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 find your advice more to what I’m working towards becoming. It sometimes feels a bit like learning a new language because my natural tendency is to go in like a wrecking ball. The calmer, warm, appreciative of where we are and deliberate in my efforts to create a sense of safety seems to help my DA ex feel safe and want to reach out more.
The lightbulb on moment for me reading this is realizing that I’ve never missed any of my exes because I dissociate from all feelings and don’t realize I miss them. I thought I didn’t miss them because I didn’t love them enough and a few of my exes said I didn’t do enough to work on the relationship. Now we’ll never know because I have absolutely no intention of reaching out. If they reach out, we’ll see how that goes. But thank you for helping me understand myself a little more.
Yangki, you said as a dismissive avoidant once you lost feelings for an ex, the feelings didn’t come back. What made you lose feelings?
I don’t speak for all dismissive avoidants, but for me it was someone constantly violating my boundaries for space and time, trying to “change” me by telling me who and what I should do, and too many arguments, mind games and drama. I usually began losing feelings while still in the relationship and kept losing feelings after the break-up especially if I was still angry about what happened during the relationship. At some point I made myself not feel anything, not even anger – complete detachment.
What if DA ex wants to be friends? I don’t want to just be friends but do you think he can later on change his mind and want to get back together?
My article Avoidant Friend Zone Or Starting As Friends And Come Back discusses dismissive avoidants wanting to be friends.
Thanks, I’ve read the article. I will follow your advice but one more question, do I tell him I don’t want to be just friends?
Yes, be open and direct in communication with a dismissive avoidant. As someone who had a dismissive avoidant attachment style, one of the things that I didn’t like about my exes with an anxious attachment style is not being direct about what they needed and trying too hard to please or get on my good side. It was so transparent that they were terrified of losing me and I felt like I was responsible for their happiness. This made me want to avoid them.
So be direct with what you need but don’t make it sound like a DA is expected to meet you needs and don’t pressure for a response right away. You may not even get a verbal/text response but a response in his actions (mentioned in the article). Also look at the links below the article for more guidance.
I’m a DA working on secure attachment and only now beginning to understand why I never reached out to an ex after a breakup. I found relationship to be too much effort and closeness made me uncomfortable. I didn’t respond to messages and when someone complained I felt smothered. I saw expecting me to reply as needy and a weakness and would often lead to me ending the relationship without even telling them why. Then I’d feel angry that I still cared for them but not reach out because I thought they hated me, and I didn’t want to put them through it again.
Yangki, my DA ex was happy with me for 5 months. He initiated contact and arranged dates and really showed me he cared about me. The relationship ended because I didn’t know how to deal with him needing space and I wonder if maybe I’d given him space we’d have lasted longer. I read all these things about DAs being cold-blooded and narcissists and deep inside it’s hard for me to accept that what we experienced wasn’t real. Am I convincing myself it was real because I want it to be?
If you felt it was real, it was real. For a dismissive avoidant, he did try with you. Don’t let the narrative that dismissive avoidants have no feelings and are all narcissists devalue or invalidate what you felt and had. If you notice, I do not encourage that narrative on my site. I’m more interested in helping different attachment styles REALLY understand each other and try to work together.
As for what would have happened if you had dealt with a dismissive avoidant wanting space differently, there’s no way to say for sure that you’d have lasted longer. The way you handled him wanting space did contribute to the break-up, but things could have also ended because dismissive avoidants, like the other insecure attachment styles have deep-rooted issues that make relationships hard and likely to end quickly. Take responsibility for the role you played in the break-up, learn and grow from it; but don’t feel responsible for someone being a dismissive avoidant. That’s theirs to fix.
Thank you so much for replying. Yes, he had a lot of good traits and it was real. It would feel good if he reached out so I know that he did care about me.
My situation is similar to yours. We also broke up because I was anxious when he needed space and didn’t make him feel safe. I’ve been in NC for 11 weeks and coming to terms with the fact that there really isn’t anything you can do for a DA to “miss you”. They don’t have “longing” feelings like us APs or have the reassuring traits of a securely attached person.
I gave my DA ex space for 3 months since I read avoidants need more than the standard 30 days of no contact. I then reached out but didn’t make any demands and avoided talking about the relationship (past, present and future). I kept texts short and reached out every 4 days but when he was distancing, I pull back and reached out after 2 weeks. He never initiated contact but always responded and engaged with me. I felt that was making progress and was on a slow path to getting back together. But after almost 8 months of this, I reached a point where I couldn’t deny my feelings and needs anymore and told him I still loved him and wanted to get back together. He said he only wanted us to be friends and not hate each other.
In retrospect and after reading many of your articles and eBook, I should have made it clear from the beginning I wanted him back, accepted his answer and moved on much sooner. I was too afraid to push him away but in the end the result was the same. I’m not angry with him because he never led me to believe we were getting back together, I just feel sad that I wasted a year believing I could earn him back.
I feel your sadness. A year is a long time. All you can do now is pick up the pieces and keep moving forward with what you’ve learned.
You’ll be ok.
There is a lot to be learned here. Trust me I know. I’m a dismissive working so hard to fix my attachment style. I’ve never missed someone to the point that I want them back. I don’t think I’ve even ever missed an ex at all. Instead, I become more and more detached with time. With my last ex, she asked for a break but after the 1-month break, I felt so detached and numb, and we ended breaking up. She was more hurt that I was cold towards her and showed no emotion than the breakup itself. I felt bad that I was cold towards her and hurt her more, but I also felt like “spare me the drama”. This sums my feelings about relationships in general. My therapist says my detachment from my own emotions makes me unable to deeply connect. I haven’t dated much since the last breakup 4 years ago.
@Colton, you described me like you know me. I’ve tried therapy with several different therapists, and all but one ended in disaster. I clicked on this post because I thought it was help for dismissive avoidants. It’s obviously one of those how to get back an avoidant types. I can’t say I learned anything new about myself or how to resolve my childhood traumas but her take on dismissive avoidants compared to others is in line with my experiences. It’s been 6 years since my last breakup and the closest I’ve come to a relationship is a few hookups and 2-3 month shallow superficial connections here and there. I’m generally happy when I’m single because there’s no pressure to feel anything, but it seems that every year that goes by I get more lonely and isolated.