What Is Dismissive Avoidant Attachment? (2023)

What Is Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment?

Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment

Dismissive-avoidant attachment is a term for when someone tries to avoid emotional connection, attachment, and closeness to other people.

A person with dismissive avoidant attachment usually doesn't pursue romantic relationships, and may actively avoid them. A dismissive attachment style is the opposite of an anxious attachment style.

The History of Attachment Theory

Attachment styles are based on attachment theory, which is an idea that breaks down the different ways that people connect with others into an assortment of attachment styles. It was invented by British psychologist John Bowlby, who believed that how we connect with others is based on our formative years in childhood.

Attachment theory is broken down into three distinct types of attachment:

  1. Secure: This attachment style is often considered the most functional for adult relationships. People who are securely attached to others are able to form close bonds and give their trust. They seek support from others, and share their feelings with them.
  2. Anxious: Those who have an anxious attachment style experience anxiety about their relationships with others. Anxious-attached people get very invested in their relationships, possibly to the point of codependence. This anxiety tends to worsen in stressful situations.
  3. Avoidant: People who have an avoidant attachment style try to not get close with others. They often avoid intimacy, and may have problems seeing themselves in a positive light, and seeing others that way.

From there, attachment theory can be broken down further into numerous substyles, such as anxious-insecure.

Dismissive avoidant attachment, which is commonly known as avoidant-dismissive insecure attachment style, is an attachment model in which a person tries not to rely on others or have others rely on them.

Let's look at how else you can tell someone has this attachment style.

Characteristics of Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment

People who are dismissive-avoidant are generally very self-sufficient, says Silvi Saxena, MBA, MSW, LSW, CCTP, OSW-C. She tells Verywell that dismissive-avoidant behaviors can include "independence to an extreme, not asking for help, setting a lot of boundaries, withdrawing from their partner when getting too close."

  • Highly secretive: People who are dismissive-avoidant are often secretive and rigid, not allowing their own plans to be influenced by others and, often, not even disclosing those plans at all.
  • Dismissive: When someone tries to get close to a person with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style, they may step back completely from the relationship or friendship. They may be seen as cold, distant, and closed off.
  • Brief, casual relationships: In terms of relationships, those with dismissive-avoidant attachment are often more prone to short and shallow romantic partnerships, in which the connection is casual and is usually over quickly.

Short and casual relationships help the dismissive-avoidant person avoid any feelings of closeness toward others and don't offer others the opportunity to feel close to them.

(Video) What is Dismissive - Avoidant Attachment?

The Cause of Dismissive Avoidant Attachment

Because attachment theory is based on how we interacted with parents and caregivers in our youth, it makes sense that the causes of this attachment style can be traced back to young age.

  • Dismissive parenting: It's believed that dismissive-avoidant attachment occurs because a baby or small child doesn't get the attention or care they need from their parents or caregivers.
  • Poor responsiveness: Because parents are dismissive, the infant or child learns that expressing their needs doesn't guarantee they will be taken care of.
  • Unmet needs: When a child's needs aren't properly met by their caregivers, they may develop the sense that other people can't properly care for them.

While adult attachment styles are not always exactly the same as childhood attachment styles, research indicates that they are quite similar in many people.

Neglect, dismissiveness, and unmet needs can make someone, even a small child, feel like they have to be self-reliant to get what they need in life.

Impact of Dismissive Avoidant Attachment

Being independent, and teaching your children how to be independent, is important for survival. That said, though, having an avoidant-dismissive attachment style is not ideal for a person, and it may strongly impact both the avoider and those in their life.

If you or someone you know has an avoidant-dismissive attachment style, people's needs may go unmet.

You May Not Get Your Needs Met

For the avoider, Saxena tells Verywell Mind that being avoidant and dismissive can lead to not having your needs met. She says that "generally, as humans, we want to have a connection to others, and we all need to be taken care of at some point in life."

(Video) How Dismissive Avoidant People Experience Romantic Feelings | Dismissive Avoidant Attachment

But because people with that attachment style have so much trouble reaching out to others, she says that dismissive avoidance "can make it hard to admit you need help and support, and [this can] leave you suffering in silence."

Your Loved Ones May Feel Neglected

Partners, friends, and family members of someone with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style also may not have their needs met in the relationship.

In regards to romantic relationships, Saxena says that a person "may feel neglected or disconnected from their partner often, which can feel really lonely in a relationship." She says that the avoider may feel safe in their behavior, which is how everyone wants to feel, but the person on the other side definitely may not.

In general, people feel safer when they feel connected to others. This isn't necessarily the case for someone with dismissive avoidant attachment; they might feel safer the more distance they create.

As you can imagine, creating distance between oneself and others can, in turn, make others feel less safe. This can create negative feelings about the relationship.

You Might Be Unable to Tolerate Conflict

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.

Cutting the relationship short prevents the individual from dealing with the distress of conflict and the fear that they will be rejected first. This strategy may prevent stress in the short term, but it makes it difficult to maintain lasting relationships and contributes to social isolation and loneliness in the long term.

How Bad Relationships Affect Your Health

(Video) The 4 Types Of Dismissive Avoidants | Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Explained

How to Build a Healthier Attachment Style

If you have an avoidant dismissive attachment style, you might be perfectly happy in your independence. However, at some point, you may want a more serious romantic relationship, or you may want to have a deeper connection to your family members.

When these desires come to light, someone with dismissive avoidant attachment might not know how to begin. Here's what you can do if you find that you want stronger connections with others.

Prioritize Honest Communication With Loved Ones

You can move forward in life without creating any changes, which is one option, of course.

In fact, Saxena says it's possible to have close relationships without changing yourself if this attachment style feels comfortable and good for you, but that it "requires a lot of work and communication to ensure expectations are being communicated and understood."

Challenge Your Habitual Responses

Once you recognize these tendencies in yourself, it is important to take steps to gradually challenge and change them. Instead of setting hard boundaries and saying no, make a conscious effort to say yes to things you might normally reject.

Utilize Mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness—or learning to focus more fully on the present moment—may also help you become more aware of your behaviors and emotions. When you find yourself being dismissive, rejecting, or avoidant, stop and think about how you are feeling at that moment.

Instead of trying to push the emotions away, work toward labeling and accepting that they exist. This may help you become better at tolerating feelings of distress and less likely to turn away from your partner.

Reach Out to a Therapist

Another, and possibly more long-term viable, option is to seek counseling. You can utilize a therapist who specializes in relationships or one who is knowledgeable about attachment theory. Or you can simply speak to any therapist you feel comfortable with because all should have a basic understanding of attachment theory.

(Video) Dismissive Avoidant v Fearful Avoidant - What's the Difference? | Attachment Styles

Before beginning therapy, it's helpful to think through your goals and to be settled in the fact that change is often uncomfortable.

Using a model such as the six stages of behavioral change can help you understand that shifting your attachment style will be a slow progression, but that you will be able to experience results.

Here's How to Find the Right Therapist for You

A Word From Verywell

If you have a dismissive-avoidant attachment style, that doesn't mean you're flawed in any way. Rather, it means that your needs weren't met properly in childhood, which caused you to become very self-reliant.

Know that if you want to change your attachment style, you absolutely can, and deeper relationships and connections can be in your future.

FAQs

What is dismissive avoidant attachment? ›

Adults with an avoidant-dismissive insecure attachment style are the opposite of those who are ambivalent or anxious-preoccupied. Instead of craving intimacy, they're so wary of closeness they try to avoid emotional connection with others. They'd rather not rely on others, or have others rely on them.

What do dismissive Avoidants want? ›

Highly self-sufficient.

This is the #1 characteristic of someone with a dismissive avoidant attachment style. They don't want to depend on you and they don't want you to depend on them. They want their freedom and independence and want (or at least think that they want) you to be the same way.

What is dismissive avoidant behavior? ›

Dismissive-avoidant attachment is when someone grew up suppressing their natural instinct to seek out their caregivers for comfort. They tend to move away from relationships and feel suffocated as vulnerability increases.

What triggers a dismissive avoidant? ›

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.

Do dismissive Avoidants cry? ›

Specifically, they found that those with a dismissive attachment style reported crying the least frequently, whereas those with a preoccupied style reported crying the most frequently, with the crying frequency of those with secure attachment between the two groups.

What are dismissive Avoidants afraid of? ›

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 win a dismissive avoidant? ›

10+ Proven Ways to Deal with a Dismissive Avoidant Partner
  1. 1 Learn to understand your partner.
  2. 2 Acknowledge your own feelings.
  3. 3 Give your significant other space.
  4. 4 Focus on yourself.
  5. 5 Be open about what you want and need.
  6. 6 Be a supportive person for your partner.
  7. 7 Show your partner they can depend on you.

Do dismissive Avoidants miss you? ›

Yes, the dismissive avoidant misses you, but they miss you later on. In the beginning they're going to be relieved that they have their freedom. They can get their independence back and they get to go and do what they want to do without having to answer any questions to anybody.

What triggers a partner with dismissive avoidant attachment? ›

Pressure to open up or be more vulnerable

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.

Can you be happy with a dismissive avoidant? ›

Adults with the dismissive / avoidant attachment style seem to be pretty happy about who they are and where they are. They might be very social, easy-going, and fun to be around.

Does no contact work on dismissive avoidant? ›

Yes, but it's very difficult. It takes a lot of work. It's going to take a lot of trust building because if you guys broke up and they felt like the relationship just wasn't going the way they wanted it to or that you're not the one for them, it's going to take a lot of rebuilding of their trust to get them back.

Are avoidant people toxic? ›

We've seen that anxious-avoidant relationships result in unavoidable conflict. In the worst-case scenario, the chronic clashes between anxious and avoidant partners escalate to the point that the relationship is toxic and destructive. This typically takes the form of verbal and emotional abuse.

Do dismissive Avoidants fall in love? ›

Even though the love avoidant personality traits are hard to decipher, they can become beautiful partners with some adjustments. These people also have feelings. Hence, they are also capable of love. For such people, particularly men or women, falling in love is like a roller coaster ride.

Will a dismissive avoidant ever commit? ›

An avoidant partner won't be able to commit in the long run because they simply can't maintain relationships for that long. "This is an unconscious attempt to make sure that they never again go through anything like they went through with their original caregiver," psychotherapist Alison Abrams told Business Insider.

What are Avoidants attracted to? ›

Whereas anxious attachment styles crave emotional and physical intimacy, avoidants prefer to minimize emotional closeness and prefers sexual intimacy. To some degree, their desire for independence stifles their ability to be in a partnership.

Do dismissive Avoidants fear 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.

Are dismissive Avoidants loyal? ›

Avoidants are extremely loyal to those they love because it is hard for them to love. They typically have a few confidants (whom they completely trust) over a wide circle of acquaintances, and they know how valuable it is to meet someone who accepts their flaws and calls them out when they need it.

Do Avoidants actually care? ›

Once again, people with a dismissive avoidant style showed that they did care about relationships. Dismissive avoidant students reported higher self-esteem and positive mood than non-dismissives—but only when told that surgency predicts future interpersonal success.

Are 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.

Do dismissive Avoidants get jealous? ›

On the other hand, those who are dismissive-avoidant feel less fearful and sad than other attachment types when they get jealous. But both of these insecure attachment styles are associated with more irrational beliefs in a relationship when compared to people with secure attachment.

What does it feel like to be dismissive avoidant? ›

People with a dismissive avoidant attachment style are often described as lacking the desire to form or maintain social bonds, and they don't seem to value close relationships. These people report, for example, that they are comfortable without close emotional relationships and prefer not to depend on others.

Do dismissive Avoidants fall in love? ›

Even though the love avoidant personality traits are hard to decipher, they can become beautiful partners with some adjustments. These people also have feelings. Hence, they are also capable of love. For such people, particularly men or women, falling in love is like a roller coaster ride.

What are signs of avoidant attachment? ›

Signs of avoidant attachment style in adults
  • keep distance from others.
  • push others away when they get close or show a desire for closeness.
  • lack of emotional closeness in relationships.
  • fears of intimacy.
  • difficulty trusting others and opening up.
  • unlikely to seek help in stressful situations.

What triggers a partner with dismissive avoidant attachment? ›

Pressure to open up or be more vulnerable

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 are dismissive Avoidants afraid of? ›

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.

Do dismissive Avoidants miss you? ›

Yes, the dismissive avoidant misses you, but they miss you later on. In the beginning they're going to be relieved that they have their freedom. They can get their independence back and they get to go and do what they want to do without having to answer any questions to anybody.

Do Avoidants have lots of 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.

Are 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.

How do Avoidants show affection? ›

An avoidant can be shy and awkward with affection, so it might be better for them to do their special show of affection at home. In fact, some avoidants might not even want to hold hands or hug you in public (even if they love you).

Do dismissive Avoidants get jealous? ›

On the other hand, those who are dismissive-avoidant feel less fearful and sad than other attachment types when they get jealous. But both of these insecure attachment styles are associated with more irrational beliefs in a relationship when compared to people with secure attachment.

Are avoidant people toxic? ›

We've seen that anxious-avoidant relationships result in unavoidable conflict. In the worst-case scenario, the chronic clashes between anxious and avoidant partners escalate to the point that the relationship is toxic and destructive. This typically takes the form of verbal and emotional abuse.

Why do Avoidants ignore you? ›

If your boyfriend ignores you or gives you the silent treatment and has an avoidant or anxious-avoidant attachment style, he's likely pulling away because he feels himself getting closer to you and is afraid of that commitment. Think about this; before he started ignoring you, was the relationship progressing quickly?

How do Avoidants act in relationships? ›

Avoidant attachment types are extremely independent, self-directed, and often uncomfortable with intimacy. They're commitment-phobes and experts at rationalizing their way out of any intimate situation. They regularly complain about feeling “crowded” or “suffocated” when people try to get close to them.

How do you win a dismissive avoidant? ›

10+ Proven Ways to Deal with a Dismissive Avoidant Partner
  1. 1 Learn to understand your partner.
  2. 2 Acknowledge your own feelings.
  3. 3 Give your significant other space.
  4. 4 Focus on yourself.
  5. 5 Be open about what you want and need.
  6. 6 Be a supportive person for your partner.
  7. 7 Show your partner they can depend on you.

Are dismissive Avoidants loyal? ›

Avoidants are extremely loyal to those they love because it is hard for them to love. They typically have a few confidants (whom they completely trust) over a wide circle of acquaintances, and they know how valuable it is to meet someone who accepts their flaws and calls them out when they need it.

Do dismissive Avoidants fear 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.

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3. How to Deal with a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style Personality
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4. Why Is The Dismissive Avoidant Personality So Cold!? | Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style
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5. The Dismissive Avoidant's Top 6 Triggers | Dismissive Avoidant Attachment
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6. In-Depth On The Dismissive Avoidant - Core Wounds, Needs & More! (Integrated Attachment Theory)
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