Anxious Preoccupied Ex Will Not Talk to Me What Do I Do?

Question: My ex has an anxious preoccupied attachment and despite all my efforts she will not talk to me. I have a fearful avoidant attachment and because I was not spending time with her; she broke up with me. She said she felt like she was putting in more effort than me and that I didn’t care and she didn’t feel like a priority. I failed to be really open about my feelings/fears with her, for the fear that she might be frightened away.

It was a painful breakup and reading many of your articles, I probably did more things to damage the relationship after the break-up. I went no contact for 35 days. I want to explain to her that I am in a better place, but 3 weeks and 5 text messages and had not responded, except for when I asked about the cat we share. Her response was short but warm. I just need the chance to explain myself, take responsibility for my actions and tell her I want her back. How do I get through to her?

Yangki’s Answer: Your anxious preoccupied ex will not talk to you because she’s afraid of getting hurt again.

I am sure you understand that attachment anxiety comes from the fear that an attachment figure (in this case an ex) will be unavailable or unresponsive to one’s attachment needs.

‘No contact’ used as a strategy to get back your ex is designed to trigger attachment anxiety. Someone who is anxious-preoccupied or has and fearful avoidant attachment style is very sensitive to an attachment figure being unavailable or unresponsive. The see it as abandonment.

When an attachment figure, in this case an ex cuts off contact, it triggers the fear of rejection and abandonment, causing the individual to frantically try to re-establish that connection with an attachment figure. If the attachment figure is not responsive, the attachment system remains fully or partially activated.

In the short term, making an ex feel abandoned seems like a brilliant strategy to make them miss you. Long term however, it makes an anxious preoccupied ex feel afraid of contact. What if you stop responding and again become unavailable? Then she has to put in more effort; and she does not want to do that anymore.

What you do after a break-up may well determine whether you’ll get back together or not. It’d have made things so much easier if you had kept the line of communication open after the break-up. Even if it’s only to send your ex a text telling her you feel you need to work on yourself; and send regular updates on how you’re doing.

The best advice I can give you at this point is to “wait” for her to reach out to you if she wants to. Trying to push aggressively especially at the onset of the process is usually unwise. And when (or if) she  gets in contact, hold off the “relationship talk” or asking her to get back together until you have shown her that you:

  • Care about her and make her a priority
  • Can put in as much effort into making the relationship work
  • Are open about your feelings/fears with her

Later when the emotional connection and the contacts become more frequent, then you can explain yourself and take responsibility for your actions. Unless she brings it up, try to separate when you explain yourself and take responsibility for your actions from when you tell her you want her back. The timing for these two stages of the process are different. She may be ready to hear your explanation but not ready to get back together (yet).

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  1. says: Lostbu

    I stopped LC when he told me he was seeing someone else. After 2 weeks he texted me asking if everything was alright, I said yes, why. He said he has not heard from me and I told him he now has a new girlfriend and he should try to make their relationship. He got upset and said he does not know what I am talking about. Also said I have not changed because I was always jealous for him and asked many questions if he is seeing some women at his work. I have now contacted him 3 times but he is not responding. Did I push him away?

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      You probably did, especially if he is being honest and there is no new girlfriend. You proved to him you had not changed, same old problems.

      This is why I say too much attention and effort on ‘contact’ (or lack of) is the reason many don’t get their ex back.

      People do NOT fall in love because you contact them the right amount. Without working to eliminate the problems that caused the break-up, or that you had in the old relationship ‘no contact’, ‘low contact’ and even ‘contact’ is waste of time.

  2. says: Cyrus

    I’m still not sure how to react if she answers “I don’t know” to how she feels about me. Another possibility that she may say ”there is nothing that will get this to work between the two of us. We’ve tried too many times before and I don’t see it working”.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      You worry too much about what will go wrong. This mindset is self-defeating as it tends to always make you think and react from a place of fear/negativity. There is also the possibility that things will go well.

      If she says, “I don’t know” it’s because she doesn’t really know how she feels about you or if she even wants to be with you. So stop asking her about how she feels about you, asking her if there will be another chance or if she wants to work on the relationship. Instead focus your efforts on showing her what can be possible if she decided to come back… how things will be different and better. That’s what is going to help her “know” things can work between the two of you.

  3. says: Comzone

    I told my ex I wanted space to heal because I was hurt that he did not want to work on the relationship. He said he respects my wish. I told him it’s best not to have any contact for a clean break, he did not reply but unfriended me and deleted my contact. It’s been 4 months and I still miss him and think about him everyday. Do you think he has moved on, should I reach out?

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      I don’t know. You can try to reach out and hope that he responds.

      This is the problem with telling someone you want space or ‘no contact’, it’s like cutting your nose to spite your face. It’s self-defeating.

  4. says: dr.grind

    I have been in no contact for 7 weeks and my ex hasn’t contacted me. I’m beginning to think that she really doesn’t care. At this point I’m thinking of nwriting her an email telling her I’m moving on, then I’ll wait for her to contact me.

  5. says: Jessica

    This is my story, only I reconnected with my ex 9 days after he ended our relationship over a month ago. I initiate all our contacts, which are light & positive. He answers almost immediately & positively. But I sense apprehension even though he’s the one who suggested a friendship. So I’m not planning to explain myself just yet, let alone ask him to get back together. Nevertheless, I really wanted to say your articles are really uplifting & energising. I was so lost until I found your site. Bless you for the work you do!

    1. You’re right. Not only does emotional pain make things worse/hopeless than they really are, it also can make it difficult to implement advice that actually makes us feel better or helps us move forward.

      This is why it is important to deal with emotional pain before attempting something like getting one’s ex back. If you don’t process the pain, it will ALWAYS get in the way, somehow.