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Dating a Fearful Avoidant


Reading time:

8 min


Published on:

Thu May 16 2024


Last updated:

Tue May 21 2024


Written by:

The Personal Development School

Dating a fearful avoidant can be exhilarating and downright confusing. 


Because you find yourself entangled with someone who seems to push you away just as much as they pull you in. 

The fearful avoidant attachment style, stemming from early childhood experiences (such as childhood trauma), can present unique challenges in romantic relationships. 

Understanding the signs and dynamics of this insecure attachment style can shed light on navigating the rollercoaster of love with them.

The Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style & The Signs

Around 2% of us are fearful avoidants. 

A person with a fearful avoidant attachment style (also known as a disorganized attachment style) carries traits from both the anxious and the avoidant (like the dismissive-avoidant).

Essentially, they want emotional closeness and connection, yet fear it. 

They are desperate to be loved but terrified to be seen. When dating, they tend to express love and affection quickly but withdraw as soon as commitment comes up for discussion. 

Regarding interpersonal relationships, the amount of texting/engagement from a fearful avoidant during dating may be the most unpredictable of all attachment styles since it’s highly dependent on their current emotional state.

This could be impacted by job stress or family issues that often make them go "MIA", seeing them withdraw and focus on themselves. 

Furthermore, fearful avoidants are the most likely to engage in hot/cold behavior from fear of commitment or emotional stress in other areas of life, which can confuse potential partners.

The biggest fear of the fearful avoidant is their core wound of "being abandoned, rejected, or betrayed". 

They have developed the opposite coping strategy than anxiously attached people: rather than chasing, they run away when feeling emotional distance from their partner – abandon to avoid being abandoned.

People with a fearful avoidant style are used to people-pleasing and have poor boundaries. Unlike dismissive avoidants, they equate a secure relationship equal to codependency.

They feel the heaviness of being responsible for another person’s feelings and the guilt and shame if they “fail,” – so it’s easier to stay away from easy intimacy. Vulnerability feels scary because of the fear of being rejected if they express their true self.

To summarize the signs of a fearful avoidant:

Hot-and-Cold Behavior: Fearful avoidants can switch between intense intimacy and sudden withdrawal, leaving their partners feeling bewildered and insecure.

Fear of Intimacy: Despite longing for connection, fearful avoidants may sabotage stable relationships when they feel too close to someone, fearing vulnerability and potential rejection.

Difficulty Trusting: Past betrayals or abandonment can lead to a deep-seated mistrust of others, making it challenging for fearful avoidants to fully open up or rely on their partners.

Emotional Unpredictability: Mood swings and emotional volatility are common traits, as fearful avoidants struggle to regulate their emotions and often feel overwhelmed by them.

Now that we have a foundation of what to look for when dating a fearful avoidant, the question that follows is, “How do I know if a fearful avoidant loves me?”. 

Let’s answer that now. 

dating a fearful avoidant partner

How Do I Know if a Fearful Avoidant Loves Me?

One of the biggest questions of dating a fearful avoidant is, “Do they love me?”. 

Yes, it can be difficult to decipher if a fearful avoidant loves you, mainly because they don’t openly express it. 

You just have to look out for these 15 signs to determine if a fearful avoidant loves you

  • They text you often and consistently. 
  • They tell you they have overwhelming feelings for you.
  • Physically, emotionally, and mentally, they’re present with you. 
  • They’re available to you even when you’re not physically around you.
  • Are willing to open up to you about memories and traumas (such as abusive relationships or abusive caregivers).
  • They’re willing to apologize and take accountability for their actions.
  • Are willing to step out of their comfort zone for you.
  • They’ll use phrases like, “I see a big future with you, but it scares me.”
  • They admit it when they’re feeling afraid, which is a sign of vulnerability. 
  • They indirectly admit to wanting to be close to you.
  • Want to know about your feelings.
  • They let you in on a secret or two.
  • You meet their friends and family.
  • Show you their weaknesses and emotional needs.  
  • They become or say they're committed.

If you notice these signs, you should take comfort in the fact that a fearful avoidant loves you. So, how do you make the relationship grow? 

Let’s take a look at the tips for dating a fearful avoidant. 

12 Tips for Dating a Fearful Avoidant

Being in the dating stage with a fearful avoidant requires patience, empathy, and a willingness to navigate emotional minefields. Here are 12 dating tips to foster a healthy relationship with a fearful avoidant. 

1— You need to offer transparency 

Based on the core wounds and issues stemming from trust and betrayal, you need to create an environment of being transparent and honest with a fearful avoidant. The more honest and direct you are (even if the topic or issue is intense), the more you’ll create trust in the relationship and understand your partner's needs.  

2— Encourage open communication

Furthermore, you should foster an environment where they feel safe expressing their emotions without judgment. Validate their feelings and actively listen to their concerns, even if they seem irrational. This open dialogue will help create a healthy, trustworthy, and transparent relationship. 

3— Be reliable to foster trust

Actions mean more than words for people with a fearful avoidant attachment style. So, if you promise something or become a supportive individual, you should become reliable. The more reliable you are, the more you’ll foster a strong and empowering relationship — and calm down any fears the avoidant might experience in their healing journey. 

4— Value their own time & independence

Fearful avoidants (much like dismissive avoidants) like their own time and independence. That can be hard for some people, particularly those with an anxious, preoccupied attachment style. But by giving them the personal space and freedom to embrace their own likes, hobbies, and self-talk, you will allow them to bring new energy back to the relationship. 

  5— Don’t chase after them

Following on from independence, make sure if a fearful avoidant partner wants space, you give it to them. They don’t like being chased or hounded (which is tough if you have an anxiously attached or secure attached style), as they get triggered by being "stuck in a relationship". Try to resist the urge to go after them.

6— Don’t take anything personally 

Fearful avoidants can be very direct and abrasive. But you shouldn’t always take this as a personal attack; it’s just the way that some of them operate. Just make sure you tell them that some language and approaches are not conducive to the relationship. 

fearful avoidant relationship

7— Create a secure environment

Fearful avoidants want to be part of a connective and loving relationship. To help get to that point, offer reassurance and consistency to help alleviate their fears of abandonment. Show them through your actions that you're reliable, a safe person, and won't disappear when things get tough. This will ease their avoidant tendencies. 

8— Empower them to set healthy boundaries 

Disorganized attached individuals are known for not having boundaries. They tend to overstep personal boundaries in all areas of their life (relationships, family, workplace, and friendships). So you have to empower and inform them to set boundaries so they can have time to work on themselves. 

9— Set your own personal boundaries

While it's important to be understanding, it's equally crucial to establish boundaries to protect your own emotional well-being. Communicate your needs clearly and assertively, and don't tolerate behavior that crosses your boundaries. Having strong boundaries will help both of you and your committed relationship grow. 

10— Be Patient

Change won't happen overnight, and pushing for it can backfire. Instead, be patient and understanding as they work through their attachment issues at their own pace. Before you know it, they’ll overcome their fearful tendencies and become a happier, stronger person in an intimate relationship. 

11— Learn your own attachment style

Notice how anxiously preoccupied individuals might struggle more than others with fearful avoidants than others? That’s just the programming that is built with attachment styles. If you learn about yours, you’ll know what you both need to work on in the relationship and each other and how to strengthen your connection for life. It will impact everything from your communication skills and body language to your attachment patterns and negative views. 

12— Focus on your own self-care

Dating a fearful avoidant can be emotionally taxing, so prioritize self-care to maintain your own mental and emotional health. So make sure you take some time for yourself to look after your own health and well-being. Getting support from friends, family, or a therapist to help navigate the challenges of the relationship can be beneficial. 

This might seem like a lot of work, but as you’ll read below, there are many positives to having a fearful avoidant relationship. 

Fearful Avoidant in Relationships

Being in a relationship with a fearful avoidant can be like walking a tightrope between intimacy and independence. 

However, it's possible to forge a deep and meaningful connection with a fearful avoidant with patience and understanding. 

That's because they show up in their relationships in many different ways. They can be incredibly passionate and empathetic, are attuned to others’ needs, often shift into caregiving roles, and are generous by nature. Fearful avoidants are also unique in that they often then feel guilty for lashing after arguments, feeling guilt and shame. 

In essence, when they truly commit to a relationship, they go all in. They just have to get to that point first. 

By creating a secure and supportive environment, encouraging open communication, establishing trust and transparency, and setting healthy boundaries, you can help them with their issues (empowering them to become securely attached) and build a stronger, more fulfilling relationship together.

And what about the fearful avoidant themselves? We have some simple tips for dating as a fearful avoidant. 

3 Tips for Dating as a Fearful Avoidant

Now, let's turn this around. If you're a fearful avoidant and you've started dating, these three simple tips can help you. 

Journal your relationship beliefs.

Get aware of the limiting beliefs you have around relationships. Do you (subconsciously) believe that relationships lead to codependency or losing your sense of self? Is there a part of you not feeling worthy of receiving love? 

Clarity makes it easier to understand your triggers when they arise and be able to choose a different reaction. This can be particularly common if they've had previous toxic past relationships.

Get clear on how often you desire to communicate during dating.

It’s easy to assume everyone has the same standards around communication. That’s not the case. As a fearful avoidant, you might feel trapped if you’re expected to communicate daily. 

Once you’re clear on how often you feel like being in touch, share this with the person you’re dating to avoid friction and conflict. If you can’t agree on this, you may want to consider moving on.

Practice communicating instead of running away.

Due to subconscious programming, you may feel the instinct to run away as commitment comes up or your date seeks to get to know you. As scary as it can feel, practice communicating that you need distance instead of dropping out without explanation. 

One way to reprogram limiting beliefs is by taking actions that disprove them so that you can make space for more abundant thoughts – and a more abundant reality – instead!

The Next Steps to Date a Fearful Avoidant

Whether you’re a fearful avoidant yourself or dating one, there is a lot of potential to create and foster a loving relationship. If you need guidance, search and sign up for our Conscious Dating: Thrive in Your Love Life program!

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