This explains in detail how a fearful avoidant ex comes back after the breakup; all the break-up stages from how a fearful avoidant ex feels, no contact, when they miss you, mixed signals about reaching out, and how they process the break-up etc.
What you learn will have important implications for your chances of getting back together with a fearful avoidant ex. It will increase the chances of a fearful avoidant coming back, and come back sooner.
How fearful avoidants feel in the initial stages of a break-up
Attachment theory has gained so much attention and become more relevant over the years because the strange situation experiment that first introduced the world to “attachment styles” mirrors adult romantic break-ups and attempts to reunite with an ex. To understand how a fearful avoidant ex feels after a break-up and why they come back; we must first understand why some people are said to have a fearful avoidant attachment style or conflicted attachment style.
The purpose of the strange situation (1971, 1978) was to test how young children responded to temporary separation and reunion with their mothers. Dr Ainsworth found that anxiously attached children were inconsolable when separated from the mother, were angry with the mother for leaving but still sought comfort from her. This is similar to how exes with an anxious attachment feel and react to separation or break-up. They’ll remain preoccupied with the break-up and reconnection with their ex even in no contact.
Dismissive avoidant children showed little to no separation anxiety and didn’t seem to need any comforting when the mother left or when the mother returned. This is the same behaviour dismissive avoidant exes exhibit after a break-up. They suppress their feelings and go on with life like the break-up never happened, and often act cold and distant when an ex reaches out after no contact.
Dr Ainsworth Assistant Mary Main (Main and Solomon 1990) found that fearful avoidant children reacted to separation from the mother with anxiety and confusion. They didn’t seem to know whether they should cry or ignore the fact that the mother left the room. When the test was repeated, fearful avoidant children consistently showed confused, conflicted disorganized behaviour. When re-united with the mother, they also acted confused and conflicted; they wanted to go to the mother for comfort but were also fearful of her. This is how they came to be called conflicted or disorganized attachment or fearful avoidants.
Confused, conflicted and disorganized is how fearful avoidants react to separation or a break-up. They’re fearful of losing an ex and want contact and closeness but also don’t trust that their ex will not hurt them or leave again and keep distance.
A fearful avoidant has both traits of anxious attachment and avoidant attachment
Thinking of a fearful avoidant as just an avoidant who just wants distance is a mistake many people make and it often costs them the chance to attract back their ex. Factually, a fearful avoidant is an anxious-avoidant. This means that individuals with a fearful avoidant attachment style have a mix of an anxious attachment style and avoidant attachment style at varying degrees. Sometimes they lean anxious and sometimes they lean avoidant, and it’s hard to predict which way they’ll lean at any given time. This makes a fearful avoidant attachment style more complex than other attachment styles. They desire connection and closeness but don’t trust their instincts about what is safe and not safe.
Understanding how a fearful avoidant ex who leans anxious or leans avoidant acts in the initial stages of the break-up is very important if you want to get back together with a fearful avoidant ex.
What a fearful avoidant ex who leans anxious goes through after a break-up
A fearful avoidant ex who leans anxious may after a break-up act just like an ex with an anxious attachment style, at this stage, their need for closeness is stronger than their doubts about you and their doubts about what is safe and not safe.Slowly however, their fear of abandonment takes over and they start to deactivate and become avoidant; especially if you ignore them and they feel abandoned. This is when they go no contact. They may even completely detach from all feelings about you as a way of coping with feeling abandoned.
Just after the break-up, it felt like your fearful avoidant ex was chasing you, and suddenly they stopped and went no contact. In my experience, the chances of a fearful avoidant who leans anxious coming back are higher in the window between the break-up when they’re very anxious and before they deactivate and become more avoidant.
The mistake many people make is only focus on meeting an avoidants need for space thinking that this is what will make an avoidant feel safe. Sometimes “too much space” can feel to a fearful avoidant like abandonment.
What a fearful avoidant ex who leans avoidant goes through after a break-up
A fearful avoidant ex who leans avoidant may immediately attempt to not feel their feelings and pretend they’re absolutely fine. Most go no contact immediately after the break-up. Many of my clients who learned about attachment styles after a break-up often mistake a fearful avoidant leaning avoidant after a break-up for an ex with a dismissive avoidant attachment style.
After some time, the emotions and feelings find their way to the top and may cause a fearful avoidant to act anxious. When the emotions bubble to the surface is different for each fearful avoidant. other events happening in a fearful avoidants life e.g. job stress, unemployment, depression etc., influence when and how a fearful avoidant starts to feel anxious and how they act.
To deal with the emotional pain of the break-up and mask growing anxiety and fears of abandonment, some fearful avoidants get involved in short-lived rebound relationships. And rather than address their underlying fear of abandonment and rejection, some fearful avoidant lash out, verbally and even physically.
Going no contact with a fearful avoidant ex is a big gamble
A fearful avoidant’s mixed reaction to break-ups makes it’s hard to predict how they’ll respond to you. They may get anxious and chase you, pull away and go no contact or get involved in a short-term rebound relationship.
And because they’re fearful avoidants, anxious (hot) and avoidant (cold) behaviours may swing from one extreme to the other several times over a short period of time.
A fearful avoidant ex’s self-awareness plays an important role in their behaviour after the break-up. A more self-ware fearful avoidant will try to mitigate the negative effects of both attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. They’re also more forgiving, take responsibility for their role in the break-up and are more willing to change.
Fearful avoidants and nostalgia after the break-up
Whether or not a fearful avoidant ex comes back after a breakup depends a lot on how they remember the relationship; and the break-up. Specifically the memories that dominate their thoughts.
According to a study on the effects of nostalgia and avoidant attachment on relationship satisfaction, nostalgia appears to steer individuals with anxious and secure attachment styles towards relationships; but turn avoidants away from relationships.
In his latest research, Rutgers University–Camden researcher and assistant professor of psychology Andrew Abeyta found that nostalgia does not have the same positive psychological benefits for avoidants.
The findings, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, showed that, nostalgia did not change avoidants’ general reluctance to trust others; and their reduced desire to build intimacy and closeness in their relationships. “Nostalgia may actually make things worse” says Andrew Abeyta.
When a fearful avoidant blames you for the break-up
Individuals with a fearful avoidant attachment are especially known to become consumed with thoughts of regret for their actions. For example, “If I hadn’t pushed him away, we would still be together”. They also regret not acting when they should have. For example, “If only I had been more open, she wouldn’t have broken up with me”. But less self-aware fearful avoidants blame an ex for the break-up and take little to no responsibility.
Inducing romantic nostalgia in someone who is consumed with thoughts of regret or blames you for the break-up may not be the best approach for attracting back an avoidant.
“It might be necessary to work on these avoidant tendencies first; before throwing nostalgia into the mix or find a different approach altogether” says Andrew Abeyta researcher and assistant professor of psychology Rutgers University–Camden. See: Why An Avoidant Ex Posts About Good Memories
Why and when a fearful avoidant ex misses you after the break-up
How a fearful avoidant ex feels about you after the break-up is a good indicator of if they will miss you or come back.
If a fearful avoidant ex continues to blame you for the break-up, it’s unlikely they’ll miss you at all. But if they blame themselves or feel that they self-sabotaged, they’ll miss you because they realize they made a mistake breaking up or pushing you away.
Fearful avoidants miss you sooner if:
- The relationship was relatively good.
- They felt that you were good to them and treated them well.
- The relationship has more positive memories than negative ones.
- They felt safe because you respected their need to distance once in a while.
- There were not too many arguments and fights.
- You made a strong connection whether the relationship was short or long.
- Your friends and family liked them – they will miss you and miss them.
It’ll take a fearful avoidant ex longer to miss you if they feel you that you didn’t treat them well. If they think it wasn’t a good relationship in general a fearful avoidant ex will not miss you or come back.
Fearful avoidant exes and no contact after the break-up
Fearful avoidants of all the attachment styles are the most likely to react to a break-up with going no contact. They see no contact as a way to cope with control or discomforting emotions. Many fearful avoidants also see no contact as a way test if you will miss them. They see how long before you contact them as a test of how much you love them. And they also want you to chase them to prove to themselves that you love them.
If a fearful avoidant leans avoidant, they’ll most likely stick to the no contact period and not contact you even if they miss you. If a fearful avoidant leans anxious, they may not be able to go through with a 30 days no contact period. The part of their attachment style that desires contact and connection (even if they fear it) will override their attempts to do ‘no contact’; and they will contact you.
Fearful avoidants are also more likely than all the other attachment styles to block you but leave one line of communication open for you to reach out, or block you and unblock you several times (see: Why Did My Fearful Avoidant Ex Block and Then Unblock Me?)
Why fearful avoidants reach out after no contact
If a fearful avoidant goes through with the no contact period and they want you back; they’ll reach out first. They may send a text or indirectly reach out by liking your photos or commenting on your Instagram stories.
If you contact an ex with a fearful avoidant attachment who’s not doing no contact; they’ll likely respond immediately. But they may also take a while to respond because fearful avoidants don’t want to seem too eager. If they lean anxious however, 90% of the time they will respond immediately.
They may respond quickly to the first text and even a few more, then pull back. It does not mean they do not want you to contact them, it is just what fearful avoidants do. They may even like photos on your Instagram but not respond to texts. Then after a while, they start responding again.
Why a fearful avoidant ex may not reach out after a break-up
Fearful avoidants are very sensitive to rejection, criticism or embarrassment; and avoid situations where they may experience rejection or discomfort.
A fearful avoidant ex will more than likely contact you first if they believe that:
- You will respond
- It will be a pleasant experience for them
- You might still be attracted to them
- There is a chance you will get back together
A fearful avoidant ex will not reach out if they think the risk of rejection is high. They may also not reach out first because they don’t want to look needy and clingy. They will miss you and hope and pray that you miss them enough to contact them first.
A fearful avoidant will also not reach out if after the break-up you made them feel they can’t trust you. More: This Is How An Avoidant Ex Reacts To You After No Contact
Should you reach out or wait for a fearful avoidant to contact you?
You have two options when dealing with a fearful avoidant ex. The first option is to wait for a fearful avoidant to reach out. Most fearful avoidants especially if they lean anxious will at some point reach out. The problem with waiting for a fearful avoidant to reach out is that it could be anywhere from weeks to months, or even after they’ve moved on.
The second option is to reach out. Reaching out may create anxiety in some fearful avoidants who lean avoidant, but in general, reaching out first indicates to a fearful avoidant that they’re worthy of love, time and energy.They may respond right away or take time to respond, and they may even get it into their heads that you’re chasing them – which to a fearful avoidant is a good thing.
If you’re reaching out and initiating most of the contacts, it’s important to keep in mind that it’ll take longer than usual (compared to other attachment styles) for a fearful avoidant who leans avoidant to feel safe enough to be comfortable with regular contact and to start reaching out. If the break-up was because you did not show them enough that you love them, reach out at least three times and they do not respond, don’t reach out again. Wait for them to reach out to you.
Expect a fearful avoidant ex to pull and push you away (repeatedly)
Once the lines of communication are open, expect your fearful avoidant ex’s disorganized attachment style to go on full mode. If you thought your fearful avoidant was hot and cold during the relationship, this is whole other level.
The break-up was a fearful avoidant’s worst fear about relationships, and they’re not going to casually take the risk again. From time to time, you’ll see glimpses of their anxious attachment style (e.g. double and even triple texting and acting anxious when you don’t respond quick enough etc.), but most of the time, they’ll keep switching from anxious to avoidant. For example: A fearful avoidant ex will agree on plans to meet but then cancels last minute because they felt so anxious about seeing you and deactivated. This can happen time and time again.
Throughout the process it’ll feel like your fearful avoidant ex is sending mixed signals because they’re. It’s important to remember that most avoidants feel as confused by they’re behaviour just as you are. The mind games, manipulation, pull-push, blaming and overreacting to things most people let slide is all part of a fearful avoidant ex’s disorganized attachment style. At the end of the day, you can’t control someone else’s reality: what they think, feel or do; you can only control how you respond to it. This is the framework from which securely attached approach relationships. They focus more on their own words and action because it’s the only thing they can control.
What are the signs a fearful avoidant will come back?
If you’ve read this far, I’m sure the questions you want answers the most are: Do a fearful avoidant’s feelings come back and what are the signs a fearful avoidant will come back?
Yes, a fearful avoidant’s feelings can come back although with some fearful avoidant exes, things sometimes drag on for too long, and it begins to feel like there is no hope a fearful avoidant ex’s feelings will come back.
The truth is, many fearful avoidants themselves don’t even know if they want to come back or will come back. Even fearful avoidants who still have feelings for an ex fear putting themselves out there because to a fearful avoidant ex, every little thing is some potential threat to defend against or run away from.
Over the years, I’ve identified some consistent signs a fearful avoidant wants to come back.
1.They are consistent – Consistency for a fearful avoidant is not reaching out every day or even every other day, though this may happen with an anxious fearful avoidant ex. Consistency for a fearful avoidant is their words and actions consistently match.
2. They’re putting in the effort – and want you to know they’re trying. This includes opening up here and there and allowing themselves to be vulnerable in both their words and actions.
3. They’re doing self-work – Seeing a therapist or working on their issues on their own. Even acknowledging their role in the break-up, and showing an awareness of their attachment style is a step in the right direction.
4. They want to meet – An avoidant ex avoiding meeting you is expected, but fearful avoidants take it to another level. They won’t say they don’t want to meet, but instead avoid conversations about meeting, promise to meet but never follow up and cancel dates last minute. If they want to meet and follow through with it, that’s a very good sign.
5. They deactivate less – They pull away less and for shorter periods of time; and when they lean back in, they’re more engaged and taking more risks (e.g. talking about their feelings, and even a future with you in it).
There are other signs a fearful avoidant will come back, but these are pretty consistent signs and very good indicators a fearful avoidant ex will come back – eventually.
COMMENTS: I encourage comments from fearful avoidants on why, how and what makes you come back to an ex. Let’s learn from each other. Thank you!
How Long Does It Take An Avoidant To Come Back? (FA vs. DA)
Should An Anxious Attachment Go Back To An Avoidant Ex?
How Avoidants Leave Open The Option To Reconnect With Exes
Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 5 – Avoidant Wants to Text But Not Meet
How to Make An Avoidant Ex Feel Safe Enough To Come Back
Why Is My Fearful Avoidant Ex Acting Hot And Cold?
5 Strong Signs An Avoidant Ex Regrets The Break-Up
If you want to get back together with a fearful avoidant, avoid doing or saying anything to make their anxiety worse. The goal is to make them feel safe around you, so remember to be calm, kind, and upbeat. Speak to them in a soothing tone of voice. Point out the silver lining when something bad happens.Do fearful avoidants ever come back? ›
We have found that on average a fearful avoidant will not initiate a reconnection with you. However, there is a window of time where they do consider it and if you time it right you can get them to come back if that's what you want.How does a fearful avoidant feel after a breakup? ›
"Fearful avoidant attachment individuals will probably feel like they 'deserve' the breakup, that it was inevitable, and they aren't likely to follow up with questions or to try to reignite the relationship," says Holland. They may be despondent one day, and cold and disconnected the next.How do fearful avoidants react to no contact? ›
A fearful avoidant during no contact acts slightly differently from other attachment styles. Going no contact with them can become extremely distracting and often requires a lot of discipline. The fearful-avoidant does not express remorse or sadness over heartbreak in the initial weeks of the breakup.What hurts a fearful avoidant? ›
Because people with an avoidant attachment style fear not being lovable or good enough, feeling criticized or judged by loved ones can be particularly painful. Especially when it comes to things that they are not so comfortable with, such as their emotions and feelings.How long does a fearful avoidant take to come back? ›
Every avoidant is different, but deactivation generally lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Most fearful avoidants will reach out or begin responding again after 2 – 5 days because they want connection and feel happier in relationships.Who are fearful avoidants attracted to? ›
The insecure anxious partner and insecure avoidant partner will be attracted to the securely attached partner because the insecure partners really desire and instinctively seek a reliable, consistent, caring and dependable partner.Are fearful avoidants deactivating or moving on? ›
Fearful avoidants often “deactivate” their attachment systems due to repeated rejections by others9. When they are in distress, they deactivate their attachment behavior. Consequently, the more upset their romantic partner is, the less likely a fearful-avoidant adult is to offer comfort and support10.Does my fearful avoidant miss me? ›
At this point, you may be wondering: will an avoidant miss you? The thing is, when you're patient enough to give them a lot of time and space, they will initially get back to their everyday life. They will neither miss you nor demand time or attention from you.How do fearful avoidants show love? ›
A fearful avoidant may show that they love you through the following: Making an effort to connect with you. Expressing that they want to be intimate. They become more comfortable showing their vulnerable side.
Remember that healing is always possible – at any age! By learning and regularly practicing secure attachment skills, you can move toward more secure attachment. Suggested practices for this pattern: Often, fearful-avoidant attachment comes from attachment injuries passed from parent to child.What happens when a fearful avoidant falls in love? ›
Do People With Fearful-Avoidant Styles Get Attached? People with this attachment style may experience negative emotions and a strong fear surrounding intimacy and closeness. This can make it difficult for them to become attached to a romantic partner, particularly if that person also has the same attachment style.Are fearful avoidants afraid of abandonment? ›
People with an avoidant attachment style believe that they can only rely on themselves for comfort and support because they have learned that others could not be relied upon to meet their critical needs. Seeking help from others evokes a powerful fear of being abandoned, rejected, or disappointed.Do fearful avoidants want you to chase them? ›
Fearful avoidants both want and fear intimacy. So they seek closeness. But once they do, their fear of intimacy and attachment kicks in and they suddenly feel the need to escape, and this is when they need you to chase them.Do fearful avoidants have abandonment issues? ›
People with an avoidant attachment style tend to cope with abandonment issues by not allowing people to get close to them, and not opening up and trusting others. They may be characteristically distant, private, or withdrawn.What are the biggest triggers for fearful avoidant? ›
A fearful-avoidant will assume the pieces of the puzzle they arent provided and create their own story. Lying, stealing, cheating, and obvious large-scale issues are big triggers.Do fearful avoidants ever apologize? ›
According to Schumann and Orehek, avoidant individuals were less likely to offer a comprehensive apology. Instead, they were defensive, prone to justify their behavior, blame the other person and make excuses.What do fearful avoidants need? ›
In fearful avoidant attachment style, a person may fear closeness and intimacy. However, they need and heavily rely on the support of others at the same time.Why a fearful avoidant won't reach out? ›
From questioning different people that have identified themselves as having a fearful avoidant attachment style, they are sometimes scared to reach out because they know that that person might reject them. The person is, in their opinion, most likely sick of them and doesn't want to deal with them.Will a fearful avoidant reach out first? ›
What I've seen in the past is the fearful avoidant most likely will reach out to you first and before the month mark. If they don't then you can reach out to them around three to four weeks and just kind of see where they're at. You can see how they're doing and just care for them.
Avoidants are afraid of and incapable of tolerating true intimacy. Since they were brought up not to depend on anyone or reveal feelings that might not be acceptable to caregivers, their first instinct when someone gets really close is to run away.Do fearful avoidants test you? ›
If you want to stay in the relationship, you should be aware that you may also have to endure some “testing behaviors.” The person with the fearful style may engage in some negative or challenging behaviors to see if you are going to reject or hurt them.How do you know if a fearful avoidant loves you? ›
- They are ready to become vulnerable.
- They love your nonverbal PDAs.
- They display nonverbal communication.
- They encourage you to get personal space.
- They make an effort to connect with you.
- They listen to you.
- They make the first move in a relationship.
- They want to get intimate.
Someone with a fearful-avoidant attachment style tends to have more sexual partners than other people and often find themselves having a lot of sex with a lot of different people even if they're not that interested in the sex itself.Do Avoidants care if you move on? ›
This response isn't to suggest that avoidant attachers don't feel the pain of a breakup – they do. They're just prone to pushing down their heartbreak and attempting to carry on with life as normal.Do fearful avoidants get lonely? ›
Studies have found that avoidant attachers are less likely to date or seek relationships. In other words, they are more prone to having smaller social circles and, thus, may stay single for longer periods of time. Avoidant attachers are thus more susceptible to social loneliness and isolation.What happens when you stop chasing a fearful avoidant? ›
Once you stop chasing an avoidant partner, they will breathe a sigh of relief. However, don't let their exterior emotions fool you. This feeling is only the beginning of a never-ending cycle avoidants go through continuously.What not to do to a fearful avoidant? ›
Encourage openness — but don't push it
People with fearful avoidant attachment deeply desire intimacy. They're also immensely terrified by it. You can encourage them to talk about what they're feeling or what fears they sense, but don't be aggressive.
Many avoidants suffer from low self-confidence or damaged self-esteem. If they think you're out of their league, they'll start to distance themselves. Make them feel good and desired by complimenting their intelligence, good looks, or the way they make you feel. If you make them feel wanted, they'll want you!Should I wait for a fearful avoidant to contact me? ›
If your fearful avoidant ex regularly pulls away for a few days at a time, wait for them to reach out or respond. If it's more than 4 days since you heard from them, send a check-in text.
Communicating with empathy, using “I” statements, and avoiding blaming and criticism are some of the ways to help avoidant partners feel safe enough to express their thoughts and feelings, as well as change their behaviors in time. “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.”What do fearful avoidants think? ›
Individuals with fearful avoidant attachment are a combination of the preoccupied and dismissive-avoidant styles of insecure attachment. They believe they are unlovable and also don't trust other people to support and accept them. Because they think others will eventually reject them, they withdraw from relationships.How do you make a fearful avoidant miss you? ›
Give them space when they pull away.
Avoidants need lots of space to feel comfortable in a relationship. Since they're afraid of commitment, spending too much time with them will make them feel smothered. When they start to grow distant, respect their need for time apart, even though it might be hard.
And it's true—many people lead happy, successful lives as avoidant or anxious types. Some even have successful long-term relationships as an anxious or avoidant.Do fearful avoidants change their mind? ›
However, in contrast, a child with a fearful avoidant attachment will act conflicted towards their caregiver. They may at first run to them, but then seem to change their mind and either run away or act out against their mother.Do fearful avoidants play hard to get? ›
Avoidant people tend to be playing hard-to-get, and anxious people tend to pursue them."What makes a fearful avoidant miss you? ›
Like a dismissive avoidant what ultimately makes a fearful avoidant miss you is space. If they get it then they give themselves permission to “feel their feelings” which can ultimately end up in the exact same place as a dismissive, with them missing or longing you.Do fearful avoidants come back after ghosting? ›
Do avoidants ever come back? Yes, but let's clarify. Avoidants do sometimes cycle back around to those they have shut out, disappeared on, and ignored. However, just because they come back this doesn't mean this is a viable relationship.Why do fearful avoidants rebound? ›
One of the hard truths is that a lot of times a fearful avoidant will attempt to cope with rebound after rebound after rebound. They're very subject to rebounds because they have that anxious side of them. They can fall victim to that honeymoon phase.Will my fearful avoidant ex miss me? ›
At this point, you may be wondering: will an avoidant miss you? The thing is, when you're patient enough to give them a lot of time and space, they will initially get back to their everyday life. They will neither miss you nor demand time or attention from you.
If they want to meet and follow through with it, that's a very good sign. 5. They deactivate less – They pull away less and for shorter periods of time; and when they lean back in, they're more engaged and taking more risks (e.g. talking about their feelings, and even a future with you in it).What are fearful avoidants biggest triggers? ›
A fearful-avoidant will assume the pieces of the puzzle they arent provided and create their own story. Lying, stealing, cheating, and obvious large-scale issues are big triggers.What are fearful avoidant responses? ›
A person with fearful avoidant attachment may behave in a way that shows they want to be close to a person. However, they may also distance themselves from others. One day, they may be incredibly affectionate and close to someone, then the next they may avoid communication and act cold and dismissive.