Those with a dismissive avoidant attachment style may have no desire for close relationships or actively avoid them due to past trauma.

If you’ve ever taken a deep dive into the psychology of relationships, you’ve probably come across the concept of attachment theory. Attachment theory describes the way that people “attach” to each other in interpersonal relationships based on their life experiences.

Dismissive avoidant attachment is an attachment style in which someone has trouble relying on and forming close emotional bonds with other people.

Dismissive avoidant attachment is a type of insecure attachment, and it’s one of several different attachment styles.

We’ll take a look at some of the causes and traits of dismissive avoidant attachment and discuss ways to heal if you have an avoidant attachment style toward others.

Dismissive avoidant attachment, also known as avoidant attachment, is one of three insecure attachment styles that can affect our relationships with others.

Adults with dismissive avoidant attachment tend to avoid intimacy and closeness with other people, whether that’s parents, partners, or friends. They’re fiercely independent and autonomous and often use defensive techniques to avoid depending on others.

Avoidant attachment is the opposite of anxious attachment, in which people often experience high levels of self-doubt and chase after validation and closeness with others.

When someone has a dismissive avoidant attachment style, they might:

  • have a negative view of relationships
  • act distant and cold toward family or friends
  • refuse to become emotionally close to others
  • withdraw from relationships that are too intimate
  • seek out control and autonomy in situations
  • use defensive strategies to avoid connection
  • engage in distancing behaviors with others
  • refuse to ask for help from other people
  • keep their activities and plans private from others
  • act in ways that prioritize their independence
  • engage in only casual or short relationships

Attachment styles develop from experiences both in childhood, when we’re forming bonds with our parents as babies and children, and later in life.

For example, children with neglected needs during childhood may learn to become more self-reliant, leading to an avoidant attachment style in adulthood. Childhood abuse can also reinforce the fear of closeness, which can manifest as dismissive avoidant attachment.

Avoidant attachment styles may possibly develop from other factors, too such as:

If you have a dismissive avoidant attachment style, you might prefer to remain independent because it’s what works for you. But maybe you want to enter a long-term relationship or perhaps just improve the relationships you already have.

If you have an avoidant attachment style, here are a few steps you can take toward healing and building better relationships:

  • Recognize and change your responses: Educating yourself on the different attachment styles and how they can affect relationships is an important step toward self-awareness. Once you know how your avoidant attachment affects the way you act, you can begin to recognize and change those behaviors.
  • Keep an open line of communication: As you actively work on healing from dismissive avoidant attachment, you’ll likely encounter some interpersonal conflict along the way. One of the best ways to navigate those difficult feelings and emotions is through open and frequent communication.
  • Reach out for help from a professional: It’s not always easy for us to change our behaviors, especially behaviors stemming from stressful or traumatic experiences in our childhood. Working with a mental health professional can help provide you with the guidance and support you need during the healing process.

What does a dismissive avoidant want?

Being a parent, partner, or friend to someone with a dismissive attachment style can sometimes be confusing. It may be difficult to understand what they want from you or from the relationship.

It’s not uncommon for a person with this attachment style to act cold, distant, or even hurtful toward people with whom they are in relationships.

While their behavior is not your fault — or your responsibility to change — there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for support for yourself. If you feel you could benefit from mental health support, here are a few resources to consider checking out:

Was this helpful?

Dismissive avoidant attachment is one of several attachment styles that affect the way children and adults interact with others. When someone has an avoidant attachment style, they may prioritize their independence and autonomy while struggling to emotionally connect with others.

If you believe that you have a dismissive avoidant attachment style, there are resources that can help you navigate healing and improve your relationships with others.