Have you ever met someone who you thought was totally into you — attentive, charming, loving, and romantic — who then turns stone-cold for no reason? Maybe you went into a panic, trying extra hard to please them, but only made yourself crazy in the process. Sound familiar? Congratulations. You’ve just been diagnosed with love withdrawal syndrome.
If you’re going through love withdrawal, chances are, your partner is a “love avoidant.” You may also be a love addict.
The worst scenario for a love addict is to find themselves with a love avoidant partner. So today, we’re pulling back the curtain to see how it all works. How does a love avoidant attract a love addict, and how do you spot love avoidance in your partner?
How Love Avoidants Push You Into Love Withdrawal
As a love addict, you most likely have severe abandonment issues. You yearn for a positive partner who can continually give you the attention and love you desperately needed as a child.
Enter, the love avoidant.
As the folks at PsychCentral describe, the love avoidant seems perfect at first. She deeply cares for you. You guys have an immediate connection. She prioritizes you in her life, spending a ton of time with you. She pays attention to your moods and even anticipates what you want. Your inner child is filled with glee.
That is, until the bottom drops out. Suddenly, she’s cold and distancing. She may even seem annoyed in your presence. She lets her work, friends, or other obligations prevent her from seeing you, even though she didn’t before.
You’re super confused. This is especially painful for a love addict. You start to wonder what you did wrong, and try everything you can to get that “magic” feeling back. The “highs” you experienced in the relationship turn into intense lows. You’re in full-on love withdrawal and don’t know what to do.
It’s important for love addicts to know that no partner can give you the constant love and approval that you seek. You are trying to fill a hole from childhood, but ironically, you chose someone (a love avoidant) who instead mimics the parent who didn’t love you enough.
Understanding the Love Avoidant
So what’s the love avoidant’s deal?
Love avoidants are uncomfortable with intimacy and emotional connections because they (like you, the love addict!) have an underlying fear of abandonment, rejection, and shame. But as Love Addiction Help points out, they deal with it differently.
When someone gets too close to the love avoidant emotionally, they pull back, run away, act out, or find another way to sabotage the relationship. They’re afraid that if they acknowledge their own needs and vulnerability, their partner will push them away. Or, they’re scared their partner will control them. Most likely, their parents either rejected or smothered them emotionally when they were younger.
The love avoidant’s sabotage attempts quickly become a problem. This is because intimacy is a core component of a stable, healthy, and happy relationship. Intimacy involves allowing someone to see the “real you” — your true thoughts and emotions. The problem is, a love avoidant will put up walls so thick that it makes intimate connection impossible. Eventually, you only get brief glimpses of their true nature.
Dating a Love Avoidant
So now, as the love addict partner, you’re in love withdrawal mode. You and your partner’s behavior becomes toxic. You don’t quite know why, but she seems to be slowly fading away. This is accurate because love avoidants use distancing strategies to sabotage things. According to Love Addiction Help, she may:
- Shift her attention outside of the relationship (not necessarily to another guy but anything, like partying, hobbies, work, her family, or even incessant shopping on her phone)
- Avoid saying “I love you”
- Stop wanting sex, or even physical closeness like holding hands
- Walk at a physical distance from you in public (in front or behind you)
- Start being condescending, judgmental, lies, becomes passive-aggressive, makes threats, or otherwise acts negatively to sabotage closeness
- Complains about things that can never really be resolved
- Say she’s not ready for a commitment
Distancing strategies like this can make intimacy very difficult. But, being the love addict you are, you are likely desperate to make it work — so you drive yourself nuts trying to “up your game” to keep her interested. This is exhausting… and it’s what love withdrawal feels like.
The love avoidant personality stems from what is called an “insecure” attachment style. For more on attachment style, I suggest you read the book Attached or check out this article. In the meantime, just know that the attachment style you developed as a child can dictate your behavior in relationships later. If your attachment style is unhealthy, you have an insecure style. “Fearful-avoidant” is one of the most common attachment styles of love avoidant personalities.
So how did fearful-avoidants become the way they are? Basically, their parents didn’t bond with them, so they are afraid of bonding with others, even though they want to. They might even voluntarily get into romantic relationships, only to withdraw later.
Signs of a fearful-avoidant are very similar to other love avoidants, but according to Healthline may especially include:
- Both wanting a relationship and not wanting it
- Picking fights or finding fault in their partner so they have an excuse to end the relationship
Having stormy, dramatic relationships
- Preferring casual sex, because it allows them to get somewhat close without the intimacy they fear
- Shutting down communication rapidly when they feel pushed by their partner in any way
Whether your partner is simply love avoidant or also has a fearful-avoidant attachment style, the underlying pattern of avoiding intimacy is the same. You’ll need to stop sweeping this under the rug if you want to get to a better place together.
Love avoidants often lean into an addiction as a way to escape an intimate relationship. Their addiction of choice can either help them distance from an existing partner or keep them from feeling they need one in the first place.
Any addiction will do — from gambling, to exercise, to being a workaholic. But one of the most common is substance addiction (either alcohol or drugs). In fact, according to one study cited by Recovery.org, the love avoidant partner in a relationship is more likely to abuse substances than their partner, assuming their partner has a secure attachment style.
And to make things even weirder, love avoidants can be love addicts outside their relationship! They might obsess over someone else as a way to avoid being intimate with you. And they’ll go into love withdrawal if that other person ever leaves them.
Love Avoidants are sometimes narcissistic. They’re lovely and charming in public and then nasty behind closed doors. They think everything is about them and won’t ever consider your needs.
Even if they’re not a full-blown narcissist, they may exhibit some of the traits, such as a sense of entitlement. They may even fly into a rage and verbally attack you if you don’t give them what they want. Narcissists lack empathy and will never take responsibility for their own mistakes. Easily threatened, they often try to protect their reputation with grandiose claims or statements about themselves.
Resistance to Professional Help
It can be really hard to get a love avoidant to seek help, either as a couple or even by themselves. That’s because they resist change. They don’t want to change the status quo because it helps them maintain their distance and feel in control. Of course, sharing their feelings is very scary for love avoidants, so the idea of opening up and being vulnerable with a therapist won’t likely interest them. So if you’re thinking of taking your love avoidant to counseling… good luck.
Also, if you do manage to get them to seek help, they might “show up” only to bring their same emotional walls with them. They may also turn the conversation around and blame you for the state of the relationship so they don’t have to be accountable. Be prepared for this.
Healing from Love Withdrawal
One very important thing to remember about love avoidants is that their personality in relationships didn’t start with you. They were already the way they were when you met them. Often, love addicts will blame themselves for not doing the “right things” to keep someone’s love, when actually, you chose a really hard personality to be with — maybe subconsciously on purpose — so you can replay old childhood wounds.
There is no easy answer to making things work with a love avoidant partner or healing love withdrawal syndrome. Your partner needs to see the truth about themselves and want to change. Then, they need to take action to do so. You may not want to hear this, but you can’t “inspire” them to do it, either. It’s a wait-and-see game.
What If the Love Avoidant Is You?
So what if you’ve just realized that YOU could be love avoidant?
Well, just seeing the pattern in yourself means there’s hope. Like I said earlier, the way out of love avoidance starts with awareness. You won’t have the chance to heal until you can face yourself as you are, and work through your own issues.
Also, to paraphrase the words of a brilliant writer, once you are open to looking at your patterns, you will likely attract a partner who is willing to work with you. Maybe she has already come into your life. If so, pay attention.
Instead of packing her bags after the first sign of rejection from you, she will respond with both detachment and love. Rather than taking your sabotage attempts seriously, she’ll keep gently trying to pry your heart open — and maybe you’ll let her.
If you do, the world will be your oyster. You’ll discover depths of love you never even considered. You will risk being vulnerable, if only out of curiosity. And she’ll prove to you that love doesn’t have to hurt; that you can share without being rejected or shamed.
Love Withdrawal: Wrap-Up
Each and every one of us deserves love. And life is short. We don’t really have forever to find our forever person. So if you’re experiencing love withdrawal or otherwise dealing with love avoidance, start making changes now.
Let this article be your first step on your journey to healing. You can also find many other resources to help you. To figure out if your partner could be love avoidant, follow up with this test. It’ll take you less than 10 minutes and can give you a quick read on where things stand with your partner.
If you are dealing with a love avoidant partner, my heart goes out to you. I know the pain and frustration you go through, as well as the aching love addiction on your part. At the same time, if you are the love avoidant partner, please know that you are also just as worthy of love. This article is in no way an indictment. Love addicts and love avoidants just tend to find each other. Once we can find mutual understanding, things can transform for the better.
Sometimes it’s hard to see these patterns, though. You may have an inkling that something’s not quite right with your relationship but not be able to figure out what. Or, maybe you read this and resonated with everything. Either way, I can help.
I’ve designed my coaching programs to cut through the fog and get to the truth of what’s holding you back from your best relationship. Feel free to schedule a one-on-one intro session with me to find out how we can work together to make your dating life more fulfilling. From group programs to one-on-one coaching and personal matchmaking, we can definitely find just the right approach to take you out of love withdrawal (or avoidance) and bring true love right to your doorstep.