Do you ever want to connect and form a bond with someone but instinctively push them away when any hint of emotional closeness develops? Can you recall that ex of yours who, although they seemed to like you and enjoy your company, got cold feet whenever you expressed your feelings or lavished them with attention? People with a dismissive avoidant attachment style have difficulty seeing an “I love you” text on their screens, but they don’t understand how that behavior sabotages their relationships.
So, instead of thinking that there’s something seriously wrong with you, understanding the causes of dismissive avoidant attachment may help.
This attachment style is characterized by fear of intimacy and other emotions like loneliness and confusion, and these individuals avoid emotional connection at any cost. We must learn how to manage these feelings effectively, whether we are insecurely attached or connected to someone who is, to build emotionally and physically fulfilling relationships with partners, friends, and family members.
What better way than finding out why it exists in the first place?
Table of Contents
What Is Attachment Theory?
Attachment theory explains the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans, emphasizing how our early connection patterns with our primary caregivers shape how we interact with others later in our relationships.
Attachment theory suggests that our earliest social interactions are crucial to forming healthy bonds later in life.
This theory proposes that infants come into the world pre-programmed to form attachments with their primary caregivers. As they grow, these attachments become a template for all future relationships.
How this attachment style develops depends on the quality of care an infant receives from its primary caregiver.
Not only does one’s attachment style have implications for social and personal relationships in adulthood, but it has also been linked to academic performance, emotional intelligence, and overall mental health throughout life.
Overall, attachment theory helps us understand why specific interpersonal patterns emerge in our lives due to our early childhood experiences with emotional intimacy with primary caregivers and how to look into them to understand better the process of meeting one’s own emotional needs and having healthier relationships.
The Different Attachment Styles
The main attachment styles include secure, anxious, fearful, avoidant, and dismissive, each of which has implications for one’s early adulthood, close relationships, emotional vulnerability, and communication skills.
Anxious preoccupied attachment style
An anxious attachment style is characterized by an extreme need for closeness, attention, and approval from others and an intense fear of abandonment.
People with this attachment style tend to suffer from emotional permanence, be overly clingy and dependent, require social support, and often feel abandoned or rejected even when their partner is emotionally available.
This can lead to unhealthy patterns of behavior and communication, such as excessive worrying or clinging, as well as difficulty trusting others.
Anxiously attached individuals are also more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem in adult relationships.
Dismissive avoidant attachment style
Dismissive Avoidant attachment is characterized by an individual’s fear of commitment and difficulty connecting with others emotionally. People who exhibit this attachment style tend to be independent and self-reliant.
They may also struggle to open up in relationships, preferring to ignore or minimize their emotions. This can lead to a lack of closeness in a relationship and difficulty in forming intimate relationships.
In addition, dismissive avoidants may also have trouble expressing themselves and understanding the emotions of others, which can be challenging when trying to develop lasting romantic relationships or create attachment security.
Fearful avoidant attachment style
Fearful Avoidant is an attachment style based on an individual’s intensified fear of rejection, alongside a strong desire for connection and intimacy. People with a fearful attachment type often have difficulty expressing their needs and may be reluctant to form relationships due to fear of being hurt.
They also tend to be overly sensitive to criticism or rejection and may struggle to rely on their partners. While fearful avoidants have difficulty connecting with others emotionally, they can eventually learn to foster emotional intimacy in relationships by learning to recognize and express their feelings in a safe environment and positive light.
Related:Fearful Avoidant Attachment: 7 Signs of Craving Yet Fearing Love
Secure attachment style
Secure attachment is characterized by an individual’s ability to form safe and trusting relationships with others. They can trust and rely on their partners in romantic relationships, communicate their needs, as well as empathize with the feelings of those around them. Individuals also have a better sense of self-confidence and high self-esteem, which can help them navigate complex social dynamics.
Securely attached individuals are better equipped to handle the complexities of adult relationships due to their increased capacity for empathy towards others and their ability to rely on others.
This can lead to more meaningful connections because they don’t avoid emotional bonds and can better understand each other’s needs.
A secure attachment style can also help reduce stress levels because the relationships are comforting, allowing people to feel emotionally supported without fear of emotional distance. Securely attached individuals are also more resilient in adversity because they have developed the skills necessary for forming healthy relationships.
So, What Exactly Is a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style?
As mentioned earlier, dismissive-avoidant attachment is characterized by an individual’s fear of intimacy and commitment. People who exhibit this attachment style tend to be independent, often trying to ignore their emotions instead of expressing themselves. This can lead to a lack of closeness, difficulty in healthy relationships, and struggles with communication, especially with partners excessively worrying or clinging.
A dismissive avoidant attachment style results in a higher risk for depression, anxiety, and greater relationship insecurity due to avoiding emotional bonds. Individuals may also struggle to trust or rely on their partners, which adds tension and distance.
Additionally, difficulties understanding one’s emotions and those around them can be challenging for individuals with a dismissive avoidant attachment style when creating secure attachments.
As a result, these individuals may either avoid relationships or find themselves trapped in cycles of unfulfilling relationships that start strong but eventually end due to difficulties in managing conflict or expressing unexpressed emotions leading from the restrictive environment set up by the individual’s own emotions and dismissive tendencies towards intimacy.
What Causes a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style?
Parental neglect can be a significant cause of dismissive avoidant attachment. Neglectful parenting is characterized by little to no emotional support, physical care, and guidance in the child development phase. This may lead to the individual feeling unloved and unappreciated, leading to one of the insecure attachment styles and causing them to suppress seeking support and attention.
Unmet needs can also contribute to the development of dismissive avoidant attachments. When individuals cannot meet their needs in childhood, either through a lack of parental awareness or too much parental control, they may struggle to form secure attachments in adulthood. This is because individuals who have not had their needs for affection and validation met in childhood make it a defense mechanism not to trust others -whether family, friends, or romantic partners.
Hurtful and dismissive experiences
Hurtful and dismissive experiences, such as verbal or physically abusive behavior, can also contribute to the development of dismissive avoidant behavior during adult attachment. When a child is subject to negative and hurtful experiences at an early age, it can damage their mental health and ability to form secure attachments with adults, as adults.
Related:The 7 Stages of Trauma Bonding; Here’s Why You Can’t Leave
What Are Signs of Dismissive Avoidant Attachment?
Brief and casual relationships
One of the common signs of dismissive avoidant attachment is having brief and casual relationships. Dismissive avoidants often struggle to form close, meaningful connections in a romantic relationship because of their unconscious and childhood fear of getting hurt or feeling vulnerable. As a result, their relationships tend to be kept at a distance which can lead to them being involved in short-term and superficial relationships. They may also find it challenging to commit long-term due to fear of abandonment or rejection, resulting in avoiding intimate conversations and activities such as discussing past experiences, feelings or plans.
Fear of intimacy
Fear of intimacy is a common symptom of this attachment pattern. It occurs when individuals become overwhelmed by closeness, vulnerability, and connection in personal relationships. A dismissive-avoidant person often has difficulty expressing emotions, trusting others, and being open and comfortable in intimate relationships. This fear of intimacy is often rooted in past relationships that lack depth or warmth.
Detaching from partner
Detaching from one’s partner is a tell-tale sign of the avoidant dismissive attachment style. Dismissive-avoidant people often struggle to connect deeply emotionally due to their fears and vulnerabilities seeping into their adult attachment styles, leading to them avoiding intimate conversations, activities, and physical contact. As a result, they may not only find it difficult to get close to their partner and may even withdraw from them altogether, resulting in feelings of disconnection or distance.
Inability to express feelings and emotions
One of the signs of the avoidant dismissive attachment style is an inability to express one’s feelings and emotions effectively. This often stems from not developing healthy emotional skills during childhood due to a lack of validation or support from parents or caregivers. Those dismissive avoidant attachments may also be fearful or vulnerable when expressing emotions such as love or compassion – which would not have been an issue had they had a more secure attachment style.
High, unrealistic standards of an “ideal partner”
Finally, people with a dismissive avoidant attachment may have an unrealistic view of a perfect partner. This often leads them to set unrealistic standards for their partners, which can be overwhelming and exhausting for their significant other. Because they struggle to form close connections in relationships, a dismissive avoidant will try to convince themselves that no one meets these standards and will give up on the relationship quickly.
An extreme need for autonomy and independence
A dismissive-avoidant person may also have an extreme need for autonomy and independence. This often means they are unwilling to compromise or depend on their partner for emotional or physical support, leading them to remain distant and emotionally unavailable. This can cause feelings of loneliness and disconnection and is one of the reasons how dismissive avoidant attachment can cause the relationship’s demise.
Secretive and unable to build trust or handle conflict
Lastly, dismissive avoidant attachment can make it difficult for individuals to build trust and handle conflict. This is because they cannot emotionally connect with their partner and often resort to secrecy or avoidance when faced with disagreements. This can lead to frustration in the relationship, as their partner may find it difficult to communicate without getting hurt or feeling unheard.
Can A Dismissive Avoidant Fall in Love?
Yes, a person with an avoidant attachment style can fall in love. Despite their difficulties forming close connections and being emotionally available, they can overcome these obstacles and build meaningful relationships.
The practical advice here is for the individual to be willing to work on developing their emotional skills, such as healthily communicating their feelings and needs. They also need to learn to trust and be vulnerable with others, which can help them form deeper connections necessary for falling in love. Additionally, they need to know that their expectations of an ideal partner are realistic and achievable without sacrificing either person.
It may take time for avoidant adults to open up and be comfortable enough in a relationship to fall in love.
However, when they do eventually reach this point, they can find themselves experiencing newfound joy and appreciation that comes from being fully connected with another human being while having a healthy relationship. It requires both partners’ patience, understanding, time, and willingness to flourish in this connection.
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Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style Treatment: Is It Curable?
The good news is that an insecure attachment style is curable. Here’s what you can do:
Nurture the emotional connection.
Nurturing the emotional connection you might build with others is vital to curing avoidant attachment. This involves allowing yourself to feel you’re in a safe, secure, and non-judgmental space that allows you to express your feelings and needs -which is often the job of your relationship coach or therapist. It also involves learning to communicate effectively and openly to build relationships based on mutual trust and understanding.
Practice writing down your feelings and needs.
Writing down your feelings and needs is another way to help yourself or encourage an individual with the avoidant attachment style to express emotions. Writing can be a helpful tool for letting feelings come out, especially those too difficult to vocalize, and identifying a relationship’s wants and needs to understand better how to build healthier dynamics.
A conscious effort to spot your patterns of running away
Finally, if you’re a dismissive avoidant, you should consciously try to spot your relationship patterns of running away from people who want to get close. This will help you recognize and work through the underlying issues preventing you from forming strong bonds with others. Through self-reflection, you can gain insight into your behavior and take steps toward understanding whether you’re running away.
Seek support from a therapist.
For those struggling with dismissive avoidant attachment, it can be beneficial to speak with a therapist. A professional can provide you with the tools needed to manage your emotions and build healthy connections in relationships. A therapist can also guide and support you throughout learning to become emotionally available while maintaining personal boundaries in a safe, non-judgmental space.
Related:9 Mommy Issues in Men That Make Him Avoid Commitment
Ultimately, dismissive avoidant attachment can be challenging to confront and treat. It is important to remember that everyone has a unique journey to healing and building healthy relationships. It will take patience, dedication, and willingness to understand the needs of yourself and your partner to form a strong bond of trust and mutual respect. Even though the difficulties involved in forming close connections and being emotionally available, with proper support learning how to manage your emotions better and create meaningful connections with those around you is possible.
Fearful-Avoidant people are below the main line of the spectrum diagram because they're a combination of Anxious-Preoccupied and Dismissive-Avoidant. These people do what I call a “push-pull” relationship style, which means that they compulsively pull people in, while simultaneously pushing them away.What are the toxic traits of dismissive avoidant? ›
A dismissive-avoidant person cannot form supportive relationships. They are not comfortable providing support to friends or romantic partners and they feel less obligated to do so. Their view of those who seek support is that they are dependent, weak, emotionally unstable, and immature.What to do when a dismissive avoidant pushes you away? ›
If an avoidant starts pulling away, let them know that you care but do not chase them. It may be very painful to do this, but pursuing them is likely to make it take longer for them to come back. They need breathing space, to feel safe with their own thoughts and unengulfed.What attachment style cheats the most? ›
According to psychologists, people with avoidant attachment styles are individuals uncomfortable with intimacy and are therefore more likely to multiply sexual encounters and cheat.Why do dismissive-avoidants push people away? ›
They avoid being intimate and vulnerable and push away those who get too close. Dismissive-avoidants typically have few close friends; they do not want to depend on others, and they do not want to be depended upon. There is a lack of commitment due to being extremely self-reliant.
Pushing people away is one way of avoiding intimacy. In fact, this avoidance can act as a defense mechanism for people afraid of getting hurt in relationships. This could be because a past relationship ended badly, perhaps with rejection or even bereavement.Are all dismissive avoidants narcissists? ›
Avoidants are not all narcissists but they do have an ability to detach emotionally from the relationship which triggers an “anxious” person's attachment anxiety.What turns on a dismissive avoidant? ›
Dismissive avoidant attachment triggers include: Criticism: While people with this attachment style often respond positively to constructive criticism in the workplace, it can be hard for them to handle negative feedback from partners. They may see criticism as evidence that others don't care about their needs.How do dismissive avoidants show affection? ›
There are a few signs to know if an avoidant-dismissive person likes you. They will spend more time together with you though they may not reveal their emotions, or feel deeply. They may discourage you or move away when you share any negative emotions rather than inquire what they are really about.Do dismissive avoidants have a fear of abandonment? ›
People with a dismissive-avoidant style are not afraid of abandonment or the end of a relationship. When conflicts happen, a person with this attachment style often starts looking for the fastest way out of the relationship.
Because people with an avoidant attachment style fear not being lovable or good enough, feeling criticized or judged by loved ones can be particularly painful. Especially when it comes to things that they are not so comfortable with, such as their emotions and feelings.Do dismissive avoidants overthink? ›
Avoidant attachers are prone to overthinking and overanalyzing a situation. Therefore, sedentary dates such as the cinema may provide too many opportunities to pick fault with the situation or relationship.What is the hardest attachment style to love? ›
Most attachment specialists believe that the disorganized attachment style is the most difficult of the three insecure attachment styles to treat because it incorporates both the anxious and the avoidant styles.What is the hardest attachment style to change? ›
"Disorganized attachment style is said to be the most difficult of the three insecure attachment styles to treat or change," Feuerman says. But it's important to know that your attachment style can shift over time — you can develop a secure attachment style by changing the way you act and think.Which attachment style is most manipulative? ›
Individuals high in anxious attachment are more likely to engage in emotional manipulation and other harmful behaviors intended to prevent a partner from leaving the relationship, which in turn is linked to reduced relationship satisfaction, according to new research published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.Will a dismissive avoidant ever reach out? ›
They're always looking for the red flags, and they will find them, so when you go no contact with the dismissive avoidant, don't expect them to reach out to you. They won't text you because likely when you were in a relationship with them, you were the one to initiate most of the contact.Do Avoidants care if you move on? ›
This response isn't to suggest that avoidant attachers don't feel the pain of a breakup – they do. They're just prone to pushing down their heartbreak and attempting to carry on with life as normal.Do Avoidants care when you leave? ›
Avoidants may keep pushing people away but be shocked when they finally leave. As a child their caregiver may have been neglectful or overbearing and given rise to a feeling of emotional abandonment, but they were still physically present.Do Avoidants want you to chase them? ›
Fearful avoidants both want and fear intimacy. So they seek closeness. But once they do, their fear of intimacy and attachment kicks in and they suddenly feel the need to escape, and this is when they need you to chase them.Will a dismissive avoidant ever apologize? ›
According to Schumann and Orehek, avoidant individuals were less likely to offer a comprehensive apology. Instead, they were defensive, prone to justify their behavior, blame the other person and make excuses.
Abuse at the hands of someone with an avoidant personality disorder often includes psychological and emotional abuse. Don't be afraid to reach out for help, pursue support groups for loved ones, seek your own therapy, separate, or leave the relationship completely.Do dismissive avoidants have friends? ›
For this reason, and the fact that they find emotional closeness difficult, avoidant adults may be more likely to have a lot of friends rather than a few close ones. Avoidant attachers are often the life and soul of the party due to their elevated confidence and high self-esteem.Who are Avoidants attracted to? ›
Love Avoidants recognize and are attracted to the Love Addict's strong fear of being left because Love Avoidants know that all they have to do to trigger their partner's fear is threaten to leave.Do avoidants like kissing? ›
After intimacy deepens, the avoidant partner loses interest in being sexual, in hugging, kissing, and perhaps even holding hands. Some avoidant partners will seem to actively limit physical proximity, such as sitting closely together on a couch where contact may be possible.How do you win a dismissive Avoidants heart? ›
- Be patient. ...
- Create an atmosphere of safety. ...
- Respect cultural differences. ...
- Try to understand how they view 'needs' ...
- Avoid controlling their behaviors. ...
- If possible, offer alone time. ...
- Try not to interrupt their space.
“You wouldn't do or say that if you really loved me.” Someone who is dismissive-avoidant will easily feel smothered if their partner tries to chase them. If they feel controlled or like their partner is trying to change them in some way, they might pull away.
People with a so-called avoidant attachment style have reported in previous research that they like touch less and engage in it much less than the average. Thus, they were the perfect candidates to investigate people who could benefit from less touch.Do dismissive avoidants feel alone? ›
Dismissive-avoidant partners may attempt to convince themselves that they're independent and no longer need connection from their spouse, however this only leads to an element of detachment and defensiveness. They may be harsh and/or act like they just don't care (but newsflash- they do).Are dismissive avoidants toxic? ›
The dismissive-avoidant attachment style itself is not inherently toxic, but it can lead to unhealthy relationship patterns. People with this attachment style may struggle with emotional intimacy and have a tendency to prioritize their independence over their relationships.How do you communicate with a dismissive-avoidant? ›
Communicating with empathy, using “I” statements, and avoiding blaming and criticism are some of the ways to help avoidant partners feel safe enough to express their thoughts and feelings, as well as change their behaviors in time. “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.”
In fact, the avoidant person may tell themselves they are doing their partner a favor. But conflict avoidant lies tend to repeat and compound until the interpersonal challenges and dynamics that led to them in the first place are dealt with and resolved.What happens when an avoidant is triggered? ›
Avoidant / dismissive adults still self regulate in unhealthy ways; they might feel threatened by triggering dating or relationship situations, such as a partner trying to get emotionally close, and they might shut down their emotions in an attempt to feel safe and avoid feeling vulnerable.What scares a dismissive-avoidant? ›
The dismissive-avoidant is afraid of and incapable of tolerating true intimacy. Since he was brought up not to depend on anyone or reveal feelings that might not be acceptable to caregivers, his first instinct when someone gets really close to him is to run away.How do dismissive avoidants deal with rejection? ›
Someone with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style has a deep fear of rejection. To manage this fear, you might avoid intimate relationships by keeping your partner at a distance or leaving a relationship when it becomes too emotionally charged. A high level of independence is what you desire in your relationships.What are the core needs of a dismissive avoidant person? ›
So, to review, this is what a dismissive avoidant person needs: Feeling supported in a consistent way. Feeling understood and that their autonomy is respected (very important). Feeling their freedom.Are dismissive avoidants hypersexual? ›
This means they love you because those with avoidant attachments have a tendency to be hypersexual. If they leave you alone in their home or apartment, that's a big sign they care.Who should a dismissive avoidant be with? ›
Fearful-Avoidant with Dismissive-Avoidant: Yellow light
That said, a fearful-avoidant individual and dismissive-avoidant individual can create a positive, hard-won connection when both are doing their inner work.
Both avoidant and anxious attachment are both insecure types of attachment. Just over 50% of people are securely attached to their partner. The securely attached are the least likely to be unfaithful as they do not worry about their partner straying or the strength of the relationship.What is the rarest attachment style? ›
Fearful-Avoidant, aka Disorganized Attachment
The fearful-avoidant attachment style is the rarest, and "develops when the child's caregivers — the only source of safety — become a source of fear," according to the Attachment Project, an attachment style education site.
Despite their negative affect regarding sexual encounters, people with anxious attachment have more intimate partners (as compared to the other groups) and are prone to being unfaithful to their lovers.
Someone with a fearful avoidant attachment may self-sabotage a good romantic relationship because they are afraid and feel unsafe. They tend to hyperfocus on things that can go wrong in the relationship, even if there is nothing to worry about.What attachment style is fear of rejection? ›
Individuals with anxious attachment styles, who consider themselves positive and others negative, are characterized by a high level of anxiety, a lack of secure attachment, a strong need for intimacy, and a fear of rejection in their relationships (3).What attachment style do narcissists usually have? ›
Narcissists have insecure attachment styles that are either avoidant or anxious, or some combination. People with insecure attachment styles feel a basic insecurity stemming from relationships with early caregivers.What attachment style is very clingy? ›
Individuals with an anxious attachment style are characterized with: Being clingy. Having an intensely persistent and hypervigilant alertness towards their partner's actions or inactions.Are dismissive avoidants manipulative? ›
Those who suffer with Avoidant Personality Disorder frequently use manipulation to get their needs met. Perfectionism; nothing is good enough, the standard is set unrealistically high for themselves and often for others.Do Avoidants pull away when they like you? ›
Signs an Avoidant Loves You
They usually pull away when things start to feel serious. If an avoidant keeps coming back to you, it's likely that they really love you. They're just nervous about letting their guard down. An avoidant can get into a serious relationship, but it takes time.
Vulnerability is one of the biggest triggers for a dismissive-avoidant due to childhood wounds. Dismissive-avoidants value independence. Any need to rely on someone else triggers a sense of weakness. Fear of being trapped and controlled by someone else.What attachment style is push and pull? ›
Due to their desire for closeness, yet simultaneous fear of it, someone with a disorganized attachment style may display a push and pull energy in their relationships. This may look like an “I hate you – don't leave me” pattern of behaviors – which could clearly be highly confusing for their partners.Do Avoidants pull away when in love? ›
Avoidants fear getting close to their relationship partners. As soon as the relationship starts getting serious, they tend to pull away from their partner.What do Avoidants get attracted to? ›
Love Avoidants recognize and are attracted to the Love Addict's strong fear of being left because Love Avoidants know that all they have to do to trigger their partner's fear is threaten to leave.
The dismissive-avoidant is afraid of and incapable of tolerating true intimacy. Since he was brought up not to depend on anyone or reveal feelings that might not be acceptable to caregivers, his first instinct when someone gets really close to him is to run away.How do you get a dismissive avoidant to open up? ›
- Be patient. ...
- Create an atmosphere of safety. ...
- Respect cultural differences. ...
- Try to understand how they view 'needs' ...
- Avoid controlling their behaviors. ...
- If possible, offer alone time. ...
- Try not to interrupt their space.
A common theory about why you might use this behavior if you have BPD is because you desperately crave closeness in your relationships but, fearing abandonment, you choose to reject this person before they can reject you.
- Identify the problem. ...
- Empathize to avoid an ultimate ending. ...
- Recognize how costly these dynamics can be. ...
- Respect the other person as they are. ...
- Distance can be refreshing. ...
- Do the work. ...
- Allow vulnerability. ...
- Don't allow a power play.
Push-pull is a form of psychological manipulation whereby a person repeatedly destroys intimacy in a relationship and then repairs/rebuilds it, seemingly without explanation or cause.How do Avoidants act in love? ›
Examples of Love Avoidant Behavior
Pushing other people away using single word responses, avoiding social outings, or being vague about their needs and intentions. Creating emotional walls rather than healthy boundaries in relationships. Using their energies on their interests and hobbies while isolating their partner.
Do avoidants ever come back? Yes, but let's clarify. Avoidants do sometimes cycle back around to those they have shut out, disappeared on, and ignored. However, just because they come back this doesn't mean this is a viable relationship.Do avoidants regret pushing you away? ›
The fearful avoidant will typically go through a period of euphoria after a breakup due to their newfound freedom from the confines of the relationship. However, that doesn't mean they won't eventually regret the breakup.