This is a 12-part overview explaining how attachment styles can help you get back your ex. If you’re new to attachment theory and attachment styles, I guarantee you that you will never see dating and relationships the same way again. Once you’re done reading this 12-part series and learning more about attachment styles, you’ll wonder what you’ve been doing up until now.
Attachment theory is no ‘magic wand”, but it’s to date the most accurate science-based relationship framework for understanding relationships, understanding ourselves and understand each other better. In my decades of helping exes get back together, I’ve seen more people get back their ex with the help of attachment styles than ever before. If you understand attachment styles, you’re steps ahead in the process.
The origins and premise of attachment theory
Attachment theory was originally developed by John Bowlby, a British psychoanalyst and made popular by his colleague, Mary Ainsworth’s strange situation laboratory test. She developed a test for understanding the relationship between a child and an attachment figure; and how children responded to being separated from the attachment figure.
She found that when the attachment figure was available, accessible, and attentive the child developed a healthy attachment. When separated from the attachment figure, these children experienced distress but were able to regulate emotions and feelings because they were confident of their attachment figure’s love and care. When the attachment figure returned, they exhibited behaviour that suggested they were happy to be reunited and sought comfort from the attachment figure. These children are said to have a secure attachment style.
When the attachment figure wasn’t available, accessible, and attentive in a consistent way; or the child experienced some form of attachment trauma (neglect, violence, or abuse), the child developed an unhealthy attachment or insecure attachment style. When children with an insecure attachment style were separated from the attachment figure they either experienced extreme separation anxiety or didn’t appeared detached and distant.
1) Children who experienced extreme separation anxiety when reunited with the attachment figure exhibited behaviour which suggested that they want to be comforted; but that they also want to “punish” the attachment figure for leaving. They cling to the attachment figure but don’t feel soothed and comforted when they return. This behaviour is what is known as an anxious attachment style.
2) Children who didn’t appear too distressed by the separation when reunited with the attachment figure actively avoided contact with the attachment figure and sometimes turned their attention to play objects. They didn’t seem distressed when the attachment figure was gone and didn’t seek comfort when the attachment figure returned. This behaviour is what is known as an avoidant attachment style.
3) Children who exhibited both anxious and avoidant behaviours are said to have an anxious-avoidant attachment style. They exhibit anxiety but the main behaviour is one of confusion and conflicted awkwardness. This is why they’re said to have a disorganized or fearful avoidant attachment style.
Secure attachment in romantic relationships and break-ups
From an attachment perspective, our early childhood experiences with our primary attachment figures or caregivers play a significant role in how we as adults seek connection and form close relationships; and how we react when our sense of security and safety is threatened.
Newer studies show that experiences later in adulthood also have an effect on our attachment style, but on most part, our attachment and separation behaviours are pretty much consistent and similar to early childhood experiences.
For example, when subjects were asked to describe think about their relationships, securely attached individuals said they find it relatively easy to get close to others and are comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. They don’t worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to them.
They’re confident about their ability to be close to someone and ‘show love’ without being smothering or needy; and view relationships as both safe and rewarding. They also have reasonable expectations that others will return their love. Most of their relationships last long and when they don’t, they approach a break-up calmly and in a constructive way.
When trying to attract back their ex, people with a healthy attachment don’t get anxious when they don’t receive a text from their ex. They are usually more positive and more realistic about their chances because they believe that partners (and exes) generally have good intentions and that any negative behaviours their partner (or ex) may display are temporary and reversible. Only when there is clear evidence that their ex acted with malicious intent or is purposefully being hurtful do securely attached people attribute bad intentions to an ex and act to protect themselves. This self-confidence allows them to be proactive and consistent in both words and actions – and it pays off. Compared to insecurely attached, securely attached individuals are more likely to get back their ex.
Insecure attachment in romantic relationships and why they struggle
Individuals with an insecure attachment style think about their relationship differently from people with a secure attachment style. Insecure attachment style includes:
Anxious attachment style (also referred to as Anxious Preoccupied)
When asked about their relationships, subjects with an anxious attachment said they find that others are reluctant to get as close as they’d like. And that they often worry that their partner doesn’t really love them or won’t want to stay with them. They also said they want to get very close to their partner, but this sometimes scares people away.
Common traits: Over-communicate, over-text, overanalyze relationship and a partner’s words and actions. Crave and value connection, love, intimacy and relationships over being alone. Can be preoccupied with a relationship partner to a point of being needy and clingy.
Dismissive avoidant attachment style (also referred to as Dismissive)
Subject with an avoidant attachment said they were uncomfortable being close to others; find it difficult to trust them completely, and difficult to allow themselves to depend on them. They feel nervous when anyone gets too close, and often, others want them to be closer than they feel comfortable being.
Common traits: Distancing and valuing their own space over connection and relationships. Are uncomfortable expressing vulnerability and have a hard time expressing emotions and opening up; and can be cold and insensitive to a partner’s feelings and needs.
Fearful avoidants attachment style (also referred to as Disorganized or Anxious-Avoidant)
Alternates between anxious and avoidant attachment styles. Crave connection, love and intimacy but feel unworthy and afraid of losing the love and closeness once they have it.
Common traits: Fear of getting hurt, sensitive to rejection and abandonment, have a hard time trusting others; and may panic when things start to get serious.
I discuss each attachment style in more detail in the next articles in this 12-part series.
Attachment styles pairings in relationships
The most common relationships are:
- Anxious attachment style paired with a fearful avoidant attachment style
- Anxious attachment style paired with a dismissive avoidant style attachment
- Fearful avoidant attachment style paired with dismissive avoidant attachment style
How I use attachment styles to help you attract back your ex
I am securely attached, and as you will learn in my articles, books and YouTube Videos, I have a secure attachment outlook and approach to relationships; and to how you go about attracting back an ex.
My approach to attracting back an ex is not to perpetuate insecure attachment beliefs about relationships; and maintain anxious and avoidant behaviours. My goal is to help my clients approach attracting back their ex from a secure perspective and recreate and transform their relationships.
1) Most coaches advice “no contact”, I do NOT
People who are attracted to my advice do not want to do “no contact”. They want to try to rebuild the connection they had through open lines of communication; but without pushing their ex further away or appearing needy. In other words, they’re looking for a balanced approach. Others have concerns about “no contact” being attachment avoidance; and in some ways a mind game.
In this 12-part series, you will learn some of the ways different attachment styles rub the other the wrong way; and things you can do create the balance between connection and giving yourselves enough space to work through your individual issues; and issues in the relationship.
2) I advocate for genuine empathy and self-awareness
Call me naïve, but I believe that we all seek love and connection the best way we know how. Most people don’t like that they hurt the people they love and care about; and end up hurting themselves too. They want to be better and do better in their relationships.
This 12-part series will give you a good start for understanding attachment styles and the opportunity it offers to be better and do better.
3) I do not believe in tricks or manipulation
I do not see attachment styles as a “set of tricks” to use to get an ex back. I use attachment styles as a tool to provide safety, security, care, love; and for personal growth.
Like all powerful tools, attachment theory and styles is subject to abuse. We can use attachment styles to make the person we love feel safe, secure, loved and cared for; but it can also be used to manipulate for personal advantage or gain. For example: trigger attachment anxiety to make an ex miss you and want to come back.
Attachment styles is your best chance to attract back your ex
Like explained above, we each seek love and connection the way we learned how to. My goal for writing this series is to:
- Help more men and women explore their attachment styles in more depth.
- Recognize the behaviours that are causing them pain and heartache.
- See how someone you love and want to be with interprets these behaviours.
- Change these behaviours and change the anxious-avoidant dynamic.
- Attract back your avoidant ex, anxious ex or securely attached ex.
This could be your best chance to attract back your ex. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about your ex’s attachment style and what you can do to successfully get back together; AND also answer any questions on how you can become more secure.