avoidant

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner

Negative Reactions to “Avoidant” and “Bad Boyfriends”

Most of the reviews of Avoidant and Bad Boyfriends are positive, some embarrassingly so (“You saved my life / marriage /sanity!”) — I read the reviews and the few really negative ones I ignore because they are vastly outweighed by 5-star reviews. But there are some common themes, so I’ll address the three latest one-star reviews here.

1.0 out of 5 stars
Reader Use Discretion and vet the author!
Reviewed in the United States on January 9, 2020
Format: Kindle Edition

I am a Licensed Therapist specializing in Attachment Injuries and Trauma this book can be damaging for anyone dealing with an attachment injury. Use discernment when reading.

It’s threatening for a professional (licensed!) therapist to have possible patients reading the truth and starting to heal themselves. In her world, each patient is to be swaddled in bubble wrap and gently coaxed back into healthy attachment patterns through her no-doubt-caring therapy. I get a lot of fan mail from therapists and marriage counsellors who direct their patients to my books to get a head start on understanding their issues, but perhaps they recommend it for only their most robust clients. This theme (Appeal to Authority) appears frequently. I can imagine there might be people triggered by some parts of the books, but it’s not nearly as triggering as real life in a relationship with a dismissive partner. Therapy is great for those who can afford the time end expense. My books are cheap and can be read anywhere.

Other outraged reviews go after the chapter on abusive relationships (see an early version here), citing the discussion of combative relationships where (typically) the unexpressive male strikes out physically while the female is psychologically and verbally goading him. Today’s presumption that the male is entirely at fault fails to consider all of the dynamics of these troubled couples. Would you rather be shoved or slapped in anger, or continuously sniped at and undermined by your partner? The stereotype of the abusive husband and the suffering victim is common but not every angry male is entirely in the wrong, or every battered wife a completely innocent victim. Abuse comes in all types, sizes, and sexes. The belief that only women are abused is semi-sacred, and the effort to squelch any contrary voices (“cancel culture”) is similar to the search for heretics.

Reactions from dismissives in denial (or their partners who want a cotton-candy solution to their problems) are also common. Our next one-star review is an example.

Facebook "I'm in this photo and I don't like it" text box.

You’re coming too close to describing how I contribute to my relationship problems…

1.0 out of 5 stars
Skip this one, not worth the read or money. Very biased and inaccurate.
Reviewed in the United States on January 6, 2020
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Not worth the read. I would give it no stars if that was an option. It condemns avoidant attachment style people. It’s another “opinion” based dating book, which I should have realized by the name. I thought it would give more constructive insight to the underlying wounds which produce the avoidant attachment types and understanding of triggers for this attachment style. It’s very narrow minded and shames anyone with this attachment style. The author never guided his subjects to working with their own insecurities and understanding that any attachment dynamic is a result of their own inner needs of attachment that of which stem from the developmental stages in early childhood. He essentially said avoidant style people are hopeless and abusive. Which is in fact not a fact or truth at all. My opinion is you can chalk this one up to another bad advice book that is not based in any actual research or fact and dangerously compartmentalizes humans into a this or that category while damning them to a negative life sentence behavior. I wish I could return this book.

On the contrary, being partly dismissive myself, I understand and sympathize with those people who can’t form good attachment bonds in later life because their earlier experiences forced them to develop a defense mechanism to save themselves. This is described in great detail in the books, but this reader demands a presentation so tactful that avoidants will feel righteous in continuing to devalue and dismiss significant others to stay safe. Avoidant is a splash of cold water and describes the harm this defense mechanism does along with some practical methods for coping with it and learning to feel more secure with intimacy.

Our next one-star review is of the “I have my guru and you’re not as good!” variety. There are people emotionally invested in attachment books they’ve already read who find my presentation jarring. A book that is quite good and presented largely to soothe the anxious-preoccupied, Attached, is often cited as better, by those same people enabled by such kid-gloves treatment to avoid looking at their own need to become more secure in themselves. As for Gottman’s books, I plug them and excerpt from them a lot because they are very good. Gottman built on academic attachment experts and my books were substantially complete before I had read any of his books. He’s got a good cottage industry going, and I view his work as especially accessible and valuable for couples with problems. Avoidant is directed to the seeker of self-knowledge and the partner who is feeling alone in his/her concerns about living with an avoidant.

1.0 out of 5 stars
Reviewed in the United States on December 20, 2019

This book labels people and limits the mind of being open to possibility. HEAVILY referenced Gotman and inappropriately and without sound evidence attempts to build on Gotmans work.

Just read Gotman’s work which is based on sound evidence.

Lordy, lordy. These people can’t even spell the names of their gurus correctly. Attachment issues are complex and every individual is a different mix of reflexes and habits, a fact I made clear at several points. Everyone has modes of reaction that mimic the more extreme kinds of insecurity, but only in specific situations or with specific people that trigger them. But I discuss them as types because it’s fair to say most people exhibit a preferred attachment style under most conditions, and it’s very useful to recognize this.

Kramer vs Kramer, children of divorce.

Reader Mail: Recovering from Attachment Issues (and Helping Children!)

Interesting message from a reader who thoroughly absorbed the lessons of Avoidant and Bad Boyfriends.

I haven’t been able to reach her to get permission to quote her, so I’ll paraphrase and remove any distinctive information.

Thank you for setting out this masterpiece of attachment theory and its connection to the success or failure of relationships.

I feel deeply grateful for your work and I am, at the same time struggling with conflicting feelings of encouragement and also sadness at the reality of what I’m facing, and what my children are facing.

I’ve been working my entire life since a teenager when I read the works of Montessori… and determined that I would make my life better for my children….

I decided in my mid twenties, when I first started counselling, that “the buck stops here” and I started all of the work I could do, including EMDR, CBT; whatever was available on myself, so that my childhood would not be repeated in my innocent children’s lives.

However as your book illustrates so beautifully, the automatic attachment style that I had kept me at the fringes of healthy social relationships, and I have yet to learn how not to be a target for predators.

Your story about the owls gave me a metaphor for much of what has happened in my life. The abundance of untrained owls in the forest looking down and seeing a runner stimulates their automatic hunting instincts. The relationship that begins when there’s a pattern of being attacked and the fears that become programmed create a social structure that seems to be difficult to change… I now run through the forest of social gatherings, trying not to flinch when people approach, and it seems I just make myself more of a target.

I am 62 years old, I’m a Montessori preschool teacher, and I’ve raised my own five children from two different fathers, usually alone as a single mother. I’m still in counseling and I have made progress with my emotional regulation and a meaningful life, but not yet with a significant relationship.

All through my life, the rare men who do initiate relationships with me have each been human beings who were on the dark side pathologically, very good at appearances just like my father who was a well respected professional… and a pedophile.

Beyond my own personal struggle to find healthy attachment relationships, I am deeply concerned about the state of the culture. I researched ACES in my graduate program. I see the trend growing as each year more and more children in my work as a Montessori preschool teacher come in with serious dysregulation, much of which comes from attachment difficulties. Like your young Owls, they are untrained, and they seem to not know their own kind, attacking their peers and teachers and even parents, and are very distrusting.

My long-term goal is to create an organization that works to strengthen understanding of attachment, and to help parents and communities to increase their skills of attachment.

Do you think there is hope? What do you see? Do you have any suggestions, either personally, or for my work with children?

You have already accomplished a great deal in bringing up your children with a special effort to protect them from the consequences of absent fathers. I grew up unfathered, my mother worked hard to support us and I lacked a lot of skills and emotional support good parenting can provide. While a conscientious single parent can create a nurturing environment for children, having two parents gives a child a better chance of having at least one parent who can be relied upon as a safe emotional base. Notably, the absence of a father’s guidance can leave children to the mercies of peer groups and lacking self-confidence to grow into adulthood with a sense of responsibility and the tools to nurture their new relationships and children.

This post featuring a “Fiddler on the Roof” song gets at the responsibility we have to heal our own attachment issues or at least shield our children from them. You have chosen to work on yourself and work to limit the damage your own issues caused, and deserve to have all your work recognized. It’s hard to go through life, much less raise children, with absent or estranged partners. Your life has been meaningful and your work with children no doubt improved the lives of hundreds. Give yourself permission to feel proud of the good you have done in your life.

As I am near your age and was also raised by a single working mother, I thank you as I would my own mother, for all the toil and burden you shouldered. You took a problem and made it a mission!

As for relationships, some of my reviewers were appalled when I wrote about how the odds are stacked against you if you find yourself alone in later life. If you are aware of your own tendency to be attracted to Dark Triad types, you can learn to notice the less obvious, more reliable men who would make good partners — there are always people coming out of good relationships through death or divorce of their spouse, and late-life second, third, or fourth marriages can be the best — because both partners are wiser and often have learned from previous relationships how to be better partners. Resisting your attachment habits of gravitating to the most dashing and apparently capable men will serve you well.

It’s most important of all that you find your partner fun to talk to and be with — after all, the rest of life will be spent less driven by hormones and career, and more by companionship and cozy familiarity. Happiness is someone who understands you and will listen, while being there when you need him.

Your idea of an organization to raise awareness of attachment issues and promote healthier attachment among children and families is a good one, and please let me know if I can help. I and my partner are planning to have two kids by IVF (this late in life that’s safest, with youthful eggs from a donor.) I was one of the very few children in my generation who did not have two active parents, but by now divorce and migration are so common that the rate of underparented children has skyrocketed. And as parents themselves grow less responsible and take less time with their offspring, through economic stress and selfishness, the harm done grows. It only takes a few troubled children in a class to divert so much attention that the rest are neglected. Some inner-city schools that bear the brunt of this phenomenon are mainly run as daycare for children, with little education going on. The societal damage is enormous, with the well-off segregating themselves and their children in (sometimes literally) walled enclaves where public and private schools are still good.

Best of luck on your already-well-lived life. Be happy — you have better chapters ahead.

New Reviews: “Avoidant”

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner keeps reaching new people. The latest reviews on Amazon:

John C.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Study this book, and begin to see everything more clearly.
September 21, 2019
Verified Purchase

Once I heard a little bit about this concept, I went down a rabbit hole of research- starting with this book. Necessary information for folks who want to be liberated from the oppressive feeling of being loved less than you deserve.. and getting back less from your partner, than you are consistently giving to them. This info was a light for me, when I was lost in darkness and frustration over behavior that NO other definition can accurately explain. Attachment avoidant.. I had never heard of it, but now I see it as easily as I can see skin color, height or weight. Getting the knowledge was liberating and empowering- and this book was my first step towards healing and moving forward, happier.

Jeremy Q Wilbanks
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great Read?
08-31-19

For anyone looking to understand themselves better as well as the closet people in their lives from an attachment standpoint this is the book for you. The author does a great job explaining concepts and ideas. It helped me a ton as I broke up with my dismissive-avoidant partner. I can now see how we co-mingled for so many years. I can finally move forward opening myself up to a more secure attachment style.
Buy this book, trust me totally worth it! No 🧠 er

“Avoidant” – 135th Review. “Loved it.”

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner keeps reaching new people. The latest review on Amazon:


S***** S
5.0 out of 5 stars.
Don’t judge a book by the title
May 13, 2019
Format: Paperback
Verified Purchase

Originally I was reluctant to read this book because the title, however after reading more about it was actually about I decided to get it. AND LOVED IT. This book can be a difficult read if you are being brutally honest with yourself about your own faults and those around you. But if you’re reading it to gain a better understanding about attachment and for personal development, it’s the perfect book to get started. I’ve recommended it to many others since reading. It will be on my list of top 10 personal development books. Highly recommend reading.