In this sequel to BAD BOYFRIENDS, the author discusses the specific problems faced by those already attached to dismissive or anxious-avoidant partners.
In BAD BOYFRIENDS, author Jeb Kinnison talked about attachment types and their different abilities to attract and maintain healthy relationships. Secure people are comfortable in their attachment to others, able to maintain a caring commitment while not being either over-demanding or cold and withdrawn. Anxious-Preoccupied people need extra reassurance, and are often needy and clingy in their relationships. Avoidants, both the Anxious-Avoidants who want love but are afraid of loss, and the Dismissive-Avoidants who have convinced themselves that they do not need or want a loving relationship, withdraw emotionally from their partners and have a difficult time giving love. In this sequel, Kinnison addresses specifically those readers who have found themselves already attached to an avoidant partner, who want to find a way to either a healthy relationship or a healthy breakup. He discusses ways through which an avoidant partner can become more empathetic and responsive, while also showing how their spouse or significant other can adapt their own behavior patterns in order to avoid the worst aspects of loving an avoidant.
AVOIDANT has the merits of being eminently practical first and foremost. Kinnison condemns what he calls the “fairy tale myth” that has people seeking impossibly perfect partners, or giving up on relationships and potential relationships that might be very successful but that aren’t “exciting” enough or “perfect” enough. He argues for treating a relationship as a journey, an effort to grow as a couple, rather than as a union of perfect soulmates. The advice he offers is generally sound, and sympathetic to all concerned without, in most cases, excusing genuinely bad behavior. He also suggests in places specific actions a person can take in order to get past bad patterns in their own emotional life and in their relationships, and uses actual cases – with the names, of course, changed – as examples.
AVOIDANT can be rather repetitive at times, with, for example, a substantial chunk of material cited from Dr. Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work in Chapter 3 repeated again in Chapter 32. It also does rather heavily rely in places on quotes from the works of other authors and researchers – properly cited and footnoted, of course. His discussion on domestic violence may raise some hackles, as well, since he argues that in a substantial number of cases, the violence is actually mutual – but he does provide some data and reasoning to back up his argument.
AVOIDANT is a more specifically-targeted book than BAD BOYFRIENDS, aimed narrowly at those involved romantically with avoidants, and does a good job of addressing the specific concerns of its smaller, but significant, audience.
AVOIDANT might very well be a useful resource for those trapped in relationships with people unable to give them the caring connection they require.