Continuing from the part 2 on how attachment styles feel and react to threat, protest behaviour is destructive behaviour caused by feeling rejected and/or abandoned. It may even feel like an avoidant has no more feelings and wants to be left alone. This prompts an anxious person to do things that push an avoidant further away.
Protest behaviour includes:
Overcontact: Incessant texting, calling, sending angry texts etc
Punitive silence: Playing mind games, ignoring texts, not taking calls, unfriending an ex, blocking access on social media, changing a phone number; and/or waiting to see how long it takes for an ex to reach out.
Stalking: Showing up at an ex’s home, workplace or stalk them on social media. In some extreme cases it may lead to physically harming an ex or cause harm to someone an ex cares about.
Threats: Giving ultimatums, and threatening to walk away hoping they’ll beg you to not do so etc.
Making an ex feel jealous: talking about other attractive options, posting photos showing you’re happy alone your ex, or with another guy or woman etc.
Anxious preoccupied or fearful avoidant leaning anxious doesn’t care that their actions are damaging their chances of getting back together. They just want their ex’s attention and they want it bad.
The anxious-avoidant break-up often extend over a period of time
Most dismissive avoidants will put a stop to the protest behaviour by asking for space, not responding or cutting off contact. This is difficult for a fearful avoidant because they want to keep contact but also need distance.
And while an ex responding provides some reassurance for an anxious preoccupied attachment style, it does very little to deactivate the hyperactivated attachment system. An anxious preoccupied may even act like they are not bothered by their ex pulling away, but they can’t keep it in for long. The nature of attachment anxiety is that they need to know that everything is okay, they didn’t to anything to upset their ex and if they did, they want their ex to know they are sorry.
Why can’t we be okay… why can’t everything go back to how it was?
All an anxious preoccupied wants is for everything to be okay again but sometimes they take it too far. They start demanding an explanation or even an apology for their ex not responding or calling back (as they promised). Hearing their ex apologize is important to an aggressive anxious preoccupied. An apology means their ex cares and still loves them.
Since most anxious preoccupied people attract dismissive avoidants, a dismissive’ s reaction to protest behaviour is likely to be flippant. But they can also be insensitive and downright hurtful when they reach their breaking point.
Anxious preoccupieds act ways that they would want their ex to act towards them
Anxious preoccupied men and women crave attention and affection, and in relationships they give it their everything. Unfortunately, they give way too much at their own expense. They also sometimes expect way too much from their partners.
For example, they:
- Send more texts than most because they’d want their ex to send them many texts too.
- Spend more energy and time making sure their ex knows how much they love them. They hope their ex does the same.
- Tell their ex they love them and are not “giving up on them”. This is the kind of reassurance they need from their ex.
To them, they’re showing that they care, are being supportive or trying to connect, and they are. They just do it in ways that go beyond what their ex is comfortable with, wants or is ready for.
They can’t understand how someone can be ‘too busy” to respond to a text. Why they wouldn’t feel like “talking” to someone they love. As far as an anxious preoccupied is concerned, if you care about someone you should respond to their text immediately. If you love someone, you should want to talk to them all the time.
When the relationship ends, they have a hard time accepting that the other person doesn’t want the relationship anymore. To them if you love someone, you do not leave them. This where most of the needy and sometimes stalking behaviour comes from. They think it is proof they love their ex.
Avoidants ask for space even when they know they’re not coming back
An avoidant may have been on the fence about getting back together, but after seeing how an anxious pre-occupied handled the break-up, they don’t want to come back.
Due to the nature of attachment avoidance, most avoidants do not communicate that they are not coming back. If they still care about them, they will ask for no contact for a specified number of days or weeks. They hope that after a couple of weeks, an anxious preoccupied will be less needy and clingy.
If they have no feelings for their ex, they will disappear into thin air. And sometimes avoidants take advantage of their ex’s attachment anxiety. They know cutting off contact will make an anxious preoccupied more anxious, afraid and worried but either they don’t care, or think it’s a brilliant strategy to make an anxious ex miss them and/or beg them to come back. And sadly, it works.
Until an anxious preoccupied realizes that an avoidant will not come back because they are trying harder and doing more, they will continue with the destructive behaviours.
Securely attached set boundaries to contain an anxious preoccupied’s destructive post break-up behaviour
If their ex is securely attached, they will communicate clearly that they are not comfortable with the attention or affection. They understand that an anxious preoccupied jumps to worse-case scenarios when they feel ignored or when their feelings are dismissed as just being needy, so they try to provide the anxious preoccupied what they need to feel safe and loved.
Instead of grudgingly responding to a text every five minutes, they set a routine 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 what stage things are in your effort to get back together.
They also set boundaries and communicate the consequences of violating the boundaries they’ve set for their anxious-preoccupied ex.
Providing some sort of predictability for someone with an anxious preoccupied attachment style helps their anxiety.