How to manipulate a dismissive avoidant

To win them over, your goal should be to gain a better understanding of them


Why are you looking to manipulate someone?

The desire to manipulate stems from an unhealthy desire to control. It stems from weakness and insecurity. Whenever you feel compelled to manipulate, look within first and try to figure out where it’s stemming from.

People manipulate because they don’t believe they can meet their needs by asking directly. Manipulation is a control tactic by which a person makes someone do what they may not necessarily want to do. Needless to say, it is evil, and once the victim understands what you’ve done, it can ruin the relationship forever.

Rather than manipulate, you want to influence or persuade. There’s a fine line between influence and manipulation. In manipulation, you’re taking away the other person’s autonomy, and you’re harming them in some way, often using deceptive tactics. Influence is more benign in the sense that you’re nudging them to do what you want, often using honest tactics. But the ultimate choice lies with them. Their decision doesn’t harm them in any way but might actually benefit them.

Dismissive Avoidants (DAs) in relationships

Those in a relationship with a DA often feel frustrated, disconnected, and lonely. This is because DAs have high space and independence needs. They want to spend a lot of time with themselves. Their connection needs are low. When they’re in a relationship with someone whose connection needs are high, like someone with the Anxious-Preoccupied (AP) attachment style, the relationship becomes stormy.

If you want to manipulate a DA, you’re probably AP and are trying to get a DA to spend more time with you and meet your needs. If a DA is in a relationship with you, they do want to meet your needs. However, their attachment style makes them do things differently.
If you want to influence a DA, you must understand what makes them tick. Specifically, you have to understand their needs and triggers. When you meet their needs and avoid triggering them, you’ll make them happy, and they’re more likely to present their best selves to you.

DA needs (Meet these)

1. Space

Respect their mental and physical space. When these spaces are repeatedly encroached upon, they feel intruded and trapped

2. Independence

Help them be more independent. There’s nothing that DAs hate more than being overly dependent on other people.

3. Growth

DAs tend to have high growth needs. They like developing their minds and bodies. They’re lifelong learners who love learning new skills. If you feed their growth rather than hinder it, they’ll love you for it. One way to do that would be to engage in deep conversations with them.

4. Peace

DAs tend to be conflict-avoidant. They don’t want to waste their energy on unproductive things. They’d instead immerse themselves in their work, a book, or a hobby rather than in a pointless conflict. They believe that intelligent people don’t get into conflicts. Protect their peace.

5. Safety

All desire emotional safety in a relationship, but it’s one of the strongest needs of a DA. They want to feel like they can express themselves freely. They want you to hold space for their feelings and emotions.

Triggers (Avoid these)

1. Too much connection

Yes, DAs do want to connect intellectually and deeply with others. They feel really good when they do that.1MacDonald, G., & Borsook, T. K. (2010). Attachment avoidance and feelings of connection in social interaction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology46(6), 1122-1125. But there’s a limit to that. After a point, their social energy gets drained, and their mind starts ringing alarm bells:

“Hey, why are you wasting time connecting with others? Relationships aren’t that important. Focus on developing yourself and becoming independent.”

These alarm bells ring much sooner when they have pointless, valueless small talk. Such negative social interactions make a DA feel worse than the average person.

2. Emotional closeness

DAs are very careful who they allow into their inner circle. They share selectively and know how much to share with whom. In a romantic relationship, they feel increasingly uncomfortable as the relationship gets emotionally close. DAs are uncomfortable with emotional intimacy and vulnerability, so they’ll get triggered when they’re expected to be vulnerable too soon in a relationship dynamic.

A DA I know once tried group therapy. As is common in these therapeutic settings, participants are encouraged to share their emotional burdens and vulnerabilities from day one. A DA needs more time than that to open up. So he quit the therapy immediately.

3. Emotion-driven people

All humans are emotion-driven. Some more than others. Since DAs tend to spend more of their time living in the rational part of their mind, they can’t stand primarily emotion-driven people. They don’t understand such people. They think being emotional is a weakness. They prefer people who activate the logical rather than the emotional part of their minds.

4. Demands

Because of their past trauma, DAs tend to be in survival mode 24/7. They’re always looking to protect their time, energy and space to meet their high personal growth and independence needs. When you demand their time and attention, you’re pressuring them to give away their most precious resources.

DAs tend to show up best in their relationships when they’ve already taken care of their own needs first. 

So, instead of asking them to spend time with you early in the morning, let them tend to themselves first. When they’re done with that, they’ll make time for you and give themselves fully to you because there’s no nagging voice in their head going:

“Hey, why are you wasting time connecting…”

They will have already taken care of that. So there’s no reason for those alarm bells to start swinging.

No need to manipulate

Contrary to what most people write about them online, DAs do want connection, but they want it differently than other attachment styles.2Carvallo, M., & Gabriel, S. (2006). No man is an island: The need to belong and dismissing avoidant attachment style. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin32(5), 697-709. If you accommodate their attachment style, they’ll be more than willing to meet you halfway and accommodate yours. When that happens, the need for manipulation will disappear from the relationship. If you express your needs clearly and directly to a DA without pressuring them, they’ll listen and do what they can to meet them.