I’ve worked with many clients trying to get back a fearful avoidant ex who say their ex deactivated, broke up with them or disappeared after coming back from a trip, holidays or out of town and separated for a while.
The pattern seems to be that a fearful avoidant goes on a trip or holidays (or you go on a trip or holiday), and everything seems normal – they’re reaching out, responding sending photos, video chatting and even tell you they missed you and look forward to seeing you again, but they come back (or you come back) and something feels different. They don’t even let you know they’re back or don’t reach out as soon as they return, or they’re distant and not affectionate, or just want to text but not meet saying they’re busy or want space to be alone. A few days or weeks later, they break up with you.
If you went on holiday together, you may have left feeling close ad excited, and they even introduced you to their friends and family (or you meet your friends and family). You may have had some disagreements that most couples on a trip together have but everything seemed good with no indication that they’re about to break up with you. You come back (or you come back) from a trip or holidays and a fearful avoidant deactivates, breaks up with you or just disappears.
If it helps, research shows that nearly 50% of all couples break up after taking their first trip together. Those who planned a romantic getaway were nearly eight times more likely to break up on the trip than those who chose to take a spontaneous vacation. According to the research, it may have something to do with travelers who like to plan every little thing — which often results in stressing over every little thing. Another reason couples break up after taking their first trip together is they discover something new about they other person that they did not like at all, and want out.
If you’re wondering why your fearful avoidant deactivated, seemed to suddenly break up or disappear after a trip out of town or vacation, I’ve identified 8 reasons why fearful avoidants deactivate or break-up post-trip or post-holidays.
1. Premeditated break-up
Breaking up, ghosting, or disappearing from you was something a fearful avoidant decided on or planned before the trip or holidays; something they’ve been thinking about for a while and felt safe enough to act on from a distance or away from a familiar environment.
Being away and separated from would make it easier for a fearful avoidant to deactivate or not to feel the loss or miss you because they’d having such a great time and be distracted from their feelings. Usually you will notice them distancing while you’re apart but when you mention it they say everything is okay or just stop responding.
2. Spontaneous decision
The separation or break-up wasn’t premediated, and there was no plan to take a break or break up before a fearful avoidant left. Then they get there and a fearful avoidant finds themselves having a lot of fun without you and suddenly decides they don’t want to be in a relationship anymore, they want to be single. They slowly deactivate or come back and break-up with you or just disappear without a word.
A fearful avoidant can also spontaneously deactivate on a trip or vacation if they’re having a miserable time and feeling down on themselves, on relationships and/or life in general. They decide it’s easier to deal with everything alone without the pressures and obligations of a relationship or responsibility for someone else.
3. Separation anxiety
If things between the two of you were not in good place before they or you left for the trip or holidays, a fearful avoidant may feel anxious about the relationship, separation and what they may be coming back to (or what happens when you come back). They try to deal with their anxiety with emotional masking and hiding their true feelings and fears with reaching out, responding, sharing things about their trip/your trip, and even acting more in love than they’ve ever been.
Some fearful avoidants even talk about missing you and wanting to make the relationship work better when they come back. But the more anxious about being apart and separated a fearful avoidant feels, the more the need to deactivate and pull away from you. They may even feel (real or imagined) that you are pulling away (meanwhile you thought you were giving them space) and decide to pre-emptively end things to avoid being rejected or broken up with.
4. Conflict and tension
If things were good and everything was okay before they left for the trip or holidays, but while you were apart you had arguments, conflict and tension, a fearful avoidant may feel that they can’t get a break or enjoy a relaxing time without you making it about you, bringing up “relationship” problems” or trying to ruin their trip or holidays.
Some fearful avoidants stop responding or block you to avoid dealing with the drama or stress. If they find themselves feeling more relaxed and happier without you constantly texting them or causing them stress, a fearful avoidant will deactivate and may even decide to make the separation permanent after a trip or holidays.
They didn’t leave for the trip or holidays wanting to break up, but they come back determined to break up, and nothing you say will change their mind because they feel they’ve had enough and the distance gave them the courage to end things.
5. Paralyzed by fear
Fearful avoidants second guess themselves a lot and this includes their feelings about you and their ability to be in a relationship, but most of the time, they purposely and consciously suppress and delay processing their thoughts, feelings and emotions until they forced to.
Trips and holidays give them time and space to think and reflect. If their thoughts are mostly flooded with fear, their ability to reflect, reevaluate and resolve whatever emotions they’re trying to process will be impacted and a fearful avoidant may remain in “freeze mode” for a while and even after returning from the trip.
They’re unable to connect or engage not because they lost interest or want space or want to break up, but because they literally feel paralyzed by fear. The paralyzing fear is further reinforced if your reaction to them being distant, unable to connect or engage makes them feel they failed or will fail you, and themselves. Often times they first ask for a break, then break up a few days or weeks later.
6. Post-trip or holidays stress
It’s common to feel tired, anxious, irritable, unmotivated and even depressed after coming back from a trip to the daily grind of life. But for avoidants who struggle to articulate exactly what they’re feeling or why they’re feeling the way they feel, it may take a while to get back to a normal routine.
If a fearful avoidants finds returning to work/life/school overwhelming especially if they’re coming back to more to do than when they left, you and the relationship drop down the list of priorities. When you reach out they respond, but they don’t want to meet or make plans o meet. They’re always busy or tired or feeling depressed and no interest in doing anything else other than work and go home (or gym).
The more you pressure them to prioritize you or get back to the normal routine of your relationship (how things were before they left), the more a fearful avoidant deactivates. That later becomes, “I need a break” or “I just don’t want to be in a relationship right now” or “I need o focus on myself”.
7. They met someone
Stranger-attraction can be very intense because they feel like a fairy tale whether they last or not. If your fearful avoidant met someone they clicked with while away, they may still be thinking about that person when they come back.
If they’re in touch with that person, they may even think they’re in love, or actually be in love with them and trying to see them again. Because it’s a fairy tale encounter, their feelings for the stranger may be more intense than their feelings for you.
It doesn’t even have to be a stranger; they may have run into someone they once had a crush on or even and ex. The more they think about that person, the more they’re convinced that they need to end things with you. If the other person isn’t as available or responsive, it can trigger feeling abandoned, rejected, not good enough in a fearful avoidant and push them to want to disconnect from everyone and everything relationships.
Not reaching when they return from a trip, acting distant and not affectionate, not wanting to meet and/or wanting space to be alone may have nothing to do with going on a trip or holiday at all.
Needing space for a few hours or days is normal for fearful avoidants in relationships. Some fearful avoidants may not have a conscious awareness of why and when they need space and may not communicate what they need or be able to provide an explanation for why they need space and alone-time.
The deactivation was bound to happen at some point, it just happened to coincide with a fearful avoidant (or you) going on a trip. But because you didn’t handle their need for space to self-regulate very well, they asked for a break, or broke things off.
Whether or not you can back your fearful avoidant ex depends a lot on if the trip, holidays or time away from you was an excuse to break-up, if the break-up was an impulsive decision that they will regret, if the relationship was working for them before the break-up or if their feelings for their holiday crush are stronger than their feelings for you.