Unfooled by his failure to respond to her text messages, emails, and phone calls, Shannon Reese of Nashville, Tennessee, was able to see her ex-boyfriend Josh’s love avoidant behavior for what it actually was: a plea for deeper intimacy.
“He’s like a little boy, terrified of being abandoned,” said Reese. “On some level, he thinks that's what he deserves. But I’m not going to do that to him.”
Reese explained that she, herself, had to work long and hard to get out of denial about her own codependency - only to find that now that she’s whole, some men are intimidated by her self-actualization. “They’re drawn to it because they admire it, but it also scares them that I don’t need them to be complete. Which makes it difficult for them to trust that I won't just go away."
It is for that reason, noted Reese, that some men, like Josh, become love avoidants and intentionally sabotage their significant relationships, so as to preempt the anticipated hurt. “But really they’re longing for a more intimate connection. They just can’t quite believe that they won’t be betrayed.”
Fortunately, having encountered the love avoidant type before, Reese knows exactly how best to handle the troubled dynamic with Josh. “At this stage of the relationship, he just needs to know that I’m here for him. And that I’m not going anywhere.”
To that end, Reese continues to consistently reassure Josh through a variety of communication methods, and she'd also begun frequenting his local hangouts, in order to additionally bolster him with her physical presence. And her efforts seem to be paying off; after months of ignoring (at least overtly) her overtures, Josh finally responded with a message of his own.
"He told me to leave him alone," said Reese, "which I found so poignant. Like a little boy telling his mother who's leaving for work that he hates her, when really what he hates is that she's leaving. I can tell it's finally starting to sink in for him that what we have isn't just false promises and fluff. It's the real deal."
She smiled and shook her head. "Relationships are challenging, but at the end of the day, it's worth it. What else have we got but love?"