Attachment Styles And Why Your Ex Doesn’t Want You Back

Did you ever consider the fact that the only reason your ex doesn’t want you back is because they have an anxious attachment style?

It’s a known fact in attachment styles research that exes with anxious and fearful attachment styles (leaning anxious) are the most likely to come back. Because they value relationships over everything; including their own best interest sometimes; they are more willing to give the relationship another chance. But there is a catch. Exes with anxious attachment styles need to feel safe before they can come back.

So, how do you make someone with an anxious attachment style feel safe?

Let’s begin with you doing this simple exercise.

1. Imagine a situation in which you’re faced with an important decision to make. The decision could impact the rest of your life. You feel that you need to talk to someone who knows about the situation. Someone who knows how much you’ve sacrificed, invested and have to lose.

2. Next, imagine reaching out to your ex about the situation. Think of three words that describe how you are feeling. Are any of those words anxious, afraid, uneasy, hesitant, worried, stressed?

3. Now reverse the situation. Imagine your ex with a life problem they can’t solve on their own. You previously helped them in similar situations, and it brought the two of you closer.

4. Imagine your ex with a phone in hand thinking of texting you. Think of three words that describe how they must be feeling. Are any of those words anxious, afraid, uneasy, hesitant, worried, stressed?

Anxious, afraid, uneasy, hesitant, worried, and stressed is what you feel when you feel unsure if your ex will be available or responsive.

I say this again and again, making your ex feel safe should be your number one priority

Attachment theory defines feeling safe or secure as having an unshakable confidence in the availability and responsiveness of a relationship partner.

John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory emphasized availability and responsiveness as the core tenets of attachment safety and security.

The premise of attachment security is that availability and responsiveness to one’s attachment-related needs makes the person feel safe and secure about the relationship.

People with an anxious attachment style worry way too much if an ex will be available and responsive; but most of all, they worry that they will be rejected or abandoned again.

By being available and responsive you make an ex with an anxious and fearful attachment styles feel safe to want to come back to the relationship.

An ex with an anxious attachment style will be wary of coming back if they feel unsafe

This is something some people doing no contact do not know or realize about no contact. Some know but just don’t care.

When an attachment figure, in this case an ex cuts off contact; it triggers the fear of rejection and abandonment someone with an an anxious and fearful attachment experience as a child. Once triggered it causes them to  frantically try to re-establish connection with an attachment figure. If the attachment figure is not available or responsive, the attachment system remains fully or partially activated.

In the short term, the fear of rejection and/or abandonment will make your ex miss you, contact you and your ex may even come. You could say no contact worked. It doesn’t matter that your ex came back because you re-traumatized them.

When you re-create someone’s attachment trauma, you become the unsafe attachment figure

If your ex is aware of attachment styles and what no contact is designed to do (and many exes are becoming more and more aware of attachment styles); they will not want you back because you are unsafe. Even exes who are not aware of attachment styles are aware that something you did is making them feel unsafe.

The damage to the foundation of the relationship may be deeper than you realize. Once you use someone’s attachment trauma against them, it will be very hard for that person to trust that you will always have their back. This is why many people after no contact struggle to emotionally connect and/or get an ex to open up.

Even when your ex comes back, the fear that you will abandon them again will make your ex cautious and unable to fully open up emotionally or fully trust you. Most relationships don’t last because of this nagging fear in someone who an anxious attachment style.

They many even still love you very much; but your ex doesn’t want you back because you are unsafe

When you are trying to attract back someone with attachment anxiety, the feeling that they are not safe comes from:

  • Having no confidence that you will respond.
  • If you respond, will you want to hear what they have to say.
  • If you do, will you be there for them in a safe and calming manner (or will you re-traumatize them).

They may even be afraid that you will see them reaching out in a vulnerable way as a weakness to exploit or take advantage of, and hurt them again.

These are real fears from past experiences. The people who said they loved them acted and did things that made them feel even unsafe, suspicious and distrustful.

This is why when a client with a dismissive avoidant attachment complains to me that their anxious-preoccupied ex goes crazy when they don’t respond to a text message; the first thing I ask them is, do you think that your actions are causing some of the craziness? Maybe not intentionally but unintentionally?

Most of them after deep thought say they could do better at making their ex feel safe.

You are not responsible for your ex’s actions and can’t control someone else’s reality; but if you want someone with attachment anxiety to stop acting needy, clingy, suspicious and distrustful; stop doing things that make them feel unsafe.

If you want an ex with an anxious attachment to stop acting crazy, stop making them feel unsafe

You can’t ignore someone with attachment anxiety; disappear for days or weeks trying to make them miss you; make them worried that they may never hear from you again; and generally withhold love and affection from someone who needs love and affection to feel safe and secure; and then expect your ex to open up and trust you with their heart.

If an anxious-avoidant relationship has any change of working, one person has to be the secure base from which the other person can learn to love and be loved without worry, fear or need to distance. This ensures the stability of the relationship.

A secure base is:

  1. Is available and responsive in a safe manner
  2. Shows interest in their ex
  3. Is sensitive to their ex’s emotional needs (including their need for closeness and/or distance)
  4. Encourages their ex to express their feelings and thoughts without judgement
  5. Is willing and able to be an empathetic listener
  6. Reflects an open-minded attitude and regard towards their ex
  7. Is willing and able to understand the problems and concerns their ex has about the relationship and respond appropriately
  8. Uses cooperative communication instead of controlling, demanding, or advising/psychoanalyzing
  9. Is able to recognize when their ex is in distress and bothered by something
  10. Is willing to help and support their ex but only when asked and if does not conflict with their own needs.

If you’re not doing these things, you are not making your ex with attachment anxiety feel safe to come back.

Making someone you love and care about feel safe and secure should be your No.1 priority if you want a happy, stable and lasting relationship.

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