A dismissive-avoidant is willing to put in the work to make a relationship work if they can somehow be guaranteed that they can still maintain most of their independence and autonomy even in a relationship, there is no pressure for them to be a certain way (the way you want them to be) and you can and will meet most of your needs on your own.
This is the stable, secure and loving base for attracting back a dismissive-avoidant. Words or behaviours that suggest otherwise will get you the typical pushing you away, withdrawing from contact. “I don’t care” attitude or cold and sometimes hostile responses.
When a dismissive-avoidant pulls away, sometimes asking “Is there something I should be concerned/worried about?” works with dismissive-avoidants too, but unlike fearful-avoidants, dismissive-avoidants prefer more direct communication. That’s how they communicate and that’s how they expect others to communicate.
Securely attached individuals are better at direct communication and therefore better at communicating with dismissive-avoidants. Both attachment styles score very low to none on attachment anxiety and when they communicate neither is afraid of losing the other. Both attachment styles also score high on a positive view of themselves and in self-confidence which helps in being able to communicate directly and assertively.
Direct communication is harder for anxious attachers and fearful-avoidants because of high anxiety and fear. This is why it’s very important to work on becoming securely attached.
But of course in the meantime you want you ex back, so what do you do?
If your ex is sometimes a fearful avoidant and sometimes a dismissive-avoidant, I suggest you go with the “Is there something I should be concerned/worried about?”approach.
Another approach that seems to work very well with dismissive-avoidants is using humour and jokes to broach difficult topics. But this has to be approached carefully if your ex is in a defensive mode or has been pulling away for a while. It also depends on your ex’s personality and if jokes, teasing and sarcasm is something the two of you shared when you were together.
The third option is to directly state your needs and let the chips fall where they may. I know this is scary for an anxious attacher because of the fear of losing your ex, but the reality is, you will still lose your ex because unmet needs have a way of making themselves heard whether or not you are aware that you are communicating your unexpressed needs.
There is nothing wrong with communicating your needs if they are reasonable. It’s how you communicate that often makes the difference between getting your needs met and pushing your ex away.
Make sure that before you bring up your concerns or needs, you have carefully thought things through:
1 – Is it important enough for you to make an issue of it?
Some things need to be addressed so things can move forward but some are not that important for the end goal. For example if your ex responds to a text 3 days later and it is a positive text or shows he wants to keep in contact, is it worthy making a deal about the fact that it took them 3 days to respond?
2 – Is this about what is really going on or is it your attachment anxiety that has been activated?
Are you interpreting the situation correctly or assuming things that may be incorrect? Anxiety and fear tend to exaggerate problems or what’s really going on, that’s why it’s sometimes best to check with an independent objective person not emotionally invested in what’s going on (friends and relatives are not usually objective because of their emotional investment in what they think is your well-being).
3 – Is this something your ex can do something about or is it something beyond their control?
For example, if your ex is depressed they may not be motivated to talk to anyone or do anything, and making it about you doesn’t help.
The forth option is to go with the flow. To be able to go with the flow, it helps to have your own clear boundaries on what avoidant’s pushing away behaviours you can accept or not accept –Dating Your Ex Boundaries 1 & 2
Having your own boundaries is not about your ex but about where you draw the line for yourself. The scary part (for many anxious attachers) is that like with all healthy boundaries, you must be willing to walk away if you feel disrespected, taken for granted, used or abused.
To be a dismissive-avoidants stable, secure and loving base for trying to get back together you also need to:
1 – Be Consistent: Both in your words and actions. Nothing says unsafe and unstable than inconsistent words and behaviours.
2- Be observant: Is there a pattern of when they start pulling away or pushing you away (is it after an argument? Is it after a really great time together? Is it when they are stressed at work? Is it at certain times/season of the year ? etc.
3 – Trust your gut to know when something is amiss, and act from a place of love rather than anxiety, reason rather than fear, and facts rather than assumptions.
4 – Interrupt emotional thinking with logical questions –Dealing With Fears About Getting Back Your Ex.
5 – Be okay with your ex not responding sometimes, not responding to certain topics or questions, or not responding at all
6 – Build momentum in a non-pressure way by knowing when it’s okay to reach out, to respond right away, wait to respond or not respond at all – How Long Should You Wait to Respond to Your Ex’s Text?
All that said, if they are other reasons besides your attachment dynamic that caused the relationship not to work, it doesn’t matter if your fearful-avoidant ex believes that you will not leave or if you show your dismissive-avoidant ex that you are independent and accept them for who they are, they will not want to come back if the reasons for the break-up haven’t been resolved to their satisfaction, or at least being worked on.
It’s important that you do whatever you need to do to address the reasons for the break-up, be able to emotionally connect and build momentum, show you have changed for the better and communicate those changes in a way that your ex can see a better and improved relationship that is emotionally safe, stable and secure. (More in Dating Your Ex Pg 269: Showing Your Ex You’ve Changed ).
If you need help with connecting better with your avoidant Ex, I am happy to work with you one-on-one .
Being a secure partner not only improves your chances of getting back together, it increases the chances of the two of you staying together for a long time.
More articles on attachment styles, attachment anxiety and avoidant exes