Avoidant Ex – How to Attract Back An Avoidant – 4

When working with securely attached individuals who have an anxious-preoccupied ex, I tell them ignoring an anxious-preoccupied attacher is the worst possible thing they can do to someone they say they love.

Instead of grudgingly responding to a text every five minutes, they should set a routine or schedule where they contact their anxious-preoccupied ex on regular days/times (that are more reasonable to them).

For example, text once a day or call once every two days depending on the on what stage things are in your effort to get back together.

Providing some sort of predictability for an anxious-preoccupied attacher helps their anxiety. (More examples: How Do I Show My Anxious-Preoccupied Ex I’m Not Ignoring Her?)

It’s a little complicated when two people both have insecure attachment styles i.e. anxious attachment and avoidant attachment styles.

This is probably the best time to explain a little bit more about the avoidant attachment style.

There are two types of avoidant attachment styles: Dismissive-Avoidant and Fearful-Avoidant (or an ambivalent attacher). Both are characterized by:

  1. A strong desire to protect oneself from emotional pain due to rejection or abandonment and
  2. Emotionally pulling away, shutting down or distancing oneself when one should be reassuring, supportive, attentive, assertive or showing that they care.

But there are also major differences.

Dismissive-Avoidants:

Dismissive-avoidants wants love, closeness and affection and most of them have no problems finding someone to fall in love with them. They come across as confident, independent and have “it” together – three traits that are very attractive to both the securely attached and the anxiously attached. The problem with dismissive-avoidants is that they don’t know how to be close or be with someone who wants them to ‘show love”.

It’s not that they don’t feel love or don’t care, most of them do, they just don’t think it’s that important to be close or show love.

The relationship plays out something like this:

Anxious–preoccupied: Show me love. I need to know you love me.

Dismissive-Avoidant: You’re being needy.

Anxious–preoccupied: I’m not needy. I want to know we’re okay and that everything is fine between us.

Dismissive-Avoidant: I don’t know if we’re okay and I don’t want to think or talk about it.

Anxious–preoccupied: But I need to know you love me.

Dismissive-Avoidant: I need to be away from you right now.

Anxious–preoccupied: Why are you pulling away? All I asked was that you show you care and love me.

Dismissive-Avoidant: I need to be left alone.

Anxious–preoccupied: Please, don’t leave me. I need you.

Dismissive-Avoidant: I can’t give you what you need.

Because they worry that the other person is investing in the relationship more than they are (or want to), they may from time to time end a relationship when things seem to get “too much”. They also have rigid boundaries about how much time they want to spend together, how close someone can get and what kind of relationship they want. When these boundaries are violated, they react with distancing behaviours and sometimes hostility.

Some dismissive-avoidants are aware of their attachment style (see:30 OMG Signs You’re A Classic Dismissive-Avoidant) and are honest about their inability to be close or show love, but others believe that when they meet the “right person”, everything will fall into place. Yet even when they meet the person who checks all the boxes, someone securely attached, they still complain about not feeling what they think they should feel – “By now I should be in love”, “My feelings are not growing”, “I need to feel more in love”, etc. Some go out of their way to find something “wrong” with the person they say checks all the boxes.

A few times, I’ve told a client, “Maybe you are not feeling what you want to feel because you don’t know what you want to feel or how to feel it” (see: Can A Dismissive Avoidant Truly Love?).

Fearful-Avoidants:

Fearful-avoidants also want love, closeness and affection but unlike dismissive-avoidants, they struggle with confidence and self-doubt. They don’t believe they are ‘enough” or can give “enough” in a relationship, and worry that if they get too close to someone, that person will eventually leave, and it’ll hurt. They rarely approach someone they are attracted to or initiate contact. Many fearful-avoidants play hard to get and other mind games that hide how they truly feel. As a result they can come across as detached and aloof. This is all a cover up for the fact that they don’t know how to make someone feel loved and cared for.

The relationship plays out something like this:

Anxious–preoccupied: Show me love. I need to know you love me.

Fearful-Avoidant: I am doing the best I can. What more do you want from me?

Anxious–preoccupied: I want to know that you love me.

Fearful-Avoidant: What do you want me to say or do to show you I love you?

Anxious–preoccupied: I am not happy. I need more.

Fearful-Avoidant: I am sorry I am making you miserable. I think I should leave.

Anxious–preoccupied: Why are you leaving?

Fearful-Avoidant: It’s what’s best for both of us.

Anxious–preoccupied: But I don’t want you to leave. I need you.

Fearful-Avoidant: I am sorry. I have to. (And leaves or cuts off all contact).

Fearful-avoidants ignore their own attachment needs and avoid emotional involvement because they have no clue how to nurture interdependence in close relationships. They are also called ambivalent attachers because they long for connection and closeness but fear both at the same time.

I have found working with both fearful-avoidants that they often have a hard time forgiving and when trying to get their ex back, their feelings and thoughts are often contaminated with hostility, resentment, and anger. It’s like they don’t know whether to love or hate their ex.

Unlike dismissive-avoidants who on most part don’t believe they have done anything wrong to cause the relationship to end and feel the punishment fits the crime, fearful-avoidants believe they are the reason the relationship didn’t work out and if they are hurting it’s because they became needy, allowed themselves to get close or be taken for granted.

Even when a relationship ends, fearful-avoidants usually don’t know what to do or how to act. They don’t want to remain close to their ex because it hurts but they also don’t want to distance themselves because that hurts too. Most choose “low contact” or “limited contact” because allows them to to stay close but distant at the same time.

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