I have a fearful-avoidant wife and over the years I’ve learnt a lot about handling it - what to do and what not to do. I’ve given advice to some other men here with FA wives and it works.
If you’re not aware of what’s going on, FA can really throw you for a loop. She’s sweet, you stroke her hair - suddenly she’s disgusted with you. She’s an utter bitch and saying horrible things that makes you want to kick her out of the house - but soon after she’s all submissive and wants to suck your dick.
That’s a classic cycle for an FA girl: you being nice which makes her mean which makes you angry which makes her nice which makes you nice, repeat.
What is Fearful-Avoidance
A person with FA has low self-esteem and high distrust of others. They realize they need and want intimacy, but when they are in a relationship that starts to get close, their fear and mistrust surfaces and they distance.
If your wife is fearful-avoidant, you will likely have seen a cycle of you being nice which makes her mean which makes you angry which makes her nice which makes you nice, repeat. She also likely reacts with disgust or distancing to signs of affection like cuddling or intimate talks.
This describes it well: https://jebkinnison.com/bad-boyfriends-the-book/fearful-avoidant/
I can also recommend this book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Attachment-Across-Lifecourse-Brief-Introduction/dp/023029359X, it will give you a deeper understanding but it isn’t big on actionable advice. It helped my wife reading it, and it helped with how we raise our kids. If either or both of you have insecure attachment styles, for the sake of your kids read this book so you don’t pass on your dysfunction to them.
Attachment theory is one of the best researched and most well documented areas of psychology outside of pathological conditions, it isn’t just some pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo. Don’t confuse it with attachment parenting though, that is just some homegrown stuff (seems designed to sell books to moms seeking to justify their overprotective parenting iirc).
Make sure she is FA before taking this advice
FA girls are a special bunch - don’t make the diagnosis to cover up your own shortcomings and then proceed to fuck shit up. Secure girls won’t react well to this.
There is an excellent test for general attachment style here (this is a real psychology test based on thousands of subjects across 60+ countries) http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl
The MRP playbook is still king
MRP is still the foundation. It’s still about SMV, frame and game. She’s still a woman, and AWALT.
The way to think about FA is that 95% of the time everything is normal, but certain things will trigger abnormal behavior in her.
And don’t fall into the trap of using her FA as an excuse for your failings.
If she's not fucking you, it's because your SMV is low, period.
The limits to happiness with an FA partner
This is not a guide that will make everything rosy. That’s not an option if your wife is FA. All the literature I’ve seen suggests these people simply can’t make relationships work. With MRP tools you’re at another level and it can become good, but FA is a serious issue that won’t go away. Manage your expectations and focus on mitigation, not cure.
If marriage is hard mode, FA is nightmare mode. Not all the time, there will be plenty of good periods, but there will be absolutely awful periods.
Understanding the fearful response
When her fearful response triggers, that’s pretty simple. She is hit harder by the fear of losing you, and she’ll become more needy and try harder to get you to stay. It’s worth remembering when she’s freaking out about something - there’s a fearful response at the end of it that will pull her back.
Understanding the avoidance response
The avoidance response is more complicated. She’s still a woman, she still wants intimacy and comfort. But these very things can trigger her avoidance response. Deep inside, an FA feels there’s something unlovable or even repulsive about her, and if you ever find out her true nature you’ll leave her. This means that when she feels the level of intimacy grows, she’ll begin to panic with a bizarre fear of you discovering her true nature and being disgusted with her, and when her feelings grow stronger she’ll fear the (to her) inevitable separation will just end up hurting more.
The reaction is to push you away and reduce the intimacy. Major avoidance episodes get so bad that part of her wants out of the relationship, but the fearful response keeps her from actually ending it. She’ll try to provoke or taunt you to end it instead - saying she’ll never be able to live up to your expectations, that you might as well end it, she’ll say stuff she knows you hate or that disgusts you.
Don’t ever give her ultimatums about what she can’t say in arguments, like “if you threaten to leave again, we’re over”. When her avoidance response takes over, she wants you to end it. She can’t and won’t do it herself, but if she can goad you into it, that’s an easy out. She’ll regret it once her avoidance episode ends, but in the heat of the moment she feels differently about it.
She’ll also say the stuff you hate to hear the most, stuff that will make you disgusted with her. Your core values, she’ll belittle them, she’ll shit on whatever identity you have of being a family man. Don’t give her ammunition - don’t tell her what really gets to you or what disgusts you, don’t tell her she can’t say shit like that again, even during calm times. Opening up about these things or warning her is giving her the argument manual for the next major avoidance episode.
This is important, so I’ll say it again: during major avoidance episodes, she’ll try to ruin the relationship, she’ll try to drive you away. She’ll say anything and everything. She’ll regret it later, but you’ll have to live with what she said. Telling her what you absolutely can’t live with her saying is exactly what she’ll be yelling at you in the future.
The avoidance response also sends her hamster on overdrive, it’ll warp reality far beyond the normal hamstering and there is no talking it down.
Minimizing daily avoidance stress
Signs of affecting like cuddling, stroking her hair, intimate talks, they stress her out, so you should stop it.
Instead, be her oak. She can cuddle up to your chest, but don’t be affectionate back. Protecting her and the body language that goes with it is fine, seeking intimacy is not (by intimacy I mean the emotional kind, it’s not an euphemism for sex or flirting). Grabbing or groping her is also fine. It’s the emotional intimacy that makes her scared - it’s fine that her man is dominant, protective and sexually interested in her.
It’s like she has a hideous scar under her shirt - don’t make her fear you’re going to lift it up and look at it. Once she gets comfortable knowing you won’t probe deeper, she’ll have a much easier time cuddling up to you and showing weakness and need of comfort. If on the other hand you teach her that you’ll get affectionate when she is, she’ll refrain from it.
Even if she needs comfort, you shouldn’t try to pass comfort tests it with too much intimacy. It is much better to fail a comfort test than trigger her avoidance. Try to get a feel for what she can handle - hopefully a hug and a kind word won’t trigger it.
The best way to provide comfort is often just doing non-intimate beta. Work on the house, do something with the kids. That shows you’re there for her and the family without triggering avoidance. If she’s throwing a comfort test, it is often better to go clean something than to talk to her.
We often recommend guys with a misbehaving wife to withdraw affection but continue owning his shit. The problem with an FA wife is that not showing her any attention but still doing stuff around the house and with the kids is probably the state she is most comfortable in. In MRP this may be the default OI behavior for her not living up to your standards, and women without attachment issues will become slightly uncomfortable and seek to regain some attention, but an FA wife will not do that. To correct her behavior you will have to "check out".
You emotionally check out of the relationship for a period. Leave the house. Be selfish. Shift chores you'd do unto her. Hog the TV and watch stuff she doesn't like. You need to do this more often and for smaller things than secure girls. Make her earn her way back in your good favor. And don't be afraid to ramp it up, go really cold and aloof - at this point the other end of her attachment issues begin to work in your favor. The fearful response kicks in and she will freak out more than women without attachment issues and be willing to do more to get back in your favor. As always be careful of not seeming butthurt since that isn't sexy, shoot for something more along the lines of her not living up to your expectations, so why does it matter what she wants. Down the line I had to stay disappointed for longer even as she tried to earn her way back in, because she seemed to get the idea she could be a bitch and then just fuck me when she wanted me back. If you’re new to MRP, reward good behavior right away, but you may have to change tactics later to beat her girl game.
The curse of high alpha and being happy
Surprisingly, the real problem with an FA wife shows when you’re further in the process, when your alpha is high and she’s being submissive. At this point, she’s more attracted to you and loves you more. For someone with FA, that just means the stakes are that much higher for when you finally “figure her out and dump her”. It’s more avoidance stress.
Submissiveness is a very intimate experience, again an avoidance trigger.
You’re happy with your sweet, submissive and kinky wife - but for an FA that triggers feelings of suspicion and mistrust. They deeply believe there is something wrong with them and you being happy with her makes her fear that you’ll soon figure out her true nature and it ends.
I have seen a clear pattern that whenever I felt that life with her was really good, a major avoidance episode was coming. We’re talking her breaking stuff, assaulting me, threatening to take the kids away, saying the vilest shit you can imagine.
This is by far the worst problem with FAs. All the other stuff is manageable, but that your relationship being really good is in itself what breaks it, how do you get around that?
I tried being less alpha for a period, and while that saw a real reduction in avoidance behavior, I couldn’t live with it. It felt fake, and I missed the high levels of submissiveness and kinkyness from her.
The solution is to never be content. In this case, good is the enemy of perfect, and even of good itself. There’s no standing still, no enjoying what you’ve achieved from her, with her. Always be dominating and demanding. Expect more from her. When she gets everything you asked for right, expect more.
She will try to fuck everything up the second you’re happy with what you have. It’s not that you have to be grumpy all the time. Think more of it like the entrepreneur that loves what he’s doing, loves his business and leads his employees well and celebrates success, but he’s always fucking pushing for more from everyone around him. Don’t settle for less.
If you’re happy and content, you’re seconds from disaster.
Overcoming sexual inhibition
FA girls have low self esteem - they don’t think they’re good enough, and they don’t trust that people will react well to what they do.
This means major inhibition. Even when they’re turned on, they’ll hide their feelings and control their expression. Like insecure teenagers make weird faces when their picture is taken (better goof off instead of taking the risk trying to look pretty), they’ll do the equivalent in bed and be purposefully silly or awkward. It’s incredibly hard to get them to loosen up. The problem is rarely any physical boundaries, they’ll be up for trying most stuff. The problem is usually all the emotional stuff like eye contact, moaning, sexy body language.
On top of those inhibitions, there are the classic FA insecurities: what if she tries her best and that isn’t enough for you, and the fear of deep emotional connection in itself.
The basis of all of this is still your SMV: alpha, frame, game, looks. Don’t try to force shit you don’t have the SMV to back up.
But you will need to push her more than other girls. You need to have talks with her, explain exactly what you expect. You need to be dominant with her. You need to not accept less than her best performance.
Start with one thing, tell her exactly how you want her to do that thing. If she doesn't, tell her again - if she messes it up (she'll do that on purpose), correct it. When she doesn't comply, put on your pants an leave. Check out, and be frank that you're not interested in someone not willing to put in effort to please you.
Repeat with the next thing. We're talking small stuff, like tongue action during BJs is one thing, lots of saliva is another, etc.
Increasing alpha and SMV only got my wife from "low libido" to horny but very inhibited. Then I had to wear down each of her inhibitions, now she'll talk technique while sucking dick, she licks my nipples while riding me, etc.
Being OI about it and hoping it'll get better just by having high SMV will get you nowhere or at best it improves so slowly you hardly notice, you'll just be disappointed with her performance forever. Push it and push hard, one thing at a time. There's a lot to go through, it'll take time even if you go at it, so might as well get started once you have the SMV for it.
The toughest part is when sex is only really good and you have to put on your pants and walk out because you want it to be super awesome. It’s hard to walk out on good sex, but if you don’t it is not likely to get better no matter how much you increase your SMV. You’re dealing with strong fears and inhibitions, it takes some pushing to get her out of her comfort zone.
The good news is, if you put in the effort it works. She can get comfortable doing new stuff and learn to approach it with enthusiasm and pride.
Dealing with avoidance episodes
Her avoidance is triggered badly, and she’s being an utter bitch, trying to taunt you to end it. What do you do?
Her hamster goes into overdrive, the stuff she’ll imagine is like something from a paranoid schizophrenic. If you STFU, she’ll take it to mean she’s right. If you A&A it, she’ll take it literally. You have to counter any unreasonable accusations - once. It might be DEERing, but if you don’t you’ll have to deal with a deeply rooted delusion.
After that, the usual shit testing methods apply, just be careful with the A&A as she takes it literally, and remember what I said about avoiding ultimatums.
Don’t give any ground, and under no circumstance go for comfort and affection - that just makes it worse, the real problem here is her avoidance, not what she’s accusing you of, including that you don’t love her. Correct her once, matter of factly, then pressure flip or whatever. Don’t fall into the trap of showing affection during an avoidance episode.
Another thing I’ve found works well is just being laid back about it and saying she’s so predictable - “we got close, so you freaked out, and tomorrow you’ll be all sweet trying to make it up to me. Just like last time. It’s not like what you’re feeling now is relevant.”
If she’s on her way to go really off the deep end, don’t hold your temper back. Just go full caveman angry. If she’s going there, it is better for you to go off early, otherwise her shit just keeps getting meaner and meaner until she crosses a hard boundary. And trust me, her crossing hard boundaries is not fun, you both have to live with what was said and some shit just erodes your connection. Put a stop to it early, get angry and/or leave.
The bad episodes usually take 1-3 days for me. In the end, she comes to her senses by you yanking on the fearful chain, it’s not until she fears she’s losing you she’ll back down. One way or the other, that’s where you end up so even though she’ll act like the sky is falling and your marriage is over for sure, it’s just warm air. Don’t worry, her fearful response yanks her back in.
And the fearful response is strong, she’ll do exactly what you like. It’s a good time to work on her inhibitions.
Dread and jealousy
FAs are very mistrusting and prone to jealousy. Dread still has its place, but go up the dread scale slower than you normally would. Less will do more for you, and too much will set off a much worse reaction.
When combined with avoidance, jealousy will kick into absolute overdrive and reach pathological levels. Be really careful with any level of dread if intimacy is high.
A great life with a fearful-avoidant wife?
It’s doable. You need to get your SMV up, like any other man, and you’ll get a sweet and submissive wife. But you need to put in a ton of work to overcome her inhibitions, one at a time. You need to manage intimacy levels and never get content. You’ll likely still see bad avodiance episodes, say once or twice a year, and at high SMV they’re much, much worse than what you saw previously. The main trick here is to not reveal to her how she can really piss you off, and to shut the episodes down quickly - three days of escalating provokation is much worse than one.
But put in the work and 95% of the time, things are great. She's sweet, we touch and kiss a lot during the day, at any time I can unzip and she’ll give a BJ like a camgirl, she’s lively and enthusiastic during sex. The other 5% range from annoying to a nightmare, and you just have to suck that up if you want to live with a fearful-avoidant wife.