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Help for men to relate

Help for men (ie avoidant insecure) so partners will love them.

Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history
that man can never learn anything from history.
George Bernard Shaw

We must learn from history if we are to have satisfying relationships, and attachment theory gives us pointers about how to do that. Couples are drawn into relationship with each other because of differences in personality types, and then those same characteristics can lead to seemingly endless conflict and disagreements. What is all this about? What can we do to get on with a person whose behaviours bother us and which we now dislike? Is there any hope we could ever get on? This article deals with the ‘avoidant’ style of relating, the most common relating style that men resort to under relationship distress. However, some women also have this attachment pattern or a variant of it.

‘Avoidant Insecure’ Personality Type

“My strength is my common sense, rational thinking, and ability to get things done”


You are an ‘avoidant’ if you find yourself running away from conflict – or more accurately, the intense emotional upheaval that comes with conflict. Although most avoidants will simply leave the room, go to a quiet place, or stay late at work, others will self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, gambling, over-eating or any other activity that masks unpleasant feelings or generates more appealing good alternative feelings. More often men than women, avoidants will also tend to spend their lives focusing on achieving, working, or in some way attending to tasks at the expense of relating – which will often have them on a different page to their partners. Although you will enjoy relating, you will tend to take your relationships somewhat for granted, and for that reason risk losing them. Once aware of what you can easily slip into doing out of habit and/or programming, you can then decide to make wiser choices.

  1. Avoidants love to focus on tasks, and get a lot of pleasure out of accomplishing these. If someone were to interrupt you whilst at work, you would very probably be annoyed or at least somewhat frustrated (most avoidants are male) because your focus on ‘doing’ will have been interrupted. It is a strength to be good at and focused on completing tasks, but your relationships will matter more in the long run and so it may pay to consider letting go of tasks somewhat and turn your attention to those you most care about.

  2. While avoidants may be intensely conversational during courtship, this may soon tail off. You are probably not a big talker, especially about your feelings, although you can push yourself to engage socially. However, you might well run out of steam whilst chatting – earlier rather than later. During courting and the honeymoon period you may have been an excellent communicator (when the feelings for your partner were positive and strong) but this could give way to minimal talking once ‘real’ life resumes. As a new relationship progresses, your partner may be mystified as to why this once-passionate talker now seems so unengaging. The truth is, avoidants aren’t big on emotional or social connection, so they don’t as a rule get caught up in long passionate or intimate discussions. The exception is when rational ideas are being exchanged. However, you can learn to stay engaged by not trying to solve the other person’s emotional drama. Curious listening will do more for your relationship than anything else.

  3. Anxious insecure personality types may be difficult for you to understand or get on with. That is until you appreciate and work with each other’s personality differences. Differences are OK and a factor that brought you together in the first place. While neither you nor the anxious person can change your underlying personality traits, you can each choose new ways of behaving that bridges gaps and works with the differences. You will need a down to earth sensible rational discussion (where no-one is being emotional) about this in order to know how to proceed in future.

  4. If you are passionate about anything, yu will probably be able to hold the floor for hours arguing a defence of your opinion. You probably approach the world from a perspective of reason, logic, and problem-solving and may struggle to understand why people get so emotional.Whenever there is an argument, you can, and usually will, advance the reasons behind your comments, behaviour or viewpoints. It can be particularly frustrating for you when your partner reacts emotionally to a viewpoint, and then doesn’t want to listen to either a justification or clarification that you are so keen to offer. Your strength lies in being logical, but remember that relationships require attunement to feelings also, no matter whether they are yours or your partner’s.

  5. Avoiding your own feelings/emotions, and especially those of others expressed during conflict, has probably been a life-long pattern for you. Of course you do have feelings, but may well think that feelings are just annoying and shouldn’t be given too much attention. You are unlikely to have noticed that the world is a collection of feelings, and that when these are felt your style tends to override them with logic. This is a disaster when it comes to relationships, because people relate according to what feels good, and shy away from what doesn’t. Feelings, then, are a barometer for what is happening in a relationship, and only by taking notice of them can a relationship get back on track. Probably key feelings are shame, fear of failure, inadequacy, despondency, defensiveness, pressure to perform or succeed and hurt. You most likely get angry when your frustration or pressure to complete a task or support others reaches a crescendo, or your partner seems ‘illogical’ or ‘nagging’.

  6. Having things sorted and well organised tends to matter more to you than having a happy  partner. Thus, your type can tend towards being rather controlling or strong on who should be doing what. You may well get concerned when ducks are not lined up as they should be, and can ride roughshod over those who seem to be lax , are more concerned about talking things through, or wish you to hear their viewpoint. Your strength is usually in being organised (in some ways but not necessarily all ways), but you have to ask yourself what price you may pay in your relationships when being sorted, and being ‘right’, persists as a priority. Consider allowing more disorder if harmony is a consequential benefit. Being mister ‘right’ never helped any relationship.

  7. Avoidants can seem hard, uncaring and unfeeling when they are resistant and defensive. Your type of person can pull back, get very logical, and easily lose your empathy and compassion. This can dig you into a deeper hole when it comes to relating. Your partner may be left feeling even more alone, ignored, unloved, uncared for and initially upset and ultimately angry. The way forward is to stay engaged and as open hearted as possible. Come back as soon as possible from being resistant or defensive, recognise that you’re in no danger of being emotionally overwhelmed really, and try to connect with warmth, touch or caring and loving gestures. Your challenge is to connect warm-heartedly and empathically with your upset partner.

  8. Avoidants can take their partners for granted, or overlook the worth of connection. Your partner will feel hurt, and possibly eventually angry, if this is what you’re doing. Many avoidants simply don’t understand that their partner needs to feel loved, not just be loved. Distracted by tasks or some other form of accomplishment or busy-ness, avoidants can seem to forget why it is they’re even in a relationship. Many however are excellent at relating warmly and affectionately to their children, but overlook the need to treat their partner in a similar way, despite the importance of connection to a loved one. Avoidants must learn the love languages of their mate, and connect using them. Otherwise, their partners will only feel empty, lonely, insignificant or the distinct lack of enjoyment being in this relationship with you.

  9. Don’t allow tasks to rule your life. Avoidants love solving problems and addressing difficulties by using common sense and sensible ideas to find a better way. This task focused approach however works less well for the anxious insecure personality who seeks focus on engagement, support, understanding, and empathy from their partner. Avoidants, seeking to do their best, tend to overlook the benefits of simply connecting with their beloveds on an emotional level. This, after all, is why most anxious insecure connectors are even in a relationship at all. Without this emotional support and empathy, relationship tends to have little meaning for them.

  10. Don’t allow yourself to withdraw when engagement will help heal any rifts. Withdrawers (avoidants and dismissives) have grown up prioritising self-protection in their relationships. They want to put distance between themselves and emotional intensity in their partner, especially anger. However, their partner is likely getting angry because of this unwillingness to stay engaged, not realising that their avoidant partner finds anger impossible to deal with, especially because of its shaming potential. Avoidants must realise that this anger seeks connection, albeit a self-sabotaging way to communicate that need. If avoidants can express a willingness to engage once their partner has settled down, then the anxious insecure person may be able to stay calm enough for connection to succeed. Engagement whenever possible during a disagreement may be enough to calm your partner.

  11. Giving up fixing the problems of others and just listening to them is a ‘must’ for avoidants. Because they are so task focused, this personality style naturally tries to fix concerns their partners have. More often than not, anxious or anxious/avoidant insecure partners are not wanting their problems to be fixed. They may just want their feelings to be heard, understood and empathised with. Avoidants can turn their fixing skills to fixing through quality listening, especially to how their partner is feeling, and how they might want to be supported. Note that your partner probably feels a lot of hurt, sadness, anxiety about connection, fear for the relationship, and fearful of your seeming disinterest in them.

  12. Most avoidants can learn to listen both to their own feelings and those of their partner. It’s just that this skill is usually somewhat unpractised. If your partner is wanting their feelings to be heard, reflected and taken seriously, then reflective listening will make a big difference to the relationship. But this might seem something of a challenge and it may require practice to transform from being an emotional runner to an emotional stayer and listener. When avoidants come to appreciate the pivotal role of feelings in a relationship, they can start to work with them. Most partners of avoidants will appreciate you talking about yourself and what’s going on in your world, especially how you feel about your life, about them, and about being with them.

  13. Your partner will want to be heard more than anything else. Allowing your partner to be heard and taking steps to hear your partner’s emotional process is crucial for a conflict free relationship. Your partner is unlikely to be damaged or needing to be fixed just because of emotional reactions. The anxious insecure style views their world through their feelings, and usually wants these to be heard and taken seriously. This style usually settles down emotionally when heard and genuinely connected with empathically. If you find yourself reacting to these emotions, remind yourself that your partner’s reactivity has its roots in childhood. Your current interactions are just triggering these.

  14. Know that avoidants want quality, meaningful, heart-felt relationships, but often don’t realize this until they no longer have one. Never let tasks, work and other distractions dominate your life. Deep down you want to love and be loved, nurture and be nurtured. Make sure you bring balance to your life so that your primary relationship is given the time it needs. You are not likely to be happier without a partner whom you can love and be loved by. On your deathbed, one more day of quality relating would mean more to you than one more day of accomplishments.

  15. Avoidants have a high need for ‘alone’ time. We all have personal needs which we must attend to, and high amongst these for this personality type is the need for time out, time alone. This means down time, exercise time, relaxing time, hobby time, and so on. If you don’t get enough alone time, you may feel that the relationship is overwhelming and swallowing you up. Talk to your partner about how to balance alone time, relationship time, family time and work time. Don’t let alone time dominate though to the point that your partner feels like a widow (er). Your partner is with you so that you can do quality things together. Don’t take them for granted – your partner will not be enjoying being with you if there is not enough of you in the relationship. Seek balance.

  16. In order to come back from your cave after a time of feeling defensive, resistant, pressured, inadequate, angry or stuck, undertake an activity that lifts your feelings. Activities like walking may help, but you may still find yourself ruminating about what went wrong with your partner. Try an activity such as listening to uplifting music, reading a good book, or looking at a TV program that moves you. It must be something that changes a down mood to an uplifting mood. Then you will be in a better space to talk with your partner. Don’t try talking if either of you are still reactive, but don’t indulge in lots of time wallowing in your cave either. Both your partner and your relationship require quality connection time, and healing chats if there have been meltdowns. Remember – just listen to where your partner is at, as well as express where things are at for you.

  17. Avoidants tend to back themselves, which partners can find intimidating. Because avoidants and dismissives are usually confident about their viewpoint, and may state it quite powerfully, this can overwhelm their partners who can feel dominated, controlled or even spoken down to by this confident, reasoned, logical style. Some avoidants in fact consider their viewpoint as superior to that of their partner, inadvertently leaving their anxious insecure partners feeling disempowered, over-ridden, squashed, or minimised. Your partner cannot survive in an environment where they feel squashed or controlled. Something must give. Ensure that your partner is heard, especially how they feel about subjects that matter to them. Be aware that they may find you intimidating, so ensure you make every effort to listen to and take seriously their viewpoint and their emotions/feelings.

  18. Discuss and meet those needs that will help you both avoid afflictive emotional states. Reflect on what it is in your relationship that is not working for you, and when you’re feeling resourceful, take steps to let your partner know what it is you were wanting that didn’t happen when you got upset. Allow time to tune in to your needs, wants and preferences, and take time to practice communicating these constructively. Withdrawing for long periods, stonewalling, criticizing, ignoring or minimizing the desire of your partner to make up and move forward constructively will be disastrous for the survival of your relationship.

  19. Attend to any violent or abusive behaviours immediately. A word of warning. Some avoidants and dismissives can easily slide into power games. These might involve angry outbursts, short or long term bouts of violence, or other controlling, abusive, manipulative or coercive behaviours. While this may be the behaviour of a minority, it is behaviour that will sabotage any relationship. Few relationships survive such behaviours. Address these ASAP and get support to stop them – you will not be likely to succeed in a relationship with anyone if you allow these childhood learned abusive patterns expression in your adult life.

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