As mentioned in the precious article, a dismissive avoidant ex will not reach out; but if a dismissive avoidant ex reaches out after a break-up, it’s usually a sign that:
- They don’t think it’s necessary to make a big deal out of what happened and want to move on from it.
- They feel responsible in part for the way things are. Stepping out of their comfort zone is their way of trying to make things right again.
- They are not yet ready to let go you or the relationship go.
Unlike fearful avoidants, dismissive avoidants don’t do limited or low contact. They don’t see the point of reaching out for reaching out’s sake. And unlike fearful avoidants, dismissive avoidants don’t get anxious when thy don’t get a response. Just as they don’t feel obliged to respond, they don’t feel you owe them a response.
A dismissive avoidant ex will not chase you
Many anxious men and women are pleasantly surprised when dismissive avoidant exes reach out. They think that the natural thing for a dismissive avoidant ex is to avoid all contact. They feel good when a dismissive avoidant reaches out; but also disappointed that the dismissive-avoidant is not giving away how they feel and what they are thinking.
The natural tendency for an anxious person is to apologize or reassure that their feelings have not changed. Often this eagerness to right the past, fix a mistake, or set the record straight is what makes them come across as defensive, desperate, needy, moving too fast or pushing too hard for connection and closeness.
A dismissive avoidant may not like what happened but they are not in a hurry to talk about it. Most of the time, they see no need to talk about what has already been discussed, explained or agreed on. To a dismissive avoidant, that’s making a “big deal” about it.
This dismissive avoidant’s nonchalant attitude frustrates and infuriates many with an anxious and fearful attachment style.
- How can someone not respond to a text for hours or days, then act like it is no big deal?
- How could they have said x and y and reach out so casually?
- How can they ignore questions and continue with a conversation like it doesn’t matter?
- How can they go on acting normally like nothing happened?
Anxious preoccupied get very anxious and frustrated when their ex does not respond
It’s hard for someone with an anxious and fearful attachment style to understand how someone can be casually calm. For someone with an anxious and fearful attachment style, over sensitivity to what the other person thinks and feels, and how they respond is central to their attachment style.
Very often I find myself reminding an anxious and fearful client to focus on the fact that their dismissive avoidant ex responded instead of getting all worked up about their avoidant ex’s “un-affected” attitude.
I tell them, “This is not helping. It may mean something, and it may mean nothing. The only way you are going to find out is if you create a safe environment for your ex to open up about what they are thinking or feeling” .
A dismissive avoidant ex will not always respond to texts or reach out
One reason an anxious ex’s fixates on their dismissive avoidant ex’s unmoved, detached and sometimes cold disposition is that anxious men and women respond to texts, phone calls or requests to meet up 99% of the time. They respond faster 99% of the time because they get excited (sometimes too excited) when their ex responds. They are afraid that if they don’t respond immediately, it will make their ex feel ‘unloved’ or their ex will get upset and may pull away.
They think it will make their ex ‘feel good’ that they didn’t wait too long for a response. Remember, anxious men and women do things they want their ex to do to them including respond immediately:
When an ex responds immediately, it means that their ex still cares about them, is missing them and/or interested in what they have to say. A delayed response means something is “wrong”. Their ex is pulling away, not interested any more, doesn’t want to get back together etc.
Sometimes they read too much into what’s not there and other times they miss what is right in front of them because they want to believe something else.
Some anxious people when they don’t get a response immediately worry, “What it means?”:
- Did they say/do something to push their ex away?
- Have they completely ruined their chances?
- What can they do to salvage the situation and make things right again? etc.
Fearful avoidants don’t like to look like they’re chasing you
Fearful avoidant men and women also have a knee-jerk reaction when they get a text from an ex. Their initial default inclination is to respond right away but fear often overrides it. They often worry about saying the wrong thing and pushing their ex away. Many write ten and even hundreds of “draft” responses which they keep deleting.
Most fearful avoidants also worry about coming across as ‘too eager’ or needy. They think that waiting to respond will make them come across as less needy. Between texts however, they are driving themselves crazy with “Will my ex respond? Should I send them another text?”
Fear of reaching out first makes fearful avoidants feel stuck
Because fearful avoidants can not decide whether they want to keep the lines of communication open or do no contact, they often end up feeling stuck. Should they reach out or wait for their ex to reach out? Should they respond right away or wait a few minutes? How long is too long to wait to respond etc.
They end up feeling stuck because things are not moving forward, and they are not getting worse either.
Many fearful avoidants end up believing that things are feeling stuck because they are talking to their ex. If they stop talking to their ex, their ex will miss them and reach out more. So they ask their ex for ‘space” or do no contact. But because a fearful attachment style wants closeness but fears it, they find themselves reaching out again. But as soon as they feel the fear they cut off contact or ask their ex for ‘space”. This can go on for months, even years.
A securely attached ex has no problem reaching out first, and often do
Securely attached and dismissive avoidants don’t feel anxiety or fear when their ex doesn’t respond immediately or at all. Both attachment styles score low on attachment anxiety. It’s the one of the many traits securely attached individuals and dismissive avoidants share. Low attachment anxiety is the reason dismissive avoidants sometimes come off as securely attached.
It’s not that they don’t think about it or don’t care if their ex responds or not. It is just not something they think about all the time and all day long, or allow it to influence how they feel or act.
The difference between securely attached and dismissive avoidants is that securely attached individuals will reach out to try and reconnect sooner than later. If for any reason they are unable to respond to a text they will apologize or explain why they didn’t respond sooner. This is because securely attached people care about how their actions affect their ex.
Contact, communication and connection is important to securely attached
Anxiously preoccupied men and women also care about how their actions affect their ex and put a high priority on contact, communication and connection, the difference is that anxious-preoccupied men and women pursue contact to feel more secure (reassurance), securely attached individuals do not have worries and concerns about security in a relationship.
They can afford to respond immediately, wait hours or days to respond or not respond at all because they are not worried about losing their partners or ex, and not constantly on the lookout for signs that their partners or ex might be pulling away from them.
To get a better idea of how often each attachment style comes back, I have written detailed articles on individual attachment styles: why they come back, what makes them come back and how long it takes them to come back. You will find the links at the bottom.