Attachment Styles Part 1: Dismissive-Avoidant

by | Jul 2, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Dismissive-avoidant attachment style is one of three observed forms of insecure attachment. Contrasted with secure attachment, where people are able to enjoy stable relationships, insecure attachment often leads to unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships. For instance, dismissive-avoidant individuals have an armour of high self-worth, value independence, and do not place a priority on forming close relationships. While many of these characteristics are generally seen as positive, dismissive-avoidant attachment is often maladaptive because these adults push away relationships, suppress their feelings, act defensively, and deny themselves a basic human need.


Adults who exhibit dismissive-avoidant attachment style display anxious-avoidant attachment in childhood. The parent of the avoidant child is distant, withholds affection and is unresponsive to the emotional needs of the child. The child stays close enough to the parent to maintain protection, but maintains a safe emotional distance to avoid rejection. The child begins to see others as unreliable and views intimacy as dangerous.

Anxious-avoidant children who transition to dismissive-avoidant attachment in adulthood develop high self-confidence and independent traits to compensate for the lack of responsiveness from the parent.


Dismissive-avoidant individuals are comfortable living independently and do not seek or desire close emotional relationships. They are often high achievers and enjoy professional success. Independence and self-sufficiency are normally admirable traits. However, dismissive-avoidant individuals often deny the basic human need for connection and intimacy with others to their own detriment. They view the natural need for human closeness as a weakness. The high self-esteem is often only amour to cover the belief he or she is not truly worthy of love and attention. They fear rejection and abandonment.


While dismissive-avoidant adults may get into romantic partnerships, they seek less intimacy and affection compared to other attachment styles. They often do not tend to the needs of their partners as required. They maintain an emotional distance and have the ability to shut off emotionally when their partners are distressed. They value independence and self-sufficiency above all else, and view dependency on others as a vulnerability.


Attachment Styles Part 2: Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment

Adults with anxious-preoccupied attachment style tend to exhibit contradictory behavior. They seek high levels of intimacy and a sense of security from their parent, but they adopt clingy or possessive behaviours which drive the romantic partner away. 


This style, also known as anxious-resistant insecure attachment, is most often seen in children who endured abusive experiences. The parent is often unpredictably responsive, unreliable, and does not represent a secure base. The child is highly distressed when the parent or primary caregiver departs, and she/he is ambivalent when the parent returns. The child struggles to explore on his or her own, and is wary of strangers. The child both seeks the comfort and support of the parent, but also shows resistance and anger because of the unreliability of the parent. 


People with this attachment style tend to be more anxious, as the term implies, and have a lower self-perception than securely attached people. Their level of anxiousness decreases as their partner is in closer contact, and increases when their partner is at a distance. They are preoccupied with finding a secure bond, to the point that they become overly dependent on their partners. They are self-doubtful and demonstrate high levels of impulsiveness. 


People with anxious-preoccupied attachment seek what is known as a “fantasy bond.” They seek an imitation of real love, trust, respect, and honesty. They do not view themselves as equal to their partner, but instead want the partner to rescue them, solve their problems, or fill in their emotional gaps.

Anxious-preoccupied attachment style is associated with many contradictory behaviours that combine to erode the stability of the relationship. As a result, they often demonstrate destructive behaviours that push the partner away. They may be demanding, clingy, and possessive. They may be insecure, desperate, and needy. They crave a sense of security and safety, yet feel entirely doubtful that they are worthy or doubt their partner’s commitment. They try to forestall rejection by validating their own fears about their partner’s lack of interest in or commitment toward them.



Attachment Styles Part 3: Fearful Avoidant

Insecure attachment styles manifest a variety of problematic characteristics. Adults with fearful-avoidant attachment exhibit mixed feelings about relationships. They must constantly balance a fear of being too close with a fear of being too distant from other people. They fear close and intimate bonds, but they also fear abandonment and rejection. They desire emotionally close relationships, but are also fearful that closeness will inevitably lead to hurt.


Adults who exhibit fearful-avoidant attachment style display anxious-avoidant attachment in childhood.

With anxious-avoidant attachment, the child avoids or ignores the caregiver, shows little emotion when the caregiver leaves, and shows little emotion when the caregiver returns. The parent of the avoidant child is distant, unresponsive, and often hostile to the affection and attachment needs of the infant. The child stays close enough to maintain protection, but keeps enough distance to avoid rejection. This is often a cycle that will repeat when the child grows to have children of his or her own.


People who exhibit fearful-avoidant attachment often lack self-confidence and carry negative views about themselves. They believe they are not worthy of emotional closeness, and there must be something wrong with them that invites rejection and betrayal. They are also skeptical of their partners, anticipating hurt. Fearful-avoidant individuals are often closed off emotionally and have difficulty expressing their feelings and providing or receiving affection. They often have difficulty communicating.


Adults with fearful-avoidant attachment often find themselves trapped between two competing beliefs. They recognize the value of emotionally close relationships, and desire such a bond. At the same time, they fear being emotionally hurt by their partners, and so shy away from developing emotionally close relationships. These individuals often end up in dramatic and unstable relationships, fearing abandonment when they sense distance from their partner, but then feeling trapped when their partner is close. They often seek less intimacy from partners and often offer less affection as a way to shield themselves from hurt. These adults have difficulty communicating their feelings. Fearful-avoidant adults may end up in abusive relationships.

Attachment Styles Part 4: Secure Attachment

People who exhibit secure attachment are able to form secure relationships and enjoy stable and loyal bonds with others, especially in intimate relationships. The confidence and sense of security that they enjoy as children transfers to their romantic relationships as adults.


Children who demonstrate secure attachment may show initial distress when their parent or primary caregiver leaves, but they can quickly compose themselves because they know the caregivers will return, and they are happy to see them come back. This confidence is based on repeated demonstrations by the parents that they are supportive, caring, and responsive to the needs of the child.

This bedrock of security allows the child to explore the world independently, seek out social bonds with others, and practice self-reliance. The children choose this freedom because they know they are always rooted to that secure base of a loving and supportive parent.


People have higher self-esteem, more self-reliance, more independence, and more easily form healthy social relationships with others. They exhibit lower instances of aggression, anxiety, and depression compared with their peers who have other attachment patterns. These same traits from childhood carry through to adulthood and begin to shape and influence our connections with others as we progress through life.


Adults who are securely attached generally have more satisfying, stable, and trusting relationships. Just as the child is able to explore independently based on the confidence instilled by the stable base of the parent, romantic partners can experience the same phenomenon. They are able to coexist as two independent actors who share a bond of love, affection, trust, respect, and intimacy, but they are able to be apart without jealousy, apprehension, or controlling tendencies. Relationships between two secure adults tend to be based upon mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual respect. The partners place equal importance on satisfying their own needs and the needs of their partner. The attachment style that we develop in the few short years shortly after birth carry with us for the rest of our lives. Attachment styles affect how we connect and relate to other people, including our own children.