Fearful Avoidant vs Dismissive Avoidant: Cause & Signs

Attachment styles are important in relationships because they can play a big role in how people interact and communicate. Each attachment style has its own set of behaviors that can affect how people react when someone is close to them. Some attachment styles include secure, insecure, carefree, and comfort-seeking. Fearful Avoidant Attachment Styles (FAS) are those individuals who cling to protection and security in their relationships. Dismissive anxious attachment styles interfere with the partner’s ability to feel connection and intimacy on the other hand. Attachment theory is a model of the brain that proposes that people have strong attachments to objects and people.


Humans learn attachment from their parents. Babies with attention need to develop stable, emotionally robust personalities. Unmet care can lead to anxious, avoidant, and scared babies. Personality can determine much in life. It helps find and sustain partnerships. Fearful avoidants typically crave proximity. They want intimacy. They may not find the spiritual connection they want. Their attachment experiences made them mistrust intimacy. Their personality causes individuals to reject close relationships. This can cause problematic relationships and emotional swings.

Accept what comes and allow it to leave when it’s time.

Dismissive avoidant attachment, sometimes called avoidant-dismissive insecure attachment style, is when a person doesn’t want others to rely on them. Dismissive-avoidant people are often secretive and strict, not allowing others to affect their intentions and not divulging them. When someone tries to get close to a dismissive-avoidant, they may withdraw totally. They’re cold hearted, aloof, and walled off. Dismissive-avoidant people tend to have short, superficial love relationships that end fast. The dismissive-avoidant habits include strong independence, not asking for help, and setting many boundaries.

Attachment Theory

Attachment theory is psychological, evolutionary, and ethological. For optimal social and emotional development, young children need a primary caregiver. Attachment theory is a developmental psychology hypothesis that individuals are born with a need to build a tight emotional link with a caregiver. If the caregiver is receptive, this bond will develop in the first six months of a child’s life. Bowlby’s evolutionary theory of attachment claims that children are physiologically pre-programmed to create attachments to survive. A youngster has an inborn need to cling to one person. Bowlby announced the four basic types of attachment styles:

  1. Secure,
  2. Anxious Ambivalent,
  3. Disorganized, and
  4. Avoidant.

Children fear unlearned and later culturally acquire danger clues. Even though danger and attachment escape separate controls govern two groups of behavior that occur concurrently. Behavioral systems maintain an organism’s specified environment connection. Respecting the infant’s urge for independent exploration, the child develops a positive self-image by knowing their worth. Insecurely attached infants frequently grow into people who have trouble understanding their own and others’ emotions, restricting their ability to create or sustain solid relationships.

Fearful Avoidant vs Dismissive Avoidant
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1. Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style

Fearful Avoidant Attachment Styles individuals often have a strong need for approval and may be fearful of letting go of a relationship. They may cling to close relationships due to their fear of being alone. Most people have attachment styles. These styles can be seen in relationships. Avoidant attachment styles (AATs) are more like a shield than a partner. They are scared of being hurt, seek validation and they will do anything to keep themselves from feeling that way. They may be clingy or possessive, and they might try to control everything in their relationships.

Fearful avoidance attachment styles are characterized by an intense dislike of close Relationships. A reluctance to allow others into their lives. People with this style often feel like they are not good enough. They consider themselves unworthy to handle being in a relationship. They may avoid people and situations that make them feel uncomfortable or threaten their self-image. This style can lead to negative outcomes in relationships, including anxiety, depression, and significant problems with self-esteem.

1.a. Cause

Attachment styles form in early childhood based on a person’s earliest caregivers. People who grew up with loving, dependable caretakers have a stable attachment style, meaning they have healthy relationships where they feel comfortable, loved, and able to love back. Unreliable, nonexistent, or problematic parental ties often lead to anxious, avoidant, or fearful-avoidant attachment styles.

The trauma may contribute to the fearful-avoidant attachment. As children, persons with scared avoidance react to stress with seemingly illogical behaviors. Such as aimlessness or aggression toward their caregiver.

The tendency was caused by caregiver maltreatment or trauma. The youngster is stuck between deactivation and hyperactivation. A youngster who is terrified of their caregiver needs comfort but doesn’t trust the person who delivers it to them. This emerges as seeking and fearing intimacy in relationships.

1.b. Signs

Fearful avoidance attachment style or disorganization is connected to:

  1. Relationship or intimacy phobia.
  2. Feeling unworthy of healthy partnerships.
  3. Higher risk of interpersonal violence.
  4. Mishandling negative emotions.
  5. Negatively judging others’ support.
  6. Sexual partners are aplenty.
  7. Relationship emotional dysregulation.
  8. Relationship avoidance.
  9. Relationships are dissatisfying.
  10. Borderline Personality Disorder(BPD) or dissociative symptoms.

Disclaimer: In general, it may be hard to discern if you have a fearful-avoidant attachment style without seeing a professional. Because it tends to display characteristics that also correlate with the anxious and avoidant attachment types.

2. Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style

Dismissive avoidant attachment styles are a common type of attachment style in relationships. These styles interfere with the partner’s ability to feel connection and intimacy. This style is characterized by a reluctance to engage with others. They prefer instead to withdraw and isolate themselves. This style of attachment can lead to a lack of intimacy and emotional connection in the relationship. The individual tends to be very passive and lacks the assertiveness needed to get what they want.

Don’t be fooled by the avoidant dismissive attachment style. Dismissive Avoidant attachment styles are commonly seen in relationships where one person is attached to the other and is difficult to let go of. Even while persons with dismissive avoidant attachment can appear independent, their difficulties often come from misunderstandings due to low self-esteem.

Dismissive avoidants rely on emotional distance, which can lead to problems in the relationship. We seek a connection to people and need to be cared for as humans. Avoidant and dismissive behavior might lead to unmet demands. Having an avoidant-dismissive attachment style is not ideal, and it can affect the avoider and those around them. Survival requires independence and teaching independence to children.

2.a. Cause

Dismissive attachers were often taught to be you are enough at a young age. A 5-year-old who was advised not to cry if he wounded himself may develop dismissive attachments. Rewarding concealment of sensations, especially pain, creates dismissive attachers. These caregivers are often uncomfortable expressing emotions and see that as a strength in their children.

How we interacted with parents and caregivers as children, its causes may be traced to childhood.

The dismissive-avoidant attachment arises when a baby or small child doesn’t get enough attention or care. The child learns that expressing needs doesn’t ensure care. When a child’s needs aren’t satisfied by caretakers, they may feel unloved. Even a tiny child may feel they must be self-reliant to survive.

2.b. Signs

Adults with dismissive avoidant attachment can appear :

  1. Highly Self-sufficient: This is a dismissive avoidant attachment style’s top trait. They don’t want you to rely on them. They want your freedom and independence.
  2. Dominating Tendencies: A dismissive attacher looks for signals that their spouse is trying to restrict or limit them. Much like an anxious attacher looks for signs that their partner is losing interest in them. This is how they perceive healthy, normal relationship behavior.
  3. Ingenuous Critic: Dismissive attachers are frequently self-confident and critical of others. This generally masks a fragile ego that can’t handle slights or criticism.
  4. Avoiding Showing Emotions: Emotions are natural and necessary aspects of life. By avoiding eye contact, speaking quietly, and keeping a positive attitude they avoid opening up.
  5. Neglecting Romantic Connections: Putting a romantic relationship first may make it too intense and significant to a dismissive avoidant, so they prioritize work or hobbies above it.

Fearful Avoidant vs Dismissive Avoidant

Dismissive avoidance is a behavior that occurs when someone ignores or withdraws from social interactions due to fear of being rejected. Fearful avoidant Behavior occurs when someone ignores or withdraws from social interactions out of fear that they will be rejected. The two behaviors are similar, but the difference between them is how they are expressed. The fearful-avoidant tends to express their avoidance in negative ways such as avoiding social situations or speaking to people. Dismissive avoidants put themself first instead of relying on external forces to approve their presence.

Fearful Avoidant vs Dismissive Avoidant
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Wrap Up

Fearful avoidant people may be more dismissive of others than dismissive avoidant people, but both groups may have some negative consequences.  Avoidant people may feel like they cannot trust others, which can lead to mistrust and unresolved conflict. The fearful-avoidant is more afraid of the future than the present and does not feel comfortable in their own skin.

Dismissive avoidant people may be more likely to minimize or neglect others, leading to fewer interactions and decreased social support. The dismissive-avoidant is more comfortable with the present and does not feel any fear of the future.

The two types of people have their own unique risks and rewards when it comes to relationships. They are both necessary for their own safety. but it is helpful to have a different type around to help them feel more at ease. Instead of triggering avoidant’s vulnerabilities and making them feel like they’re not wanted debate fearful-avoidant vs dismissive-avoidant. Try consulting specialists or try to listen to their points of view.

Brenda Hannor

Brenda Honnor aims to share actionable tips to revitalize relationships. She has a Master’s degree in Human Psychology and a Ph.D. in marriage counseling. Brenda… More »

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