Most of us know and understand that one of the reasons avoidants in general struggle with commitment is their fear of getting close to romantic partners. But there are two other reasons that are often not talked about that equally impact an avoidant’s willingness s to commit and/or ability to commit.
1) Self-view or self-concept
A self-view or self-concept when applied to relationships is how one thinks about themselves and the views they have about their own desirability or likeability, value they bring to the relationship, and general well-being.
Research on attachment styles show that dismissive avoidants generally have a high-self concept or positive view of themselves and high self-esteem. This helps dismissive avoidants be more confident and trust their own instincts’ and it helps that they have organized coping strategies to overcome unpleasant events in their lives. For example, if they decide they want to commit, they’re not going to doubt their feelings or decision. If things go wrong they believe they trust themselves to handle it.
Fearful avoidants have a negative self-concept or negative view of themselves and low self-esteem. They mostly think negative things about themselves, fear rejection and abandonment, don’t trust their own instincts and feelings, base their value and worth on others’ opinions and perceptions, are unsure of what to say or do (or expect from others) in a relationship, and are unwilling to take risks that might lead to disappointment, hurt or rejection etc.
2) View of romantic partners
Both fearful avoidant and dismissive avoidant attachment styles have a negative view of relationship partners and often don’t trust that others have their best interest at heart when pursuing a relationship with them.
These negative perceptions of relationship partners also lead to both avoidant attachment styles underestimating the value a romantic partner brings to the relationship and into their lives. This affects not just avoidants’ view of relationships but also how they view commitment.
A dismissive avoidant for example doesn’t think they need anyone and romantic partners need more from them than they need from their romantic partners. Fearful avoidants think it’s a risk trusting romantic partners and feel less risk when not committed.
But if you’re asking, given all the above, will an avoidant ever commit? The answer is yes, both fearful avoidants and dismissive avoidants at some point commit, but it’s a long process for avoidants to get to a place where they’re ready to give up their independence (dismissive avoidants) or truly trust you and trust their feelings (fearful avoidants) and commit.
Here are 12 signs that an avoidant is ready to commit or at least thinking of committing.
1. They change – Dismissive avoidants more than fearful avoidants have a resistance to seeking help or doing self-work. They may know something is “wrong” with them but as with all things they don’t want to deal with they dismiss, procrastinate, and avoid. But if they’re making real genuine effort to work on their attachment issues and are willing to do whatever it takes to change their avoidant attachment, they’re more likely to commit because they’re worked on the issues preventing them from committing..
2. They open up – They go out of their way to be vulnerable and talk about themselves and even talk about the changes they’re making (and even seek validation, which is hard for a dismissive avoidant to do or receive). This is new for avoidants who typically avoid topics that require them to be vulnerable.
3. More positive view of relationships – Avoidants have a negative view of relationship die to their childhood trauma and subsequent experiences which lead them to avoid closeness and not want to be in a relationship. When they show a more positive attitude towards relationships in general (e.g. talk about friends with good relationships, show more interest in relationship advice or books etc.), they’re attitude towards relationships is changing or has changed.
4. Deactivate less and less – They spend more time with you than away from you and even when they need space, they’re not gone for too long and/or make an effort to reassure you that everything is okay.
5. Integrate you into their life – They don’t just introduce you to their family and friends, they make a real effort to integrate you into their life, and want to actively participate in yours.
6. Emotionally invest – They not only emotionally open up more, show vulnerability and emotional attachment to you, they also invest more in making the relationship work.
7. Show they appreciate you – Avoidants typically have a negative view of romantic relationship partner, so if they’re more verbal affection and public and private displays of affection, more compliments, more effort making you feel loved they’re moving towards more commitment to you and to the relationship.
8. Talk about the future – They show more interest in your life mainly your future plans and dreams (e.g. would you like to have children and how many, where do want to live, etc.) and let you in on their future plans and dreams.
9. Comfort with intimacy – If they were not comfortable with physical intimacy before, they make an effort to step out of their comfort zone.
10. Create time and space for you – This applies more to dismissive avoidants and fearful avoidants leaning dismissive who are overly protective of their time and space and create too many boundaries to keep others at a distance. If they re-arrange their life to create time and space for you and want to know if you’re comfortable in the space, it’s because they’re thinking long-term.
11. Express willingness to commit – They are more willing to put a title on things and even talk about marriage or commitment more and more.
12. Work hard to get you back – If you’re broken up, they reach out more and make a real genuine effort and not half-hearted one foot out of the door effort to get you back. If you’ve broken up several times, this time they’ve come back stronger and more committed than all the other times you’ve broken up.
Generally compared to dismissive avoidants, fearful avoidants are more likely to commit because of their desire to get close (even though they fear it), but fearful avoidants are also more likely to second-guess their decision to commit and move back and forth between wanting to commit and fearing what committing might mean or result in.
Every step in the relationship (or process of getting back together) is a higher risk of rejection and this very scary for fearful avoidants who are risk-averse. It’s also scary for fearful avoidants because they’re often not sure about their own feelings. They don’t know if they’ll continue feeling committed or if they’ll lose their feelings and let you down.