“Avoidant” – Trade Paperback Proof Available

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

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

The printed version of Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner is not available from Amazon for a few more days, but if you’re in a hurry to get a printed copy, the 6″x9″ format trade paperback can be ordered here. Use discount code EP36H4YT for $3 off the $14.95 list price.

There are two small formatting errors that you probably won’t notice, so I’ll have a corrected edition set up in a few weeks. Thus this first edition will be rare!

The Kindle version at Amazon is here.

More on Avoidant and Bad Boyfriends:

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


My next book has been published and is available for sale as a Kindle book on Amazon. Right now available from Amazon Kindle for $3.99, and a trade paperback is also available.

If you’ve been wondering what to do about your “difficult” dismissive or fearful-avoidant spouse or lover, it’s a handbook for understanding and dealing with them. If you’re a regular reader here, you will have seen some of the material posted earlier, like Dismissive-Avoidants as Parents.

Since avoidant partners are the most read-about topic here and I’ve heard more from readers with this problem than any other, it seemed worth concentrating on. Since there’s a pretty decent recent book on the anxious-preoccupied, this was an area no one has addressed well (in a reasonably-priced popular book.)

Buy it in Kindle format at Amazon.

More on Avoidant and Bad Boyfriends:

Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…

Happy Couple - shutterstock

Happy Couple – shutterstock

..and conversely, negativity predicts turmoil and failure. In attachment type terms, both avoidant types (Dismissive-Avoidant and Fearful-Avoidant) have a negative view of attached others in general, while Secure and Anxious-Preoccupied types are positive about others.

The Wall Street Journal reports on an experiment which measures newlywed’s subconscious attitudes about their partners and found those with negative subconscious attitudes experienced a faster decline in marital satisfaction over time:

First off, they found that ratings of marital satisfaction declined over time, something reported previously. They also learned that the [written test] answers from newlyweds predicted nothing about marital satisfaction four years later.

But the scientists also measured something else in those newlyweds, using an “associative priming task.”

This involves briefly flashing a series of words like “wonderful” or “odious” on a screen; subjects have to quickly press one of two buttons, depending on whether the word has positive or negative connotations.

Now comes the subconscious manipulation.

Just before each word, the researchers flashed up a picture of a random face for an instant—300 milliseconds—too fast for people to be consciously certain about what they saw but enough time for our subconscious, emotional brain circuitry to be certain. If the face evokes positive feelings, the brain immediately takes on something akin to a positive mind-set; if the word flashed up an instant later is a positive one, the brain quickly detects it as such. But if the word is negative, there is an instant of subconscious dissonance—”I was feeling great, but now I have to think about that word that means ‘inconsiderate jerk who doesn’t replace the toilet paper.’ ” And it takes a few milliseconds longer to hit the “negative” key. Conversely, display faces with negative connotations, and there is that dissonance-induced minuscule delay in identifying positive terms.

So in the study, the rapid-fire sequence of faces/words included a picture of one’s new spouse, revealing automatic feelings about the person’s beloved. That led to the key finding: The more subconscious negativity in a newlywed, the larger the decline in marital satisfaction four years later.

Did subjects understand what the priming task was about? No, and people’s automatic responses were unrelated to their answers on the questionnaire. Was that discrepancy due to an unwillingness to answer honestly, or were people unaware of their automatic attitudes? It is impossible to tell. Did people with the most positive automatic feelings about their spouses subsequently develop fewer problems in their marriages, or were they less sensitive to the usual number of problems? Subtle data analysis suggested the latter.

What does this study tell us, beyond suggesting that lovebirds should probably take this nifty computerized test before marrying? It reminds us, like much we learn about the brain and behavior, that we are subject to endless, internal biological forces of which we are unaware.

The original Science writeup is here.

More on Divorce, Marriage, and Mateseeking

Marriages Happening Late, Are Good for You
Monogamy and Relationship Failure; “Love Illuminated”
“Millionaire Matchmaker”
More reasons to find a good partner: lower heart disease!
“Princeton Mom” Susan Patton: “Marry Smart” not so smart
“Blue Valentine”
“All the Taken Men are Best” – why women poach married men….
“Marriage Rate Lowest in a Century”
Making Divorce Hard to Strengthen Marriages?
Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
“The Upside of ‘Marrying Down’”
The High Cost of Divorce
Separate Beds Save Marriages?
Marital Discord Linked to Depression
Marriage Contracts: Give People More Legal Options
Older Couples Avoiding Marriage For Financial Reasons
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Vox Charts Millennial Marriage Depression
What’s the Matter with Marriage?
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
Constant Arguing Can Be Deadly…
“If a fraught relationship significantly shortens your life, are you better off alone?
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
“It’s up there with ‘Men Are From Mars’ and ‘The Road Less Travelled’”
Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking Pseudoscience
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
“The New ‘I Do’”
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Mark Manson’s “Six Healthy Relationship Habits”
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications
Free Dating Sites: Which Have Attachment Type Screening?
Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
No Marriage, Please: Cohabiting Taking Over
“Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?
Rules for Relationships: Realism and Empathy
Limerence vs. Love
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
When to Break Up or Divorce? The Economic View
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
“Sliding” Into Marriage, Small Weddings Associated with Poor Outcomes
Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)

Avoidant: Emotions Repressed Beneath Conscious Level

Avoidant Brain

Avoidant Brain

Avoidants are known to be viscerally effected by events that would normally trigger conscious emotions — such events are often reflected in a racing heart, disturbed digestion, and poor sleep even when the Dismissive-Avoidant consciously feels nothing — and will tell you he or she doesn’t really mind that their partner is gone since it’s such a great opportunity to get more work done away from the partner’s demands for attention.

This blockade on attachment-related emotions is a defense mechanism; it was necessary in childhood to survive a caregiver’s inattention or abuse. The feelings of being unloved and unwanted that might otherwise have destroyed the child’s will to live are shunted aside and never reach a conscious level; avoidants tend to have poor memories of emotional events and report unreliably when asked about their childhoods.

An interesting post on the blog StopTheStorm discusses this phenomenon:

When it comes to thinking about, describing and feeling emotions, I always have a sideline running in the background concerning my father. I think about the dismissive-avoidant insecure attachment disorder patterns as researchers are now being able to actually see them operate through visually watching the brains of such people.

Researchers can watch how some brains create in effect a firewall that leaves actual emotions as they ARE triggered in the body completely out of conscious awareness. Researchers can see the emotion being experienced in the brain AND at the same time be screened from a person so that they do not know they are even there — AT ALL. The brain is consuming massive amounts of energy during this screening process, and these ‘brain-holders’ never know it.

There are specific early caregiver-to-infant interactions that create these brains from birth to age one. These changed brains are intimately connected to the changed nervous system and body of their ‘holders’. Being cared for by unresponsive, unemotional, cold, depressed and ‘blank-faced’ caregivers are some of the ways these dismissive-avoidant brains are created in infants from the beginning.

These same infants, had they been interacted with by securely attached and appropriate-adequate early caregivers would have developed entirely different brains. My father was an unwanted infant born to an unwilling and depressed mother, raised by his teenage sister primarily who was not caring or nurturing. In the end, my father’s dismissive-avoidant insecurely attached brain worked very well on his behalf as he could NOT FEEL — did not HAVE to feel — and hence could ignore what he NEEDED to pay attention to and react to appropriately.

I have an important person I care deeply about who I believe also has a dismissive-avoidant insecure attachment disorder, and I can see how easily this pattern fits with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Very nicely indeed. The fact is that people who fit into this range can most often manage to get along just fine — but have extremely limited (if any) ability to FEEL and therefore to CARE how others feel, either. It would be easy to call them ‘intimacy disabled’.

One of the better studies of brain activation in avoidants concluded:

As a whole, these brain imaging data support but also extend the notion put forward by AT (Mikulincer and Shaver, 2007) that attachment avoidance is associated with a preferential use of emotion suppression in interpersonal/social contexts. Furthermore, they reveal that reappraisal may not work for these individuals, leading to impaired down-regulation of amygdala reactivity. This pattern may help understand why avoidantly attached individuals tend to become highly emotional when their preferred regulation strategies fail or cannot be employed.

Translated, when deactivating strategies (intended to reduce the importance of an attachment relationship to the avoidant) fail to work or can’t be used, the avoidant can be overwhelmed by unprocessed feelings that are normally blocked or avoided. The avoidant strategy is to never be put into a position where deep feelings of loss might break out by distancing anyone who gets too close and minimizing the importance of attached others.

[Note: If you’re looking for information on your dismissive or fearful-avoidant spouse or lover, I’ve published a book on the topic: Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner.]

Other posts on this topic:

Dismissive-Avoidants as Parents
Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…
Anxious-Preoccupied / Dismissive-Avoidant Couples: the Silent Treatment
Anxious-Preoccupied: Stuck on the Dismissive?
“Bad Boyfriends” – Useful for Improving Current Relationships
Asian Culture and Avoidant Attachment
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications
Attachment Type Combinations in Relationships
Serial Monogamy: the Fearful-Avoidant Do It Faster
Type: Fearful-Avoidant (aka Anxious-Avoidant)
Type: Dismissive-Avoidant