Key Takeaways

  • Characteristics of dismissive avoidant attachment style are independence, self-reliance, and being emotionally detached.
  • ​​Having a dismissive avoidant attachment style can make it difficult to build and maintain intimate relationships.
  • Acknowledging and understanding your attachment style is the first step in cultivating healthier coping mechanisms and relationships. 

Attachment theory studies how people’s early childhood interactions with their primary caregivers impact their ability to form and maintain healthy relationships later in life. According to attachment theory, there are four attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized. 

One category of avoidant attachment style is dismissive avoidant attachment, characterized by denying the need for emotional connection, social contact, and closeness with others.

What is dismissive avoidant attachment?

Research shows that folks with an avoidant attachment style may feel less cared for by others and have a greater desire to be alone than those with a secure attachment style. People with a dismissive avoidant attachment style are often uncomfortable with emotional closeness and avoid having intimate relationships with others. They value their self sufficiency and would also prefer for others to not rely on them. 

Characteristics of dismissive avoidant attachment style include:

  • Self-reliance: People with dismissive avoidant attachment pride themselves on being independent and would prefer not to rely on other people for help. 
  • Fear of vulnerability: One reason that these folks tend to be so self-reliant is because they fear closeness. They may have a tough time being vulnerable or sharing their fears and feelings with others.
  • Emotional detachment: People with this attachment style will also suppress their emotions; either because they don’t understand what they’re feeling or because they don’t want other people involved in their feelings.

According to attachment theory, a person’s parents or caregivers can have a direct influence on their attachment style. When children experience a safe and stable upbringing, they’re more likely to develop a secure attachment style. But when their caregivers aren’t sensitive to their feelings and emotional needs, they’re more likely to develop an avoidant attachment style. For these people, they may cope by self-soothing, minimizing their emotional needs, and becoming overall more self-reliant.

Several other factors may lead to dismissive avoidant attachment, including one theory that suggests that people may be genetically predisposed to avoidant attachment styles.

Four signs of dismissive avoidant attachment

Here are four ways to spot dismissive avoidant attachment in yourself or others.

1. Behavior patterns

Folks with dismissive avoidant attachment tend to be extremely independent. They value their alone time and may consider themselves to be self-sufficient. They probably don’t ask for help very often and will withdraw if romantic partners or other close relationships get too close. 

2. Emotional responses

When people are raised by emotionally unavailable caregivers, they may not see the importance of emotional intimacy or connection. Whether they’re struggling to understand their own emotions or intentionally masking their feelings from others, it can be difficult to cultivate emotional closeness. They may also be uncomfortable in emotionally vulnerable situations.

3. Relationship challenges

People with dismissive avoidant attachment prefer casual relationships that don’t require deeper connections. They’re open to romantic partners but will opt for short-term relationships over ongoing commitments. These relationship challenges don’t stem from feeling undeserving of love but are instead from the belief that they don’t need that level of intimacy or support in life. 

4. Communication difficulties

Talking about emotions doesn’t come easy to people with dismissive avoidant attachment. In fact, they’d often prefer to simply avoid those conversations altogether. 

Three strategies for coping with dismissive avoidant attachment

It’s important to remember that attachment styles often stem from childhood experiences, so having dismissive avoidant attachment isn’t a personal fault. That said, acknowledging and understanding your attachment style is an opportunity to build healthier coping mechanisms and relationships. 

1. Develop self-awareness and acceptance

Do you think you might have a dismissive avoidant attachment style? Consider the following questions:

  • Do you consider yourself more independent and self-sufficient than most people?
  • Do you find it difficult to open up and develop emotional closeness?
  • Do you feel that you don’t have a need for deeper connections?
  • Do you tend to avoid conversations related to emotions?

Contemplating and accepting your attachment style can offer valuable insights into your current behavior patterns and habits.

2. Seek professional help

If you’re reading to seek professional mental health support, look for a therapist who understands attachment theory. Attachment-based therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps folks cope with past trauma and increase their ability to develop and maintain meaningful connections. For folks with dismissive avoidant attachment, therapy can improve communication skills, leading to more satisfying and authentic relationships. 

3. Use self-help strategies 

Self-help involves actions and interventions to help people change their habits. Here are a few self-help strategies to get you started. 

  • Practice mindfulness and self-reflection: Mindfulness and self-reflection can help people become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. For example, journaling is a simple tool for reflecting on relationship patterns, identifying triggers, and gaining overall awareness about how your attachment style impacts your relationships. 
  • Develop healthy communication skills: Having a dismissive avoidant attachment style can make it difficult to communicate with loved ones. It may be hard to effectively express your needs or respond to other people’s feelings in a healthy way. To develop healthier communication skills, work on active listening and remaining direct and respectful during conflict resolution.
  • Build emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage both your own emotions and the emotions of others. According to Mental Health America, there are five key elements to emotional intelligence:
    • Self-awareness
    • Self-regulation
    • Motivation
    • Empathy
    • Social skills

By working on these skills, you may be more open to building intimate and meaningful relationships. 

Manage dismissive avoidant attachment with Rula 

Attachment styles play a big role in how we all approach building and maintaining relationships. If you or someone you know struggles with intimate partnerships, consider learning how Rula can connect you with mental health support. 

With the right care, you can learn how to understand your attachment style, overcome harmful behavior patterns, and build healthier relationships. Rula makes it easy to find a licensed therapist who is in network with your insurance, accepting new clients, and an expert in caring for your unique needs. With Rula, you’ll have access to our network of over 8,000 therapists, making it easier to begin your healing journey today.

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