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5 Signs of Dismissive Avoidant Attachment, Causes & Characteristics

What is dismissive avoidant attachment

A dismissive avoidant attachment style in adulthood is one of the insecure attachment styles characterized by the lack of desire for emotional connection with others. While they distrust others, they have high self-esteem and see themselves positively.

A family of four in therapy look at and comfort the mother.

Attachment theory & attachment styles

Attachment theory, proposed by psychiatrist John Bowlby, suggests that infants are predisposed to form strong emotional bonds with their primary caregiver because close proximity improves their chances of survival. Attachment behavior forms a pattern called the attachment style.

The four child attachment styles are:

These types of attachment represent the baby’s internal working models of themselves, others, and the relationships with them​1​.

These models are developed early in childhood and carried forward in life, influencing one’s future relationships and social interactions​2​.

Avoidant Attachment in childhood 

In early childhood, avoidant attachment occurs when an attachment figure habitually rejects a baby’s connection-seeking behaviors during times of distress. Often, these parents are emotionally rigid and irritable towards their infants. As a result, children avoid seeking comfort from caregivers when they are in distress​3​

Insecure avoidant infants generally perceive others as cold, rejecting, or manipulative. They have a negative model of others and view relationships as insecure and unstable.

To protect themselves, they avoid close relationships and maintain an emotional distance. When coping with anxiety-producing situations, they deactivate or inhibit their attachment system instead of seeking comfort from others​4​.

What causes avoidant attachment in adults

Hazan and Shaver suggested that infants’ main attachment styles, identified in Mary Ainsworth’s Strange Situation, often persist into adult life​5​.

Twenty years of research data show that 72% of adults have the same adult attachment styles as when they were infants. If attachment classifications change, they are often associated with traumatic events​6​.

Growing up with an avoidant attachment tends to result in a dismissive-avoidant attachment style in adulthood, and 25% of the adult population displays this pattern of behavior.

Signs of dismissive avoidant attachment in adults

Many studies have found that an adult’s attachment style shapes the quality of their interpersonal relationships​​.​7,8​ Dismissive avoidant attachment style negatively correlates with various aspects of adults’ closest relationships​9,10​.

There are two key dimensions – anxiety and avoidance – underpinning the different attachment styles, leading to different behavior patterns throughout life.

A dismissive-avoidant woman or man tends to score high on the avoidance scale and low on the attachment anxiety scale

1. Fear of intimacy

Attachment issues in the early years left dismissive individuals with a fear of intimacy. They avoid feelings of closeness in relationships.

2. Lack of trust

They tend to distrust others. As a result, they avoid interactions with other people and deactivate their response system to cope with stress.

They will likely decrease any kind of interaction or feeling in the romantic relationship, positive or negative​11​.

3. Do not provide or receive social support

A dismissive-avoidant person cannot form supportive relationships.

They are uncomfortable providing support to friends or romantic partners and feel less obligated to do so.

Their view of those who seek support is that they are dependent, weak, emotionally unstable, and immature.

4. High self-esteem

While avoidant individuals distrust other people, they tend to have higher self-esteem. They generally have a positive perception of themselves.

5. Highly accomplished

Due to the lack of confidence in the availability of others for emotional support, they invest disproportionately in their own abilities or accomplishments​12​.

These people are often workaholics​13​ who lack satisfaction in intimate relationships​13​.

Also See: Children of emotionally immature parents

Dismissive avoidant attachment in parents

Avoidant individuals’ aversion to caregiving is the main obstacle to becoming parents.

For example, avoidant fathers may provide less care to their female partners during the labor and delivery. These fathers are more distant from their infants​14​

In addition to experiencing greater stress after the birth of a child, parents with an avoidant attachment experience less satisfaction from parenting​15​.

Also See: Fearful Avoidant vs Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Styles

Final thoughts on Avoidant dismissive attachment style

A decline in relationship satisfaction can negatively impact everyone in the family. Those who are less satisfied in relationships tend to suffer from more depression​16​ and higher rates of other psychiatric disorders.

If this affects your current relationships, seek help from experienced healthcare professionals. They can help you with unresolved issues with caretakers in childhood and heal attachment wounds so that you can form a healthy relationship and experience true intimacy.

You can also consider seeing a couples therapist with your current partner to improve your emotional closeness. 

Acknowledging your feelings of insecurity can help you deal with difficulties in relationships. By working on it, fulfilling relationships are within your reach.


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