What Is Avoidance Behavior? And How To Avoid It

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They say that the first step to change is awareness. That means that if you have a tendency to avoid thinking about what needs to change, then admitting that you are exhibiting avoidant behavior might be a good place to start.

Are you wondering if your loved one or if you are yourself have an avoidant style? First, you’ll need to understand what it means. Then, you’ll want to learn some of the signs. Once you pick up on them, then you can set a plan in motion to change. Remember that we are all capable of growth, no matter how much we’d like to avoid it and be comfortable.

What Is Avoidance Coping?

man stands by fog

Andrew Neel / Unsplash

Andrew Neel / Unsplash

People cope in different ways and while there’s no “right” way to cope, some ways are healthier than others. Avoidant coping is when a person goes out of their way or even changes their behavior to avoid thinking or feeling a difficult thing. This can be in the form of rebellion, like excessive drinking, or complete avoidance like staying home in bed all day.

To avoid this, we need to remind ourselves that confronting a problem will get rid of it faster, and even make it go away eventually. In fact, we will feel less stress and prevent it from happening again.

What Is Avoidant Attachement?

We all have our own attachment styles that influence the way we give, receive and behave in relationships. ​According to Attachment Theory, we form our attachment styles in our childhoods. Usually, it depends on how our parents treated us and how we were taught to experience love.

Avoidant people often weren’t shown a lot of affection, came from broken homes, or had very strict parents. They feel as though avoiding emotion is easier than being vulnerable. This can change with experience.

It’s The Fear Of Upsetting Others

couple silhouettes arguing in sunset

Eric Ward / Unsplash

Eric Ward / Unsplash

Similar to people-pleasing, which is different from a genuine desire to make people happy, avoidant people tend to act from a place of fear. They often would rather suffer themselves than risk upsetting someone. They are scared of being disliked as they are often seeking the validation of others.

They need to realize that they will never please everyone anyway, so they might as well please themselves. Doing so will make them realize that they are earning more respect for standing their ground, while simultaneously making themselves happier.

Struggling With Commitment

couple sits round campfire on the beach

Manuel Meurisse / Unsplash

Manuel Meurisse / Unsplash

Avoidant people prefer casual and short-term relationships as they are low risk and don’t require as much communication. Sometimes they will get into serious relationships, but they will avoid talking about the future or commit to any long term plans.

The commitment may be uncomfortable but there comes a point where they realize that they are tired of the chase. At that point, they need to evaluate their priorities as they often realize that it’s just as much effort trying to do it all their own.

Passive Aggressiveness Over Confrontation

two hands holding each other standing

Brook Cagle / Unsplash

Brook Cagle / Unsplash

Avoidant people end up often feeling detached from those around them, including their loved ones. They have a hard time expressing their feelings, at the fear of saying the wrong thing, and often feel misunderstood. For that reason rather than deal with confrontation, they often resort to passive-aggressive behavior instead.

One way to make sense of their thoughts is to write them down in a journal. They can even try communicating through pre-written letters as to make sure everything they want to say is already there.

Refusing To Accept Support

couple hugs in a field

Allef Vincius / Unsplash

Allef Vincius / Unsplash

While most relationships profit from having someone to lean on when life inevitably becomes hard, avoidant people don’t know how to let anyone in. They are so guarded and afraid of being vulnerable that they would rather deal with everything on their own than confide in someone and ask for support.

One way to get around this is to start by asking for small things. This will ease them into trusting that they can receive more, on a gradual level.

The Result Is A Bunch Of Mixed Signals

man and woman stand in front of striped wall

Andrik Langfield / Unsplash

Andrik Langfield / Unsplash

It’s hard to be around someone who is avoidant, as they are hard to read. You may be confused about how they feel about you. This is mostly because they are confused themselves. They may be all over you one day and then MIA the next.

Remember that during the off times, they are often simply trying not to scare themselves away. Rather than push them further away, give them time to get comfortable with the idea.

Higher Perspectives Author

Higher Perspectives Author is one of the authors writing for Higher Perspectives