After the avoidant “takes space” they do THIS!

If the avoidant wants a break and they take space they will come to a fork in the road. Here is where they will have to make a CHOICE. Do they want to do what they often do and walk away forever? Or do they want to come back to your relationship and make it work? 

To determine what they will do we need to “hit rewind” to understand how they got to that fork in the road in the first place. 

That means we need to answer three questions first

  1. Why they took space in the first place?
  2. What they “experience” when they take space?
  3. And finally what they will do once they’ve taken space? 

Why the avoidant wants a break

A dismissive-avoidant takes space for one major reason and that is because they are emotionally triggered. This is where they start to “emotionally checkout”. What this means is that the avoidant has a lack of tools to deal with uncomfortable “relationship” emotions. Their default tool is to distract and redirect away from the thing that feels uncomfortable. In this case, the relationship!

This reaction can happen in response to a stressor in the relationship like an argument, to life or work stress, or even to growing closeness in the relationship. 

What the dismissive-avoidant feels when they take space

In certain situations, people with an avoidant style may genuinely believe that taking space is the right decision. They may even consider it the best option for both of you. At least this is what they tell themselves!

Emotionally, they may also feel a sense of relief. What they do with this feeling will determine what they do once they have taken space.

The relief can come in response to a few different things:

  1. They feel relief because their life and responsibilities are becoming unmanageable. So the avoidant wants a break to have less to manage. Then they feel relief because now they have fewer things to think about and they can focus on their own life and other responsibilities without worrying about the added duty of a relationship. This may seem like a pretty drastic choice to make and you may wonder why the avoidant can’t communicate what’s going on with them – but remember this attachment style is “the hyper-independent one” The one who struggles to be vulnerable and has a hard time relying on others. 
  2. They feel relief because the relationship was stressful for them. They felt overwhelmed or smothered in the relationship which can often be the case in the anxious-avoidant dynamic. This is because in the stereotypical anxious-avoidant relationship the anxious style is the one who has many needs and is often vocal when their partner falls short. While the avoidant partner continuously feels underappreciated for what they contribute hence leading to their dissatisfaction in the relationship.
  3. The dismissive-avoidant misreads feeling relief as a “reaction” to being away from your relationship. This can be born out of their past because people with this attachment style can often experience relationships as stressful even if their partner wasn’t causing them any additional difficulty. This is a person who has “attachment trauma” meaning that their past and childhood relationships are affecting their present one.

This means that if they feel a sense of relief and think “oh my goodness that was so stressful” and attribute it to your relationship the likelihood is HIGH that they won’t come back as they have no tools to navigate this stress with you. And because they view your relationship in an unhealthy light. 

However, if they realize that their relief was a reaction to them having too much going on in their life, not the relationship. Once that external “life stress” diminishes and they feel like they have control of their life, again, they are much more likely to be open to reconnecting. Will they reach out to you once they are out of that stressful situation depends on the person and relationship. The dismissive-avoidant who is still very much invested in the relationship will. The avoidant who is closer on the spectrum to being secure will likely be more willing to reengage. 

What is your avoidant partner experiencing?

Is there any way for you to know what your avoidant is feeling and thinking and how they’re interpreting your unique situation?

What you can look at is what happened right before they took space. That will give you some insight into what they could be feeling and thinking now. When I work with clients that is one of the first things we investigate. Everything that led up to their avoidant needing space. 

Remember, most of the time people don’t leave for no reason even if it feels that way. The avoidant wants a break because something “triggered” them.

It can be anxiety inducing when your partner “takes space” suddenly and you don’t know when they will come back. You may even wonder what “taking space” means for them and how long they’re going to take? 

If you’d like support with feeling more at ease about your situation. If you’d like a plan on what’s the best course of action with your partner…

You can book a 1-on-1 coaching session. During our session I can hear your story, assess your situation, and give you a customized plan on what to do next. You can book that on my Services page, here.

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