Question: My question is, given all the things said about dismissive avoidants, am I crazy to want my dismissive avoidant ex back?
I read all these horrible things said about dismissive avoidants and how they’re incapable of being in a relationship. If I’m honest, I’ve experienced some of the worst neglect of my needs with my DA ex than I’ve ever in any relationship. I’m talking about weeks of no communication. Turning his face away when I tried to kiss him. Once we were being intimate and he pushed me away saying he wasn’t into it anymore; turned over and fell asleep.
But I also have never felt so loved and cared for with anyone like I did with my dismissive avoidant ex. He did things for me that no man or close friend has done for me. I had an old car he worked on every so often to make sure it was safe; and on several occasions gave me his car to drive while he took mine to the auto shop. When I didn’t have enough money to buy a new car; he co-signed for the new car. He doesn’t make much but offered to co-sign a new car for me without me asking. I didn’t accept his offer but it was nice that he offered. He also took care of my cats when I was away on business trips and fixed anything broken.
My last ex who was also anxious preoccupied like me would never do this for me. Instead complained that I took so many business trips; and even called me an avoidant. Am I crazy to want my DA ex back? Is a relationship with a dismissive avoidant doomed from the start? Have you seen cases where it worked with a dismissive avoidant?
Yangki’s Answer: I don’t think you’re crazy to want your dismissive avoidant ex back.
Dismissive avoidants get a lot of negative attention and commentary; some of it is warranted and some of it is not. If we’re really being honest and fair, except for a secure attachment style; a relationship with every other attachment style is a struggle.
Many people attracted to dismissive avoidants are attracted to the many attractive qualities of dismissive avoidants. They’re independent and self assured. They’re also charming with a dry sense of humour which makes them fun to be around; and you don’t have to be worried all the time about hurting their feelings.
In a relationship, they respect boundaries and will not be needy and suffocating. Most are loyal friends; someone you can go to for objective advice because they don’t project their emotions into the situation. They’re logical and can be relied on when you need someone to get things done. These are just a few of the many attractive things about dismissive avoidants.
So no. You’re not crazy to be attracted to all these dismissive avoidant positive qualities and want your dismissive avoidant ex back. But you can’t also ignore the negative traits of a dismissive avoidant attachment style.
- Insensitivity and disregard for a partner’s feelings
- Keeping partners at a distance to avoid closeness
- Pulling away when needed
- Rigid (and many) boundaries
- Wanting to keep relationships casual with no commitment
- Lack of desire for intimacy
- Always find something wrong with the person they’re with
- Being too secretive
- Will not ask for help or support, the list is long.
These traits make a relationship with dismissive avoidant very difficult. And sometimes however much you love them and want to be with them, the relationship just can’t work.
The questions you need to ask yourself are:
- What do you need in a partner?
- What makes you feel safe, secure and fulfilled in a relationship?
- If a dismissive avoidant ex doesn’t change, can you still be happy in a relationship with them?
If the answer is no, don’t stay too long in the relationship thinking that you can change a dismissive avoidant. You’ll probably always love your dismissive avoidant ex and remember them with fond memories, but if you’re so miserable that it’s affecting your mental health, there is no point in a relationship. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t be in a relationship with a dismissive avoidant.
If the answer is yes, then try t get back together knowing that your dismissive avoidant ex may not change; or want you to change them. This is who they’re and until they want to change, this is who you’ll be in a relationship with.
Contrary to all the things said about dismissive avoidants, they’re not just being “stubborn”; or “thrive on a fear of getting too close”.
A dismissive avoidant attachment style is developed early in childhood when a child learns that they can’t depend on anyone to meet their attachment needs. They learn that expressing attachment needs doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be met; they may even get scolded or punished for expressing them. The child is forced to depend on themselves; and to emotionally distance to try to self-soothe.
So, while someone with an anxious attachment style learned to chase after connection and closeness; dismissive avoidants learned not express the need for it. It’s not that they don’t need connection and closeness, if they didn’t need it they’d not be trying to date, get into relationship and even marry.
Just like everyone else, dismissive avoidants want connection and closeness, and want to be loved and valued; they just don’t have the tools do relationships. Every time their sense of security is threatened, they revert back to their childhood coping strategies of emotionally distancing to try to self-soothe.
Have I seen cases where it worked with a dismissive avoidant ex?
Yes I have. I’m not talking about got back together only to repeat the same anxious-avoidant pattern. I am talking about got back together and the dynamic was different.
In many of this cases, the person who wanted the dismissive avoidant ex back took time to really study and understand a dismissive attachment style beyond the bad comments and characterization; and accept their dismissive avoidant ex just they are without trying t change them.
Sometimes a break-up experience makes a dismissive avoidant ex want to change; but most of the time, if you want it to work with a dismissive avoidant, you have to be the secure base from which they can learn that:
- relationships are safe,
- it’s okay to want connection and closeness,
- it’s okay to express the need for it; and
- their needs can be met within a safe and secure relationship.
You have a better chance making a relationship with a dismissive avoidant work if you work on becoming more secure. Secure attachment doesn’t necessarily make a relationship with a dismissive avoidant feel like a walk in the park, but it makes it a lot easier when you’re not easily triggered by a dismissive attachment style and have the resilience and tools to create a safe and secure relationship for someone with a dismissive attachment style, or any other attachment style. You may even end up inspiring a dismissive avoidant to want to change.
How I Handled Break-Ups As A Dismissive Avoidant Ex
Dismissive Avoidant Attachment And “Longing” For An Ex
What Makes A Dismissive Avoidant Ex Miss You And Come Back?
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 12 – Can A Relationship Work?
I’m AP leaning secure and two weeks ago I ended things with a dismissive avoidant who is an absolutely wonderful person in many regards, but sexual intimacy was something I could not continue to deny myself. We were together for 4 years, the shift for me happened as I became more secure and mindful of my own needs. To his credit, he tried with what skills he has.
I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that my dismissive avoidant ex will not change to meet my needs. It’s hard for me to walk away but this is what is best for me right now. It has been very hard and mentally exhausting, but I don’t regret anything. I’ll always have a very special place for him in my heart because of all the things I learned from being with a dismissive avoidant. I feel emotionally stronger but also drained, if that makes sense.
All the best to everyone still hanging in there. I hope things work out for you.
“emotionally stronger but also drained” makes sense.
You do what you have to do to take care of you. All the best to you!!!
Thank you for this. I’m dismissive avoidant and find that many people have misconceptions about a dismissive avoidant attachment style which is often presented from outsiders’ perspective. We also want deep connection just as everyone else, it’s just that most of us never had it and as a result look for an escape way out when someone gets too close. The rest of you have no idea how scary and heartbreaking it is to want something so bad but think you will never have it because you’re so messed up.
I know I have a lot of issues because of my attachment style. I’ve not had a relationship in 4 years not because I don’t want one, but because I hurt people who get attached to me. I’m working on becoming more secure and hopefully things will be different in my next relationship. Reading articles with empathy for a dismissive avoidant makes me believe I can do this.
That came from deep. Thank you for sharing and helping us understand the dismissive avoidant style a little much better.
Yes, you can do it. You’re already doing it. I’ll see you on the other side (secure!).
Lots of sex with DA for the first 3 months of our relationship, then it went from once a week to once a month to once every 2 months. We were together for 2 years and the last few months of our relationship, it was like let’s just get this over with and go to sleep.
It feels good to know I’m not the only one who thinks it’s crazy to want back my dismissive avoidant ex back. Just curious, is there a link between a dismissive attachment style and commitment phobia?
Yes, there is a link between a dismissive attachment style and commitment phobia and also with commitment gamophobia.
Read Before You Break Up (Get Back) With A Commitment Phobe
My DA and I had a roommate situation with intimate moments every now and then for like 2 years. Even after we broke up, we shared a house for another 4 months and still had sex, until he decided we needed a clean cut and separate our lives. We both decided we needed therapy and that our dynamic is too toxic try to get back together. We’re still friends but with no sex. It’s nice to be able to talk about our attachment styles without either of us getting triggered.
I also appreciate the compassion in your articles and videos, Yangki. None of us asked for the kind of upbringing we received, and many of us are trying to heal ourselves.
I’m not trying to portray avoidants as victims and understand that some people have had very bad experiences with avoidants. This makes me sad, but we’re not all monsters out to hurt you. We too have had bad experiences but because we don’t overshare, you don’t hear our side of the story. But trust me, we’ve been controlled, manipulated and abused verbally and physically by APs. But they’re better at playing victim so…
I hear your pain. I believe the pioneers of attachment theory meant it to help us understand each other and get along better, but not tear each other part. And you’re absolutely right, avoidants get the worst characterization.
As I’ve mentioned in many of my articles and comments, I’m also guilty of 1) over generalizing traits of an attachment style to make a point and 2) “over-empathizing” sometimes and seeing things only from the point of view of the person asking a question.
I’m trying to do better as the person giving advice, and also the admin of this site. It’ll really help if avoidants share a little more so others can see things from an avoidant’s point of view and experience.