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Never the Right Word

Scripts & Templates for Life’s Uncomfortable Conversations.

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If your partner has ever left you hanging or has pushed all the important decisions off to you, these scripts will serve your relationship well. An avoidant partner is someone who seems engaged and supportive at one time but refuses to take steps to progress your relationship.

When faced with threats of rejection, commitment or loss, many avoidant men and women are able to focus their attention on other issues and goals or withdraw. Avoidant partners are likely to deny their vulnerability and use repression to manage emotions that are aroused in situations that activate their attachment needs (source).

It’s the guy who has urgent work whenever you bring up the topic of commitment or the gal who changes topics when marriage or living together is suggested. This can be quite frustrating for the other partner but it often doesn’t mean that the relationship itself is dissatisfying.

Many avoidant partners can be supportive, fun, engaged, except in those things that make them run away and hide. Later on, we will look at five scripts you can use to reach them and reduce their instinct to dodge uncomfortable situations or give non-answers.

What You Need to Understand About Adults Who Display Avoidant Attachment Styles: 

People with avoidant attachment styles tend to be overly focused on themselves and their routines, and are quick to dismiss the feelings and interests of other people. 

They also find it challenging to share their thoughts and feelings with their romantic partners. Their typical response to an argument, conflict, and different stressful situations is to become distant and aloof.

Your partner is likely to be avoidant in adulthood because they formed an avoidant attachment to their parent or parents while growing up.

Because avoidantly attached adults learned as infants to disconnect from their bodily needs and minimize the significance of emotions, they often steer clear of emotional intimacy in romantic relationships.

Avoidantly attached adults still seek out relationships and enjoy spending time with their partner but are likely to become cold and distant when the relationship becomes too close for them.

It’s essential to know your own attachment style and needs first before embarking on any romantic relationship. According to numerous studies, and outlined in Attached: Are you Anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the science of adult attachment can help you find and keep – love by author Amir Levine; individuals with anxious attachment styles tend to be attracted to those with avoidant attachment styles and vice versa. 

An anxious and avoidant pairing can prove to create a turbulent union because their opposing natures can mean that the individuals within this relationship are less likely to have their own needs met. 

The avoidant person values freedom and autonomy, whereas the anxious person craves closeness and intimacy. It would be highly beneficial first to ask yourself why you want your avoidant partner to commit and whether this is what’s best for the both of you.

Why Even Be in a Relationship With an Avoidant Person?

Fortunately, we don’t have to remain trapped within the confines of the defensive attachment strategies we developed early in life. Numerous experiences throughout life provide us with the gift of personal growth and transformation.

Although our patterns of attachment were formed in infancy and persist throughout your life, with conscious effort it is entirely possible to develop an “Earned Secure Attachment” at any age.

By being honest about our own needs and communicating effectively with our partners, we can both develop an even stronger, much deeper bond while simultaneously evolving as individuals.

Before heading to the scripts, here are some general guidelines:

  • Try to use them in situations where everyone is mostly relaxed. It’s not use applying them when one of you is angry or in a rush.
  • It’s important to deliver the scripts in a sincere tone. If you’re angry, it will show.
  • An avoidant partner might run and hide, so it can be tempting to find spaces where they won’t be able to, for example, during a car ride. But this can make the other person feel trapped and cornered, which will be counterproductive to the whole enterprise.
  • Find time when the partner can’t easily make an excuse to exit the conversation, sure, but it’s not a good idea to actually corner them somewhere.

Now, on to the scripts!

Script 1 | Talk About Feelings

 

Hi, darling. I wanted to tell you that I am really enjoying our relationship. I think that we have a good thing here and I am so very grateful to you for everything we have experienced. Still, I have been feeling lost in regards to where we are going. I think that having more direction would help me feel more secure and enjoy our relationship even more.  This is why I wanted to ask you what are your thoughts. How do you feel about our relationship? Is it working for you?

The first script is a way of getting your partner to talk about the future. A problem of avoidant partners  is that they do not want to commit and might feel panic when confronted with talk of the future. The script is meant to serve as a conversation starter. First, it is non-confrontational.

You are not accusing your partner of anything and are phrasing every thought as an expression of your inner world. You start the conversation by expressing appreciation for what you have.

If you have a specific example, it would be good to include those. For example, you might say (if it’s true) that you have really had fun with your partner and that you loved the date you had last week. Then, you are asking your partner about their thoughts and feelings, which is less threatening than asking them outright about the future.

It gives them a way of also expressing themselves in the same way you just did without having to answer right away whether you are moving to a more serious stage in the relationship.This is a starter script for nurturing new conversations.

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Script 2 | Take A Break In A Tough Conversation

 

It seems to me that you need some space right now. I understand that this can be a tough situation and you might feel a lot of emotions. I will be here when you are ready.  I am not angry. Let’s take space for ourselves to cool down and talk about this later.

Avoidant behaviors might stem from anxiety. Your partner can feel that they should run when the conversation gets tough. This is an almost instinctive reaction, and they might feel guilty afterward. If you have started a conversation and are noting that your partner is trying to leave, a paradoxical reaction is to let them.

It might be good to acknowledge and validate this in some situations, setting the boundary that the talk is not over. You will be giving your partner time to reign in their first reaction and get their ideas together, so that when you are back, they will be able to face the conversation.

Script 3 | Pass the Ball to their Court

 

I think that we are very good together. I cherish our relationship. However, lately I have been feeling confused about where we are going. I think that we are ready to take a next step but, obviously, I would like to hear what you have been thinking. When would be a good time for you to talk about this?

This script gives your partner forewarning that a talk is coming and gives them the opportunity to present itself. If delivered in a serious tone, the script will signal to your partner that you want to have a conversation but will give them autonomy to decide when and where to have the discussion.

A partner who is interested and invested in the relationship should be able to provide a time, even if it is a week from now.

Script 4 | Provide A Way to De-escalate

 

I can tell that this conversation is difficult for you. Is there a way I can make it easier? Would you like to take some time to think things through?

This is a good script for a conversation that is making your partner panic. It signals that you acknowledge their needs but at the same time sets the boundary that the conversation will continue. Give them time to cool down and get their thoughts together, and they might be more willing to talk.

Script 5 | Acknowledge their Needs

 

I love you. I am here for you. Please tell me what we can do together to make this work.

An avoidant partner might need extra reassurance that they are loved and appreciated despite their behaviors. Let them know this. Repeat the first sentences as much as needed.

Ask your partner to set their own ideas forth. What’s not working for them? What’s missing for them? This can be a good way to continue the conversation towards commitment by allowing them space to say what they need.

We have reviewed five scripts for a partner who won’t commit or who tends towards avoidance. By saying these things calmly, you will likely be able to advance the conversation and get them to feel comfortable enough to tackle harder topics.

References

Beckers, T., & Craske, M. G. (2017). Avoidance and decision making in anxiety: An introduction to the special issue. Behavior research and therapy, 96, 1–2. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2017.05.009

BIRNIE, C., JOY McCLURE, M., LYDON, J., & HOLMBERG, D. (2009). Attachment avoidance and commitment aversion: A script for relationship failure. Personal Relationships, 16(1), 79-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2009.01211.x

Rudaz, M., Ledermann, T., Margraf, J., Becker, E. S., & Craske, M. G. (2017). The moderating role of avoidance behavior on anxiety over time: Is there a difference between social anxiety disorder and specific phobia?. PloS one, 12(7), e0180298. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180298

At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.   

If you’re interested in further reading, we’ve also included links to our trusted resources and related posts below. To find out more about NTRW and our recommended tools, you can do that here.  

Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!

Never the Right Word

Never the Right Word

Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation.

In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.

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