Dismissive Avoidant or Fearful Avoidant: The differences in courtship, relationships, and breakups


The topic for this blog is something that I have talked through with clients. With a client of mine, we were trying to understand where his ex was at and what type of style she was. This is really tough because you don't want to play the guessing game when it comes to attachment styles. You have to be certain what their style is. For the first couple weeks we were thinking that this client’s ex was a dismissive avoidant.

I'm going to go ahead and give you a few comparisons between the dismissive and a fearful avoidant. Let's start out with the dating phase. This is the honeymoon phase when things first start out. The fearful avoidant will come off as somebody that looks a lot like the anxious preoccupied. they'll come out and try to get you in a relationship right away. They want a commitment right away and they'll love bomb you right away.

The dismissive avoidant on the other hand won't do that. They will take things very slowly. They will want to go on dates every so often. They won't want to be around you so much right in the beginning, in comparison to the fearful avoidant. The fearful avoidant has the tendency to stroke ego. They will give you an abundance of compliments, but the dismissive avoidant is quite reserved. They won't give you too many compliments and that's going to be that way throughout the whole relationship.

What will happen with the dismissive avoidant when they start to become more secure is they'll start giving you more compliments and they'll start meeting you more in the middle. 

You'll see little red flags in the beginning from the fearful avoidant because they'll have troubled relationships with their friends, their work may be a little rocky, they may be considered somebody that's irresponsible. They may be somebody that is late for their job a lot or even for your dates. They'll come off as somebody that's very inconsistent.

The dismissive avoidant on the other hand, if they are committed to trying to make this thing work, they'll be responsible. They're people who work very hard. They bury themselves in their job and they take a lot of pride in their job. They'll be somebody that you'll see throughout your dates and your courtship as somebody that's really responsible.

One thing you need to know about the fearful and dismissive avoidant is they experience a different level of trauma. Not saying that they experience more severe trauma, but the fearful avoidant tends to have experienced more complex trauma. They've experienced a bunch of different types of trauma. Every person is different, but for the most part that's kind of the trend that I've seen the most in fearful avoidants.

During the relationship phase the fearful avoidants are very deep feelers. They can really bond with you. They're really in tune with your facial expressions and the nonverbals. It's just when you do something to cause their avoidant side to trigger, they'll go cold on you. They'll back away from you and disappear for a little while.

The dismissive avoidant on the other hand, they're the people who come up as very emotionally unavailable throughout the relationship. Unlike the fearful avoidant, they have a hard time picking up on facial cues and body language. They have a tough time picking up on when people are upset or angry, or feeling uneasy and unhappy. 

If the dismissive doesn’t feel it then they feel as if you shouldn't feel it either. They will try to end the relationship as quickly as possible. They would much rather cut all ties with you, but on social media they may just leave your status there because they don't want to have to talk to people about what happened with the relationship. They don't wanna have to talk to family and friends. It's embarrassing for the dismissive to break up or have somebody break up with them.

The fearful avoidant is pretty much a flip of a coin. It's however they’re feeling at that moment. You may see that they change their relationship status right away. They'll take pictures of you down right away. They may tell you they love you and you're the one for them, but then turn around in the next breath and say I never want to speak to you again. Then block you on all social media and you'll be left scratching your head like what on earth just happened.