Ghosting is an all-too-common phenomenon in today’s dating world and the reactions to it are mixed. As it becomes normalized, some people consider it baked into the whole dating experience.
But that’s not true for everyone (which I would argue is a good thing). Ghosting, especially if you’ve been dating awhile, is still a jarring experience for the ghostee.
In a situation that fundamentally lacks closure, we’re left to sort things out on our own.
One way we can achieve some semblance of peace after ghosting is by understanding the dynamics that lead certain people to ghost.
In this case, we’re going to discuss why people with a dismissive avoidant attachment style are prone to ghosting and what you can do and say if it happens to you!
- What Is A Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style?
- Why Do Dismissive Avoidants Ghost?
- How to Respond to Dismissive Avoidant Ghosting
What Is A Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style?
The dismissive avoidant attachment style is one of the primary attachment patterns identified in adults, rooted in early childhood experiences. People with this style often prioritize their independence and self-sufficiency above all else, sometimes to the detriment of close personal relationships.
At the core of their behavior is a protective mechanism. Past experiences, often from childhood, have taught them that closeness or dependence on others can lead to pain or disappointment. As a result, they’ve learned to rely heavily on themselves. Sometimes this translates to appearing aloof or distant in relationships.
Dismissive Avoidants can form connections and have genuine feelings for their partners, but things get bumpy when their underlying fears and insecurities overshadow these emotions.
They might pull away when they sense vulnerability or deep emotional intimacy, not necessarily because they lack feelings, but because they’re trying to protect themselves from potential hurt.
In the realm of dating, this can manifest as “ghosting.”
Their retreat from a relationship, especially when things get too close for comfort, is a defense mechanism. It’s not necessarily about a lack of care or affection but rather a deeply ingrained protective strategy.
Understanding this attachment style is the first step in navigating relationships with Dismissive Avoidants and seeking closure if things take an unexpected turn.
Why Do Dismissive Avoidants Ghost?
Dismissive avoidants ghost because they fear conflict and often don’t believe they owe anybody an explanation anyways.
They struggle with a host of issues that trigger fear in them. Sometimes they fear vulnerability or rejection (or both).
Once a relationship naturally progresses past that exciting honeymoon phase, Dismissive Avoidants can get spooked by something and withdraw unexpectedly.
Again, it’s a protective behavior, and not an indication that you’ve done anything wrong, per se.
Because Dismissive Avoidants have leaned on hyper-independence to cope with their past trauma, they don’t necessarily think they owe anyone an explanation if they decide they’re done.
Their worldview is colored by an extreme sense of self-reliance. In the past, nobody looked out for their needs in relationships, so why should they consider them for someone else?
So they ghost.
Why Dismissive Avoidants Fear Conflict
Understanding why people with dismissive avoidant attachment styles fear conflict, might help you make sense of their ghosting. It’s not an excuse, mind you, but it’s a way for you to say, “Okay, I understand this behavior better now. It’s not about me. I can move forward.”
Past Trauma and Emotional Regulation:
A lot of Dismissive Avoidants experienced situations in their early years where emotional expression was either not encouraged or outright dismissed. Over time, they’ve learned to suppress their emotions, equating emotional expression with vulnerability.
But conflict inherently involves emotional expression, and for a dismissive avoidant, this can feel overwhelming or even threatening. So they opt out of it entirely.
This is why I personally think that people trying to work through their dismissive avoidant attachment style would benefit from doing shadow work, as it can help them uncover the root of their fears and deal with them in healthier ways.
But I digress.
Self-reliance as a Defense Mechanism:
From that past trauma we referenced, Dismissive Avoidants develop a strong sense of self-reliance as a way to protect themselves from potential hurt. They develop a mindset that they can only rely on themselves.
Engaging in conflict can feel like a direct challenge to this self-reliance because it requires them to acknowledge another person’s perspective and potentially compromise. That’s really hard for people who see the world like they do.
Fear of Rejection:
At the core of the dismissive avoidant attachment style is a fear of rejection or abandonment. While they might not openly express it, there’s an underlying worry that conflict could lead to rejection, which may have fueled their decision to ghost in the first place.
It’s better they disappear now before the risk of hurt becomes too great, you know? By avoiding conflict, they believe they’re safeguarding themselves from something worse.
Lack of Conflict Resolution Skills:
I’ll caveat this section by stating the obvious, which is that a lot of people lack conflict resolution skills these days. Why bother when you can just digitally block people and move on as if they never existed?
For Dismissive Avoidants, these lack of skills are due, in large part, to their tendency to avoid emotional vulnerability and their history of suppressing emotions.
They just haven’t developed the necessary skills to navigate conflict healthily. They might fear that they won’t handle the situation well or that it will escalate beyond their control.
So, again, they opt out entirely.
Misunderstanding of Conflict’s Value:
Healthy conflict can lead to growth, deeper understanding, and stronger relationships. But Dismissive Avoidants usually don’t see it that way.
They view conflict only as a threat, not recognizing its potential benefits. They might see it as something that can only harm the relationship, rather than an opportunity for growth and understanding.
In this case, telling you the relationship isn’t working out is too risky. You could fire back at them, reject them, get upset, or any other (normal) reaction.
Dismissive avoidants don’t want that. They don’t want the vulnerability that comes with having a difficult conversation.
Ghosting helps them avoid it.
This is not to say that Dismissive Avoidants can’t learn to work through their fears and engage in healthier conflict resolution styles. We can all improve ourselves and work through our stuff.
This is to help you understand the state of mind of the person who ghosted you.
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“I Don’t Owe You Anything”
The harshest aspect of dismissive avoidant ghosting to wrap your brain around might be this idea that your ghoster doesn’t feel like they owe you anything.
This is an especially tough pill to swallow if you’ve been dating for a while and thought you were heading into the next, more serious phase of the relationship.
Ghosting really stings in those situations. It’s hard not to internalize that experience as a value judgment on yourself or an indicator of your own self-worth.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
This mentality is 100% about the ghoster, not you.
Thais Gibson of the Personal Development School has a really insightful take on this. In her video (which I’ll add below), she talks about how we tend to project our worldview onto others. Because Dismissive Avoidants are so self-reliant and believe that nobody is truly going to look out for their needs in a relationship, they give that energy back to their partners.
“If you’re not going to meet my needs, why should I have to consider yours? If I’m done, I’m just going to be done.”
She talks about how ghosting doesn’t bother people with dismissive avoidant attachment styles as much, so they don’t see why it would bother someone else.
They’ve already baked in the anticipation that a person will just leave, so when it happens, they might just keep it moving, unbothered (at least on the surface).
But again, this is a protective behavior they had to learn. It doesn’t necessarily occur to them that people ghosting is harsh and not something they deserve.
Understanding this can help you move from thinking, “They ghosted me. Something’s wrong with me,” to “They ghosted me because people have treated them badly in the past and they don’t understand what’s wrong with this behavior.”
It puts the onus of the behavior back on the ghoster where it belongs.
How to Respond to Dismissive Avoidant Ghosting
Relationship experts have mixed perspectives on this. Personally, I think the best response to ghosting is no response at all.
There are just too many downsides and virtually no upside.
You think it will feel cathartic to fire back at them, but that will likely only confirm they made the right decision. Some people even try to downplay the behavior by sending a cutesy text with a ghost emoji to lure the ghoster back into a conversation.
I’d avoid both of those like the plague.
Thais Gibson gives her viewers a third option. Here’s the script she suggests:
“Hey, I noticed our communication has ended. I know that not everybody is a perfect fit for one another, and I’m okay with that. I’m not upset, but I want you to know I think highly of you. I enjoyed our interactions and would like to wish you the best. I would appreciate if you could do the same so we can end this dynamic on good terms.”
She says this is a good response because it caters to the Dismissive Avoidants need to dodge rejection, while also calling out the behavior is the gentlest way possible.
And maybe this response would be received well by the ghoster, but in a situation like this, why do you even care?
Now it may be that you’re not that hurt by the ghosting and want to help your former love interest by gently suggesting they handle situations like this in a healthier way. If that’s your vibe, go for it.
But if you’re struggling with what happened, I think it’s best to take time to process your own feelings and move forward with your life.