Being in a relationship with an avoidant partner can be super challenging due to their attachment style they developed during their formative years with their caregivers. They often grow up in family households where one parent or caregiver was absent, neglectful, or rule driven which leads to them developing emotional distance from others to protect themselves from being hurt or let down.
This leads to avoidant individuals having difficulty with communication in their relationships and tend to struggle with intimacy when sharing their feelings or being vulnerable. It can leave their partners feeling undervalued, frustrated, and hurt when experiencing a disconnect or being pushed away when asking them to meet their emotional needs. However, with patience, understanding, and healthy relationship strategies, it is possible to foster a deeper sense of connection and increase intimacy with an avoidant partner.
Here are 13 Effective Ways to Build Intimacy with an Avoidant Partner:
1. Create a Safe Space for Communication:
Establish an environment where your partner feels safe expressing their thoughts and feelings. Encourage open and honest communication by actively listening, validating their emotions, and responding with empathy.
Keep in mind they may have different values or viewpoints than you, but it doesn’t make either perspective right or wrong. Try to avoid judgment or criticism, as this can push them further away knowing they struggle being vulnerable in the first place.
2. Respect Their Need for Space and Independence:
An avoidant partner often values their personal space and independence, which can come from humiliation, shame, embarrassment, or anxiousness. Respecting their alone time can help them meet their need for comfort, so they are more responsive to your needs and requests.
This shows that you understand and appreciate their need for independence, which can help them feel more secure in the relationship. It also enables them to feel accepted which can help conversations flow with ease.
3. Build Trust Through Daily Touches:
Trust is essential in any relationship, especially with an avoidant partner. Be consistent, reliable, and follow through on your commitments so they trust you have their best interest.
Avoidant individuals are often wary of depending on others, so demonstrating trustworthiness is crucial for them to feel secure and open up emotionally.
4. Rephrase Complaints By Setting Boundaries:
Asking your partner to work with you will help you get more out of the conversation versus telling them to stop doing something that bothers you. They often feel controlled and will react poorly. It's better to set a relationship boundary to keep things mutually respectful and help the relationship evolve in unity.
Example: I feel upset when blamed for our relationship differences. I value mutual respect. How can we work on listening to each other to find a middle ground?
5. Do Not Internalize Their Rejections:
Even though it can be painful when your partner denies your emotional, physical, or sexual needs, try to pause and remind yourself it’s not about you. Instead, encourage emotional expression and take personal space to take care of you.
Implement daily self-care and self-love exercises so you can maintain your self-worth and value despite their hurtful behaviors so you are less reactive to their avoidant tendencies. This will help you keep your internal power and confidence to avoid going down the rabbit hole.
6. Engage in Shared Activities:
Participate in activities that you both enjoy as this will want them to spend more time with you. Engaging in shared interests helps create positive experiences and builds deeper connection, opening the door for emotional intimacy.
Find activities that allow for teamwork, cooperation, and shared goals, as these can foster a sense of togetherness. And definitely, avoid activities that create competitiveness as it’s not about who’s better and will only drive a bigger wedge between the two of you.
7. Encourage Self-Reflection and Self-Awareness:
An avoidant partner can struggle with self-awareness and understanding their own emotions. Encourage self-reflection by asking Discovery Questions, as this helps them think about their choices and behaviors without you trying to correct them.
Example: How come you feel that way? How come we can’t go a date tonight? When you say mean things, how does that support our relationship? What would help make you feel heard? This can help them explore their feelings and increase their capacity for emotional intimacy.
8. Be Mindful of Attachment Triggers:
Understand that certain situations or behaviors can trigger your partner's avoidant tendencies. These triggers can vary from person to person, so pay attention to their reactions and learn what makes them uncomfortable or become defensive.
Being mindful of these triggers can help you navigate potentially challenging situations with sensitivity and know how to show greater empathy when addressing relationship issues or disconnect.
9. Communicate Calmly and Constructively:
It’s so important to address similarities and differences in a calm and constructive way or otherwise they are bound to shut down or flip the script on you. If your partner is emotionally heightened, call a timeout to collect yourselves and revisit the topic of conversation when you can be respectful and amicable.
Most of the conflict is due to tone of voice and this will prevent the two of you from resolving your differences and staying a unified team. It’s much easier to build emotional intimacy when you can actively listen to each other and reflect on how to find alignment.
10. Celebrate Small Steps:
Acknowledge and appreciate even the smallest steps your partner takes towards emotional closeness. Celebrate their efforts to be vulnerable and express their feelings as you listen to meet their needs in return. Positive reinforcement can induce progress and encourage further growth by connecting as a couple.
While it may seem like you have to “pamper” or “validate” their needs, at the same time this is so they want to spend time with you and prioritize the relationship.
11. Seek Couples Coaching:
Consider seeking professional help through couples coaching. A skilled relationship coach can provide guidance and help both partners understand each other's needs and attachment styles. Coaching can offer valuable tools and techniques to enhance emotional connection and intimacy while overcoming differences that stand in the way.
Each partner will become more aware of how they may trigger each other and ways they can seek support during times of discord. By learning to work better together, they can establish healthy boundaries and implement relationship skills that enhance a deeper emotional bond.
12. Use “I” Statements:
Taking ownership for how you feel can do wonders for the connection. If you state “you” statements, such as “You are so disrespectful and you need to prioritize our relationship if this is going to work.” They are more than likely to become defensive or withdrawn in the relationship.
Instead try, “I feel disrespected and unimportant when our relationship isn’t a priority. Can we find time to prioritize our relationship outside of work and friends?”
13. Practice Self-Care And Independence:
Lastly, don't neglect your own needs for emotional intimacy and personal interests. Taking care of yourself helps you show up as a more grounded and compassionate partner, while maintaining your high value. Nurture your own well-being and seek support from friends, family, or a coach if needed to keep you moving forward.
Being independent shows you are worthy of a high-value partner and having something to offer, but aren’t afraid to speak up when something isn’t working based on your standard and values.
Overall, building intimacy with an avoidant partner requires patience, understanding, and a willingness to create a safe and supportive environment. By practicing effective communication, setting boundaries, and fostering trust, you can gradually increase emotional connection and intimacy in your relationship. Remember, it's a journey that requires effort from both partners, but the rewards of a deeper and more fulfilling connection are well worth it.