How to Deal With A Dismissive Avoidant Ex Slow Replies

One of the things that frustrates anxiously attached exes and fearful avoidant exes trying to attract back a dismissive avoidant is how long avoidants take to reply to text messages. For example, you text a dismissive avoidant on a Friday afternoon and they respond on a Tuesday morning and it’s like everything is okay.

This kind of contact where an ex replies days later and sometimes doesn’t respond until you reach out again is so difficult and can feel unsafe when you have an anxious attachment or are a fearful avoidant leaning anxious.

When you have an anxious attachment or are a fearful avoidant leaning anxious, when you text someone, you expect them to respond right away or within a few minutes because that’s what you do; you respond right away. You don’t make people wait for a response, leave then on read or ignore texts because you believe that it’s “disrespectful” and shows you don’t care about them.

This is how someone with an anxious attachment is programmed to believe and think but this is not how someone with a dismissive avoidant thinks or even what they believe.

To understand why a dismissive avoidant ex takes so long to reply and sometimes ignores texts messages, it’s important to get into their mindset and beliefs about contact.

How do dismissive avoidant exes approach contact with an ex?

These day, everyone who is independent, self-reliant, is protective of their individuality or isn’t acting needy and clingy is called a dismissive avoidant. Everyone who ends a relationship because they’re unhappy or because the relationship is unhealthy and sometimes clearly toxic is a called a dismissive avoidant. Everyone who has problems articulating or communicating their emotions and feelings is called a dismissive avoidant even when they could have other non-attachment related problem that makes dealing with emotions in general hard for them. Even people who lack sexual desire for different reasons (including depression or some medical issue) is a dismissive avoidant.

A dismissive avoidant attachment describes someone who has a firm belief that they and only they can take care of themselves, and others will try to take their independence away if they let them get close. This is the trait of a dismissive avoidant that we mostly focus on, but it’s just as important to understand that a dismissive avoidant is also someone with low attachment anxiety and high attachment avoidance.

Low attachment anxiety means that you’re not constantly worried that someone will leave or abandon you. High attachment avoidance means that one avoids seeking out others for their attachment needs. A combination of not worrying that others will leave or abandon them and not feeling that they need others for their attachment needs means that dismissive avoidants are the least likely attachment style to seek contact or actively encourage connection.

The reason I emphasize this is because a combination of low attachment anxiety and high attachment avoidance more than wanting to keeping others at a distance sometimes explains how dismissive avoidants approach contact with an ex they still have feelings for. It’s true that dismissive avoidants consciously and subconsciously use contact to keep people from getting close, but your dismissive avoidant ex may not be trying to keep you from getting close. They may actually want you to contact them and even want connection. But you’re anxious attachment mind typically goes to “They don’t want contact, I should leave them alone” or “They need space, I need to step back” etc.

A dismissive avoidant not replying to texts vs. taking long to respond

A dismissive avoidant not replying to texts means that they don’t care about keeping the lines of communication open. A dismissive avoidant taking long to respond means that they care about keeping the lines of communication open but don’t think contact should be everyday or too often.

For a dismissive avoidant, as long as there’s no conflict or “bad feelings” between the two of you, everything is fine. Many dismissive avoidants will tell you that it just doesn’t register to them that you’re waiting for them to respond. They don’t wait for others to respond to texts, why would you be waiting for their response? You must have something else important to do than wait for someone to reply to a text message. If they have something else important to do, they’re not going to drop everything to reply to a text (from an ex). And sometimes, they’re just not in the mood for contact, they’re not going to ‘force’ themselves to respond because you’ll get upset or leave them.

This doesn’t mean a dismissive avoidant doesn’t want contact or connection or feels that you’re bothering them, it just means that for a dismissive avoidant, it doesn’t matter if they respond immediately or respond later. It also means that it doesn’t matter to a dismissive avoidant ex when you respond or even if you respond to only some texts and ignore others. The lines of communication are open, the two of you aren’t having an argument or angry at each other so everything is fine.

What do you do when a admissive avoidant is slow to respond?

1)  Don’t demand that they respond or “call them out” for not responding

This is hard to hear and it hurts. When you’re in a relationship, it’s a reasonable to expect that when you reach out, the other person will respond. That’s the unwritten “social contract” of relationships. When you break up, that contract is dissolved. You’re not in a relationship anymore, your ex doesn’t owe you a response just like you don’t owe them contact. If you don’t want to reach out, don’t, but if you are the one who wants your ex back, you’re going to be the one trying to make that happen. They’re not required to respond or take you back.

2) Don’t assume that a dismissive avoidant doesn’t want to talk to you

Individuals with an anxious attachment and fearful avoidants have high attachment anxiety, which means that you will always want more contact than a dismissive avoidant. It also means that you will be anxious, worried, restless, and feel intense fear when they don’t respond, leave you on read or ignores your text. You see it as they don’t wat to talk to you or be with you. But dismissive avoidant don’t view contact the same way you do. When they’re slow to respond, it doesn’t mean a dismissive avoidant doesn’t want contact, it means that they have less need for contact and have less anxiety around it.

3) Don’t give a dismissive avoidant ex an ultimatum

Avoidants in general react negatively to ultimatums or don’t respond at all. Because you are the one who wants contact and connection more than a dismissive avoidant, you’ll be forced to walk back the ultimatum. In the process you lose the respect of a dismissive avoidant, and they may even feel less attracted to you.

4) Set boundaries for contact

What you need is to do with a dismissive avoidant ex taking their time to respond is do what someone securely attached would do and that is set and communicate boundaries for contact.

Most anxiously attached and some fearful avoidants fear setting boundaries with dismissive avoidants because they’re afraid of how a dismissive avoidant ex might respond. They’d rather keep their frustration with a dismissive avoidant’s responses than risk pushing them further away with boundaries. What they don’t realize is that their frustration is slowly turning into resentment and their resentment is dripping into their interactions with their avoidant ex and poisoning connection. People who don’t feel safe are unsafe to talk to or be around.

Setting and communicating boundaries is critical to feeling safe and being safe for others

Securely attached set boundaries as soon as they find out that they’re dating a dismissive avoidant with low sensitivity to relational cues. They understand based on their internal working model that self care, self-responsibility, self-accountability, and self-respect are critical to feeling safe and being respected, and communicating with a partner or ex about attachment and relational boundaries is critical to the success of a relationship in general and to successfully getting back together.

They try to cover almost every aspect of connection and the relationship to make sure a connection or the relationship is safe and secure for both people. They are also open to further discussions and renegotiating boundaries if and when the need arises.

A securely attached ex’s boundary for contact with a dismissive avoidant ex would look something like this:

“I’m okay with a text every couple of days, but I’m not okay with a week with no contact. If I don’t hear from you for 3 days in a row, I’ll send a check-in text because I want to know that you’re okay.”

“I’m okay with reaching out first, however, I need to know that you want contact as well. I can only reach out 2-3 times with no response, if there’s no response, I will wait for you to reach out”.

“I’m okay with contact once a week or every few days (or whatever an avoidant is comfortable with), but I’m not okay with contact everyday (or not okay with good morning/goodnight texts or not okay with texting on weekends or not okay with drunk-texts etc.).

Do dismissive avoidants respect boundaries?

Dismissive avoidants have so many (often rigid) boundaries themselves, so they’re likely to understand why you need to set boundaries and may even respect you for finally showing some self-respect especially if they felt that you were obsessed with them and bending over backwards for them, which to someone with an anxious attachment feels like love but is a major put-off for an avoidant.

Some dismissive avoidants may react to you setting boundaries with feeling “controlled”. They’ll feel like you’re telling them what they can and can’t do. You may have to explain that the boundary is not about them, it’s about you, what you need to feel safe.

If you find yourself struggling to communicate your boundaries because you fear that a boundary will scare away your dismissive avoidant ex, remind yourself that prioritizing your safety and mental headspace makes you a safe person to be around and a safe partner.

Don’t just accept behaviours that make you feel unsafe

It’s okay to want your ex to make you feel safe and okay to as ask that they make you feel safe, but at the end of the day, you are responsible for your own safety. The need to make others responsible for your safety is what makes you feel powerless, unworthy of love, need constant reassurance, too afraid of losing someone and unable to completely trust others.

An important part of not accepting behaviours that make you feel unsafe is taking responsibility for your own needs and your own safety. This means setting boundaries and following through on your responsibilities for the boundaries you set. If you say, I will do XY if my boundary is violated, do XY. When you don’t enforce your boundary, you disrespect yourself, and that’s on you and not on an avoidant. Don’t disrespect yourself and expect the other person to respect you. If you’re not ready to follow through and enforce your own boundary, don’t set the boundary. A boundary you’re not ready to enforce is not a boundary but an insecure person’s threat or ultimatum. It’s useless at best and exposes you as unsafe at worst.

It’s important when setting a boundary for contact with an avoidant to keep in mind that a boundary is not about bending the other person to your will or expectations, a boundary is about your safety, your self-respect and you communicating how you need to be treated while also respecting the other person’s needs and their need to feel safe.

Boundaries as I discuss in my article on Setting Boundaries An Avoidant Ex Will Respect are about loving and respecting yourself and loving and respecting your ex simultaneously. If you want to be respected and treated with respect, you also must respect the basic norms of social interactions and specific boundaries that other people set to protect themselves.

In order for contact to be respectful for both people, first you both have to recognize, acknowledge and accept that you have different attachment styles. Someone anxiously attached will always want more contact than an avoidant, and this means that most of the time contact will seem or be one-sided.

Find ways to get both of your needs met. For example, if you’re talking everyday for a few days and an avoidant is responsive and engaged, this meets an anxiously attached person’s needs more than an avoidants needs. And that’s a good thing. When an avoidant starts to take longer to respond and engages less but does not deactivate, it means that they’ve reached the limit of how much contact and connection that their emotional bandwidth can allow and need more space between contacts so they can self-regulate.

Don’t continue to reach out everyday to try to force contact to meet your anxious attachment needs and force an avoidant to deactivate, or “leave them alone” as this breaks connection and momentum. Every time you break connection and momentum, you have to build it back up. This slows things down and increases the amount of time it’ll take to get back together, and may even negatively affect your chances.

RELATED:

What Happens When You Ignore A Dismissive Avoidant Ex?

10 Steps For Setting Boundaries An Avoidant Ex Will Respect

No Contact Works Differently With A Dismissive Avoidant Ex

How Avoidants Leave Open The Option To Reconnect With Exes

This Is How An Avoidant Ex Reacts To You After No Contact

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