This is a thorough analysis of what makes a dismissive avoidant ex miss you and come back – how often dismissive avoidants come back and why they don’t come back.
First things first. Do dismissive avoidants come back? Yes they do, but the process of a dismissive avoidant coming back is much more complicated than other attachment styles because of the low priority dismissive avoidants give to relationships. Given a choice between a relationship and their independence, dismissive avoidants choose their independence. A dismissive avoidant’s preference for their independence over relationships plays into what makes a dismissive avoidant ex come back, how often dismissive avoidants come back, and why and when dismissive avoidants come back.
Dismissive avoidants in the initial phases of a break-up
To understand how dismissive avoidant comes back and when they come back, it helps to understand a dismissive avoidant’s behaviour in the initial phase of the break-up.
The few studies that focus on attachment styles in the initial phases of a break-up are mixed for dismissive avoidants. On a behavioural level, they tend to show fewer difficulties with break-ups, (Fraley and Bonanno, 2004), but this is often seen as a part of an avoidant defensive suppression of attachment-related thoughts and emotions and not as part of a real detachment from an ex.
Unlike fearful avoidants who tend to obsess about how things might have been different; dismissive avoidants have fewer break-up regrets. If a dismissive avoidant regrets breaking up, they suppress all thoughts and feelings about it. Like securely attached, a high self-concept allows them to bounce back faster, transition more smoothly and adjust to their new reality much faster. This may explain why securely attached and dismissive avoidants don’t feel the need to do no contact to heal and move on.
Dismissive avoidants can love you and walk away from you and go on with their lives like the break-up never happened. This doesn’t mean they didn’t have feelings for you or don’t care; they felt the hurt and pain just like everyone else, but quickly compartmentalized their feelings and focus on something else other than their emotions.
Does a dismissive avoidant ex miss you after a break-up?
Dismissive avoidants miss you after a break-up, but the process of a dismissive avoidant “missing you” and how long it takes a dismissive avoidant to miss you is complicated.
When someone with an anxious attachment misses their ex, they think about them all the time. A dismissive avoidant ex’s way of missing you is that they’ll think of you from time to time, but most of the time they suppress feelings and thoughts of you like they do with all unpleasant emotions and feelings. To a dismissive avoidant, if they don’t think about you, you don’t exist, at least this is how I felt as a dismissive avoidant and how many dismissive avoidants feel.
You have to understand, dismissive avoidants don’t feel they need love and care, and don’t allow relationship partners to love or care for them because in their early childhood experiences, love and care wasn’t provided and when it was, it didn’t feel good or safe. Many, (not all) dismissive avoidants are relieved when a relationship ends because the expectations and demands to provide love and care are gone. They don’t have to struggle trying to figure out how to love or care for someone and they don’t have to feel ‘trapped” in someone’s effort to love and care about them.
They don’t want to think about that the whole experience and the break-up, and sometimes dismissive avoidants after a break-up don’t want to think about relationships in general. Instead, they become obsessively focused on something else (work, school, hobbies, friends, partying etc.).
This doesn’t mean a dismissive avoidant doesn’t miss you, it’s just that dismissive avoidants don’t let themselves feel sad and depressed about the break-up. They’ve trained themselves from childhood not to feel distressed over a separation or people leaving them.
Dismissive avoidants don’t allow themselves to feel sad and depressed over a break-up
In the “Strange Situation” experiment on which the three attachment styles, Mary Ainsworth an American-Canadian psychoanalyst and colleague of John Bowlby the originator of attachment theory found that dismissive avoidant children didn’t appear too distressed by a separation from an attachment figure. When reunited with the attachment figure, these children actively avoided interaction with the attachment figure and sometimes turned their attention to play objects. Dr Ainsworth (Ainsworth et al 1978) classified these children as having a dismissive avoidant attachment style because they consistently didn’t seem distressed when the attachment figure was gone or excited when the attachment figure returned.
The Strange Situation is significant not only because it’s what started what we know as “attachment styles” (Mary Main, Ainsworth’s assistant later came up with the fourth attachment style, but because it gives us an insight into how dismissive avoidants feel when you’re gone or when you “return” or reach out after no contact.
In the experiment, children with an anxious attachment were inconsolable when the attachment figure left and when the attachment figure returned were angry at first that they left in the first place, but then clung to the attachment figure not wanting them to leave again. Exes with an anxious attachment go through similar stages after a break-up. Dismissive avoidants show little to no separation anxiety after the break-up, and show discomfort reuniting with an ex. Again, this doesn’t mean dismissive avoidants don’t miss you, it means that dismissive avoidants don’t let a break-up turn their emotions and world upside down, instead they develop what I call “Who needs you?” attitude.
What makes a dismissive avoidant ex miss you?
What makes a dismissive avoidant ex miss you and how long it takes for a dismissive avoidant ex to miss you depends on the strength of their attachment to you, and how long you were together.
In general, dismissive avoidants have very short-term relationships. Most of their relationships range from a few months to a couple of years. In my experience, most dismissive avoidants develop a strong attachment by the time the relationship is 2-3 years old, if there were not many break-ups in between. If the relationship was mostly on-and-off, the time you were together does not count.
I’ve also found out over the years that that some dismissive avoidants miss the connection they had with their ex but don’t necessarily miss their ex. They miss how you made them feel safe and how you loved them, but they don’t miss you the person. They will miss the connection whether they are the dumper, or you ended the relationship. But just because a dismissive avoidant ex misses how you made them feel and how you loved them doesn’t mean they’ll reach out or want that connection back.
Why dismissive avoidant exes often don’t reach out?
Dismissive avoidants reach out after a break-up, but they’re often more likely not to reach out than reach out. They see reaching out to an ex as a sign of needing someone and often don’t reach out to prove to themselves; and to an ex that they don’t need anyone. And many dismissive avoidants are very stubborn in how they go about proving their independence.
Additionally, dismissive avoidants also don’t prioritize relationships in general and reaching out to an ex after a break-up feels to them like reaching out for a relationship. Even a dismissive avoidant who “misses” an ex will postpone reaching out for months if they think an ex might want to get back into a relationship.
So if a dismissive avoidant reaches reach out first, it is because they:
- Had developed a strong emotional attachment to you
- View the relationship to have been relatively good (not many arguments or fights)
- Felt you understood and respected their need for space
- Heard something bad happened to you and they think they should show support
- Are having a hard time meeting someone as good as you
- Want sex – individuals with a dismissive avoidant attachment can easily separate love from sex; and often call an ex they have no romantic feelings towards just for sex.
Why do dismissive avoidant exes want to be friends after a break-up?
Dismissive avoidant are known for staying friends with all their exes after a break-up. They’re also more likely to reach out to an ex first if they think an ex is just a friend. They may offer being friends while breaking up with an ex, days after breaking up, or reach out months later wanting to be friends.
Being friends with an ex means that they have somebody to talk to and even hook-up with, but without the expectations or commitment of a romantic relationship. And there is already some level of connection and trust, so less discomfort with closeness and vulnerability.
But sometimes a dismissive avoidant ex sees being friends first as a step towards getting back together. They have a strong attachment to an ex and may even want to get back together, but don’t want to rush back into a relationship for various reasons. Being friends first allows them to test drive what the new relationship can look and feel like, without the pressure to commit to one.
How often do dismissive avoidants come back?
Dismissive avoidants often do not come back after a break-up. But, every now and then, dismissive avoidants use break-up strategies that decrease the current level of closeness while leaving open the option for re-entering a relationship later. This may actually be a sign that the break-up is temporary and not permanent.
I’ve found that the use of this positive tone break-up strategy is common among self-aware dismissive avoidants who are also the most likely to reach out after the break-up and most likely to initiate a reconnection with an ex. As a securely attached leaning dismissive avoidant, I used positive tone strategies quite a bit because they allowed me to maintain the attachment bond and not emotionally detach and lose all feelings for an ex. I knew myself well enough to know that once I emotionally detached, I wouldn’t come back no matter what an ex said or did. The longer the detachment, the harder was to recover lost feelings. I’d therefore try not to detach by maintaining some kind of connection in the form of random check-ins or friendship.
There is no correlation between how much time you give a dismissive avoidant to “miss you” and when or if they come back. Sometimes dismissive avoidants come back days or week after the break-up , and sometimes they come back months or years later.
What makes a dismissive avoidant come back?
What makes a dismissive avoidant ex come back varies from one dismissive avoidant to another. The common reason most dismissive avoidant come back is because they developed a strong attachment to an ex. Dismissive avoidants in general do not get attached to a relationship partner and by the time the relationship ends, most dismissive avoidants are ready to move on. When a dismissive avoidant comes back, it’s often a sign that a dismissive avoidant formed an attachment with you and even loves you. And since dismissive avoidants often don’t tell you or verbally express that they love you, a dismissive avoidant coming back again and again says a lot.
If they ended the relationship, a dismissive avoidant ex may second guess their decision to break up and try to come back. And if you broke up with them, and they have some level of self-awareness, a dismissive avoidant ex may come back and keep coming back hoping that they can do better and be less dismissive avoidant.
Another reason why a dismissive avoidant ex may come back is a bruised ego. Dismissive avoidants generally think highly of themselves, but underneath they do not feel truly worth of love and attention. If the break-up triggers these feelings of less worth, a dismissive avoidant ex will come back to prove something to themselves. A dismissive avoidant ex with a bruised ego will breadcrumb you to boost their ego, build back up their self-confidence or until they find someone new or you decide enough is enough.
How to communicate with a dismissive avoidant ex after the break-up
Your chances of getting back with a dismissive avoidants depend a lot on how you handle communication after the break-up. If you thought communication with an avoidant before the break-up was a nightmare, communication with a dismissive avoidant ex after the break-up is much more difficult than you can imagine.
The first thing you’re going to have to accept is that dismissive avoidant exes need a lot more space between contacts or texts. The second reality about communication with a dismissive avoidant ex after the break-up is that you’re going to do most of the reaching out, asking to meet, hangout or go on dates. Don’t expect a dismissive avoidant ex to chase you because dismissive avoidants in general do not chase someone.
Even when a dismissive avoidant ex wants to get back together, they’ll still put up many boundaries and restrictions on everything from contact, meeting in person and even sexual intimacy. If you reach out they’ll respond sometimes immediately, respond days later, or not respond at all. From time to time, they pull away and then reach back out.
You find yourself constantly looking for signs and reactions from a dismissive avoidant ex that tell you how they feel about you; and if thy want you back. This is why when a dismissive avoidant looks like they’re chasing you, it is a sign that they really wants you back to risk being seen as chasing you. But whether or not a dismissive avoidant will actually come back is another story.
Through out the process of trying to attract them there will be very long periods when there is no contact at all. I discus this in the short video below:
Unlike fearful avoidants, dismissive avoidants are not too concerned about rejection. They have reasonable expectations that you will respond at some point. It does not matter to them whether you respond right away or hours or days later. This this is what they do. It makes sense that they expect others to do the same.
But if they think you are playing mind games, they will get frustrated and lash out or shut down. As far as they are concerned, if you want to respond, respond. If you don’t, don’t respond. To understand why dismissive avoidants don’t respond and why they ignore text messages, see why avoidants ignore text messages.
How you react to their thinking about contact and communication, will make the difference between the end of contact and the beginning of a new relationship. If you come on too strong, complain or show signs that you are not happy with things being too slow, that’s it. You may never hear from a dismissive avoidant ex again.
COMMENTS: I encourage comments from dismissive avoidants on what makes you miss an ex and what makes you comes back. Let’s all learn from each other.
How Long Does It Take An Avoidant To Come Back? (FA vs. DA)
No Contact Works Differently With A Dismissive Avoidant Ex
Dismissive Avoidant Attachment And “Longing” For An Ex
How Avoidants Leave Open The Option To Reconnect With Exes
Avoidant Friend Zone Or Starting As Friends And Come Back
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex Pt.1 – How Attachment Styles Can Help
I’m FA and mostly dated APs who I felt had expectations of me to communicate and be more open with my feelings. This caused me anxiety which then triggered deactivation and avoidance behaviors. My current ex was a DA leaning secure, and as crazy as it sounds, his DA tendencies helped me feel more secure because there were no expectations to communicate and be more open with my feelings and no anxiety from him. I don’t know if anyone else has this experience with DA lean secure.
This is very interesting. If you don’t mind, why did you break up? Who broke up with whom?
I broke up with him. The relationship was sexless and I urged him to get help but he never did. I finally told him I had needs and was done waiting. He said he loved me but understood I needed more in a relationship. He apologized for the hurt he caused and asked if we could still be friends. I told him I needed a little time and space and after 2 weeks I reached out, and we’ve been friends since. I actually feel staying as friends has made us get closer because I see parts of him he never let me see when we were romantically involved. He’s also recently started therapy.
Good for you!
I’m interested in how this plays out. Could you please text or email me? Thanks.
Yangki, do DAs mean it when they say, “contact me if you need anything?” My ex reached out for the first time in 4 months since the breakup. He said he was checking on me because he heard I was sick. After 2 weeks of begging to get back together, I told him I needed space to heal. He replied that he understood. 2 months later, I reached out and he replies to my texts after 5 days – I week. He’s never reached out first until this week. We had a 30-minute text chat and it felt good.
In my experience, most dismissive avoidants mean it when they you say you can contact them, and most respond (and take their time to respond). He’s not reaching out because:
1) dismissive avoidants generally just never reach out first unless they’re emotionally invested. There are exceptions as some commentators have pointed out.
2) you asked for space; he may be thinking he’ll be overstepping the boundaries reaching out, or he just doesn’t want to seem like a bother. He is leaving it up to you to reach out if and when you want.
I’m not your typical dismissive avoidant in that I like good conversations and initiate them often if someone is interesting. What turns me of is multiple texts a day wanting to talk about how their day is going or ask about my day.
For me it depends on who and how checkins are done. I had an ex who I think was secure and always asked if I was ok if I go silent for days or was not keeping up with the conversation. I didn’t always respond, but I appreciated it. I had another ex who sent annoying texts trying to be emotionally supportive but always made it about her. It was like she wanted to be liked rather than be supportive.
I’m FA lean anxious and I agree that we’re not much different from a preoccupied attachment. For 2 weeks after the breakup (she’s DA and broke up with me), I did everything you’re not supposed to do after the breakup. I love bombed her so much that she wrote me a long angry text saying she didn’t want to block me but I’m forcing her to do it. I haven’t reached out since but everyday I fight the urge to reach out, the only thing that stops me is that she’ll block me. I read that DAs once they block you don’t unblock you. I’ve deleted her number but deliberately not blocked her in case she wants to reach out. I know everyone says to do complete wipe out but I don’t want her to try to reach out and find she’s blocked or she blocks me. I’m stuck in this waiting game.
When things get to this point, all you can do is wait. But waiting shouldn’t be putting your life on hold, she may never reach out. Use this time to work on you and live your life, if and when she reaches out and you still want her back, you’ll be in a better position to attract her back.
I’m dismissive avoidant and I generally find no reason to do not contact or block someone unless they’re unbearable or toxic. If there are no hard feelings and we can still be friends, I’ll reach out just like I do with my other friends. But if we can’t be friends, I’ll leave the door open for you to reach out, but I will never do it myself. I may watch your stories just because I’m curious about what you’re up to and because I want to know you’re okay, but there’s no romantic interest there.
Now, if I still have romantic feelings for you, I’ll reach out within a few days to a couple of weeks of the breakup. My reasons for waiting to reach out are because I don’t want to cause you anymore pain than I already have. So when I’m reaching out, I’m basically checking to see if you hate me and testing the waters. If I get the green light, I’ll reach out again, if not, I will leave you to reach out to me.
We avoidants are not all the same, but this is how I approach things.
Thank you for adding to the conversation. Much appreciated!
It’s really interesting to hear it from the side of an avoidant. I’m a secure but sometimes become anxious.
I thought some of you might benefit from my story and not make the same mistake I made. I hope the comment gets posted because it’s too long. Here goes.
I ended it with my DA ex, I just couldn’t do it anymore. He reached out the next day saying he wanted to check up on me and I told him I was ok, but right now wanted no contact. 35mins later he was at my house, looking do down. We talked a bit about the breakup and he had tears in his eyes and begged me not to end things ‘this way” meaning with no contact. He said he would respect whatever contact I was comfortable with. This was the first time in our 2-year relationship that I’d seen him vulnerable in this way. He also said he’d never felt this way about anyone. I told him it made me angry that he hadn’t said these things when we were together. Long story short, he asked for a hug and held me tight before letting go and walked to his car.
Two days after the end of 30 day no contact, I reached out. He replied within 5 minutes, “Thank you for letting me know you are much better. However, it’s best to keep things the way they are now. You’re an amazing woman, I’m sure you will find what you’re looking for very soon” and a hug emoji. There’s been no communication for 1.5 years.
I have questioned my decision to do no contact a million times. Would things have been different? Was him saying he never felt for anyone the way he did for me his way of saying he loved me? Would he continue to show a more vulnerable side of him? Could we have worked?
I’ll never know because I made the decision to do no contact. Do yourselves a favor, educate yourselves on DA attachment style. I spent the last year doing exactly this and see the mistakes I made but because I was focused on my DA behaviour didn’t see how I was triggering him.
Yangki, thank you for posting this, if you do. I love your articles and your videos. They’ve really helped me understand DA attachment style so much more.
Thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story. I have my own experience with a DA quite similar but not to the extent of him telling me he never felt for me the way he felt for any one. That would have made me stick around a little longer 🙂
Maybe Yangki, can answer this for me. Do DA get anxious, I thought you said they were low anxiety?
All attachment styles feel a certain degree of anxiety. People with a secure attachment style and dismissive avoidants score low on anxiety spectrum, but this doesn’t mean they never feel anxious. The anxiety they feel however is so low as not to course problems in the relationship.
In this case however, I see more vulnerability than anxiety. And yes, dismissive avoidants are capable of being vulnerable. They just have trained themselves not to allow it. Most dismissive avoidants were discouraged/not allowed as children to show vulnerability (express needs and feelings). Others grew up with parents/caregivers who never showed vulnerability; the dismissive avoidant is modeling that behaviour.
I’m a dismissive avoidant and really don’t even think about my partner when they’re away or when I need space to clear my mind which is quite often (awful, I admit). I have a very demanding career and I get stressed and need to be alone to decompress. I don’t get anxious because I’m thinking about other things. But when I feel connected and my partner stops responding for some reason, I feel anxiety. I think something may be wrong that I haven’t been aware of. This is something quite recent and I don’t like when it happens.
I think what you feel is vulnerability. It can feel scary especially at first, but a little anxiety is not a sign something is wrong with you, or wrong with the situation. It’s actually a healthy human response to uncertainty.
I suggest letting yourself feel vulnerable but not act on it. With time, it’ll start to feel “normal” to be vulnerable.
I thought my boyfriend of 3 years was a dismissive avoidant, but it turns out he’s secure. I found this out in therapy. The more my therapist and I looked at my behaviours and the reasons we fought a lot, the more I realized that I caused many of the issues in our relationship because of my anxiety. For instance, he repeatedly told me to find my own friends and hobbies, and not always expect him to be my everything. I thought he never cared and was pulling away. This started the protest behavior and stuff, which made things worse. I’m not saying my ex didn’t play a role in things ending the way they did, secures have issues too.
Good for you for realizing you needed to work on your attachment anxiety. My respect!
You’ll be surprised (or not) to know that you’re not alone who’s made this assumption. I’ve worked with anxious and fearful avoidant clients who also came to realize the ex they thought was a dismissive avoidant, was actually more secure than they realized.
Dismissive avoidants and securely attached share some common traits due to both attachment styles having low anxiety and a positive self-view.
And yes, some secures have issues too. Some securely attached may have started with an insecure attachment style and earned their secure attachment through self-work, therapy or in relationships with someone secure. Some of the triggers from attachment trauma may still be present but dormant and get triggered in some situations and relationships.
I think too many people are confused about us because they forget that we dismissive avoidants have feelings just like everyone. We just hide them and ignore them better because we have many years of experience doing so. Our deactivation comes from a place of trauma build-up that makes it difficult for us to express ourselves and trust others to meet our own needs.
Like everyone else we want love and affection (we never got), but we try our hardest to not let anyone know how badly we want it. We convinced ourselves that relationships, emotional intimacy, hugging and cuddling and all that stuff isn’t important, and even if it is, it’s not for people like us.
I talk to dismissive avoidants, and they say exactly what you expressed here: “We want love and affection just like everyone else”. It’s good for others to hear directly from a dismissive avoidant. Thank you.