Sometimes the signs are clear that an avoidant is done with you and nothing you can do that will change your avoidant’s ex’s mind. It’s over. But sometimes avoidants break up with you but they’re not done with you for good. It seems final because they are avoidant, but they’re not completely done with you. Often times this is because two people who love each other very much just can’t seem to make the relationship work.
Confusing, right? How can anyone say they love you and not want to be in a relationship?
When one person no longer meets what the other is looking for in a relationship, the relationship will inevitably struggle. And finally end, even when the love part of the relationship is still strong.
Sometimes you find two people who still love each other very much, but the break-up is temporary because keep breaking up and getting back together several times. Despite their strong feelings for each other, they just can’t figure out how to be and stay together.
But how do you know if a break-up with an avoidant is not final and an avoidant is not done with you for good?
1) They’re not sure if they want a break or break-up
If your ex is not sure if it’s a break or break-up, it’s likely that the break-up is not final. The answer to will depend on your ex’s attachment style.
- Someone securely attached will communicate in very clear terms what they think needs to happen. They may even tell you they are not sure whether it is a break or break-up.
- A dismissive-avoidant if pressed to say what they mean is likely to say it doesn’t matter or that there is no difference between the two.
- An anxious-preoccupied is likely to call it a break even when what they have in mind is really a break-up.
- A fearful-avoidant will be the most conflicted of all the attachment styles simply because they score high on anxiety and score high on avoidance. One day it is a break, the next it is a break-up and then they are not sure.
2) They ended the relationship on impulse (emotional reaction)
Emotional break-ups are often temporary. One or both of you lost control of your emotions and just like that, it is over. In the heat of the moment avoidants tend to say things which make it seem like the break-up is permanent.
If your ex is fearful-avoidant, they will regret the break-up immediately. If they apologize and ask for forgiveness, it means that the break-up is not final. But if they refuse to any take responsibility or become defensive, and maybe even ask for space or no contact, the odds the break-up is permanent and a fearful avoidant is done with you.
It’s harder to tell with a dismissive avoidant if the break-up is final or temporary because they suppress their emotions. It can sometimes look like the break-up is permanent, when it is temporary and a dismissive avoidant is just taking their time. Most dismissive avoidants are also open to keeping the lines of communication open after a break-up. They will respond once in a while whether they intend to come back or not. If however they are willing to talk about the break-up, it’s a good sign that the break-up is not final.
3) The break-up was not about you
The positive sign here is that the relationship didn’t end because of you, it ended because of personal life stressors (e.g. work, illness, depression etc.) and circumstances beyond both of your control. Your ex may be overwhelmed and something has to go to relieve the stress and unfortunately that something is you.
Avoidants struggling with depression are known for disengaging from everyone and everything, and not just you. They end the relationship not because they necessarily want to break-up, but because they just want to be alone. Some avoidants feel that their depression is a burden to you, and break-up with you.
How you know a break-up with an avoidant is not final is if they’re open to trying it again when they feel less stressed. This is no guarantee however, especially if they ask for indefinite ‘no contact’.
4) They don’t want anything to change between the two of you
You still send each other ‘good morning” and ‘good night” texts. Contact each other everyday and even several times a day. Still hang out, maybe not as often. Nothing has really changed so much that it feels like the break-up at all.
If nothing has changed with your ex and they are an anxious preoccupied, the break-up is definitely not final. Anxiously attached hang onto a relationship until they can’t hang on anymore. Most don’t want things to change, even when the break-up is final.
Fearful avoidants will not want things between the two of you to change; only if they think there is a chance you will get back in the future. They are hoping the break-up is only temporary. But if it is clear that you are not getting back together, they will cut off all contact.
Dismissive avoidants keep things the way they are for convenience or practical reasons.
5) They want to keep the break-up private
Your ex hasn’t told friends and family that you are on a break or are broken up. They say they will come around to it but for now they want to keep it private. They even asked you not to tell your friends and family yet or told you it’s your decision to tell your social circles.
If your ex is not yet ready to go public with the break-up, your break may not be final. It’s not however, a clear-cut sign. Different people don’t go public with a break-up for different reason.
6) They’re willing to get professional help
Your ex is open to getting help whether individually or as a couple; to deal with the issues in the relationship. They want to actually put in the work and not just doing it to ‘get done with it’, or to prove to you that there is no point in staying together.
In my experience working with clients with a dismissive avoidant ex, their willingness to go to therapy to try to work on the relationship is one very telling sign that they are not done with the relationship. In general, dismissive-avoidants rarely ever willingly participate in anything that makes them feel intense emotional vulnerability. If they are willing to go to therapy, it means the emotional cost of losing you outweighs their need for total independence.
If an avoidant is not done with you, it means that you can change their mind
The hours or days just after a break-up are the most critical. If you push too hard for your ex to make a decision to stay or get back together, you’ll push them to make a decision to make the break-up permanent. They may even decide it’s best not to have any contact, not because that’s what they want, but because they feel they are being pressured to make a decision they are not yet ready to make.
On the other hand, if you pull away or distance yourself, you will create the environment that makes it easier for them to decide that detaching from you is the right thing to do. You kind of push them to make a temporary break-up permanent. This is true especially if your ex is a fearful or dismissive avoidant.
While someone with a preoccupied-anxious attachment style might feel ‘stuck’ and unable to make a decision to stay or make it final, and may agree to stay (even if only temporarily), if they think it will stop you from pulling away or distancing, fearful-avoidants respond to someone pulling away or distancing with pulling away or distancing themselves.
If they are leaning towards staying or coming back, fearful-avoidants will reach out here and there (limited or low-contact) to see how you are responding which will indicate to them whether or not you have not completely pulled away. If they are leaning towards making the break or break-up final, they will not initiate contact and will not respond when you contact them.
A dismissive-avoidant will initially dismiss you pulling away or distancing yourself as a stunt; an attempt to influence their decision. But the longer you stay distant and uncommunicative, the easier it is for them to make distance permanent.