Do Dismissive Avoidants End Up Alone And Lonely?

Question: Do dismissive avoidants end up alone and lonely?

Yangki, when I read your story from your days being a dismissive avoidant something clicked, and it was you knew my ex. I introduced him to your site and we have had many conversations about it. He agrees with almost everything you write about dismissive avoidants but he’s yet to start working on himself.

We recently watched a Youtube video about dismissive avoidant’s fear of abandonment and why rejection hurts them and my ex had an instant negative reaction. He says he doesn’t fear rejection, nor does he have a fear of abandonment. He agrees that he keeps people at a distance but more out of needing to be alone than fear of rejection or abandonment. I asked what he means by “needing to be alone” and he explained it as he feels he’s not running away from but running to something, if that makes sense.

I’m curious, do dismissive avoidants end up alone and lonely? In your personal experience, how did you feel when an ex left or moved on? Did you feel rejected and how did you handle it?

Yangki’s Answer: Some of my dismissive avoidant clients have the same reaction when they read or hear “dismissive avoidants fear rejection and abandonment”. Many dismissive avoidants feel misunderstood and further isolated by what they see as misrepresentation of who they are; self-pitying miserable loners, unsatisfied with life and bouncing from relationship to relationship looking for someone to “intensely” love them.

First of all, no one likes being rejected and everyone has some type of aversion to rejection but whether that translates into fear of rejection or even loneliness depends on an individual. A new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality in September 2023, found that being alone does not closely correlate with feelings of loneliness – unless a person spends 75% of their time alone in isolation.

Why this is important is because underlying the fear of rejection is the fear of being alone. People who have a fear of rejection are afraid of not being good enough, being abandoned, being left by someone they care about, and ending up all alone and lonely.

Many classic dismissive avoidants expect rejection, but it is not something that they dread, think about constantly, would go out of their way to avoid or stops them from saying something or acting on what they want.

1) Dismissive avoidants do not depend on others for their needs or happiness

The idea that dismissive avoidants have a deep fear of rejection or abandonment is not supported by studies on how the different attachment styles are formed in childhood and the presenting behaviours in adulthood.

People with a dismissive avoidant attachment style are comfortable being on their own and do not depend on others for their sense of worth or to feel complete, and dismissive avoidants do not expect much from others. When left alone a dismissive avoidant will feel your absence but will not see your absence as leading to loneliness because they they feel complete on their own. When left alone, a dismissive avoidants ex will likely move on quickly as in not remain stuck thinking about an ex or a past relationship but yet remain single for a long time. They’ll casually date and even date multiple people but not commit to a serious relationship.

2) Dismissive avoidants genuinely enjoy their own company more than they enjoy others

To further understand how dismissive avoidants feel when left alone, it’s important to understand that dismissive avoidants embrace “aloneness”. They’re perfectly comfortable and happy being alone without feelings lonely. If you’re not a dismissive avoidant, its hard to wrap your mind around feeling comfortable with the absence of connection and interaction or feeling isolation but without feeling lonely. You think everybody craves connection and interaction and dismissive avoidants are stubbornly choosing not to act on their craving. You couldn’t be more wrong.

Aloneness protects dismissive avoidants from loneliness. People who experience loneliness feel the absence of connection and interaction and want to end the unpleasant feeling, but someone who prioritizes being alone does not feel loneliness because they do not feel distressed by the absence of connection and interaction. They may feel isolation but without feeling lonely because there’s no distress in being alone and no longing for connection or interaction. It’s their comfort with aloneness that has earned dismissive avoidants monikers like loner, lone wolf, drifter, rolling stone, rebel spirit, etc.; monikers many dismissive avoidants embrace and use to describe themselves.

3) Dismissive avoidants accept themselves as who they are, and most don’t want to be any other way

Some dismissive Avoidants are ashamed of not being able to sustain a long-term relationship, but the majority of dismissive avoidants accept it as who they are, and don’t see themselves any other way or want to be any other way. This is hard for people who believe relationships are necessary for happiness to understand.

When dismissive avoidants see how “messy” most relationships are, they see people who need them as dependent and emotionally weak. Why would you put yourself though all that when you can be happy on your own? And when they talk to their friends and family in relationships but unhappy, dismissive avoidants feel “lucky” that they are who they are. This is why trying to convince dismissive avoidants that they’re alone and lonely and need connection and relationships doesn’t work.

But just because dismissive avoidants are comfortable and prefer being alone doesn’t mean they reject human contact entirely. A dismissive attachment is a different kind of loner in that they do not necessary feel rejected by society nor do they feel that they’re alone and against the world. Dismissive avoidants are also not your stereotypical highly sensitive, socially isolated and even shy introvert. Dismissive avoidants share introvert traits such as enjoying their own company and content with limited intimate interaction, but there are just as many dismissive avoidants who are extroverted. They have many superficial relationships both romantic and non-romantic, can be highly charismatic, entertaining, and good at mixing with people in social situations, they just don’t allow others to get too close.

They prefer to be alone to avoid the stress and complications of close-relationships, especially romantic relationships. Being alone gives dismissive avoidants the independence and autonomy that is fundamental to their attachment style. Being alone allows them to escape the expectations, unnecessary dramas and misunderstandings that come with romantic relationships. They enjoy romantic relationships but truly believe that they’re the only ones who can truly understand themselves and meet their own needs. This is why a dismissive avoidant ex reaching out first after the break-up is a big deal.

4) Dismissive avoidants are more afraid of relationships than they’re afraid of being alone

In my case as is the case with many dismissive avoidants, I didn’t miss being in a relationship, but I also wouldn’t go out of their way to avoid rejection. When there was someone in my life, I didn’t worry about rejection or someone leaving because I didn’t need them for anything. I was more aware of the fact that I would eventually leave and it’d just be another “I tried, it didn’t work”, moving on.

Even when someone clearly rejected me (this goes for relationships, jobs, friends etc., as well), I thought about it like for a few minutes and shrugged it off. As far as I was concerned, no one is that important, I do just fine on my own anyway, better than fine as a matter of fact. And when an ex moved on quickly after the breakup (which in my case they seemed to do a lot), I didn’t feel rejection. I felt that they should do what they think is best for them because if the tables were turned, I’d do what I wanted to do and not care about how an ex felt or what they wanted.

I think I’m more sensitive to rejection (but not afraid) as someone secure than I was as a dismissive avoidant. As a secure, I care about how I affect others and depending on the rejection, I do a self-reflection to understand why someone feels about me the way they feel, and if there is something I can learn from it. I don’t dwell on it or let if affect how I behave, but I definitely want to understand it so I understand myself better.

As a dismissive avoidant, I was not as sensitive to how I affect others because very few people came close enough to reject me. I just didn’t care that much about having other people around me, in fact having people around me for more than a few hours made me feel tired emotionally and physically, like they’d sucked off some of my energy. And when I was around people and someone did something or said something, I didn’t automatically assume rejection. I saw it as something I’d probably say or do in the same situation, and if it was something that negatively impacted me, I’d see it as incompatibility or potential source of stress and walk away.

It was the opposite of rejection, someone wanting to be with me that I feared and that triggered me. What that looked and felt was … Here come expectations… I take care of myself and now I have to take care of your needs too… Less time for myself… I’m not responsible for your feelings… You’re trying to change me so you can control me… Can’t I just have some peace and quiet… I don’t have to listen to you complain about what a bad person I am…Leave if you want, I don’t care… I don’t ask you for anything or need anything from you… This is why I don’t want relationships… This is too much… I miss being by myself… I can’t. I just can’t… Bye.

RELATED:

Why A Dismissive Avoidant Ex Reaching Out Is A Big Deal

Why Avoidant Ex Doesn’t Want A Relationship (What to Do)

Does My Dismissive Avoidant Ex Want To Be Left Alone?

What Happens When You Ignore A Dismissive Avoidant Ex?

Dismissive Avoidant Attachment And “Longing” For An Ex

Why No Contact Doesn’t Work With A Dismissive Avoidant Ex

Why I Came Back To My Ex – My Dismissive Avoidant Story

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16 replies on “Do Dismissive Avoidants End Up Alone And Lonely?”
  1. says: Lami

    My last real breakup was 11 years ago. It took me a while to get over this one mainly because she made my life a living hell and I probably let it go on for far too long. I’ve been single since and you can say at my age I’m set in my ways and don’t feel like anything is missing in my life. Every once in a while I get casually involved with someone, but it never rises to the level of a relationship. I just don’t need that in my life. I have great friends and family I see them 2-3 times a year and that’s good enough for me.

  2. says: Melsa

    Isn’t avoiding investing in someone a type of fear of rejection? You fear being vulnerable and not having that returned to you?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      It would be if a dismissive avoidant’s fear of being vulnerable was because they fear that it will not be returned. It’s fearful avoidants who want connection but fear opening up because they do not trust that others will reciprocate, receive it well or value it (fear of rejection). They also don’t trust themselves to be doing the right thing opening up or even doing it the right way.

      Dismissive avoidants fear being vulnerable because vulnerability makes one susceptible to being emotionally dependent, controlled and/or manipulated, which is the big fear for dismissive avoidants. If you let others in, they’ll mess thigs up and stress you out and they’ll use your vulnerability to try to control you. If you keep them out, you remain in control of your life and leave peacefully ever after.

  3. says: Julian

    I’m the stereotypical dismissive avoidant. I trust myself to take care of me 100%, on a cognitive level I believe I’m deserving of love though I don’t yearn for it or seek out relationships. I don’t believe having someone in my life solves my problems or feel lonely when I’m not in a relationship. When someone rejects me, I decide not care and forget about it. I’m a fairly successful, good looking and charming guy and have no shortage of dates, and when I’m with someone, I’m not so concerned for myself, I know I can handle any situation quite well, I’m more concerned for them and how they’ll handle me walking away, if that makes sense.

    I don’t reach out to my exes first because I think they want to move on and don’t want me to hurt them any more than I already have, and I don’t want to hurt them any more either. When I think of reaching out, the image of them expressing frustration and pain flashes in front of me and I snap out of wanting to reach out.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      It makes sense. If you read my story, one of my concerns also was hurting someone, especially if they were good to me and/or I was the reason for the break-up. I knew that I’d be okay, but would they be okay? Definitely some guilt there, and I kept checking up on them until I felt that they were going to be okay.

  4. says: Crystal

    Thank Yangki, for clarifying the difference between being alone and feeling lonely. I’ve always wondered why some people lack the basic human desires for connection and intimacy and how do they even make it in life.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      I don’t think “lack the basic human desires for connection and intimacy” is an accurate way to describe a dismissive avoidant attachment. It’s more like “low drive” for connection and intimacy.

      I think that all humans have the basic human need for connection and intimacy but at varying degrees. People with an anxious attachment for example have a very high drive for connection and intimacy and fearful avoidants (anxious-avoidant) have high and low drive (hot and cold). Secures have what’s considered “standard” drive, but that’s debatable. Newer studies argue the current Western categorizations of secure, anxious, and avoidant may not be universal or apply in all cultures.

      1. says: Georgia

        I’m a Psychology Masters student and dating someone from a different culture. I’m very interested in these newer studies. Do you have links?

  5. says: Chalsey

    I get really upset when people say dismissive avoidants fear rejection or read comments where people they’re dismissive avoidants and fear rejection because they do not have a positive view of themselves. Based on attachment theory, if you have avoidant traits and a negative view of yourself, you are a fearful avoidant.

    I never worry about rejection or felt abandoned. I however feel deeply hurt when I’m misunderstood or accused of doing something I’ve not done but that’s not the same as feeling rejected. I don’t seek acceptance or care if someone likes me and can easily brush off hurtful behavior, I just don’t like being misrepresented as something I’m not. I go on the attack or block you.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      I hear you. 1) avoidant traits + a negative view of self and 2) avoidant traits + fear of rejection/abandonment is a fearful avoidant attachment and NOT a dismissive avoidant attachment.

      I get a lot of people mistaking their fearful avoidant ex for a dismissive avoidant and clients who think they’re dismissive avoidant when they’re actually fearful avoidant. A lot more who think they’re secure when they’re actually anxiously attached.

      I think that many people who take online attachment quizzes don’t realize that many of those tests are not scientific or validated by someone trained to do psychological assessments or accurately measure people’s responses. And because most of the tests are self-questionnaires, it’s easy to misrepresent yourself because most of us are not fully aware of our own attachment issues or behaviours. The best you can end up with is which way you possibly lean.

    2. says: Zeke

      Another one is “DAs fear you going to abandon them because they’re not good enough”. Have any of these “experts” met a DA? We think WE ARE good enough we just don’t think YOU ARE good enough for us, and for this reason we will abandon you. We don’t fear you will abandon us, we expect you to leave because we can’t give you what you need. And when you leave, we don’t feel abandoned we are relieved.

  6. says: IceMint

    I laughed so hard at the last part that I scared my dog. You described how I feel almost word for word. There’s no stop button once the trigger is set off.

    To add, … Bye… why did I even bother?…

    Thank you for a good laugh, albeit at my expense.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      My apologies to your dog. Sometimes you got laugh at yourself.

      Definitely, … why did I even bother? goes in there too. But for me that’s only if I had emotionally invested in the relationship. Most times it was just bye, no processing the break-up, self reflection or looking back.

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