Interested In Someone Who Has An Avoidant Attachment Style? Dating Tips For Success

Updated April 4, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Have you ever been on a series of dates with someone, had amazing chemistry, laughed all night, and appeared to be forming a connection, only to have them ghost you? Or is your current partner's ongoing behavior best described as "hot-and-cold," and it's driving you crazy?

Getty/Luis Alvarez
Dating someone with an avoidant attachment can be challenging

The answer may lie in their attachment style. Everyone has an attachment style that influences their behavior when it comes to forming and maintaining romantic relationships. Knowing your attachment style and that of your partner can help you develop a better, more sustainable connection if both of you are willing to work together.

What are attachment styles and why do they matter?

Attachment styles are highly influenced by the bond we form with our primary caregiver in childhood, which establishes a pattern of relating to others that carries throughout our lives, including with . Attachment theory has been extensively researched since its development in the 1960s.

Our attachment system is always active, keeping track of how close and attuned our attachment figures are. When we're adults, our attachment figures shift from our parents or other trusted caregivers to our partners.

There are four main types of attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. Attachment styles aren't always cut and dry, and you might display traits of a few types. You can even switch attachment styles depending on the attachment style of your partner. Usually, however, one sticks out as the primary attachment style.

Anxious-preoccupied attachment

Anxious-preoccupied attachment develops when a person lacks consistent care in childhood. Their caregiver may have felt insecure about their worth and had difficulty being present and nurturing. They may have been overprotective, not allowing their children to freely explore, instilling a sense of fear and insecurity in their children. Or they may have responded inconsistently to the child's bids for attention and affection.

Avoidant attachment

People with avoidant attachment styles tend to have neglectful parents in some fashion, either emotionally, physically, or both. Their caregiver may have been detached, cold, and distant, never truly connecting with them. As a child, avoidant people learned that they couldn't count on anyone else to meet their needs. As such, avoidant personalities fear that getting close to someone means they'll lose their sense of self and be vulnerable to harm. Whether or not they're aware of their tendencies toward avoidance, they usually expect to be let down and hurt by their partner at some point.

  • Dismissive-Avoidant: Those with dismissive-avoidant attachment ignore and minimize their intimacy needs, favoring independence above all. Dismissive avoidants tend to have a dating history characterized by short-lived, shallow relationships.

  • Fearful-Avoidant: People with fearful-avoidant attachment are aware of their need for intimacy and may even desire it a great deal. However, they are afraid of getting close to someone, and therefore employ many of the same tactics as the dismissive-avoidant personality to maintain distance.

Avoidant attachment style: Dating advice

Dating someone with an avoidant attachment style can be difficult, especially if you have anxious-preoccupied attachment. Anxious-preoccupied and avoidant styles tend to activate each other's insecurities and may lead to a pattern known as the "pursuit-distance cycle." The more one partner tries to hold on too tightly in this cycle, the farther away the other goes.

Recognize deactivating strategies

When an avoidant personality senses that they are becoming too close to someone, they may subconsciously employ one or more deactivating strategies to regain some distance and autonomy. From the outside, this can be frustrating and hurtful for their partner. For the avoidant person, they are trying to regain a feeling of safety. Intimacy can induce the same sense of anxiety that anxious-preoccupied types feel from a distance. Here are some common deactivating strategies that avoidant personalities may employ when their security feels threatened:

  • Creating distance when things have been going well

  • Honing in on and magnifying their partner's small flaws

  • Obsessing over an idealized "one that got away," an ex, or a former crush who rejected them

  • Being unwilling to talk about problems, viewing such discussions as confrontations

  • Ignoring messages or not returning phone calls or emails

Deactivating strategies allow someone with an avoidant attachment style to push down feelings of anxiety and distress related to their relationship. However, while the expression of these emotions may be suppressed, they still exist below the surface. These unspoken feelings often present as physical symptoms such as tension headaches, digestive distress, or insomnia. 

Ilona Titova/EyeEm

Identify communication roadblocks

Both types of avoidant personalities, particularly those of the dismissive subtype, may try to avoid conversations with their partner involving relationship issues. This eventually spawns underlying conflicts that are never fully resolved since resolution would likely mean greater intimacy. If you're dating a person with an avoidant attachment style, you may notice a frequent feeling of frustration and a maddening sense of talking to a wall. If you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment style and you're with an avoidant personality, these communication barriers can trigger feelings of rejection and anxiety.

Healthy communication forms the foundation for a successful, mutually beneficial relationship. Without this type of consistent communication, it's like you and your partner will speak different languages and have difficulty making it work.

Choose activities as bonding opportunities

People with an avoidant attachment style tend to get uncomfortable when they spend a lot of alone time with their significant other, especially early on. It's easier for them to let down their guard and get out of their heads, allowing them to connect with you more comfortably if you're doing some activity together. Think of seeing a movie, going to a concert, joining a class together, or going on a hike through the woods.

This may be different from how you think of bonding if you're a candlelight-and-conversation sort of person. But it usually takes a long time for those with an avoidant attachment style to become more at ease with intimacy. Think of slowly easing them into a pool, one inch at a time, instead of jumping off the high dive.

Give them space they need

It can be very hard, especially when you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment style, to give someone you love distance. It can make you feel hurt and shut out, especially if things were going well. Avoidant personalities may pull away both when they feel intimidated by the level of intimacy and when there is a conflict to reestablish their sense of safety and autonomy.

If your avoidant partner suddenly starts doing things like not responding for a few days or making excuses not to get together, try not to take it personally or immediately assume your relationship is doomed. Please give them the distance they're seeking and focus on your own life. When they contact you again, don't confront them about their absence.

If a person with an avoidant attachment style senses that they are free to have their independence without being threatened by your relationship, they may relax enough to start closing the gap. If not, and this becomes a habitual pattern, you may need to end the relationship for your own mental and emotional health.

Know when to move on

Cultivating a successful relationship with someone who tends to be avoidant involves patience and commitment, but you can't expect to change them. You can only change your feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and expectations. That can look like confronting uncomfortable feelings and taking an honest look at their patterns and behaviors.

Dating someone with an avoidant attachment can be challenging

Since, by definition, people with avoidant personalities tend to avoid feelings and confrontations and have difficulty turning a critical eye toward their deficits, it can be hard to get them on board with change. If your partner is not willing to face their emotions or work as a team, insists there isn't a problem, minimizes your feelings, or shuts down attempts at communication, you should strongly consider whether continuing the relationship is in your best interest.

No matter how much you love your partner, you always have to love yourself first. If you've tried to make the relationship work, only to face nothing but resistance and being shut out by your partner, the decision to walk away may be the right one.

Couples therapy for attachment struggles

Attachment styles are deeply woven into our dating lives, from the way that we evaluate potential partners to whether we feel comfortable talking about our emotions. It might seem like an attachment style is an innate trait that can't be changed, but research has found this not to be the case. However, both partners need to be committed to change, even if it's difficult.

Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) is a type of couple's therapy that helps couples sort out conflict caused by clashing attachment styles. The therapist guides you and your partner to look objectively at your behavior patterns and replace negative behaviors with more positive ones.

Whether you and your partner are looking for a therapist to help strengthen or rebuild your relationship, or you want individualized counseling to move forward on your own, Regain can connect you with a licensed counselor to provide the support you're seeking. Online counseling has the unique advantage of adapting to your busy schedule. You can even attend sessions from any preferred location with a secure internet connection, eliminating the need to sit in traffic or make a long commute. Now that’s something we can all get on board with avoiding! 

It is important to note that insecure anxious or avoidant attachment styles are not mental health conditions. That said, if you are aware that your attachment style is causing problems in your romantic relationships, that is certainly an issue for which others have sought and received beneficial support. EFT, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other modes of support have been shown to be just as effective when administered online as it has been for in-person participants. One recent study, for example, sought to understand how an online relationship intervention was effective in improving communication patterns, emotional intimacy levels, and problem-solving confidence in 300 couples. Following the study’s conclusion, results yielded improvements in all of the aforementioned areas, which were maintained after a year of follow-up.

If you’re curious to learn about real people’s experiences collaborating with online therapists, you can read some of the reviews of Regain counselors below.

Counselor reviews

“Sessions with Natalie are very insightful and give practical advice on implementing new habits and changes. Be prepared to engage and be challenged to think in a different way. I know that my partner and I can already see improvements in our relationship and feel more positive about working through our issues together.”

“Austa has been wonderful thus far. She has helped my partner and I during an unimaginably difficult time... She has also guided us in communicating effectively and setting appropriate boundaries in our relationship. I was hesitant to pursue counseling at the beginning, but I truly believe that it is making a difference for our relationship. Austa is easy to talk to and she is a great listener. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a counselor.”


Confronting the negative aspects of your childhood attachment style within your romantic relationships can be challenging work. It requires introspection, coping with past hurt, and striving to change long-enduring behavioral and thought patterns. All of this is possible with the support of your partner and, should you choose to include them, a licensed online therapist. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a relationship combination involving two avoidant personalities, two anxious personalities, an avoidant and anxious personality, or a securely attached person with either an anxious or avoidant personality – you do not have to go through your life experiencing disappointment after disappointment. Reach out to a therapist at Regain today to start allowing others into your heart.

For Additional Help & Support With Your ConcernsThis website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.