The dismissive avoidant style of attachment explained

This style of attachment might be yours or that of your partner, or another significant relationship. It is, out of all the attachment styles, the most misunderstood in romantic relationships and learning about it and what caused it can be hugely helpful.


Often, being in a relationship with this style, their partner can feel shut out and unloved by them. With our own self-awareness and the awareness of our partners, it becomes so much easier to connect and also communicate, which is golden in a healthy relationship and so much easier to avoid falling into the breeding ground of resentments that can undo and destroy so much.

So, here is some information about what makes the dismissive avoidant (DA) feel connected and happy in their relationships.

They need to feel supported; to feel understood. If they want to go out on their own for a walk or disappear for a short while to get their space or be away from their phone, this doesn't come with any kind of criticism or punishment. They need to feel that their autonomy is respected.

Enquiring - asking them in a way that is helpful by you showing up and understanding them and that you hold space for them.

Consistency is key. Reading between the lines really triggers them - they feel that they are responsible for their own needs and you are responsible for yours. So, if you are feeling that you not getting a need of your own met by them, they will feel really confused. It is disheartening for them so they will shut off and withdraw.

They will have to slowly (with consistency) get to know, recognise and understand if you communicate in this style and recognise that it is a healthy request.

Since their natural perspective is that they believe and feel that they cannot rely on others, when someone starts wanting to rely on them, the thought of having to rely on themselves as well as others relying on them will make them panic. This is why they feel they need to withdraw so often, as it feels like extra pressure, and how will they manage! Overwhelm for them and hurt and misunderstanding for their partner.

They really need to feel accepted for who they are.

This attachment style can feel really hurt or shamed when they are misunderstood. The reason for this is that their needs as a child were neglected, and as children since the reasoning cannot be accessed they will assume that they are defective and that there is fundamentally something wrong with them. This activates and affirms their deepest core wounds. When they hear criticism, they shut down and they do not want to be vulnerable with you.

Validation is very important to them because, if they receive enough of it, it allows them to be more open to how they read and interpret things. If this is not given, this is often when they can decide to check out of the relationship - it all becomes too much for them.

Connection for them is within predictability and acceptance. They need to feel safe. It's also very important to them that you are reliable.

Sometimes they can feel criticised even when you make a casual comment, like if they forgot something. They can feel attacked as they do not have a lot of positive associations with vulnerability. They will assume the worst and that you think it.

They naturally hoard their resources and are often in survival mode more than other attachment styles, so they can be less giving as when they receive they have not learned to link the giving back part of the exchange. These weren't shown to them in childhood. Hoarding resources will change if they learn that it is safe to rely on and to give to others.

Sometimes sexually, it is easier for them to give as there are less negative emotions around and old wound associations in that dynamic, as being sexual is what happened when they were older and there are fewer wounds there.

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.
  • Feeling validated and affirmed.

These are their version of what they need in a relationship. If you meet them there in this, they will respond and you will open up and have a dialogue between you that works for both of you.

I run weekend workshops on all aspects of relationships and offer therapy and coaching. There are many testimonials on my website and I can be contacted through the directory.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, N8
Written by Gail Berry, Emotional and Relationship Coach
London, N8

Written by Gail Berry Emotional Coach - both a therapist and an alternative medical practitioner who works with healing people’s core wounds and uses Bach Flower Remedies alongside talking and behavioural therapy to make real change and transformation possible.
07771 715072
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