Three years ago, I was heartbroken after (yet again) chasing someone avoidant who didn’t want to date me (but was going along for the ride because I tried so hard and made it so easy for him–more on that below). I was doing all the work in the relationship and it still wasn’t enough, and he broke up with me after I said “I love you” and scared his avoidant self too much. I googled “how to date someone avoidant” and was flummoxed when there weren’t really any results, so I wrote a blog post on the subject that’s my most-visited post ever. On one hand, that’s unfortunate, because that means other people are also chasing avoidant people (HUGS TO YOU), but I’m also glad I can shed a tiny bit of light on it, and if I can heal and grow and improve, so can you!
During quarantine, I’ve been on a self-help YouTube kick and am watching Lisa A. Romano’s videos*, and she has one about the anxious/avoidant dynamic (she calls it needy/avoidant):
Summary: the anxiously attached person chases the avoidant person, and when they finally stop, the avoidant comes around, and the anxious person thinks, “They finally love me!” But the avoidant can’t stand intimacy and will distance themselves again and push away the anxious person. It’s a really painful cycle.
The anxious person spends SO MUCH time/energy trying to meet all the avoidant’s needs and trying to prove s/he’s worthy of love. Some people also call this “overfunctioning” — when you’re more attuned to others’ needs than your own (and out of anxiety, try to take care of everyone else except yourself. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work. You get resentful and your needs aren’t met). We anxiously attached people are hyper-sensitive to others’ needs, because in childhood, that’s how we got love or attention. We weren’t taught to pay attention to our own needs and meet them first, especially in religious households that called that “selfish.”
For me, anxious attachment looked like…
- Doing all the initiating
- Planning dates
- Making plans
- Saying “I love you” first
- Wanting to define the relationship
- Listening for WAY too long about people’s exes (now I know to say, “I’m not your therapist!”)
- Spending way more time on the other person’s hobbies, fave TV shows, interests, etc. when we were together (and very little on mine–nowhere near an even balance)
All the avoidant person had to do was SHOW UP! He seriously just had to be alive and say “Yeah, that sounds good, see you then.” I made it WAY TOO EASY–not that relationships should be hard, but both people should put in ROUGHLY similar amounts of effort. I had such low self-esteem that I was putting up with crumbs. We all deserve more than crumbs and should not have to beg to get love or attention!
If (like me) you tend to me anxiously attached or “needy,” it’s not our fault! Repeat, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. Our childhoods made our brain chemistry this way due to one or both parents not giving us the unconditional love we needed. But as adults, we CAN take care of ourselves and prioritize ourselves!
WE ARE ENOUGH. We can find validation on our own, not through others. It’s safe for us to be ourselves. We can stop trying and striving to prove we’re worthy of love. WE ALREADY ARE WORTHY OF LOVE, just the way we are!
You deserve someone:
- Who communicates (their needs, how they feel about you, whether they’re looking for a serious relationship right now or just want something casual, etc.)
- Who makes you feel loved and seen
- Who doesn’t make you wonder how they feel about you
- Who consistently treats you with love, kindness, and respect
- Who works on your relationship and protects/defends it
- Who shows interest in you and your life, values, goals, etc.
Those things aren’t ridiculous! That’s totally reasonable!
It hurts, but if someone isn’t putting in the effort to be with you and meet you (roughly) halfway, they don’t deserve your precious time and energy.
It’s way better to be alone and work on pursuing YOUR dreams and goals and improving YOURSELF than being with someone who constantly makes you question whether they love you. The anxiety isn’t worth it.
You deserve to be cherished. ❤
*I’m not sure how I feel about her whole “The Secret”/manifestation/law of attraction stuff, but she has some good videos about stopping being a people-pleaser and avoiding toxic narcissists.