Maybe you’ve been in this position before or you know someone who is going through it now…
You go on a date, or two, or three with someone you feel you truly have a connection with, and then from one day to the next, you don’t ever hear from them again…
Or maybe you were (or still are) in a committed relationship with someone who tells you they love you and you mean everything to them, but their inconsistencies tell you differently…
There’s a psychological term for this “one foot in, one foot out” behavior and it’s called deactivating strategies.
Deactivating strategies are coping mechanisms used by both Dismissive and Fearful Avoidant’s when they feel a threat to their “safety”.
And what is safety to an avoidant?
Space, independence and freedom from emotional burdens.
When either of these three things are triggered in some way, shape or form, they will use deactivating strategies to distance and protect themselves from possibly getting hurt.
The issue with this type of coping mechanism is that it not only hinders them from having healthy, stable relationships, but the “threat” they are actually experiencing is coming from their own mind (their own fears), and not from the person they are in relation with.
To help you make sense of this, I’ve added some deactivating strategy examples below:
Refusing to commit— Avoids saying “I love you”…Or says things like: “I’m not ready to commit”, “I don’t know how to be a good partner”, “I don’t want to ruin what we have”, all while still pursuing you and not letting you go.
Sabotages the relationship when things are going well— Starts petty arguments, flirts with other people, doesn’t keep agreements, doesn’t call back, see’s you only when it’s convenient for them, becomes hostile, controlling or reactive for no apparent reason, creates unnecessary drama, says hurtful things to you, breaks up with you and then comes back, cheats on you.
Lack of communication— Withholds feelings, thoughts, wants or needs from you. Refuses to talk about relational problems or gets defensive when you try and bring up topics regarding intimacy. Unwilling to compromise, negotiate conflicts or meet your needs.
Devalues you— Criticizes you, points out flaws in you, blames you, makes you the enemy, ignores you, all while you are trying to be a supportive partner.
Fantasizes about past relationships (“phantom ex”) or future relationships— Even though their past relationship didn’t work out, they will talk or think about their ex partner as if they were “the one”, in order to minimize their feelings for you. They will also fantasize about there being someone better for them. They do this to protect themselves from developing further feelings for you.
Any of these behaviors ringing true for you so far?
Maybe you’ve had this done to you, or maybe you have done this to other’s. Whatever the experience, know that these behaviors are usually happening on a subconscious level, meaning, we aren’t aware that we are actively trying to distance ourselves due to the fear of getting hurt.
And if you’re in this dynamic right now, please do not take it personally! There is only so much you can do as the person who is dating or in a relationship with someone avoidant. These behaviors run deep and it takes a certain level of awareness and inner work to truly change.
Suggestions for you:
- Learn about your partners attachment style: Their triggers and needs.
- Learn about your attachment style: Your triggers and needs.
- Learn to communicate and honor your boundaries.
- Learn to communicate in a way that your partner will better receive.
- Create a strong foundation of self-love and self-worth so that you can walk away from people or situations that are not serving your highest good.
If you need support with implementing these suggestions into your life, you can book a free 15 minute Clarity Call with me HERE to learn about how my Relationship Coaching services can help.