Dismissive-avoidants on the other hand can afford to wait hours or days to respond or not respond at all because they don’t value contact and connection as much as they value their independence, control of the situation – and their comfort level.
It is painful to hear or accept that someone values their independence and comfort more than they value the relationship. It’s even more painful for anxious attachers because if there is anything anxious attachers crave, it is contact and connection.
When a dismissive-avoidant doesn’t respond for hours or days, they think the dismissive-avoidant is either playing some mind game, pulling away, has lost interest or doesn’t love them anymore. The truth is actually much simpler.
A dismissive-avoidants attitude towards responding to texts is:
- “I responded. Does it matter if it’s two hours or two days or even two weeks later?”
- “Okay, so I didn’t respond at all, what’s the big deal?”
Unlike securely attached individuals who care about how their actions affect their ex, dismissive-avoidants don’t want to be bothered about their partner or ex’s feelings, especially if the feelings are exaggerated by anxiety or fear.
You can talk to a dismissive-avoidant about your bad day at work or how you feel scared or angry about something and their response will be something like, “You’ll be okay”, almost like they are saying, “You are making a big deal about nothing”. Some dismissive-avoidants go as far as saying “Why is it my problem?”
They tend to be overly focused on themselves (their independence and comfort), and given a choice between saying or doing something that makes their partner or ex feel secure and loved and doing what makes a dismissive-avoidant happy or comfortable, dismissive-avoidants almost always choose what makes them happy or comfortable.
For example, they may think: “I should respond to my ex’s text because they’re expecting me to respond”, then immediately follow it with “Why do I have to respond? I don’t feel like talking to anybody right now/I have my own problems to deal with/I am busy.”
They end up not responding not because they are reacting to something you said or because they are pulling away or have lost interest, they end up not responding because it’s how they see relationships: I depend on myself and myself alone. I don’t want anyone sacrificing their happiness (comfort, time, space etc) for me, so don’t expect me to sacrifice my happiness (comfort, time, space etc) for you.
If a partner points out or complains about their detached, distant or dismissive attitude, they react with pushing away behaviours including emotionally shutting down, anger and/or hostility. Sometimes it goes all the way to “If you don’t like the way I am/I do things, then leave”.
And when they say, “then leave”, they mean it. Unlike fearful-avoidants who are ambivalent about closeness, dismissive-avoidants are not afraid to lose a connection or relationship. They may regret their decision later and even miss their ex, but at the time, they are thinking, “I didn’t ask you to make sacrifices for me, so if you are unhappy, leave! or “I don’t need you or anyone, so go!”
All a dismissive-avoidant’s partner wanted was to talk about how they feel, what they need and/or understand the dismissive-avoidant’s pushing away behaviour, but as far as a dismissive-avoidant is concerned, “I am perfectly fine with the way things are, the only thing wrong with the relationship is you acting like something is wrong”, or “Everything is fine if you don’t ask for more (time, closeness or contact) and then turn around ask me why I am distant”.
Because dismissive-avoidants are aggressively independent, they honestly believe that most people use relationships to fill gaps or fulfill needs that they should be filling or meeting on their own (translation: most people are dependent, needy and clingy), and are deeply disturbed by displays of ‘neediness’ or out of control emotions. The irony is that they are right because of the type of partners they attract and are attracted to. Most anxious attachers do exactly that – they use relationships to fill gaps or fulfill needs that they should be filling or meeting on their own.
This creates a dynamic where a dismissive-avoidant is avoiding true intimacy that comes from meeting a partner’s needs and wants, and an anxious attacher is craving that kind of intimacy and/or feeling ignored and undervalued.
When trying to get back together, this translates into:
- An anxious attacher wanting to talk about the old relationship (because talking about the connection they had makes them feel connected) and the dismissive-avoidant keeping contact and communication to a bare minimum to avoid talk about the old relationship.
- An anxious attacher getting impatient because they want to know when things will get to where their ex starts meeting their need for more contact and closeness, and a dismissive-avoidant pulling away because the new relationship is progressing to where the anxious attacher will start asking for more contact and closeness, or reassurance.