Are you going through a breakup from a partner with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style?
Someone with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style generally avoids true intimacy and closeness. Yet, deep down, they also desire a soul-shaking, passionate love.
So, how does a dismissive avoidant breakup work? And will they ever come back? Let’s find out…
Want to know what your attachment style is? Take the quiz!
What is the dismissive-avoidant attachment style?
Someone with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style wants space. And lots of it!
Being avoidant does not mean that someone avoids any kind of feelings. In fact, they might even revel in the passionate beginnings of a relationship. But, ultimately, they feel like they don’t really NEED a relationship. And once the demands and commitment start exceeding their capabilities, they are more likely to bail.
Naturally, this complicates building a long-lasting relationship that is both intimate and fulfilling.
If you would like a quick recap on the avoidant attachment, then this video will help you:
However, the dismissive-avoidant attachment style is just one of four different options.
The other three styles are:
- The anxious attachment style, or what I like to call “Open Hearts.” These individuals want a lot of closeness with their partner, and they will go to great lengths to secure it.
- The fearful-avoidant or disorganized attachment style, or “Spice of Lifers.” These people show seemingly contradictory desires; they want closeness, but also fear it.
- The secure attachment style, or “Cornerstones.” Securely attached individuals are comfortable with both intimacy and separateness in relationships.
Now, nobody is purely anxious or dismissive-avoidant. It’s about a spectrum, on which you’re constantly moving around.
This is also why I like to use terms such as, “Rolling Stone” and “Open Heart”. Calling someone “avoidant” or “anxious” can be rather limiting. It doesn’t allow for growth. And it reduces people to those adjectives. That’s not what we want to do!
That said, those with avoidant attachment, or “Rolling Stones”, tend to behave in a certain way during the relationship and breakups. And that’s what we’ll look at next.
What happens when you break up with an avoidant?
Whether you were the one to initiate it or not: breakups hurt.
Any separation has the potential to be heart-breaking, but this is especially true when it was unexpected.
And that’s exactly how many people describe the ending of their relationship with a Rolling Stone: unexpected! This can make a dismissive avoidant breakup particularly painful.
Just when things seem to be going so well, they jump ship and disappear…
Why do they do this? Will they regret it? And is no contact the best course of action? Keep reading.
Why did my dismissive-avoidant suddenly break up?
To understand why someone with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style suddenly runs off, you have to learn more about their fears and worries. Particularly their difficulties with intimacy.
At the beginning of the relationship, you and your Rolling Stones were probably head over heels for each other. The connection seemed instantaneous and the excitement was real.
After some months, however, things begin to change. As you get to know each other better, the intimacy increases too. You grow closer and closer to one another. And before you know it, both of your attachment systems are fully switched on and old default habits are triggered.
You might enjoy the enhanced sense of connectedness and desire more and more of it. But a dismissive-avoidant Rolling Stone sees it differently. To them, intimacy is a threat. They begin to feel overwhelmed, and getting back to safety becomes their new priority.
And if that involves running far away from you and your blossoming relationship, then so be it.
How do dismissive-avoidants handle breakups?
Now, if a Rolling Stone fears intimacy, then you could assume that they are not negatively affected by a breakup, right? Well, not entirely!
Rolling Stones are guarded, but they’re not made of stone. They like to think that they have a lot of emotional control, and in a way, they do! But at the end of the day, they can’t control ALL emotions. Especially not when a close relationship has truly touched their sense of self.
If that’s the case, they too will have recurring thoughts about their ex-partner. And due to their less than stellar coping mechanisms, their distress is often prolonged.
Dismissive-avoidant after breakup: short-term
Rolling Stones see themselves as self-sufficient and invulnerable. So in the aftermath of a painful breakup, they are less likely to turn to friends and family. They want to deal with things on their own. And when it comes to challenging, romantic feelings, airing their ‘dirty laundry’ is often the last thing they want to do.
However, due to their inability to truly sit with painful emotions, they often go to great lengths to suppress and deny them. And thanks to their rational way of being, they may appear to succeed in that too!
At least, so it seems…
Dismissive-avoidant after breakup: long-term
For a Rolling Stone, a dismissive avoidant breakup can at first evoke feelings of relief, but eventually, they too have to process the fallout. Especially if the relationship meant a lot to them.
However, as mentioned earlier, they find this incredibly hard. And in line with their inclination to suppress distressing thoughts, the only way they can survive a breakup with someone they love is by “deactivating” or turning off all thoughts and reminders of the former relationship.
This could mean that they avoid or even outright ghost their ex-partner, sometimes going so far as changing jobs or schools. Distracting themselves with a dismissive avoidant rebound is also common.
These self-protective tactics offer them some reprieve, but it also denies them the chance to learn from the experience and change for the better.
To truly move on and emerge with a stronger sense of self, Rolling Stones have to make a deliberate effort to overcome their dismissive and avoidant patterns.
Do they ever regret breakups, though? Let’s find out.
Do avoidants regret breaking up?
Yes, those with an avoidant attachment style can regret breaking up. But they probably won’t show it.
You see, Rolling Stones are scared of intimacy, but they also fear being seen as weak or unworthy. (And in fact, part of their intimacy issues stems precisely from worrying that loved ones will perceive them that way! But more on that in a bit.)
People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style want to be seen as resilient. And to them, being overly emotional is quite the opposite of that.
This makes it hard to know whether your Rolling Stone has any breakup regrets. Deciphering someone’s emotions is already somewhat difficult when they openly share their thoughts. But when an ex-partner doesn’t share anything at all and is perhaps even hiding their true feelings? Well, that just feels like mission impossible!
It doesn’t have to be, though.
You may not hear it directly from your Rolling Stone, but there is a chance that they are harboring some dismissive avoidant breakup regret. This mostly depends on how the relationship was and what they got out of it. Let’s take a look:
What do dismissive-avoidants get out of a relationship?
While trying to better understand their Rolling Stone, one of our members once asked: “Is it just that they like the taste of love but find it too scary?”
And I think that’s a pretty good summary!
In this video, you can hear my full response to this question:
But to summarize: A passionate relationship with someone who wants to love you intensely is incredibly intoxicating. This is no different for Rolling Stones.
When paired with an Open Heart (an anxiously attached person), they find all the things that they can’t access in themselves: a deep well of emotions, a tender sweetness, and an impassioned outpouring of love.
Because Rolling Stones are scared of expressing these things themselves, they feel invigorated when witnessing it in others. By being in your presence, they feel more alive than ever before. And a rush of intense feelings is unleashed.
Finally, they feel (more) whole again.
As you can guess, this is quite exhilarating. But it also triggers their ultimate fear: profound and long-lasting intimacy.
Want to know what your attachment style is? Take the quiz!
Why do dismissive-avoidants fear intimacy?
When it comes to deeply intimate relationships, Rolling Stones can feel a mixed bag of emotions. But why is that?
Well, in a nutshell: their childhood history has taught them that intimacy is unsafe.
When a parent/caregiver is emotionally unavailable or invasive, an avoidant attachment can form. These children often learn that they shouldn’t rely on others to get their needs met. So, instead of openly expressing them, they pretend they don’t have any and strive to become self-sufficient. As these behavioral patterns offer them a sense of safety, they are then carried into adulthood.
Because they never really learned how to deal with them as a child, painful or vulnerable emotions, such as love, hurt, or shame, feel uncomfortable and threatening. This, in turn, leads to avoidance. Both of the emotions themselves and their potential triggers.
This also explains the Rolling Stones’ tendency to jump ship: The deeper their feelings become, the more out of control and insecure they feel. And the only way they can get safely back to shore is by taking distance or even breaking up entirely.
Check out this video to learn more about avoidant partners and their fears:
This leads us to the question: Should you break up with a Rolling Stone completely–initiating no contact? Here’s what you need to know:
Does no contact work on a dismissive avoidant?
Whether or not “no contact” works is context dependent. And what you want to achieve with it plays a major role.
As an Open Heart, you will probably feel a strong urge to reach out after the breakup. This is also what the Rolling Stone is used to. You’re doing all the work, and they can simply lay back and indulge in their dismissive-avoidant attachment style.
Going “no contact”, on the other hand, gives a person with an avoidant attachment style the space to miss you. It reduces their ability to avoid the discomfort of change and loss. And it forces them to really process the breakup.
However, what matters even more is that “no contact” also greatly helps YOU!
You see, attachment triggers are in essence addiction triggers. And in that sense, “no contact” can be conceptualized as going “cold turkey.” You are severing the addictive connection with your ex and abstaining from the intoxicating hormonal cocktail that is unleashed by it.
This allows you to interrupt the addictive love cycle and speeds up your healing process.
If you want to learn more about how no contact can help break an addictive cycle, then this video will help you:
But how do you ultimately get over your partner? Let’s find out.
How do you get over a breakup with an avoidant partner?
While going “no contact” can greatly accelerate your healing process, learning more about your own attachment style and the associated patterns is incredibly useful too.
What is an anxious attachment style?
Open-Hearted attachment is one of the three insecure attachment styles. As with the other attachment styles, it usually starts in infancy and continues throughout one’s life.
As adults, Open Hearts tend to struggle with feelings of unworthiness. They are prone to seek external approval. And they have an insatiable hunger for love, affection and attention. Yet, no matter how much of it they receive, it never quite stills their persistent fears of abandonment and rejection. This, in turn, makes them act in hypervigilant and clingy ways.
Despite the Open Heart’s deep desire for intimacy, they are usually also afraid of being completely vulnerable. They can be somewhat disconnected from themselves. And they generally struggle with showing their authentic selves to partners.
This is often because they have previously been told that “they’re too much.” And so, to win love and approval they now (try to) hide their needs and desires.
While this feigned chillness and unhealthy people-pleasing can initially work out well (especially with a Rolling Stone), it also means that their true needs are not met.
And an Open Heart’s tendency to gravitate towards people who trigger their attachment wounds makes all of this even trickier.
That leads us to the anxious-avoidant trap.
The anxious-avoidant trap
When it comes to attachment styles, like tends to attract like. This means that securely attached people generally end up with securely attached partners, whereas insecure attachment styles frequently attract other insecurely attached people.
This is in part yin and yang. Just as how a Rolling Stone is drawn to typical Open-Hearted qualities, so do Open Hearts admire the Rolling Stone’s independence and strength.
What really makes someone with an avoidant attachment style so irresistible, though, is the challenging nature of winning over their heart.
You see, due to their deep-rooted feelings of unworthiness, Open Hearts generally believe that they are undeserving of love. A partner who gives love too freely can therefore be seen as boring and unattractive. A challenging Rolling Stone who makes you work for it, on the other hand? Now, that’s exciting!
And often, that’s exactly how it starts out: extremely exciting.
After some time, however, the desire for closeness and intimacy makes the Rolling Stone feel smothered. Their defenses are triggered and they begin to withdraw. This taps into the Open Heart’s insecurities, and they cling on even more.
And so, a vicious Anxious-Avoidant Trap cycle begins.
How do people with an anxious attachment style deal with breakups?
A breakup feeds into an Open Heart’s abandonment wound. And after a separation, they frequently experience deep emotional turmoil and an intense longing for their ex.
While the addictive anxious-avoidant trap partially explains why they might be hoping that their dismissive avoidant keeps coming back, their general attachment patterns also have something to do with it.
Open Hearts pine for love. And when they’re involved in a romantic relationship their partner becomes the center of their world.
This dedication can lead to a beautiful, strong bond, but it also paves the way for codependency.
Add to that their feelings of inherent unworthiness and it’s not hard to understand why people with an anxious attachment style tend to take breakups extremely hard.
They can spend weeks and months brooding and ruminating over what went wrong. Yet, as painful as it may be, this intense reflective period also has an upside.
Research has found a connection between heightened breakup distress and personal growth. And after the initial pain, an Open Heart’s intense heartbreak often acts as a catalyst for transformation.
But for this to happen, four important emotions need to be processed.
The four crucial emotions you can’t bypass during a breakup
No matter your attachment style, when it comes to breakups, there are four crucial emotions that you can’t bypass: anger, sadness, fear, and grief.
Each of these emotions has a different function in how we process a breakup:
- Anger connects you to your vitality and breaks you free of indifference.
- Sadness connects you to your vulnerability and opens up your heart again.
- Fear connects you to your hope and lets you (re)discover your bravery.
- Grief connects you to your discernment and helps you release past hopes.
In this video, I discuss the four emotions and how to process them in more detail:
But can you ultimately heal your attachment style so that you won’t attract avoidant partners? Here’s the answer:
How to overcome an anxious attachment style?
Studies show that insecurely attached people generally have less happy and more unstable romantic bonds. And although breakups can lead to personal growth, you might be tired of the emotional rollercoaster pattern that appears in each of your relationships.
So, perhaps you’re wondering: how do I ‘fix’ my anxious attachment style?
And that’s a great question to ask!
Especially if it comes from a place of wanting to feel more secure with yourself and others and fully open yourself to healthy, nourishing love.
Let’s explore this a little further.
Can you change your attachment style?
Before we get into how to change your attachment style, a good question is whether this is even possible at all?
In short: YES!
Healing an anxious (or otherwise insecure) attachment style means moving towards a more secure way of being.
Sure, this takes time and conscious effort, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Quite the opposite!
While your attachment style is deep-rooted in your biology, it’s not something fixed that must forever define you. Like many things in life, it can evolve over time. And research even backs this up!
How can I become more securely attached?
Ok, so, changing your attachment style is possible. Great!
But HOW do you do this?
Here, I share three valuable tips:
- Reframe your identity
The difference between anxious and secure individuals generally lies in how they identify themselves.
Open Hearts often feel defined by their needs, current behaviors, and external circumstances. For example, almost everyone worries now and then. But whereas a securely attached person will largely be unidentified with worry, an anxiously attached person will feel like it’s part of their entire identity.
To become more securely attached, a profound shift in identity is needed.
- Develop (more) self-esteem
Becoming more securely attached begins with you and your commitment to yourself. Feelings of unworthiness are core elements of an Open-Hearted attachment style. To overcome your anxious attachment patterns, fully realizing that you are worthy and deserving of love is incredibly important. This creates a healthy foundation for change.
- Learn self-soothing techniques (and apply them)
Moving towards secure attachment takes time. And it’s completely normal to fall back into old patterns once in a while. This is where self-soothing techniques come in handy.
Experiential interventions are a powerful tool to learn how to self-soothe and key for helping you stop repeating unwanted ingrained behaviors.
If you would like to explore more useful self-soothing techniques, then take a look at this comprehensive guide on how to self-soothe anxious attachment.
Want to know what your attachment style is? Take the quiz!
What is the difference between a dismissive-avoidant and a fearful-avoidant breakup?
So far, we have focused on two of the insecure attachment styles, namely anxious and dismissive-avoidant. But, there’s also a third insecure attachment style. And that’s the fearful-avoidant, or what I like to call “Spice of Lifers.”
This attachment style can be seen as somewhat of a mix between the other two. Just like an Open Heart, they desire closeness. But just like a Rolling Stone, they crave a great deal of distance. Especially, when that oh-so-desired closeness has finally been obtained.
They strive to always keep partners at a certain degree of closeness. It should feel intimate enough without being threatening.
This usually leads to unpredictable push-and-pull behavior that confuses both the Spice of Lifer and their partners.
And these volatile tendencies impact how they handle breakups, too.
What is the fearful-avoidant attachment style?
While someone with a fearful-avoidant attachment can be passionately expressive, they often have trouble truly letting people in. They don’t trust others easily and they tend to withdraw to protect themselves emotionally.
Due to their incredible depth of emotion, they frequently experience extreme levels of ambivalence, which translates into a “hot or cold” personality. They’re either all in or all out. But neither of the two extremes ever seems to last very long.
For example, when things become a little too steady and intimate, a Spice of Lifer can start second-guessing the relationship. Feelings of dread creep in. And they impulsively decide to break up, only to regret it moments later.
Do the fearful-avoidant and the dismissive-avoidant handle breakup differently?
Yes, Spice of Lifers and Rolling Stones handle breakups differently.
But the same can be said about everyone.
How someone handles a breakup depends on numerous factors. The emotional state they are in, the level of connectedness they share with their ex-partner, and the nature of their support network, to name just a few.
Yet, there is also some clear overlap.
For example, after a breakup, both Rolling Stones and Spice of Lifers are prone to withdraw and request space. But whereas a Rolling Stone generally feels relieved to finally be given more alone time, a Spice of Lifer’s initial sense of relief can quickly turn into anxiety.
The reduced amount of attention greatly taps into their fears of abandonment. The hot part of their personality is activated. And they are inclined to start longing for their ex-partner again, texting and calling them more often than ever before.
This will likely keep going until they win their ex back. And once they finally do, they are elated! But it won’t take long before the victorious pleasure makes way for feelings of ambivalence and eventual dread.
And so, the confusing push-pull dynamic continues.
This unstable pattern tends to make breakups with Spice of Lifers much more volatile and erratic than the dismissive-avoidant breakup stages.
Over to you!
That’s it for today! We’ve covered a lot.
While breakups are anything but easy, they also offer us the chance to really dig deep within. By doing so, we get more in touch with ourselves and pave the way for stronger and healthier relationships. Not only with others, but also with ourselves.
What other questions do you have about a dismissive avoidant breakup? And which emotions or thoughts do you find most difficult during a breakup?
Share your answers with me in the comments below!
Want to know what your attachment style is? Take the quiz!