What is an attachment style?
Our attachment style defines how we relate to other people.
It is at the heart of the way we relate to our relationship partner. Understanding your own attachment style can be the difference between finding emotional closeness or suffering from the anxiety that often stems from insecure attachment.
Table of Contents
- What is an Attachment Style?
- Why Does My Attachment Style Matter?
- Can I Change My Attachment Style?
- The Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style
- Dating Someone with a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style
- Top 5 things to understand about the Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style
- How to build a great relationship with a dismissive avoidant
- Video on the Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style
Why does my attachment style matter?
All of us have our own attachment style. In fact, there is a whole branch of social psychology that looks at attachment theory and considers the attachment pattern we each bring from our childhood experiences into an intimate relationship once we reach adulthood.
Our adult attachment style informs the way we behave in an adult relationship. Understanding the way that we respond to emotional intimacy can be a key part of developing and maintaining a successful emotional relationship.
The roots of our own attachment style are usually found in childhood experiences that set a template for the rest of our lives.
If we enjoyed a secure attachment to our parents, then we learn from a young age to trust other people. We learn to accept that they love and care for us and will act in our best interests. However, often people who have had more difficult childhoods, for instance, suffering abuse or seeing their parents divorce, have had that childhood trust corroded. For those people, once they reach adulthood, they may develop what is known as an “avoidant attachment style.” This is characterized by people seeing their own needs and desires as unimportant, or certainly not as important as those of other people.
Can I change my attachment style?
As a wise man once said, “the past is a statement, but the future is a question.”
You cannot change your past but you are much more in control of the future. If you commit to understanding the past, and the circumstances that have helped to shape you, it can help you better understand your current behaviors, your fears, and your anxieties. This can help all of us develop positive and healthy adult relationships.
For instance, you may have spotted a pattern in your relationships where you seem to spend all of your time keeping the other person happy and pay very little attention to your personal happiness. Understanding why this happens is really important. This is true whether it is a close relationship with a friend or a romantic relationship with a lover. This is because once it is understood, you are better able to change those deep, embedded patterns and develop a more secure attachment style.
As we go throughout life, and experience intimate relationships, we are always trying to understand things better. This learning, if properly harnessed, can lead to improvement. This is especially relevant in the early stages of a relationship but true even in long-term relationships. Couples who are constantly working on themselves individually, and within their relationship are often much stronger.
The dismissive avoidant attachment style
People with the dismissive avoidant attachment style fear emotion so much that they will often avoid emotional connection. In fact, they are so wary of closeness that they take steps to avoid emotional connection with others. They hate relying on other people. Even more, they hate other people relying on them. At an extreme, this can become what is known as “fearful avoidant attachment”, where people simply withdraw from having relationships.
Maybe this sounds like you? Or maybe it sounds like the person you are in a relationship with? I have spoken to many guys who are with someone who is a dismissive avoidant. It can be tough. Sometimes it can feel like living in a minefield, where the wrong word is jumped on as criticism, or the person can feel distant and unreachable.
Understanding what a partner needs is key to developing successful intimate adult relationships. That is why I have pulled together my top 5 tips for men who are dating someone who has dismissive avoidant attachment.
Dating someone with a dismissive avoidant attachment style
Dating someone with a dismissive avoidant attachment style can often feel like being in a strange situation.
Top 5 things to understand about the dismissive avoidant attachment style
1. Communication is key
Firstly, a dismissive avoidant will often feel slightly detached emotionally. This means that communicating clearly, and often, is essential. Stating your wants, needs, and feelings consistently is important.
The dismissive avoidant wants simplicity and clarity. Ambiguity and uncertainty just cause anxiety. Don’t just assume that they will know how you are feeling or what you want because of the way you are acting. You absolutely have to spell it out.
They truly believe that we would all be the happiest and our most content selves if both parties are directly communicating their needs.
And, because they are clear on what their own needs are (because they don’t trust anyone else to understand and respond to them), they expect others to be clear about their needs too. It comes down to accountability. Because they believe that they are entirely accountable for their own needs, they think you should be as well.
Sulking, the silent treatment, or passive-aggressive responses do not work with these people. Instead, you need to be open and clear in how you communicate with them.
2. The dismissive avoidant don’t rely on you
Don’t take this personally. The dismissive avoidant doesn’t rely on anybody.
Remember what we said earlier about how childhood experiences can shape adults with an insecure attachment style? Well, this is what happens when those children grow up and get into an intimate relationship with a romantic partner. They look after themselves and they expect you to do the same.
This can cause tensions in relationships. Over time there are ways to overcome this, to build a level of trust that reassures them that you can rely on each other, and teaches them that it is sometimes okay to be vulnerable.
But be prepared for bumps along the way. Every time you get close, they may end up pushing you away, either by what they say or how they act.
This is because, essentially, they are terrified of closeness and intimacy. They are scared of the idea that their happiness could be tied up with someone else’s actions. Perhaps this was instilled in their mind when they were younger and they had an emotional need that was not fully met. Or maybe this trait developed later in life when they realized that relationships can let you down.
The key thing, however, is for you to understand and accept this. If someone has been hurt before, then it stands to reason that they will take steps to avoid being hurt again. Act with empathy and patience and take time to build a level of trust.
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3. Accept the dismissive avoidant for who they are
Another specific trait of people with a dismissive avoidant attachment style is that they want to feel accepted for who they are as an individual.
This means that they are not good at accepting any type of criticism. If you criticize them, particularly in public, they tend to get offended and hurt. When you shame or criticize them, to them it simply confirms their deep-rooted emotions. Sometimes, with their fear of criticism, they will believe they are being criticized even when they are not.
Again, it all started when they were younger and usually means their needs were ignored at some point, in some way. Perhaps their parents were too critical, or just not helpful in ways they needed, or not emotionally or physically there for them. It can be something as simple as a statement, or question, that can evoke a feeling of being judged, even when you had no intention of doing so. It’s simply the way their brains receive the information.
4. Support the dismissive avoidant unconditionally
A dismissive avoidant individual wants to feel supported. To them, the feeling of support means their wants are being fully heard out, and that you care enough to understand them as they are. No matter what they choose to do, they want to feel like they are being unconditionally understood by the other partner. They never want to feel as if their emotions are being misunderstood, or that their motives, feelings, desires, or choices are ever questioned. It’s important to be there for them, but let them do their own thing when they need to. More importantly, make sure that their independence and space are always respected.
Other things such as basic acts of care for them, helping them with tasks, asking them about themselves, or giving suggestions, are essential to a healthy relationship with a dismissive avoidant. You can show that you actually care by being there up them in important times, and setting aside time and space meant especially for them. They will, in turn, take notice, and feel special. Being supported in these ways is what makes them feel the most loved and comfortable in a relationship.
5. Validate the dismissive avoidant attachment style
People with this attachment style want to feel safe, and receive validation from their partner. Sometimes this attachment needs to take in all of the positivity, but because of their nature, it can take some time to learn how to give it back. The feeling of having their needs met by someone who truly understands them is a new concept for them, so they can’t properly reciprocate until they learn how to meet your needs, too. They have to know that it’s safe to rely on you and that it’s safe to give in and be fully vulnerable.
That comes with understanding how to give them the things they need. They need to feel affirmed so they feel safe, and confident in the relationship.
When it comes to opening up or being vulnerable in a romantic relationship, they only want to do so with people they feel are “safe” to do so. You need to be always accepting of them, and never judge them. There’s a lot of different factors that go into making a person feel as if you are a safe choice for them. But once they do trust you, then that can create a bond of intimacy and connection that is uniquely strong.
How to build a great relationship with a dismissive avoidant
It is perfectly possible to have a great relationship with someone who has a dismissive avoidant attachment style. However, if you have a different attachment style to your partner then it can take work to get it right.
You have to understand that they are programmed differently, and have grown into their own attachment style. Their unique feelings and thoughts mean they are usually less giving until they learn and grow over time in relationships. Their understanding of the concept of love seems to be the exact representation of what their unmet needs were, so that’s their love language.
As with most issues, increasing your own awareness and working on understanding the relationship on a deeper level can help to make positive changes. That is about learning about yourself and your partner. Guys who do not understand this, and do not seek to understand this, will often find themselves trapped in relationship patterns that repeat themselves. Or they might struggle to find and connect with their soulmate in the first place.
It is to help all guys deepen the understanding that can break these patterns that I put together my free masterclass training to help men show up as the very best partner that they can be. This will help you understand why your partner might act in certain ways at certain times. It will give you a level of insight that can make your soulmate feel understood and safe – which in turn can lead to a level of intimacy and trust that can be truly mind-blowing in the bedroom and beyond.
If you’d like to develop your own masculine understanding to become a dream boyfriend or husband, or to find a soulmate to work through life with, then check out this powerful free training.
Video on the dismissive avoidant attachment style
Alongside this core masterclass, I also wanted to help guys really develop an in-depth knowledge of what attachment theory is and why it matters. That is why I have put together a unique video on the dismissive avoidant style in relationships.
If anything you have read above sounds like you, or your partner, then I urge you to check it out. I know from the guys that I work with on finding and maintaining great relationships that understanding different attachment styles can be “like a lightbulb going on.” Really understanding this stuff can open a door to a whole never level of understanding, and help you to develop stronger more intimate relationships.
Check out the video:
What is an avoidant person?
An avoidant person will often have feelings of inadequacy and will be sensitive to any criticism. Having an avoidant attachment pattern often means the person has a fear of rejection and may avoid social interactions.
What is disorganized attachment?
This is an extreme form of poor attachment often seen in people who had very difficult or abusive childhoods. As adults people with this attachment style find it very difficult to trust others.
What is anxious attachment?
People with an anxious attachment style need constant reassurance and affection from their partner. They may also have trouble being alone or single. They need to feel loved and need the validation of someone else
What is fearful avoidant attachment style?
People with a fearful avoidant attachment style have a strong desire for close relationships, but distrust others and fear intimacy. This often leads to people with this attachment style avoiding the relationships that they crave.
What is anxious preoccupied attachment style?
Anxious preoccupied attachment style is often characterized by a person feeling extreme levels of anxiety in their relationships with romantic partners. An anxious attacher will struggle to establish healthy attachment relationships.
Can I change my attachment style?
Most people do not change their attachment style. However, with work it is possible. The starting point is becoming more aware of your own attachment style and making a conscious effort to challenge your ingrained ways of thinking.
Men's Relationship Coach
Steffo is the founder of The Tantric Man Experience, the #1 masculine mentorship program in the world. There he helps men in relationships reignite the passion to restore their marriages from the brink of divorce. And single men attract their dream women naturally with success. He's on a mission to guide men towards an intimate and meaningful relationship, and end the war with their sexuality, so they can finally become integrated men, fathers, brothers, husbands, and leaders in the world.
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