Why Dismissive Avoidants Push You Away (How to Prevent It)

Dismissive avoidant come into a relationship feeling like they don’t need the relationship (or you), so anything that makes them feel like they’re depending on you or emotionally investing in the relationship triggers them and makes they push you away.

The relationship may begin just like any other relationship – the attraction and chemistry is amazing, connection is great and all the good stuff, but unlike fearful avoidants who:

  • are comfortable with constant contact in the beginning
  • catch feelings too quickly but also struggle with how they truly feel about you (they’re into you, then back away, then they’re into you again)
  • occasionally complain their needs aren’t being met, and
  • can be mean and hurtful when their feelings are hurt

Dismissive avoidants right from the beginning make it known to you in different ways that:

  • they’re not comfortable with daily contact/multiple texts a day,
  • want to take things slow and
  • don’t want you to think or act like you owe them anything or that they owe you anything.

If they’re in a relationship with you, it’s because they’re choosing to and not because they need to (they do fine all by themselves).

They show you that they’re attracted to you and enjoy being around you, but on most part cold, aloof, unemotional and even dispassionate or not affectionate. But that’s not even a dismissive avoidant’s worst trait. The most common complaint about dismissive avoidants is that they might be in a relationship, but they really don’t make any significant effort to deeply bond or make the relationship work. Unlike fearful avoidants who at least try to bond, put in mutual effort to make you feel loved and wanted, dismissive avoidants show-up in a relationship like they’d show up for work – do what they’re supposed to do, and no more. If you do the same (and not do “too much”) or don’t complain or ask for more, it’s a good relationship as far as a dismissive avoidant is concerned.

A dismissive avoidant attachment’s fear of depending on others or being depended on

Dismissive avoidants will go to great lengths to avoid allowing themselves to rely or depend on someone or letting someone depend on them, and get triggered and/or push you away when they feel that:

1. They’re starting to depend on you

Depending on someone or on a relationship for their emotional or practical needs is reminds dismissive avoidants of the caregivers that they could not depend or rely on as child. As soon as they start feeling in like they are depending on you they push you away. Their thinking is that they can’t depend or rely on you because 1) people are generally unreliable and can’t be depended on and 2) you’re going to try to control them, and have expectations and unrealistic demands on who they can be or what they’re allowed to do – just like their parent/caregiver.

2) You’re depending on them a little too much

Someone depending for emotional or practical needs also reminds dismissive avoidants of their childhood experience where they took on the parent role, had adult responsibilities from a very young age, parents expected a lot from them, etc. and felt that they weren’t given the opportunity or given the space to be themselves. And because they’re usually the self-sufficient, self-composed and generally less emotion-driven one in the relationship, they start to push you away when they feel that your needs are overtaking theirs and they have less time and space to be themselves or get things done with you around.

The more they feel that your needs are overtaking theirs, they more dismissive avoidants feel like and they’re losing their “independence” or fell smothered and pull away or push you away.

How can you make a dismissive avoidant ex less afraid of getting too close?

Unfortunately, this is something that a dismissive avoidant has to recognize in themselves and want to work on changing. It’s not your job or responsibility to fix their attachment style, that’s something a dismissive avoidant needs to do for themselves, but if you really want to help, you can make the relationship less triggering for a dismissive avoidant ex by taking off some of the pressure.

Some of the things I’m going to suggest will probably be triggering to someone really hurt by a dismissive avoidant’s cold, aloof, unemotional and even dispassionate tendencies, and I completely get it. I’m not trying to make excuses for these behaviours, I’m trying to help those who still love their dismissive avoidant ex and want to make a relationship work, figure out how to do just that.

If you feel that it’s “more work” for you or that you are “required to make sacrifices” to make up for a dismissive avoidant’s “deficiencies”, skip the part below and move along. Sounds dismissive avoidant, but I’m really trying to spare you from getting triggered. Here we go.

1. Let them be as close as they feel safe to be

A dismissive avoidant has survived by avoiding getting too close to others or allowing others to get too close. As unhealthy as their defense mechanisms are and as frustrating as it is to love someone who won’t let you get close, dismissive avoidants need these defense mechanisms to protect themselves.

Don’t be on top of them, in their face or siting on their ass about things they need to change in order for you to be happy. Give them space to figure things out on their own. I’m not saying “don’t contact them”. Space doesn’t always mean no contact, and as you may very well know by now, if you don’t reach out, a dismissive avoidant will not reach out first. the way a dismissive attachment style is programmed is that they go on for weeks and months without needing connection. I’m saying don’t pressure them to change. If you need to set boundaries then do so. If they’re open to seeking professional help about their attachment style then encourage and support them but don’t try to fix them to meet your needs.

Remind yourself that if a dismissive avoidant ex is responding, reaching out and engaged, it’s because they want to and not because they need to. Focus on the positives, recognize the qualities they share, respect their need for space and independence, and create the right emotional environment for a dismissive avoidant to let go of a little “independence” little by little and want to get close.

2. Meet a dismissive avoidant at their level of self-sufficiency

Meeting a dismissive avoidant at their level of self-sufficiency is being less dependent on relationships or on them for your needs and happiness and more dependent on yourself. Not to the extent of dismissive avoidants because that too comes from insecure attachment, but more from a place of being comfortable being alone with yourself and being comfortable being close to someone without needing them.

Some of my anxiously attached clients say they can not remember a time when they were capable of existing alone. They’re always in a relationship, recovering from a break-up or dating someone new post break-up.

Learn to care for someone and want to make them happy and feel safe without relying on them for your happiness or for reassurance that you’re worthy of love.

3. Manage your own emotions and behaviours

Most anxiously attached and some fearful avoidants have the attitude “If I’m too much, you can just say no/say stop/ignore me/block me”. They’re not trying to self-regulate but relying on someone else to regulate their emotions and behaviours. An anxiously attached ex will even beg an avoidant to “Please block me”. They think they’re giving an avoidant a way out, but dismissive avoidants find it too much work to manage another person’s emotions and behaviours. They can manage their emotions and control their behaviours, why can’t you?

If you can learn to regulate your emotions and control your own thoughts and behaviours so a dismissive avoidant doesn’t have to do it for you, it’ll take off the pressure to manage their emotions and manage yours too.

4. Respect boundaries

This is tied to learning to regulate your emotions and control your own thoughts and behaviours. You may not like or agree with admissive avoidant’s boundaries but understand that people set boundaries to keep out behaviours they find unsafe. Boundaries may sometimes be an avoidant way of keeping you at a distance, but boundaries more than keeping people at a distance are an avoidants way of protecting themselves. When you keep overstepping a boundary or violating it, it puts pressure on an avoidant to set up even more boundaries that are more rigid than before; the same way a persons who’s had break-ins reinforce doors, put up security cameras and even erect walls.

Respecting a dismissive avoidant ex’s boundaries actually makes them relax their boundaries because they feel less need for them. It takes off the pressure from a dismissive avoidant to protect themselves. And when you set boundaries with a dismissive avoidant, don’t overstep your own boundaries and make them feel that they have to help you respect yourself.

6. Don’t expect to be the most important person in a dismissive avoidant’s life

When you have anxious attachment or are a fearful avoidant leaning anxious, you make the person you love the most important person in your life and expect that they make you the most important in theirs. This can be too much pressure for a dismissive avoidant who has been (and is) the only and most important person in their life.

Learn to accept that your dismissive avoidant ex doesn’t owe you their free time. They’ve most likely filled their life with things they want to do, people they want to see and places they want to go because it makes them feel that they’re not all by themselves in this world, and it has nothing to do with you.

This doesn’t mean you mean less to a dismissive avoidant, it just means that sometimes there are things, places and people who take priority over you and the relationship because they meet a dismissive avoidant’s need that you don’t or can’t meet.

7. Tone down the “aggressive” expressions of love

“I love you so much, I will do anything for make you happy” all the mushy love-poetry type-messages that would impress an anxiously attached ex and fearful avoidant ex sends chills down a dismissive avoidants spine. They make a dismissive avoidant ex feel that you need them in your life because you can’t survive or be happy without them. It’s a lot of pressure for a dismissive avoidant ex to be responsible for your happiness, let alone survival.

It’s also a lot of pressure to reciprocate. They’re not the most verbally expressive attachment style or the ;most “lovey-dovey” type, and a dismissive avoidants culture can also play a big part in them feeling pressured to come up with a worthy “the ways I love you” response.

Well timed, deeply felt and short and to the point words expressing your love work better with a dismissive avoidant. The less often the more meaningful.

8. Frame a request in a way that shows respect for their time and space

Most people are turned off when you ask for something that’s theirs and when they say no, you act offended and/or argue with them as to why you can’t have it. Dismissive avoidants are no exception.

Asking a dismissive avoidant for something that requires their time and space doesn’t make most dismissive avoidants feel pressured when you show respect for their time and space and/or don’t need a particular outcome for you to be okay.

If you want to hang out for example, ask your dismissive avoidant ex to do something that you were going to do whether they said yes or no. That way they don’t feel that you were expecting them to change their plans for you. Give them plenty of advance notice and let them take their time deciding. Please don’t say “no pressure”; You think you’re giving someone a way out, but it only makes them feel that you “need” them to say yes.

9. Don’t play mind games with a dismissive avoidant

First of all, dismissive avoidants don’t have the time or energy to spend trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not. For example, if you tell them you want space and don’t want contact, they will give you space and not contact you. They’re not going to get triggered and chase after you because dismissive avoidant do not have the fear of rejection or abandonment.

Secondly, dismissive avoidants can be very stubbornly independent. If they (eventually) figure out it’s just a mind game to get a reaction from them, a dismissive avoidant will show you that they’re so independent that you’re mind games don’t affect them. Even if they wanted to reach out, they’ll feel pressured by your mind games and pull away, keep you guessing what their next move is or keep you at a distance. In a dismissive avoidant’s thinking, you forced them to react or respond with distancing from you.

10. Don’t ask a dismissive avoidant “What do you need from me?”

I read somewhere that to get dismissive avoidant to open up and feel comfortable expressing their needs ask them “What do you need from me”, and I could envision dismissive avoidants collectively triggered.

Asking “What do you need from me?” will make someone with an anxious attachment feel great because they feel that they meet other people’s needs and no one tries or wants to meet their needs. It may even work with fearful avoidants too, but it will backfire with dismissive avoidants.

The need not to be seen as needing anyone is probably the only need dismissive avoidants are vocal about and don’t feel vulnerable expressing. Asking what they need from you is the same as saying they need you. The push back will be a strong “I don’t need you and I’ll show you I don’t need you”, which only reinforces their fierce independence and fear of getting close.

Last but not least, if you can’t be with a dismissive avoidant, walk away

Needless to say, a dismissive avoidant’s hyper-independence makes being in a relationship with them really hard and can take a toll on their partners. It often feels like a dismissive avoidant doesn’t love you because they feel pressured by just about everything that makes a relationship worth being in. But not feeling like they need you or need a relationship has little to do with if or not a dismissive avoidant loves you or still has feelings for you. A dismissive avoidant ex may be scared to be in a relationship because of all the expectations, stress and demands of being in a relationship but still be very much attracted and interested in you.

Being alone has served them well so far in terms of protecting  themselves. They’d rather be alone in the “peace and quiet” of their loneliness than be in a relationship with too much pressure, chaos, uncontrolled emotions and “my feelings, my needs, my feeling” talk day-in-day out.

Their love for you has to be stronger than their need to protect themselves for a dismissive avoidant to want to change for you and want to get close enough to risk their independence and strong sense of self.

There are dismissive avoidants in long term relationships and marriages which means that dismissive avoidants get there in their own time and in the right emotional environment.


Avoidant Ex Says “I Don’t Want A Relationship” (What to Do)

Dismissive Avoidant Attachment And “Longing” For An Ex

What Happens When You Ignore A Dismissive Avoidant Ex?

Why Getting Back A Dismissive Avoidant Takes So Long

20 Signs Your Ex A Narcissist Vs. Dismissive Avoidant Or Selfish

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2 replies on “Why Dismissive Avoidants Push You Away (How to Prevent It)”
  1. says: Maureen

    So even if you leave them alone or show them that you have moved on, dismissive avoidants don’t miss you?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Dismissive avoidants miss their exes especially if they developed feelings or had an attachment to an ex. But you can’t “make” a dismissive avoidant miss you because they don’t feel that they need others, and a relationship isn’t on the top of their list of priorities.

      The only attachment styles you can “make” miss you are anxiously attached and fearful avoidant leaning anxious who are afraid of being alone and need to be in a relationship to feel complete. With dismissive avoidants, it’s like telling someone who stays in their room and games all day that you will send them to their room as a form of punishment.

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