3) Dismissive avoidant :”They want me more than I want them”.
Individuals with attachment anxiety want (and chase after) someone more when the person shows less interest and/or does not want to be with them.
Conflicted and fearful avoidants want to be with someone but act like they are not interested because they want it to appear that the other person is chasing them and wants to be with them. When someone stops showing interest, they either suddenly want the person more or pull away because they are afraid the other person does not want them.
Dismissive avoidants often find themselves with someone who wants to text all the times, always trying to ‘see’ them and spend time together and smothering them with neediness (anxiously attached) or with someone who constantly complains that they are not happy, wants space but also wants to try to work on the relationship at the same time (fearful avoidant).
Both dynamics make the relationship feel unsafe for a dismissive avoidant who does not want emotional ups and downs in their lives.
A safe and ‘normal’ relationship for a dismissive avoidant is: “You do your thing. I do my thing. When I feel like it, we do something together”.
Asking a dismissive avoidant to consider your feelings, needs and wants or trying to make them want you more by playing mind games is a sign that you “want more than they want”. As far as they are concerned, you should be taking care of your own feelings and needs, and if they don’t feel like talking to you or seeing you, you should accept that and not resort to mind games. Which all makes real good sense, right?
But what most dismissive avoidants don’t realize is that the feeling that the relationship is unsafe goes both ways.
Showing no interest when someone is trying to talk about their feelings, constantly ignoring their needs, disappearing for long stretches of time, getting angry when they ask for your time or try to get close etc. also makes the relationship feel unsafe for the other person.
Even if your need for space is necessary for your mental health and wellbeing, just ignoring texts, not responding when the other person reaches out or telling someone you need space without telling them when “you’ll be back” triggers anxiety in someone with attachment anxiety and pulling back or distancing in someone with a fearful attachment avoidance.
I tell my clients with a dismissive avoidant style: “If you want your ex to contact you, act like someone who wants contact”.
You can’t be angry with someone for sending ten texts in a row when a few minutes ago you were all engaged and texting non-stop but then you suddenly stop responding and ignore them. How are they to know that you don’t want to text message anymore? How can they tell if you suddenly “want space” or if you were involved in an accident and rushed to the emergency?
Wouldn’t it make both of you feel safe if you told the other person, how you feel (and what they need to know about how you feel), what you need in and from the relationship, what your boundaries are and the consequences of violating them, if you are done with the conversation and don’t want to text anymore, and if you need space, how long you’ll be gone, how you’ll reconnect and what you will do if they try to contact you while you “doing your own thing”.
Whatever your attachment style, always keep in mind that:
- Everyone wants to feel safe regardless of their attachment style.
- Everyone wants to be in a relationship where they feel the other person is looking out for them and has their back.
- Everyone wants the reassurance that when they take that risk of opening their heart and life to someone (again), that that person will be “there”- and will not end up walking out on them or hurting them (again).