Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 4 – Avoidant Ex May Still Love You

While someone with an attachment anxiety reacts to a break-up with protest behaviours, avoidants distance from an ex they still love. The reasons fearful avoidants distance from an ex they still have feelings for and love are different from a dismissive avoidant ex.

This is probably the best time to explain a little bit more about the avoidant attachment style.

Dismissive-Avoidant Vs. Fearful-Avoidant

There are two types of avoidant attachment styles: Dismissive Avoidant and Fearful Avoidant. Both are characterized by:

  1. A strong desire to protect oneself from emotional pain due to rejection or abandonment and
  2. Emotionally pulling away, shutting down or distancing when they should be reassuring, supportive, attentive, assertive or showing that they care.

But there are also significant differences between the two attachment styles.

Dismissive Avoidants (low anxiety, high avoidance)

Dismissive avoidants want love, closeness and affection and most of them have no problems finding someone to fall in love with them. They come across as confident, independent and have “it” together – three traits that are very attractive to both the securely attached and the anxiously attached. The problem with dismissive avoidants is that they don’t know how to be close or be with someone who wants them to ‘show love”. As a result, they can come across as detached and aloof. This is all a cover up for the fact that they don’t know how to make someone feel loved and cared for.

It’s not that dismissive avoidants don’t feel love or don’t care, most of them do. They just don’t think it’s that important to be close or show love.

A break-up with a dismissive avoidant ex plays out something like this:

Anxious preoccupied: Show me love. I need to know you love me.

Dismissive Avoidant: You’re being needy.

Anxious preoccupied: I’m not needy. I want to know we’re okay and that everything is fine between us.

Dismissive Avoidant: I don’t know if we’re okay and I don’t want to think or talk about it.

Anxious preoccupied: But I need to know you love me.

Dismissive Avoidant: I need to be away from you right now.

Anxious preoccupied: Why are you pulling away? All I asked was that you show you care and love me.

Dismissive Avoidant: I need to be left alone.

Anxious preoccupied: Please, don’t leave me. I need you.

Dismissive Avoidant: I need to be alone right now.

Dismissive Avoidants use rigid boundaries to limit closeness

A dismissive avoidant ex may still have feelings for you and even love you, but because they worry that you’re investing in the relationship more than they are (or want to), they will from time to time distance when things get “too intense”. They also have rigid boundaries about how much time they want to spend together, how close you can get and what kind of relationship they want. When these boundaries are violated, they react with distancing behaviours and sometimes hostility.

Some dismissive avoidants are aware of their attachment style and are honest about their inability to be close or show love, but others believe that when they meet the “right person”, everything will fall into place. Yet even when they meet the person who checks all the boxes, someone securely attached, they still complain about not feeling what they think they should feel: “By now I should be in love”, “My feelings are not growing”, “I need to feel more in love”, etc. Most dismissive avoidants go out of their way to find something “wrong” with the person they say checks all the boxes; just to prove that they’re the wrong person.

Again, this does not mean that a dismissive avoidant ex has lost feelings for you or does not love you. They may still have feelings for you but are not in touch with their own feelings to understand how they feel about you.

A few times, I’ve told a client, “Maybe you are not feeling what you want to feel because you don’t know what you want to feel or how to feel it” (see: Can A Dismissive Avoidant Truly Love?), and they agree.

Fearful-Avoidants struggle with confidence and self-doubt

Fearful avoidants also want love, closeness and affection but unlike dismissive avoidants, they struggle with confidence, self-doubt and trusting others. They don’t believe they are ‘enough” or can give “enough” in a relationship and worry that if they get too close to someone, that person will eventually leave, and it’ll hurt. Many fearful avoidants play hard to get and other mind games to see how much someone will chase them; and show that they’re worth loving.

A break-up with a fearful avoidant plays out something like this:

Anxious preoccupied: Show me love. I need to know you love me.

Fearful Avoidant: I am doing the best I can. What more do you want from me?

Anxious preoccupied: I want to know that you love me.

Fearful Avoidant: What do you want me to say or do to show you I love you?

Anxious preoccupied: I am not happy.

Fearful Avoidant: I am sorry I am making you miserable. I think I should leave.

Anxious preoccupied: Why are you leaving?

Fearful Avoidant: It’s what’s best for both of us.

Anxious preoccupied: But I don’t want you to leave.

Fearful Avoidant: I can’t give you what you need. (Leaves or cuts off all contact).

Fearful avoidants ignore their own attachment needs and avoid emotional involvement because they have no clue how to nurture interdependence in close relationships. They are also called ambivalent-avoidants because they long for connection and closeness but fear both at the same time.

Fearful avoidants don’t know whether to love or hate their ex

I have found working with both fearful avoidants that they often have a hard time forgiving. When trying to attract them back you’ll find them to be hostile, resentful and angry. It’s like they don’t know whether to love or hate their ex. Even when they are the ones trying to attract back an ex, from time to time their resentment comes through.

Unlike dismissive avoidants who on most part don’t believe they have done anything wrong to cause the break-up and feel the punishment fits the crime, self-aware fearful avoidants believe they are the reason the relationship didn’t work out and if they are hurting it’s because they became needy, allowed themselves to get close or be taken for granted.

They don’t want to remain close to their ex because it hurts; but they also don’t want to distance themselves because that hurts too. Most fearful avoidants do “limited contact” because allows them to stay close; but distant at the same time.

Next: Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 5 – Avoidant Wants to Text But Not Meet

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.

How A Fearful Avoidant Ex Comes Back – Explained In Detail

What Makes A Dismissive Avoidant Ex Miss You And Come Back?

Why Anxious Attachment Ex Doesn’t Want You Back (What To Do)

Do Exes With A Secure Attachment Reach Out And Come Back?

Am I Crazy To Want My Dismissive Avoidant Ex Back?

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  1. says: Jen

    I’ve been working through the book, and my avoidant ex and I have started hanging out more (I think he’s fearful leaning avoidant) and it’s been fun and fairly relaxed, I limit my text contact, and am working to make sure he feels emotionally safe by showing I can manage my own emotions and problems.=. Most recently, he started reaching out and offering assistance (can he bring anything on his way to dinner, etc) should I read this as a good sign that we’re beginning to emotionally connect and that he still has feelings for me?

  2. says: Carol

    Is an FA able to access their feelings that they shut down, again once they break up? My ex, FA, said he shut down his feelings after I asked for space for both of us to work on ourselves, which ended up us breaking up because he couldn’t feel them again after a month. He said he valued our friendship, would miss me a lot and wanted me in his life as a friend. I declined, as I feel I have to move forward.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Yes avoidants can access their feelings that they shut down after the break-up. But it takes them much longer to access and process their feelings because they try not to feel anything after the break-up as a strategy to cope and function.

      Whether after they process their feeling they’ll want to give the relationship another chance depends on many things including how long they’ve been deactivated and how strong their feelings for you were before they deactivated.

              1. says: Saggy

                If I’m still taking to an ex, I may still deactivate but it’s a much slower process than if there’s no contact. It’s a case of out of sight, out of mind. I’m dismissive avoidant and don’t really think about my exes that much.

  3. says: Jesse Blanc

    I’m just discovering attachment styles reading your articles and believe my ex is a dismissive avoidant attachment style. She let me know early in the relationship that she had problems with intimacy, didn’t like cuddling, kissing or PDAs. We texted here and there but not a lot. She had had only 1 serious relationship that wasn’t good so I chalked it up to lack of experience. Everything else between us was good except for this.

    I was frustrated with no intimacy and told her I needed more from her. She pulled away and did not respond to my texts or calls. I blocked her and went full no contact. After 30 days, I unblocked her and asked if we could talk. She said she wasn’t sure if we should talk. I told her I needed to understand what went wrong to get closure and she agreed to meet.

    Basically she took responsibility for lack of intimacy and said things got “too deep” for her. I asked if she meant she was falling in love with me and got scared, and she said it wasn’t that. She cares about me very much but she doesn’t think she loves me. She said she has a hard time opening up and it’s something she needs to work on for herself. She also said we both need time apart but if I reached out she would respond because she cares about me. I was devastated and haven’t reached out.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      You’re right. Sounds like classic dismissive avoidant.

      40 OMG Signs You’re A Classic Dismissive Avoidant

      She is right though that this is something she needs to work on for herself.

      You didn’t say how long you were together. As I’ve said in my videos and articles, dismissive avoidants are more open to giving a relationship another chance if the relationship was relatively good, and if it was longer than 3 years. From what you say, your relationship was relatively good except for lack of intimacy, which she said she’s working on.

      What Makes A Dismissive Avoidant Ex Miss You And Come Back?

  4. says: Madelyn

    “show they care with acts of service” is so true.

    My DA ex does the same thing. He checks up on me every few days (I’ve debilitating illness that outs me in bed for days), has offered to walk my dogs, and paint my front porch without me asking. Initially I said no to his acts of service because I didn’t want to be just another ex he’s friends with, but the more I read about their attachment style, the more I opened up to his way of caring. At this point, I y don’t mind if we’ll just be friends but I hope we can be more, if that makes sense.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      It makes sense. I don’t know the circumstances of your break-up, but what I advice with a ‘friendly DA ex” is to make clear that you are happy with being friends but you would want more than just friends in the future. If you are direct and clear about what you want and don’t want to do (without putting pressure, criticizing or blaming), most DAs will appreciate it. This is how they communicate though sometimes it comes across as cold to APs and FAs. Clarity is very important to DAs.

  5. says: Mika47

    I think my DA ex uses my son as an excuse to see me. We dated for 3 yrs and he and my son have a strong bond, so strong my son blamed me for the breakup. I ended it because he didn’t want to commit. He comes to pick up my son and when he drops him back he lingers around sometimes stays for dinner. He’s helped fix things around the house that need a man and even came one weekend just to cut the grass.

    Yangki said in one of her videos that DAs stay friends with exs because they can turn off their feelings and just be platonic. But I’m wondering, it’s 6 months since the breakup and he’s not dating or seeing anyone as far as I know. Could he still have feelings for me but maybe doesn’t want to say it because he thinks I’ll reject him?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Yes, he still has feelings for you. Based on your story, him having feelings for you was never the issue. The issue was commitment. Like many DAs, he probably feels bad that he can not give you what you want and either trying to make up for it, or hanging around you hoping that with time, he will want to commit and the two of you will get back together.

      There is also the possibility that if he does not have children of his own, he could have a strong parent attachment to your son and can’t imagine the two of them separated. It may even be bringing up some childhood trauma re: his relationship with his dad.

      1. says: Mika47

        I’ve been thinking about this too. His dad left him mom and remarried when he was around my son’s age. He said his parents divorce was the reason he can’t see himself married. I mean the man is 51 and never been married, had one long-term relationship that lasted 7 years, the rest have been a year or months long. I am his second longest relationship.

        You said in one of your videos that in your experience, DAs come back if the relationship was longer than 3 years. We were together slightly over 3 years.

        1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

          Yes, that has been my experience. If the relationship was longer than 3 years, they most likely developed a strong bond and are more willing to try things again.

          I would not be surprised if the current situation is ideal for him as a DA. He sees you when he feels like it, gets to play Dad to your son, be the man to fix things around the house, no intimacy/pressure to be intimate and no commitment. It’s like you’re trying things again but the only thing is that this works for him but not for you.

          But it could also be that this is his way of showing he cares. Dismissive avoidants may not be as expressive about their feelings as anxious people. They show they care with acts of service.

  6. says: Sapro09

    My avoidant ex ended the relationship saying he couldn’t make me happy, and after learning about attachment styles and reading stories of avoidant exs, I now realise my ex did his best to give me enough reassurance that he loved me. I wasn’t able to see or feel it because I was anxious he would break up with me anytime. Even during the breakup, he was sad and said he really loved me but we’re incompatible and he has to move on. We haven’t spoken in over 2 years but I still miss him very much.

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