Navyplum asks: I am facing a relationship crisis, as I found out that my boyfriend suffers from avoidant attachment disorder and now I don’t know what to do about it.
Hi Navyplum –
I’m not sure if I know exactly what you’re asking about. There’s a mental problem called Avoidant Personality Disorder, but honestly I have trouble thinking he could have that, simply because he’s your boyfriend, and someone with a full case of that probably can’t be in a romantic relationship.
But if you’re saying he just has attachment issues, that’s different.
Attachment is something we dogs are usually excellent at. It means one’s ability to connect to someone else, and how deeply they do so. It’s not a good-or-bad thing, different beings are just different.
Think of very young children, and how they’ll go through a phase where they’re all smiley and flirty with all adults, and then suddenly enter a time where they hide behind their mother’s legs whenever they meet someone new, and then they’ll suddenly greet everyone by sticking their tongue out at them. This is all healthy and normal.
It’s then equally normal to go through much longer phases in later years. A friendly teenager might go through a year or two where they’re distant and sullen, for example. And it’s so normal for their parents to freak out at this, as though they didn’t go through the same experience themselves (as did Hamlet, Siddhartha, and every James Dean character)!
But eventually, it’s true, people show their real, lifelong personalities. And some of them are really gregarious and friendly to everyone (think of politicians), and some attach super-strongly to one or a very few people, and some are mean and distrustful, and some are just shy.
As you can probably guess, I’m usually a mixture of the first two. I’m deeply attached to some friends, most particularly my human friend Handsome who I can’t imagine living without. But I’m also very friendly (some say too much so) to just about everyone I meet. Although whenever uniformed people walk into our yard, such as the fellows who check the water and electrical meters, oh I am a fierce beast!
But getting back to your question, “Avoidant” attachment means someone who really has trouble attaching at all. They tend to like keeping to themselves, they’re not very social, and have an awful time with intimacy. It’s not the life I’d wish on anyone.
And yet you say he’s your boyfriend. So he’s definitely able to connect with you.
I have a question for you, Navyplum. Has your boyfriend ever been tested to see if he’s on the Autism spectrum? That could explain his avoidance, while also explaining his ability to connect with you. For example, some of the most famous and successful people in the world today (Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, the late Steve Jobs, one of my very favorite musical composers Burt Bacharach) are known to have mild Autism (sometimes called Asperger’s).
I’d see if he’s willing to be checked out for that. If that is the case, modern society has many ways to help him (and you) out with it. But if he’s not at all Autistic, and it truly is an Attachment Disorder, I can only recommend that you both, together, seek out a psychotherapist or psychologist who specializes in this, to help you work through this difficulty.
Either way, you have been, and can continue to be, a glorious help to him, which makes me just say you’re a fantastic human being.
WHICH MAKES ME WANT TO JUMP ON YOU AND LICK YOU AND FEEL ALL ATTACHED TO YOU!
But oh well, I’ll just feel attached from here instead. And go jump on Handsome when he comes in next!
Thanks Again, and BEST OF LUCK!