type

Traits of people with an anxious type:

  • They are incredibly generous and considerate towards those they care about
  • Fear of being rejected and abandoned
  • Willingly tell others about their feelings
  • Often blame others for their own feelings, for example, "You make me feel so bad!".

The biggest fear of people with this type is to be alone. They do not feel safe in a relationship, fear that they will be betrayed and left alone. They really need the support and warmth of a partner. They quickly sink into despair and are disappointed in everything in advance.

An example of people with an anxious attachment type:

Asha was in her early twenties when she noticed a strange tendency in herself. She easily approached people and made friends, but after a few years the relationship ended because of her anger and jealousy, since the interests of friends were not always connected only with her.

Healing the Anxious Self

If you recognize yourself in the description of the anxiety type and want to change something, here are a few steps to help you do it:

  • Be patient with people
  • Remember that if someone cannot meet your needs, there is nothing wrong with that.
  • Learn to trust your partner and look for support within yourself
  • Forgive yourself for everything you have done in the past
  • Treat yourself with understanding


Avoidant traits:

  • Self-reliant and prefer to handle problems on their own
  • Do not complain or whine
  • Talk about anything but themselves
  • Often notice memory problems
  • Avoid conflicts and negative emotions.

Avoidance behavior can manifest itself in various ways: through ignoring the conflict, through denial of what is happening, or even through avoidance of reality.

There are milder reactions: the desire to please others or to be needed - up to the rejection of one's needs. Reactions can be different, the main thing is that they help a person protect himself from feelings of shame and insecurity.

An example of avoidant attachments:

Kyle has been married for sixteen years. In recent years, quarrels with his wife have become much more frequent. The wife complained that Kyle does not talk about his feelings and reacts to everything with hostility. Kyle, on the other hand, wanted his wife to be happy, but did not know what was needed for this, so every time the woman raised this topic again and again, he plunged into stress.

Healing the avoidant self

If you recognize yourself in the description of an avoidant type of attachment and he has spoiled your relationship more than once, remember - this is not your fault. These patterns of behavior were established in childhood, before you learned to make your own decisions.

Here are some steps to help build stronger relationships:

  • Accept your wants and needs
  • Learn to be more open with loved ones
  • Accept that everyone is different
  • Learn to deal with other people if you offend them.

Reliable type

Traits of people with reliable type:

  • Easily adapt to new conditions and changing circumstances
  • Believe in relationships and prioritize them
  • Appreciate working on relationships, especially if something goes wrong
  • Deal with difficulties and disagreements with confidence.

A reliable type of attachment allows a person to think clearly and adequately perceive the situation, even if a conflict arises. A person with this type does not experience stress due to closeness with other people. For people with secure attachments, connecting with others is a natural human need, a pleasant experience that they enjoy.

An example of people with secure attachments:

Last year, Tilda faced a real set of bad luck. She was laid off at work, her mother died of cancer, and a few months later her house and her husband burned down in a terrible fire. Tilda appreciates her marriage because, going through all these difficulties, her relationship with her husband has become a source of stability for her. “It was tough for both of us, but we knew we would break through eventually. I don’t even know what I would do without him, ”Tilda shared.

It is important to remember that any type of attachment can be developed. This is not an innate, but an acquired quality.

Annie Chen's book Attachment Theory will help you build relationships with family, colleagues, and friends. In it you will find exercises, practices and tests that will allow you to better understand yourself and others and start building healthy relationships.

Buy a book.

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