Question: I was dismissive avoidant with my ex of 3 years, couldn’t commit and eventually lost feelings but now I’m ready to commit to my girlfriend of 4 months.
I’m a DA and I kept coming back and trying a little harder each time. Every time I thought it would be different and it was for a while. But something was always holding me back from fully committing to the relationship. My therapist said it was my attachment issues and for 5 months we worked on overcoming my triggers and fears about being in a serious relationship. My ex also worked on her anxious attachment and the 2 months before this last breakup were the best we’d ever been. But despite our best efforts my feelings for her grew less and less until I just wasn’t feeling it anymore.
Breaking up with her was the hardest thing I’d ever done in my entire life but it was the right thing to do. She is an amazing person who gives so much and deserves someone who loves her. For a while I struggled wondering if I gave us an honest chance. A month and half after the breakup, I met an amazing woman who I believe is securely attached. We have been together for just 4 months and I’m ready to ask her to marry me but she wants to take things slow.
1) Why was I DA with my ex and couldn’t commit but after only 4 months I’m ready to commit to my girlfriend? 2) Have you seen cases similar to mine where I was dismissive avoidant with someone for so long and worked my attachment issues but the relationship still didn’t work? I guess I’m honestly confused about how different I feel in this relationship and to be honest I’m afraid that my dismissive avoidance will show up again and I’ll feel the same way about my current relationship. So far everything with us is so great and we get along so well, much better than I ever did with my ex.
Yangki’s Answer: First of all, as a former DA myself, I know how hard it is to break up with someone who you still care about but feel that they will be happier with someone else. I also know how confusing it is to try so hard to make a relationship work and to walk away from it and in a very short period of time meet the person who you’re ready to commit to.
Have I seen cases similar to yours? Yes. I’ve seen many cases where:
- The relationship didn’t work despite effort from both people.
- Both people worked on their attachment issues, but the relationship still didn’t work.
- The relationship ended because an ex didn’t develop strong enough feelings to commit to the relationship.
- An ex (DA or otherwise) kept coming back and things got better for a while but not enough to keep the two people together.
- A dismissive avoidant wasn’t able to commit in one relationship but ready to commit in another.
I’d like to say I know exactly why you couldn’t commit to your ex of 3 years but now ready to to commit to your girlfriend of 4 months, but I don’t know everything. I have a few things I suspect made you (DA) unable to commit even after all the work on your attachment style and over time caused you to lose feelings.
1. On-and-off-again damaged the relationship
It’s possible that when you kept coming back and trying a little harder each time, the breaking up and trying again over and over damaged the relationship or made it feel like too much work. It probably got to a point where the relationship more work than enjoying each other just as you are.
This happens more often than many people realize. They devote so much time and energy trying to fix what’s wrong with the relationship and neglect what makes relationship fun and exciting to be in. Some of them find that the relationship is finally working but the feelings for each other haven’t grown or are completely gone.
2. The reasons for the break-up were not addressed
Another possibility is that as you both worked on yourselves and became more secure, it became clear that your attachment styles was not the only problem in the relationship. Again, this is something I see in many cases I work with. A client comes to me convinced that the only reason the relationship didn’t work is because their ex has an avoidant attachment style. Some of them refuse to consider that there are valid reasons for the break-up other than an ex being an avoidant. Many, unfortunately never get back their ex.
So addition to your attachment styles, there were other issues including incompatibility that needed to be worked on.
3. You were not meant to be
It’s also possible that dismissive avoidant or not, you were just not meant to be. She’s okay, you’re okay and you just weren’t feeling it anymore. Sometimes people lose feelings and it is nobody’s fault.
Why are you now now ready to commit to my girlfriend of 4 months?
The first thing that comes to mind is that your new girlfriend is benefitting from all the work you’ve done to become more secure; or at least holding me back from fully committing to a relationship. You feel in this relationship and because you are different.
Will your dismissive avoidance show up again in your current relationship? There is always a possibility that the triggers may still be there and your DA tendencies will show up and cause you to lose feelings again. The difference is that you are aware of your triggers and hopefully because of the work you’ve done in therapy, you will have a different response when you feel like deactivating, running away or engaging in dismissive avoidant type behaviours. Also being with someone with a secure attachment style makes a big difference both in terms of you feeling safer and also her acting as a secure base from which you can learn how to be a secure partner.
She is right that you should take things slow; being secure she not only knows the importance of taking things slow but also how to take things slow. Follow her lead on being secure and give yourselves a chance.
For everyone else reading this, the answer to will a dismissive avoidant ever commit is yes, they do commit, but it’s a long process for dismissive avoidants to get to a place where they’re ready to give up their “independence” and commit. Here are 12 signs that an avoidant is ready to commit or at least thinking about it.