Attachment styles shape the way we connect with others, especially romantic partners. They’re shaped in early childhood and get reinforced throughout life. A person can develop a secure or insecure attachment style based on early childhood interactions with primary caregivers.
People with a secure attachment style can form healthy relationships with others and themselves.
Those with insecure attachment styles endured childhood trauma and neglect. They find it difficult to form healthy relationships with others and with themselves.
The way we connect with others is often a reflection of how we connect with ourselves.
Insecure attachment style is of two types:
Anxiously attached individuals depend on their relationships for their self-identity and fulfillment. They experience a high degree of anxiety and closeness in relationships.
Avoidant individuals, on the other hand, tend to avoid close relationships. They tend to withdraw from relationships. As a result, their partners find it hard to connect deeply with them, negatively affecting their relationship.
How to text and avoidant
Your attachment style influences how you communicate because communication is the central part of connecting with others. With the advancement of the internet and mobile technologies, a lot of communication these days happens through texting.
Attachment styles already cause a lot of misunderstanding and miscommunication. Things get a lot worse when you throw texting into the mix.
Texting is arguably the poorest form of communication. No nonverbal signals. No instant feedback from the other person. Waiting for them to text back. These things make interpersonal communication, which is already fragile, weaker.
Key points to remember when texting an avoidant:
1. Texting frequency
During the initial stages of getting to know someone, avoidants typically avoid texting. You’ll find that they don’t text too much. They need time and space to get to know you before they can text you more freely.
Avoid bombarding them with texts during this stage.
Avoidants tend to be direct in their communication. They don’t sugarcoat things and will tell you exactly what they think. This can come across as impolite sometimes. They’ll let you know whether or not they’re interested in getting to know you early on.
When texting an avoidant, try to be as direct as possible. The more open you are with them, the more likely they’ll open up to you.
3. Relationship stage
While avoidants avoid communicating during the initial stages of getting to know someone, they’ll engage in a lot of texting when they sense mutual interest. As the relationship progresses, they’ll again text infrequently for either of the following reasons:
a. The relationship has gotten too close, and they feel the need to withdraw
In this situation, try not to text them as much. Give them time and space to process their fears. If they’re open enough with you to express their concerns, try helping them overcome their connection fears.
b. They’re comfortable in the relationship and don’t feel the need to reach out as much
Not texting as much becomes a new normal in the relationship, and it’s okay. Infrequent texting won’t bother you if you’re a securely attached individual. If you’re an anxiously attached person, however, you may feel that your need for connection isn’t getting reciprocated.
In that case, it’s best to communicate your needs to your partner and find common ground.
4. Texting back
Avoidants tend to be slow in texting back except when they’re interested. When their guard is down, and they experience safety in a relationship, they’ll text back more often and quickly.
If they don’t text you back, don’t immediately take it as a sign they’re uninterested. They may be analyzing you. Reach out more so that they can open up more. In time, if they keep avoiding texting you and don’t open up too much, that shows disinterest.
Avoidants withdraw from their partners when they’re stressed. This means they won’t text their partner as much or won’t text at all when they’re going through stressful times.
If you sense that an avoidant is under stress, do not text them. Give them time and space to work through their stress. If they reach out to you for comfort, comfort them but avoid overloading them with information.
Avoidant attachment styles
Avoidant attachment style has two sub-types:
Fearful avoidants experience high anxiety in relationships. They simultaneously want and fear close relationships. They tend to be people-pleasers with low self-esteem.
Dismissive avoidants don’t experience a lot of anxiety in relationships. They deem close relationships as unimportant. They value independence more than connection. They tend to have high self-esteem.
To understand the differences between these two attachment styles, check out the fearful-avoidant vs. dismissive-avoidant article.
How to text a fearful avoidant
All the points mentioned above for avoidants above apply. In addition, you need to keep in mind a few more things when specifically texting a fearful avoidant:
1. Texting a lot
If a fearful avoidant engages in a lot of texting, they’re probably more anxious than they’re avoidant. In this case, their behavior is similar to that of the person with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style.
You need to be on your toes with them and respond as much as possible. If you can’t keep up, let them know so they can dial down their texting and meet you in the middle.
2. Texting rollercoaster
Fearful avoidants will sometimes text you a lot, and at other times they’ll text you infrequently or not at all. This is their typical hot-and-cold behavior manifested in texting.
Their texting frequency depends on their emotional state. Since they tend to have a chaotic emotional life, their texting also seems chaotic.
You’ll feel the knock-on effects if they experience stress in other life areas.
Hold back the texting and let them work through their stress.
3. Triggering an FA = No texting
Fearful avoidants withdraw intensely when they experience relational stress, i.e., when their partner says or does something that triggers them.
Common triggers for fearful avoidants are behaviors that show a lack of trust and criticism.
When texting a fearful avoidant, avoid being secretive and highly critical. Don’t say things like:
“I want to tell you something, but I can’t right now.”
If you’re in a relationship with a fearful-avoidant, you’ll notice that they always have a reason for not texting you- stress or getting triggered.
4. Not texting
If your fearful-avoidant partner doesn’t reach out to you via texting or calling and you’re sure they aren’t stressed or triggered, they could be testing you. Fearful avoidants sometimes test their partners by withdrawing.
They want to see if you’ll try to win them back and fight for them.
If this is the case, reassure them that you care about them.
5. Waiting for a text back
Waiting for a text back can hurt a fearful avoidant in a new relationship. If they don’t get a text back immediately, they’ll interpret the situation according to their “I am betrayed” subconscious wound.
They’ll accuse you of texting someone else or tell you that you don’t really like them.
Give them a good reason why you didn’t instantly text back to soothe their fears.
How to text a dismissive avoidant
All the general points for the avoidant attachment style apply. Plus, you need to keep in mind some specific things when texting a dismissive avoidant:
1. Texting infrequently = Default mode
Texting infrequently or not at all is the default mode of existence for dismissive avoidants who value independence more than connection. They’ll rarely make attempts to reach out. They don’t have the same connection needs as people with other attachment styles.
Try not to take their minimal reaching out personally. It’s just the way they are and doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not interested.
2. Frequent texting
Texting too much can quickly overwhelm a dismissive-avoidant. They tend to have a low opinion of people who prefer texting all day and believe they have nothing better to do.
Dismissive avoidants focus on themselves a lot, and texting others (focusing on others) comes in the way of focusing on themselves. Their independence gets threatened, and they pull away.
Avoid bombarding them with texts at all costs, no matter their current emotional state.
3. Slow to text back
Dismissive avoidants don’t like instant back-and-forth texting unless it’s urgent or they’re really interested. Their typical response is to take their time when texting back. To them, it doesn’t matter when you text back as long as you do text back.
If a dismissive avoidant takes too long to text back, try not to personalize it. They will eventually respond if you mean anything to them.
4. Indirect texts
Dismissive avoidants will hardly make any plans, even with their romantic partners. To them, wanting to make plans with someone equals needing them. To them, needing someone equals weakness.
If you make plans with a dismissive-avoidant and ask them something like:
“Are we meeting on the weekend?”
You’ve just put them in a quandary.
They tend to be direct in their communication but they also tend to avoid conflict. If they say ‘Yes’, it means they want to meet you. Weak.
If they say ‘No’, you might get upset. Bad for the relationship.
So, they give an indirect answer. Something like:
“I have to attend a seminar on Sunday.”
Saying something like this saves them from a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’. It also lets them test if you’re serious about the meeting. Because if you are, you’ll insist upon the meeting. And when you’ve insisted, you’re the weak one. Not them.
When dismissive avoidants communicate indirectly with you, snap them out of it by asking them to be more direct.
5. Concise texts
Dismissive avoidants tend to be economical with their words. They don’t beat around the bush, even with indirect responses. So, texting with someone whose communication style is all over the place can be frustrating for them.
Get to the point or don’t bother them with messages at all.
6. Ignoring their texts
What happens when you ignore a dismissive avoidant’s texts?
Unlike anxiously attached people, dismissive avoidants tend to be okay with others not texting them back immediately. They project their independence needs on others and conclude something like:
“They must be busy.”
However, ignoring their texts completely and not responding at all will make dismissive avoidants hate you and cut you off from their lives.
7. Answering part of the message
Since dismissive avoidants mostly see texting as a waste of time, they’ll sometimes try to short-cut the texting by answering only a part of the message. Usually, the part that doesn’t require a long reply.
This can be frustrating for their partner, who feels invalidated. Instead of allowing this to be the norm, say something like:
“You haven’t answered X yet.”
Refuse to move forward with the conversation unless they answer X. Don’t let them dismiss you so easily.