If your confused by a fearful avoidant ex’s words and actions you’re not alone. “Mixed signals”, “confused”, “conflicted” and “don’t match” are words you will say many times throughout the process of trying to get back together with a fearful avoidant ex and even long after you stopped trying to get them back.
“Mixed signals” is synonymous with a fearful avoidant attachment style and describes their disorganized attachment perfectly. In fact the easiest way to tell the difference between a dismissive avoidant and a fearful avoidant can be summed up as dismissive avoidants are consistently distant and aloof and and fearful avoidants are inconsistent in words and behaviours and send too many mixed signals. They want to:
1) Get close but are afraid of getting too close,
2) Be in a relationship but are suspicious and don’t trust romantic partners
3) Be accepted and valued but don’t trust their own feelings, attractiveness or ability to make a relationship work.
I’ve seen cases where someone with a good chance of getting back together with a fearful avoidant give up because of a fearful avoidant was sending too many mixed signals, and there have been cases where someone completely ruined their chances because they misinterpreted their fearful avoidant ex’s mixed signals.
I’m sure you will recognize and can relate to some if not all of these fearful avoidant ex mixed signals.
Mixed signal #1. They say they love you then say something to contradict it
When a fearful avoidants says they love you or trust you or even want to spend the rest of their life with you, they mean every word of it in that moment. It’s coming from a true and honest place of wanting connection and valuing you and the relationship you have. The fearful avoidant mixed signal is that next month or next week or even tomorrow a fearful avoidant ex may say something completely different, and that too is coming from a true and honest place of not wanting closeness or wanting a relationship.
Mixed signal #2. They don’t want to break up while breaking up with you
Most fearful avoidant breakups are a mixed signal in themselves because it’s something a fearful avoidant feels they have to do rather than something they want to do. They will break up with someone because they thought you were going to break up with them or because you expressed happiness and they believed it was only a matter of time before you broke up with them or they broke up with you because they believe that since they’re causing you unhappiness, you will be happy without them.
Mixed signal #3. They say they want no contact then reach out
Fearful avoidants especially if they’re leaning anxious after the break-up often ask for no contact or for space then a few hours or days reach out. When they say they’re going no contact or need pace, that the avoidant side of them distancing but then the anxious side of the overrides the avoidant side and they reach out. At any point in time their avoidant side can and will override the anxious side and they’ll pull away and even completely go no contact. But with a fearful avoidant, there’s always a chance that the anxious side will override the avoidant side…
Mixed signal #4. They block you but leave one open line of communication
Fearful avoidants are notorious for blocking and unblocking you and for blocking you but leave one open line of communication. When an ex blocks you they’re sin galling that they don’t want you to contact them but leaving an open line of communication is a fearful avoidant ex sending mixed signals. By pretending to block you while leaving it open for you to reach out, a fearful avoidant wants to create the impression that you are chasing them or want them more than they want you.
This makes sense since one of a fearful avoidants fear is to be seen as needy or clingy or to love someone who doesn’t love them back. But with that there is always BUT… if you show you love them more than they love you, some fearful avoidants lose interest because there is no “chasing game” with someone who is open with their feelings.
Mixed signal #5. They post on social medial but pretend it’s not about you
Many fearful avoidants are afraid to talk to an ex directly and use social media to communicate their thoughts and feelings and how much they miss you, but social media can also be a fearful avoidant’s passive aggressive tool to say what they can’t say to you directly.
You know the things they’re posting about are about you but when you reach out they act like “what ae you talking about?” or don’t respond at all. But then they post something else and it’s so obvious that it’s about your last interaction or attempt to contact them.
It’s so confusing because a fearful avoidant ex is obviously taking to you and talking about you, but pretending they not not.
Mixed signal #6. They’re nice to you then mean and back to nice
Sometimes fearful avoidants indicate via social media or directly that they want you to reach our and even chase them. But then when you reach out, they’re angry or engage and disappear and reappear again only to disappear again and repeat the cycle.
This is confusing to most people because on one hand a fearful avoidant is acting like they are not over you and even want to get back together, and on the other, they’re being keep appearing and disappearing, and even are mean and hurtful.
This is a fearful avoidant ex lashing out in an attempt to try to regulate their angry feelings about what happened in the relationship or break-up, instead of directly communicating and trying to resolve things.
Mixed signal #7. They want to text but avoid meeting in person
If the break-up was due to bad timing or external forces and not because the relationship was bad or toxic, a fearful avoidant will keep texting you even after the breakup because they:
- Think it’ll help you with the grieving process.
- Have mixed feelings about the break-up, may be even regret it but too afraid to admit it to you or to themselves.
- Still like you and want you in their life but don’t think the two of you can work as a couple
But the same reason why a fearful avoidant ex still texts you are also the same reasons they may not want to meet with you in person. Talk about mixed signals. On one hand they want to maintain a connection but on the other hand they want to stay distant but not too distant not to have some kind of connection.
Mixed signal #8. They tell you about their dating life but feel jealous when you do the same
Most exes will not tell you that they’re seeing someone new because they don’t want to upset or hurt you more than they already have, they’re not sure how they feel about the new man or woman, they it may hurt their chances of getting you back or because they think it’s non of your business.
But a fearful avoidant ex will tell you about seeing others just to give you the impression they’re moving on or have moved on, but when you tell them that you are going out on dates or seeing some fearful avoidants become jealous. Sometimes it even triggers their insecurities, fear of rejection or abandonment, past relationship experiences etc., and they act more interested but make no real effort to try to get you back. It’s like they don’t want you but also don’t want someone else to have you.
Mixed signal #9. They’re seeing someone or dating but still flirt with you
Most people when they’re in a new relationship focus all their time and attention on the new relationship and new person, and many fearful avoidants do too. But there are also many fearful avoidants who’ll continue to text, meet, flirt with an ex and even send “inappropriate” photos when they’re a new relationship.
This can be confusing if you’re still hoping that they’ll choose you over the new person. You know they still find you sexually desirable and they let you know they do, and but also tell you they’re trying to make the new relationship work.
If you ask about their new relationship, a fearful avoidant will tell you only the bare minimum and quickly pivot to fliting and even sexual innuendos.
Mixed signal #10. The still call you hun, babe etc.
This is a confusing mixed signal whether your ex is a fearful avoidant, has an anxious attachment style or secure attachment. Sometimes an ex calling you hun, babe, sweetheart etc. is a sign that they still have feelings for you and still see you the way they did before the break-up, but sometimes it could just be something they say out of habit especially if it feels like the old relationship all over. Unless pet names are followed by actions that tell you they still love, they’re are just words.
What do you do with a fearful avoidant ex mixed signals?
There are more fearful avoidant ex mixed signals than the ones I describe above. The question is what do you do with a fearful avoidant ex mixed signals?
The easy answer is to find someone secure, and you’ll not have all kinds of mixed signals. But like I explain in many of my articles, just because someone is secure doesn’t mean they’re a super-mate. Sometimes a person can be secure but not share common interests with you or be physically attractive or sexually compatible.
The honest answer is there nothing you can do to stop a fearful avoidant from sending mixed signals. Fearful avoidants are always going to want to get close but be afraid of getting too close, pull you close then push you away, want to be in a relationship but be suspicious and don’t trust romantic partners and want to be accepted and valued but don’t trust their own feelings, attractiveness or ability to make a relationship work etc. This is their attachment style and unless they change they’re attachment style, a fearful avoidant is always going to be the disorganized attachment style that displays anxious and avoidant traits, and their inner conflict is going to outwardly translate into mixed signals.
This does not make fearful avoidants bad or unlovable, just like being needy and clingy and “too much” doesn’t make an anxious attachment bad or unlovable.
If you still want to pursue a relationship with your fearful avoidant ex, the best way to deal with their mixed signals is:
1. Communicate your confusion only pointing out the contradiction in words or behaviours and not why they’re doing it or even talk about your feelings about it. In other words, appeal to their rational brain and don’t get into “feelings” because a fearful avoidant will emotionally shut down and not hear you.
2. Set boundaries to protect yourself and to protect your relationship.
3. Work on becoming securely attached so that a fearful avoidant ex mixed signals do not trigger you and make you lose sight of what it is you’re trying to achieve and/or lose control of situations. The more stable, consistent, and reliable you are, the less a fearful avoidant feels internally conflicted and the less mixed signals they’ll send.