Do you ever feel as if your girlfriend is afraid to love you? Do you feel as if the more you give, the more she pulls away and the only time she actually surrenders to your relationship is when she fears she’s losing you?
If this sounds familiar to you, you’re dealing with a woman with a fearful avoidant attachment style. More importantly, you are dealing with a woman who has been badly hurt in her past and is afraid of it happening again.
She may love you with a burning passion, and desire nothing more than to be with you forever, but you don’t see it because she is so busy making sure she doesn’t reveal the depth of her love, to you or to herself. Because what happens if she accepts the truth? She loses control.
Fearful avoidant people NEED control. They’re fragile: so afraid of potential pain that they won’t allow themselves the chance to experience true joy.
They never pick up a rose because they are afraid of being cut by its thorns.
Dating a fearful avoidant woman can be confusing. To some men, it’s unpredictable, damaging, and ultimately, unsustainable.
So what, should you leave her immediately if she’s showing fearful avoidant attachment styles?
If you’re searching for a yes or no answer, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but in a romantic world run by complex emotions and untraceable traumas, simple answers are a rarity. If the answer was simple, this article would end here.
The truth is, it depends. The goal of this article is to give you everything you need to dissect and understand the beast you’re dealing with. Then, to help you determine whether it is a worthwhile war to wage, or if you should leave the dragon in its cave and move on to greener pastures.
Throughout my ten plus years as a men’s coach, I’ve had the opportunity to watch firsthand as dozens of men work through relationships with fearful avoidant partners. While I’ve seen many transform into glorious, long-lasting unions, I’ve also seen over-patient men beat themselves to death against the rocky exterior of their fearful avoidant girlfriend.
What is a Fearful Avoidant Woman?
Have you ever felt afraid of getting something good because of the potential pain of losing it?
This feeling often develops when we are children: we learn the pain of watching a balloon float away into oblivion and aren’t so eager to accept another balloon in the future for fear of experiencing the same pain.
We learn that most good things in life fade away with time and we begin to wonder if it wouldn’t save us heartache to never have these good things in the first place. It’s our dream car sitting un-driven in the garage for fear of scratching the paint. It’s never asking your boss for a raise for fear of being told “no”.
Ultimately, the fearful-avoidant attachment style is being so afraid of the pain of a break-up or rejection that you never let yourself fall in love.
A fearful avoidant woman wants the connection of a romantic relationship (like everyone) but isn’t willing to commit herself fully.
Fearful avoidant attachment style is often called disorganized attachment because the behavior presented is inconsistent and impossible to predict. One second they are fawning on you with heart-felt love and affection, and the next they have turned on you.
They maintain a facade to convince you and themselves that they are in control and their feelings are completely in their own hands.
Fearful avoidant women are characterized by…
- Ambivalence: She may have mixed feelings about getting close to you, experiencing a fear of rejection or abandonment, yet desiring emotional connection.
- Difficulty trusting: Due to a fear of vulnerability and potential hurt, she may struggle to trust you fully.
- Intense emotional highs and lows: Fearful-avoidant women may experience intense emotional pendulums, swinging between a desire for closeness and a need for independence.
- Difficulty with intimacy: While desiring closeness, she may also struggle with emotional intimacy, fearing the potential negative consequences.
- Tendency to withdraw: When feeling overwhelmed or threatened, a fearful-avoidant woman may withdraw from the relationship as a way of self-protection.
At its root, this way of thinking is essentially neglecting to understand that the greatest beauty in life is found in the choice to love despite…not because.
The beauty of a relationship is that you choose it despite the pain, despite the conflict, and despite the possibility of rejection.
Entering into a relationship is the ultimate vulnerability and a fearful attachment style denies you the ability to experience this
Understanding the Trauma: What is She So Afraid of?
If you grew up with a relatively healthy idea of relationship, fearful avoidant attachment style makes no sense.
Why would someone be afraid of commitment? If you are used to being surrounded by healthy relationships, the idea seems absurd. Relationships are the best things on earth! What’s there to fear?
To understand the trauma of someone with a fearful avoidant attachment style, you must understand their history and what events have led to their guarded approach to romance.
Fearful avoidant attachment style usually starts developing in early childhood when a child first realizes that they can’t RELY on anyone but themselves. When love from parents, meant to be the most unshakeable force in a child’s life, begins to crumble or collapse altogether, children learn two things.
- NOTHING should be relied on completely.
- Something is wrong with them because even their own parents don’t love them completely.
They start to view themselves as undeserving, while at the same time desperately craving the attention they never got from their parents.
In some cases, a fearful avoidant attachment style may be entirely unrelated to upbringing, but rather the result of a neglecting past partner. Similar to an unloving parent, a neglecting partner sows seeds of distrust and begins eroding the self-esteem of a woman.
Sometimes overcoming fearful avoidance is just a matter of you learning how to assure your girlfriend of your love.
Women with fearful avoidant attachment style fear rejection more than anything. Rejection means they aren’t good enough…it means another nail in the coffin of their already low self-esteem.
A fearful-avoidant person thinks that as long as they reject you before you reject them, they’ll avoid pain and maintain control.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to understand about how fearful-avoidant attachment style works is that it’s as much about them as it is about you. It isn’t just a facade to trick you…it’s actually meant to fool them as well.
If they can convince themselves that they aren’t attached to you and that they don’t actually care for you that much, they think they can’t get hurt.
Women with fearful avoidant attachment style are fragile–they know it, but refuse to admit it to themselves.
They’ve been hurt over and over again and are afraid to find out what will happen if they get hurt one more time.
They’ll draw you in with their eagerness for connection and relationship, but then give you the cold shoulder once you begin to get “too” close. Why? Because it is only in that “too” close zone that pain can be felt.
As long as they can maintain their guise of impenetrable independence, they won’t be hurt. This is why these sorts of women often…
- prefer casual sex over intimate sex within a relationship
- shy away from defining a relationship
- take forever to say “I love you”
They can’t admit to themselves that they’re too far in to avoid pain. They try to keep one foot out the door so if things go downhill, they can say they were already going anyway.
The Great Question: To Leave or Not to Leave
And now, to the big question: should you be dating someone with a fearful avoidant attachment style?
Or should you leave her? Is it time to pack up all your pain—the neglect, sudden mood changes, and constant attack on your self-worth—and say goodbye?
Many men never let themselves ask this question. So afraid of being an unloving man or wounding their fearful avoidant partner even more, they stick in it until it’s too late.
By the time they’re out the door, they are toting with them their own load of baggage from a neglectful and abusive relationship…They bring this baggage to future relationships and the cycle continues.
At the same time, it is possible to jump the gun too early and kiss a promising relationship goodbye at the first hint of disorganized attachment—to fail to recognize that everyone comes into relationships with dangerous attachment styles. Sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing how to deal with a partner with emotional baggage.
So how do you know the difference and know what’s best for you in the end?
The answer to this question depends on three more questions:
- Is she aware of her fearful avoidant attachment style?
- What’s her trajectory? Is she improving notably?
- How is your own self-esteem? How much abuse are you willing to endure?
In some cases, the answers to these questions can be telling enough.
If she doesn’t acknowledge her blatant fearful avoidance and abuse as an issue and instead turns it on you with claims like, “you’re being dramatic”, or “you’re just insecure”, you are not in a healthy romantic relationship.
Secondly, if you feel your own mental health declining and are struggling to see her love for you through her cold exterior, it’s time to jump ship.
For a relationship with a fearful avoidant partner to be at all sustainable, you MUST see improvement.
When one-half of a relationship is undeniably the “weaker” link or more fragile, the relationship is uneven. While you may expect this to bring about a crisp, guilt-free break-up, oftentimes the “stronger” half of the relationship feels it is their job as a good partner to endure.
Throughout my years as a men’s coach, I have seen countless stronger halves (both men and women) effectively carry the “weaker” half through the relationship, with selfless empathy and the guilt of abandonment spurring them on.
This is loving, but sometimes stupid. If your relationship is so burdened by a fearful avoidant attachment style, you can drive yourself to a guilt-free death.
Everyone totes around a load of baggage wherever they go—traumatic upbringings, neglectful parents, and abusive partners litter our past with heaps of garbage. When we get in relationships, we bring some of this garbage with us and unload it onto someone else, taking a bit of their garbage on our shoulders in return.
At its core, this is what a relationship is: an agreement to be together despite the complications that come with intertwining another’s life with your own.
That said, there are some pains too great to endure, some burdens too heavy to bear, and some wrongdoings too harmful to forget. Sometimes, you can only empathize so much. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is let someone go.
This article is meant to help you determine whether your relationship, though burdened by an insecure, fearful avoidant woman, shows enough promise to continue. Or, if you are sinking a dagger into your own heart by enduring each day, ruining the possibility of healthier relationships in the future.
The answer to this question lies in the depth of her insecurity and the extent of her abuse. In her fear of neglect, rejection, and abandonment, how is she treating you? Can you feel her burning love for you through her hesitance to commit and wariness of affection? Or is there nothing more than a thorny exterior and degrading of your own person?
Ponder and answer these questions and you will have your answer to the great question. If you are feeling alone in your quest for clarity and require a shoulder to cry on or a crutch to lean on, I have something for you.
In partnership with more than a dozen of the best men’s coaches on the planet, I am putting together a group of hungry men just like yourself. Fueled by a fatigue of mediocrity and a tireless drive for more, this band of brothers is setting out to put the nice guy to bed, live with intentionality, and maximize their potential as men on this Earth.
If this sounds like a group you would like to be a part of, I invite you to join me now.