Breaking the Cycle – Letting Go of an Avoidant Partner

When you first met them, things seemed perfect. The chemistry was off the charts and you felt an intoxicating connection. They pursued you relentlessly, showering you with affection, intimacy, and promises of a future together. This love bombing phase felt incredible – you had met your soulmate.

The Avoidant Shift

But before long, the hot and cold behavior started. One day they were attentive lovers, the next they were distant, aloof, and committed to sabotaging any chance at deeper bonding. You were left feeling confused, anxious, and constantly wondering what you did wrong to cause this 180 degree shift in their behavior and attitudes toward the relationship.

If this sounds familiar, you may have been dating someone with an avoidant attachment style.

The Avoidant Mentality

Avoidant individuals have a deep-rooted fear of intimacy and closeness stemming from early childhood experiences and unmet emotional needs. Though their intense initial interest felt very real, their insecure attachment styles kicked in the moment things started getting too close. Committed relationships can feel smothering or trapping to an avoidant.

The Push-Pull Dynamic

This results in a toxic on-and-off relationship cycle filled with constant push and pull. Just when you think you can’t take the hot and cold any longer, they reel you back in with sweet words, promises, and just enough breadcrumbs of affection and pseudo-commitment. But it’s only a matter of time before their fears are re-triggered, and the distancing, negativity, canceling plans, and silent treatment behaviors start again.

My Personal Experience

I dated an avoidant for two years and it put me through the emotional wringer. There were periods when I was deliriously happy and thought we’d spend our lives together. His words and actions were so convincing during those hot phases.

Then his avoidant mentality and behaviors would kick into high gear. He would create distance, pick fights over nothing, cancel plans, or simply go AWOL without communicating for weeks at a time. I was left feeling rejected, anxious, and constantly wondering what I did wrong to cause this deactivating. Of course, there was nothing I could do – his issues ran much deeper than typical relationship challenges or disagreements.

With avoidants, you can spend years trying to “fix” them, be more accommodating, compromise your own needs and boundaries, only to be met with the same damn cyclical behaviors over and over. I finally realized that by staying and contorting myself, I was just enabling and perpetuating an unhealthy, one-sided dynamic.

The decision to leave was agonizing. A part of me hoped that if I was patient enough, put in enough effort, and showed them even more love and acceptance, they would “get there” and we could have a normal, committed relationship. I wanted to be The One who finally broke through to them. But of course, that never happened and never would.

The Truth About Avoidants

You cannot self-actualize someone out of their avoidant attachment style and fears. Those core issues need to be unpacked and unraveled through their own self-work, boundaries, and vulnerability. Meanwhile, you’re left doing endless emotional labor and accommodation with little in return.

Leaving for Self-Preservation

Letting go of someone you love is always painful. But staying in an on-and-off avoidant relationship will damage your self-esteem, confidence, and emotional well-being even more in the long run. At a certain point, you have to value yourself enough to break the cycle for good.

If you’re struggling to get over an avoidant ex, be kind to yourself and allow all the feelings to flow through you. The intense highs of make-up sex and romantic gestures make the comedowns and devaluations that much more brutal. Remind yourself that their limitations aren’t your shortcomings or fault. With time, self-care, and boundaries, you can heal.

Most importantly, get crystal clear on the patterns to avoid finding yourself in another situation with someone who is emotionally unavailable. Work on any insecurities that caused you to repeatedly pursue crumbs of affection rather than substantive, consistent love and partnership. When the right person comes along – someone equally available, invested, and committed – you’ll be ready.




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