Believe it or not avoidants want contact too; they just don’t need it the way and anxious person needs it. If they didn’t want any contact at all they wouldn’t be trying to date and have relationships.
Avoidants also understand that someone with an anxious attachment style wants contact; lots of contact, like all the time. And this is where avoidants have a problem with contact.
Why avoidants avoid contact
Contact becomes a problem for an avoidant when you make contact a problem they’ve to deal with. Something they have to push back on; or get overwhelmed by. Unfortunately, many anxious people don’t know this. They just assume avoidants are ignoring them, avoiding them or don’t want contact.
Hopefully if you’re reading this, you will realize that contact is not the problem. The problem is how you go about getting your needs for connection and closeness met.
I have worked with so many men and women with attachment anxiety, and I can tell when we are approaching “when will my ex start meeting my need for more contact, connection and closeness?” phase. Usually it is at that stage when things are picking up momentum and/or an ex is showing signs of interest.
If there was no contact for months, it doesn’t even get to ‘picking up momentum’. They suppressed their need for contact, connection and closeness to complete the no contact program. Now that they’ve completed the “no contact” period, they crave contact, connection and closeness more than before.
No contact does not fix your need to connect and get close to an avoidant ex
No contact does not fix attachment anxiety, it only helps to suppresses the emotions that come with it. When it becomes a go-to answer to attachment anxiety, you slowly become a fearful avoidant leaning anxious. This is sometimes worse than being straight-up anxious-preoccupied. Now you have the traits of attachment anxiety AND attachment avoidance.
Here is the thing: If contact, connection and closeness is what you need; the need will still be there when you re-open the lines of communication. This does not apply only to people who do no contact only. It applies to people who maintained contact with an ex as well. It sometimes even applies to people who have done work on themselves and feel a little bit more securely attached.
Throughout the process of attracting back your ex, you will have moments when feel that your need to connect and get close is not well received. You may even find yourself asking, “when will my ex start meeting my need for more contact and closeness?” and that’s normal.
What is not normal is when you start doubting yourself, doubting the process and doubting an ex’s words, actions, intentions and love.
Anxious attachers are capable of being securely attached with the right tools and mindset
When I provide a safe environment for the anxious attacher to reflect on their own behaviours and attachment style or can give them the reassurance they need, most people with attachment anxiety are able to move past their fears and anxiety. They are able to wait for the right time to increase contact, ask to meet in person or ask to get back together. What this says is that anxious attachers are capable of being securely attached with the right tools and mindset.
Sometimes however, anxiety and fear wins. No matter how much I tell someone that their dismissive avoidant ex’s not replying to texts for hours/days doesn’t mean an avoidant is avoiding contact all together. And that their ex will start to respond more, initiate contact, agree to dates or ask them out when they feel comfortable to do so; their attachment anxiety still pushes them to self-sabotage and ruin their chances of getting back together.
Anxious needing contact and avoidant avoiding contact
The anxious-preoccupied and dismissive-avoidant dynamics is especially delicate because they are the exact opposite of the other. Anxious-preoccupied attachers rate high in anxiety and low in avoidance. Dismissive-avoidants rate low in anxiety and high in avoidance. When an anxious attacher gets more anxious, a dismissive-avoidant become more avoidant.
Dismissive avoidants see an anxious-preoccupied attacher’s need to connect and get close as someone intruding into their independence and/or lacking self-control and self-restraint.
Dismissive avoidants also see an anxious or fearful avoidants sudden request for space or no contact as someone reacting because they can’t get what they want.
Sometimes both people want the same thing. The both want things to move slowly and happen naturally. But attachment anxiety makes it hard to move slowly or slow things down. Attachment avoidance on the other hand doesn’t allow things to happen naturally because dismissive-avoidants militarily control how close others can get.
If you are an anxious attacher who has worked so hard to get things to where there is momentum and/or your ex is showing interest by following the Secure Attachment Model in Dating Your Ex, don’t prove your dismissive-avoidant ex’s fears about you right by reacting with attachment anxiety when your ex show signs of pulling away.
Always remember your ex knows you, knows how you get anxious and how you react
1. Unless there is reason to change strategy; don’t change what you’re doing because it feels like an avoidant is pulling away. It may just be your attachment anxiety seeing things as worse than they are.
2. Watch how your ex re-engages because that will tell you whether they are just being the dismissive-avoidant that they are, or whether these are signs that your dismissive-avoidant ex is moving on or has moved on.
3. If you catch yourself having an anxious reaction, For example:
- Worrying that you will never hear from your ex again.
- Wanting to apologize for what you think (but don’t know) is the reason your ex hasn’t responded.
- Trying to fix what was wrong with the old relationship
- Reaching out to your ex for support when you should be reaching out to your friends or family
- Doing too much to show your ex how much you love and care about them
– and all those other things you know you shouldn’t be doing but do anyway. Instead of following through on anxious instincts, do something different.
To get a better idea of how often each attachment style comes back, I have written detailed articles on individual attachment styles: why they come back, what makes them come back and how long it takes them to come back. You will find the links at the bottom.