Attachment Styles

Dismissing Attachment


Dismissing attachment in adulthood, also known as avoidant attachment, is characterized by a discomfort with intimacy and a tendency to emotionally distance oneself from others. Individuals with this attachment style may believe that they do not need close relationships to feel happy and fulfilled, and may avoid deep emotional connections as a result. They may also have difficulty expressing their emotions and may downplay the importance of close relationships. Despite this, individuals with a dismissing attachment style may still crave intimacy, leading to a push-pull dynamic in their relationships. This attachment style can lead to relationship difficulties and feelings of loneliness, but with the right support, individuals can learn to form more secure and satisfying relationships.

Characteristics of the Dismissing Attachment Style

Dismissing attachment is thought to come about primarily as a result of the infant experiencing consistent rejection by their caregivers of their ‘attachment bids’, the requests for connection, soothing, and emotional validation. They are called avoidant as infants and dismissive as adults.

As adults, dismissives tend to have more superficial relationships, staying distant emotionally. They don’t readily rely on others, tending towards excessive independence. They tend to be more out of touch with their own emotions and the emotions of others. There is often an air of superficiality and coolness

They are typically good explorers, able to go out into life and accomplish the goals they desire. However, the explorations and accomplishments tend to be status-oriented. The dismissive often doesn’t feel worthy of love due to the pattern of rejection experienced in childhood. This unconsciously drives them.

They don’t value attachment and connection as much as someone who is securely attached. This makes sense. They experienced rejection in the place of attachment and connection. Yet, the dismissive is driven to connect with others just like any other human. So, for this reason there is a sense of internal dilemma: “I want to connect. Yet, I don’t want to be rejected and feel all the shame and sadness of that.” This is such a hard place to be.

People with dismissing attachment often report fewer memories of childhood before puberty. As noted earlier, their primary caregiver was typically rejecting of their attachment needs such as empathy, and physical affection. The caregivers typically supported the child’s explorations as this relieved the caregiver’s discomfort with the attachment needs of the child. If the child is out exploring the child won’t try to connect with the dismissive caregiver which is uncomfortable for the dismissive caregiver. So, the child who later develops dismissing attachment “goes off on their own” never developing truly secure and collaborative inter-dependance with others.

How can dismissing attachment be treated? The Schema Repatterning Meditation (SRM), consistent with Bruce Ecker’s Coherence Therapy, produces “Emotionally Corrective Experiences” that are at odds with the old negative emotional learning. This creates cognitive dissonance. The positive experience that is dissonant with the negative ‘felt belief’ is reinforced and “pushes out” the old negative belief. To illustrate, the inner parents are especially warm and welcoming of the attachment needs of the dismissive’s inner child. Thereby the schema of internalized rejection and shame is repatterned with acceptance and love. However, this can be strange and unsettling, at first, for the dismissive. So this takes place at a measured pace calibrated to our comfort level.

Which childhood attachment styles and experiences can lead to the Dismissing attachment style as an adult?

Childhood attachment styles and experiences that may lead to the dismissing attachment style in adulthood include the following:

  • Avoidant attachment: Children who have an avoidant attachment style tend to have a dismissive and emotionally detached approach to relationships. They may have experienced caregivers who were emotionally unavailable or unresponsive, which has led to them developing a coping mechanism of avoiding close relationships.
  • Disorganized attachment: Children who have a disorganized attachment style may have experienced caregivers who were inconsistent or emotionally unstable. As a result, they may have developed a dismissive and emotionally detached approach to relationships as a way to cope with the unpredictability of their caregivers.
  • Neglectful or abusive childhood: Children who have been neglected or abused may develop a dismissive and emotionally detached approach to relationships as a way to cope with their traumatic experiences. They may have learned to avoid close relationships in order to protect themselves from further harm.

It’s worth noting that attachment styles can change throughout life, and it’s possible for an individual with dismissing attachment to develop more secure attachment style through different paths such as therapy, self-help, or forming healthy relationships.

Childhood attachment styles that may lead to the dismissing attachment style in adulthood include Avoidant attachment, Disorganized attachment, and neglectful or abusive childhood. These experiences lead to the individual to develop a coping mechanism of avoiding close relationships and emotionally detached approach to relationships.

A guided meditation for Dismissing Attachment

This short guided meditation can give you an actual experience of the mental state of Dismissing Attachment.