Are you an avoider? Don’t answer too quickly; avoidance can be so subtle that we are not even aware we are doing it!
Why do we need to avoid? To keep harmony in our relationships. Most people view conflict as bad, so the idea is “if I have conflict with people, they might not love me”. The true nature of intimacy in relationships is going to cause conflict as we encounter our differences, however, most people are threatened by those differences!
This fear that ‘conflict and intimacy will drive people away from me’ is a deep seated belief that we are often not even conscious of. Nevertheless, it drives our need to avoid conflict and intimacy. So anytime we sense a “threat”, our automatic response is to avoid. The fear is so deep for some people that they even feel paralyzed – they know they should do something, but they just cannot make themselves do it.
Here are some of the ways in which we avoid . . .
Lying – Knowingly substituting false information for the truth or withholding information. Habitual liars are often frustrated because they want to be able to live in the truth, but their need to avoid is too overpowering!
Not Being Intimate – Not speaking our true thoughts, beliefs, feelings, opinions, etc. with our loved ones when we anticipate their response will be negative.
Clam Up – Just stop talking about whatever is controversial and pretend nothing happened.
Procrastinating – Putting off something unpleasant until a later time.
Conform – Change our opinion, beliefs, feelings, ourselves to align with our loved one.
No Boundaries – Failure to draw a line in the sand about what we are willing to accept (or not accept) in our relationships.
Hiding – Literally, skirting around another person to avoid interacting with them.
Shut Down – Try not to feel anything for the other person (or telling ourselves that we don’t).
Mental Bashing/Triangling – Bashing the other person in our heads (or triangling with our friends) but not sharing how we really feel with our loved one.
Painkill – Spend our time doing just about anything to avoid not only the conflict, but our own feelings – TV, working late, internet, texting, porn, drinking, video games, overeating, volunteering, (anything we do to excess).
Overpower – Avoiding is not always quiet, some people avoid conflict by overpowering the ideas, opinions, beliefs, feelings of others and pressuring them to conform to theirs.
Passive-Aggressive – Getting retribution in an indirect way like rolling your eyes behind their back, not telling your partner when you know something bad is going to happen to something they care about, overeating when you know your partner is bothered by your weight, or having an affair behind their back.
Certainly there are more ways to avoid; these are only some common ones that I see frequently. The real issue, however, is discovering when we avoid, exploring the underlying fears, and finally facing them. We must convince ourselves that as long as we are avoiding, we will not have authentic relationships and we will essentially live in fear – and that is no way to live or love. . .