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In a relationship with a man with an avoidant attachment style


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I am in a 9 month relationship with a man who is aware that he has an avoidant attachment style. Despite his being very uncomfortable with emotions, he is able to say he loves me and shows me his love in other non-verbal ways. We get along wonderfully and everyone who knows us comments on how well matched we are, but they aren't aware of his fear of longer-term commitment. I'm not worried about him ever cheating on me, just that he's so afraid of progressing the relationship to a more serious level that he will back out, sabotage it, withdraw from it and move on to something new that takes the pressure off. He says he is aware of his attachment style and is trying his best to change it, but at the age of 39 he is still not ready to settle down, move in together, or think about the prospect of marriage or children. He says he does ultimately want those things, but he doesn't know when he will be ready. I'm 33 so I don't have a huge amount of time to wait around to have children - I don't know if I'm being foolish sticking with him and taking the risk that he might never be ready? Should I just be more patient with him and enjoy living in the moment? I love him so much it's too hard to walk away but at the same time I don't want to sacrifice my chances of having children before it's too late and I'm then faced with fertility issues.

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26 minutes ago, Kerry237 said:

I am in a 9 month relationship with a man. I don't want to sacrifice my chances of having children before it's too late and I'm then faced with fertility issues.

9 mos is the get to know you period. It seems you're unhappy with him.

Entering a dating situation hoping to fix, change and rearrange someone, means you're not listening to the obvious. If you would like to have a committed relationship leading to marriage and children, this may be the wrong situation for you.

The onus is on you to cut your losses if he seems indifferent or is just coasting along. 

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3 hours ago, Kerry237 said:

I don't know if I'm being foolish sticking with him and taking the risk that he might never be ready?

If he is not ready by 39, its unlikely that he would ever be ready. For example what does he do to be ready for it tomorrow? Does he undergoes therapy for it or just hopes he would wake up one day and want to live with somebody and have a family?

So yes, you are taking a huge risk. With somebody who straight up told you that he isnt ready for next step. You can lose years with somebody like that. Only to get into position where its maybe already too late for you to have kids. So cut your loses while you can.

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3 hours ago, Kerry237 said:

I am in a 9 month relationship with a man who is aware that he has an avoidant attachment style. Despite his being very uncomfortable with emotions, he is able to say he loves me and shows me his love in other non-verbal ways. We get along wonderfully and everyone who knows us comments on how well matched we are, but they aren't aware of his fear of longer-term commitment. I'm not worried about him ever cheating on me, just that he's so afraid of progressing the relationship to a more serious level that he will back out, sabotage it, withdraw from it and move on to something new that takes the pressure off. He says he is aware of his attachment style and is trying his best to change it, but at the age of 39 he is still not ready to settle down, move in together, or think about the prospect of marriage or children. He says he does ultimately want those things, but he doesn't know when he will be ready. I'm 33 so I don't have a huge amount of time to wait around to have children - I don't know if I'm being foolish sticking with him and taking the risk that he might never be ready? Should I just be more patient with him and enjoy living in the moment? I love him so much it's too hard to walk away but at the same time I don't want to sacrifice my chances of having children before it's too late and I'm then faced with fertility issues.

Yes, it’s foolish staying with someone who isn’t able to fulfill your needs in a relationship.

It’s only 9 months. Don’t let this be 9 years or 19 years and feeling more and more at a loss and unfulfilled and unhappy. 

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I mean I know of several men who weren't ready to have children until their 40s. Here's my take - he has an avoidant/attachment style -with you.  And with other women who he is not that into .If he really had this "style" and really wanted to change not just "try" he would be in therapy.  I dated a reformed player for 5 months when he was 40.  He never fell in love with me and left me after 5 months.  He knew he'd been a "player" and wanted to get serious -just not with me.  6 months later he met his future wife.  She was much prettier than me if that makes a difference. 

Ironically -he acted inappropriately with me while dating and engaged to her (he would have cheated I think or close to it had I responded to his emails in kind) but last I heard they have two beautiful kids and have been married for over 15 years.  He just wasn't that into me.  He had his children in his 40s.  Was ready at 40.  Just not with me.  

(I had my child and got married at 42 -I was so lucky and wouldn't advise waiting that long - it was so stressful to have a geriatric high risk pregnancy!! - but I had to become the right person to find the right person -my husband also was 42, never married ,no kids - same situation).  

I'd assume there's no style other than his and your style don't match and he's not that into you -I'd waste no more time with him unless you somehow benefit from being with a person who's not that into you -of course it's safer because it's kind of an exciting challenge as he "tries" to express feelings to you - and you don't have the risk of having to be totally open to him and vulnerable to him and risk having the excitement of chasing him fade - just consider this too.  )

 

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You didn't say how old you two are.

I agree with others.  He can admit he has an issue with commitment, but what exactly is he doing to change it?  Wishing it away won't work.  And if he is indeed avoidant, that is intrinsic in him, it is likely originated from his temperament (which won't change) combined with his upbringing (which won't change)

My oldest son was pretty commitment phobic for about 10 years, frustrating girlfriends along with way.  Different women brought out different things in him.  He has finally met someone that is well suited for his personality.  He feels very content and settled for the first time, and he will likely propose before the end of the year. There was a time he told me he would never marry or have children.  It took a couple broken hearted, very unhappy ex's before he got there.

You two do not bring out the best in each other.  After 9 months and no progress, I'd move on.  Being held at arms distance never feels good.  

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How exactly are you well matched with someone who constantly has one foot out the door?

Is it the adrenaline rush you feel from that constant anxiety and wondering if today is the last time you will speak to him as he will bolt? Is it the idea that you are so amazing that you can tame this wild beast and domesticate him into a good hubby who will be there for you and the kids? Is it that deep down you don't really want what you claim that you want - family and kids?

I think you need to dig deep within yourself and figure out why you find a dysfunctional relationship with a dysfunctional individual so attractive that you can't walk away, even when it's obvious that you should have dumped him months ago.

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7 hours ago, Kerry237 said:

I don't know if I'm being foolish sticking with him and taking the risk that he might never be ready? Should I just be more patient with him and enjoy living in the moment? I love him so much it's too hard to walk away but at the same time I don't want to sacrifice my chances of having children before it's too late and I'm then faced with fertility issues.

You're wasting your time, energy, resources and efforts on your boyfriend.  Read his cues.  He told you that he does not know when he's ready to settle down with you regarding marriage and family so listen to him.  At age 39, he doesn't want what you want on your timeline. 

Even though it's hard to walk away, there is no concrete future with him.  I'm sorry. 

He wants the relationship to remain "as is."  Take it or leave it.  <======  There is your answer.

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1 hour ago, DancingFool said:

How exactly are you well matched with someone who constantly has one foot out the door?

 

I think she means they have a lot of chemistry. She says that they get along good and that he even shows affection. Lots of people get lost in that and dont think about stuff like if they, for example have long-term goals together. So she hopes that, by him seeing how they are good together, he would change his mind down the road. Which is not a realistic goal with somebody who openly says how he avoids any further attachment aside of dating. Not disagreeing with you DF, just added to your train of thought lol

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IMO, I don't think he will change.

You know his outlook, now is your choice to accept this and continue or end it all.

I feel you're at a loss here.  By sounds of it, you two have different paths.  As you know how he is and to choose to remain, you will go nowhere 😕 .  My sisters bf is the same, yet she chose to stay with him.  He does not fancy the idea of marriage ( and sadly, she's brought it up, sarcastically in many conversations, that I've heard).

To me, that is messy.  That could, in time, turn against her.  Can cause a huge case of distance and resentment towards her.. is sad, really.

Has been 9 mos.  Not even a year.  Time to think hard on this one.  He is now 39 and never married/ no kids?  Says enough, doesnt it?

 

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Wow, thank you all so much for taking the time to reply; I wasn't expecting so much feedback! It's been really helpful and I know I have a lot to consider. I've essentially told myself I'm going to give it another 3 months but that if we get to the 1 year mark and he still isn't able to answer questions/have the tougher conversations and reassure me that we do want the same things and agree on a timeline for those... then I know I will have to somehow force myself to move on.

I guess what's kept me hopeful is that he's always said (generally) that he does want to get married and have kids; he will say things like "when I'm married..." or "when I have a kid..." He just hasn't started saying "when we" yet... maybe he never will 😞 

What's also keeping me in the relationship is a deep fear that I wouldn't meet someone else who wants to settle down anyway because the dating pool at this age is FULL of avoidant men! It feels like searching for a needle in a haystack and although this relationship isn't giving me all the security and reassurance I need, it still feels a much better prospect than returning to wade through a very muddy dating pool. 

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Oh also I forgot to mention - he is open to going to therapy and has been to therapy in the past. He said that after his last round of therapy (before we met) he felt that he was secure so he's confused as to why the avoidant strategies are creeping back in... I've told him how much I want him to try therapy again and he has agreed to go.

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4 hours ago, Kerry237 said:

What's also keeping me in the relationship is a deep fear that I wouldn't meet someone else who wants to settle down anyway because the dating pool at this age is FULL of avoidant men! It feels like searching for a needle in a haystack and although this relationship isn't giving me all the security and reassurance I need, it still feels a much better prospect than returning to wade through a very muddy dating pool. 

No it's not -I dated a ton in my 30s. Started dating my future husband right after my 30th bday and he was almost 39, never married same as me.  There are men who will not be that into you.  My friend married a man 10 years younger -when she was 40 and he was 30 - they've been married about 13 years now.  Several of my friends got married in their late 30s/early 40s like me.  I wouldn't label men like that. 

Yes, it's harder to date in one's 30s -and I wanted to be a mom and wife so very very badly.  It was so so hard sometimes.  But it's silly to keep dating a man who doesn't want to be with you badly enough to want to commit to you.  You are foregoing opportunities every single day to meet a single, available man who you click with and certain men will ask you -as I was asked - why you stuck around and settled for scraps for so long -it's not a great look (I was asked at times why I was in an on again off again LTR - I was the one dragging my feet in that case).  

If you have a penchant for labeling/classifying men into psychological categories perhaps take a psychology course or do some reading for pleasure or consider a new career. Please don't start relying on psychospeak to find a husband.  It's undermining IMO and you getting in your own way considering the parade of horribles out there while you settle for scraps.

To get married and pregnant I had to choose many things over "fear" - I was afraid:  of things not working out this time and wasting more time while my clock ticked loudly, of not being able to conceive and facing and having to deal with other options, of having a miscarriage - of having the doubts I had our first time around when we almos got married and how horrible that time was.  So much fear.  But I chose to move ahead, to progress, to choose so much of the unknown over "fear".  It's hard and it's a choice.  There are zero guarantees you'll become the right person to find the right person.  I knew that. I accepted that. 

But you have to be in it to win it.  I was proactive, pounding the pavement literally (I'd bring my heels in a bag as I race walked in sneakers to yet another first meet/singles event/volunteer opportunity -and slip on the heels on a sidwalk somewhere - I scheduled first meets back to back sometimes when I was exhausted from my demanding career, I called my mother, my friends, my sister after a bad first meet or awful event to cheer me on, prop me up, get me ready for the next one. 

I met my future husband for a platonic dinner 7 hours after 6 harassing and angry emails from a guy I'd had two dates with when I was fried and spent and I met him because I was like -well he won't want to know who I've been dating -he's my ex fiancee - and it's not a date. 

So I had a gap t-shirt on - a layering shirt - hadn't brought makeup to work that day - raced to the restuarant on a hot July day so I was nice and shiny with sweat- as I've written here- he arrived sweaty because he'd gone to the wrong restaurant first - and we ordered and talked and sparks flew.  Out of friggin nowhere.  We both experienced it and didn't act on it.  Till about 3 weeks and two more platonic meetings later.  It was a relaxing lighthearted evening with this elephant in the room of sparks.  

But I'd ended my on again off again 7 year LTR 5 months earlier.  Had my aha epiphany 2 months earlier -finally!! -as to why we would never ever work as a couple.  Had I not had the strength to walk away from a relationship that would never be forever I doubt I'd have reconnected with my future husband.

Times a wastin' - stop lying to yourself and choose potential commitment over fear.

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4 hours ago, Kerry237 said:

 I've told him how much I want him to try therapy again and he has agreed to go.

However it's up to you to decide what is right for you. Unfortunately the army of "confused", "damaged", "hurt", "busy", "stressed", etc. men all boils down to one simple thing: Just not that into you. Don't waste time waiting for therapy to cure him of that.

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5 hours ago, Kerry237 said:

Wow, thank you all so much for taking the time to reply; I wasn't expecting so much feedback! It's been really helpful and I know I have a lot to consider. I've essentially told myself I'm going to give it another 3 months but that if we get to the 1 year mark and he still isn't able to answer questions/have the tougher conversations and reassure me that we do want the same things and agree on a timeline for those... then I know I will have to somehow force myself to move on.

I guess what's kept me hopeful is that he's always said (generally) that he does want to get married and have kids; he will say things like "when I'm married..." or "when I have a kid..." He just hasn't started saying "when we" yet... maybe he never will 😞 

What's also keeping me in the relationship is a deep fear that I wouldn't meet someone else who wants to settle down anyway because the dating pool at this age is FULL of avoidant men! It feels like searching for a needle in a haystack and although this relationship isn't giving me all the security and reassurance I need, it still feels a much better prospect than returning to wade through a very muddy dating pool. 

There are plenty of people who avoid the truth or just aren’t self-aware enough. The irony is that by staying with a man who doesn’t fulfill your needs you’re just as lonely if not more in a relationship while being disappointed at the same time. Give it a year if that’s what you need but move on if this isn’t working. It’s not your problem he has attachment issues or doesn’t fit what you need in a relationship. He can figure it out on his own time, not yours.

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