This is something I have learned from the inside, having been in a relationship with someone avoidant for over 22 years (married for 18).
Attachment and intimacy are complex. We receive many imprints about relationships from our childhood. Often, the energy that creates these imprints is not the huge traumas we remember but the thousand tiny paper cuts of non-attunement along the way.
As a result of their childhood experiences with intimate relationships, avoidant people may expect their partner to ‘grow up’ if they express their needs or emotions. This is difficult when the avoidant is partnered with someone anxiously attached. An anxious partner will immediately think it is them, that they are somehow defective for having needs and deep feelings. They will wonder why they feel so much, while their avoidant partner seems so grounded and detached.
When there is too much closeness in the relationship, the avoidant subconsciously pushes their partner away to create a distance that feels safer. This is an unconscious drive to protect themselves from re-experiencing the pain of the relationship with their primary caregiver. The problem is that they ARE recreating the original pain they experienced by doing this.
Remember, this is a response to an environment. For different reasons and in different ways, they were not attuned to as a child. They learnt that they couldn’t trust relationships, that love couldn’t be trusted.
Learning to trust in relationships is a lot like a flower opening. With consistent watering, sunlight and protection, avoidants can learn to open up and trust themselves and others, one step at a time. Be gentle with yourselves if this is you, and be gentle with your partner if you see this in them.
I’ll follow up with tips to increase intimacy with your avoidant partner.
Let me know if this thread is valuable for you