Healthy Relationships:Avoiding versus Clarifying Conversations (Part 2 of 4)
Greetings and welcome to my August blog. So for this month of August, I want you to think and describe for yourself this question: Do you want to avoid conversation or do you want to pursue clarifying conversations? When you think of your most personal relationships such as your marriage, your best friends, your family and kids, do you want to pursue them by asking and seeking ways to clarify what they said or did or do you want just to avoid it all together?
To avoid having that important and crucial conversation with someone for the sake of clarifying to understand where the other person is coming from means to be willing to take that risk and converse. But far too often, avoiders have been hurt in this area and they are very sensitive to being hurt again and thus they avoid. In some ways avoiders are like a turtle: They will stick their head out if they feel it is safe to come out but if not, they will hide and avoid inside their thick shell.
Avoiders really don’t see it as necessary to have crucial conversations given they have been hurt so many times. It does not mean that don’t see or view talking about kids, money, parenting, family and friendship as not meaningful conversation. The topic of a conversation from an avoidant point of view is important. It is just the way the conversation goes down and the way they feel attacked, not because of the topic, but in the way they feel the other person perceives them. So they become independent and self-sufficient depending upon themselves becoming task oriented and not really feeling the need for people.
As a result, if you ask them how they are doing, they usually say they are fine and give one to two word answers. It is not that they can’t talk or have more words to say; it is they just don’t perceive the other person asking questions is a safe and trusting person and they avoid giving or saying too many words. So they avoid hot and important topics such as money, parenting, family, or needing relationship topics such as love, trust, needs, emotions and hurts. They do want to talk about these topics; it is just that they don’t feel safe and trusting with the person who is pursuing them to engage and talk about these issues.
As a result, avoiders do want and can talk about topics and feelings but they avoid due to many memories and experiences of conversations going south real quick that they don’t have any confidence in experiencing and resolving conflicts. They can discuss personal concerns, it is they just don’t talk about personal conversations due to them not feeling safe or trust happening in the relationship. For people who avoid, they really do need lots of trust, lots of safety, lots of patience, empathy and understanding and when you do the opposite to an avoider, you will be fighting an uphill battle as you will find yourself trying to find the key to unlock the door or break down the wall the avoider has installed around their heart.
It is a false conclusion that if you are in a relationship with an avoider that they are not into you or don’t want to invest and spend as much time as you do on the relationship. They do. They just don’t know how nor have they had enough positive emotional connections or experiences to make them feel they will be loved, accepted and given empathy. Avoiders need to know the other person wants to go at their pace and not feel criticized, corrected or accused for how they are doing life and for their lack of level of involvement in the relationship. Unfortunately, due to feeling criticized, attacked, accused or blamed, they do put up a wall, avoid talking, due to lots of anger and resentment towards the other person.
So if you can identify being an avoider and not wanting to engage in personal or important conversations, my heart does go out to you. You do feel tired of your spouse, your best friend, your parent, your sibling or children always pursuing you and you do feel overwhelmed by their neediness or desire for being close to you in their pursuit of you. But at the same time, you can’t wait and wait for the one who is pursuing you to change before you have these conversations. If you think, sure, I will have a conversation with you but it is condition and you have to do this or that first, than as an avoider you may be waiting for a long time. An avoider needs and has to value saying to the one who is pursuing them why they avoid them and how the pursuer needs to make some changes in how they pursue or converse with them.
In other words, the longer you wait and wait for the other person to change for you then to have those crucial and clarifying conversations, than you are setting yourself up for a pattern in which it is up to the other person to change before you will converse. But you as an avoider need to see how your part also plays a part in creating unhealthy patterns, intentions and relationships. As an avoider, it is easy to blame the other person for why you are the way you are. But at the same time, you are going to have to answer this question: Is my avoiding really bringing me the happiness, love, romance and sexuality, and hope that I really was looking for at the beginning and all the reasons why I got into this relationship in the first place? I wanted and was looking for fun, love, happiness and enjoyment with this personal friend, spouse, family member or child but now we don’t have it. Is that really working for you? How is that going for you? You can look back and you were initially attracted to this personal person because of the initial benefits of being them enjoying the love, romance, happiness, companionship and sex and you liked it. But now you are avoiding the very thing you need and the very thing you are looking and wanting. The longer you avoid, the longer you will be miserable, grumpy, unhappy, not trusting, and not looking forward to be with that person, thus robing you of the enjoyment you could be having by staying in our man or women cave.
Life goes on, problems do not resolve themselves, financial difficulties, parenting the kids, dealing with in laws and family members do not get solved by you avoiding. I understand your thinking that avoiding and buying time may resolve these issues and may be you can see evidence of that happening. But the problem I have witnessed over the years is that over time, the two people in this personal relationship start to drift apart, become lonely, conclude this is what it is, and find themselves not really wanting to pursue or engage in any desire of having fun and love in the relationship. And what started as an initial beneficial conversation and relationship at the start now 5-10 years later has turned out to be two people who both avoid and the joy and love has gone out the window falsely concluding this is as good as it gets. And to me, that is very sad. Thanks for reading.