Here’s What a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style Actually Is and the Signs to Look Out For
Thu Dec 07 2023
Mon Feb 12 2024
The Personal Development School
You may know you have an insecure attachment style but may be unsure which one.
At The Personal Development School, we look at four attachment styles: dismissive avoidant, fearful avoidant, anxious preoccupied, and secure.
But if you already suspect you might have a dismissive avoidant attachment style, we’re here to help you better understand what that means and the signs to look out for.
What Is a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style?
None of us are born with an insecure attachment style. Insecure attachment styles form as the result of childhood trauma and the way a caregiver treats us growing up.
As per Thais Gibson’s (The founder of The Personal Development School) Integrated Attachment Theory™ method, dismissive avoidants may have rarely had their emotional needs met by a caregiver and experienced a lot of criticism from a parent that led to the forming of a core wound like “I am defective” or “I am unsafe.”
We bring our core wounds to every relationship, and the more intimate that relationship is, the more our core wounds will show up. A dismissive avoidant will probably crave independence, run from conflict, and struggle with vulnerability.
So, what signs should you look out for to see if you're a dismissive avoidant or dating one? Take a read below.
Signs of a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style
Here are the top signs of a dismissive avoidant attachment style to look out for:
You’re afraid of being vulnerable. Vulnerability feels really scary to those with a dismissive avoidant attachment style. This is because if you didn’t get your needs met as a child and constantly heard things like, “Don’t cry, be a big girl,” you associate vulnerability with helplessness.
As a result, whenever you start to feel vulnerable, you may shut down.
You get restless and escape into things. As a strategy to avoid your feelings, you escape into things. When any conflict arises, you might get restless and start scrolling on your phone. Maybe you sleep with the TV on or turn the radio on when you get in the car.
If you had a deep dynamic of being neglected as a kid that you haven’t processed yet, there will be a chronic feeling of unsafety that makes you want to distract yourself.
You don’t like conflict. If you're dismissive avoidant, you might do everything you can to avoid conflict because you have a core wound of being unsafe. You often find yourself in a fight or flight response, so you just say yes to everything to avoid conflict.
You’re sensitive to criticism. The child’s mind personalizes everything. So when your needs aren’t met, instead of seeing a parent’s actions as a lack of availability on their part, a child will decide they’re defective and chronically shame themselves. This will make them extra sensitive to any kind of criticism from a partner.
You have low emotional bandwidth at all times. If you didn’t have emotional support from a caregiver as a child, you don’t know how to emotionally pour yourself into someone else. What we have an abundance of is what we give to others—so if we don’t have emotional bandwidth for ourselves, it will be hard to give it to someone else.
You often feel misunderstood. Because those with a dismissive avoidant attachment style often feel misunderstood by everyone, they tend to have a “why bother” feeling when it comes to expressing themselves in relationships.
People with a dismissive avoidant attachment style are often in relationships with people who have more to give, but that doesn’t mean their partner can read minds. As a result, individuals with a dismissive avoidant attachment style tend to feel like people are misinterpreting their actions or shaming them for things they didn’t mean to do.
You have a hard time communicating. Individuals with a dismissive avoidant attachment style are afraid of conflict, so when it comes up, they have a hard time communicating and instead will do things like cancel plans at the last minute and withdraw to avoid getting into an argument.
You’re very, very independent. While independence can be a good thing, dismissive avoidants firmly believe that everyone is responsible for themselves, to the point where they have a hard time making space for anyone who isn’t that way.
The goal is to have healthy interdependence, which is the middle ground of codependence and independence—and those with a dismissive avoidant attachment style aren’t quite there. Someone with healthy interdependence is responsible for their own core wounds and feelings, but they’re also able to communicate their needs.
You crave simple, low-effort relationships. Because people with a dismissive avoidant attachment style don’t know how to work through conflict, they want relationships that are simple and don’t require a ton of effort. If your programming says, “I can’t work through conflict and opening up is bad or shameful or weak,” then you want a low-effort relationship because you can relate to the other person without dealing with difficult emotions.
They may lose feelings quickly in a relationship. People with a dismissive avoidant attachment style often operate from a place of fear. As they become more attached, they also become more fearful, and vulnerability starts to come up more and more, which feels bad.
If too many fears and unresolved issues pop up in a relationship, they might quickly lose feelings and end the relationship rather than deal with the difficult feelings that arise.
How to Become More Securely Attached
There’s no question that having a dismissive avoidant attachment style can make healthy romantic relationships difficult.
However, once individuals with a dismissive avoidant attachment style learn to communicate their feelings, their relationships tend to improve significantly as they start to get their needs met. Changing your attachment style can be done using the Integrated Attachment Theory™ method.
If you’re unsure where to start when healing core wounds around a dismissive avoidant attachment style, you can check out The Personal Development School’s All-Access Pass.
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