Can An Avoidant Ex Make A Secure Attachment Anxious?

Can an avoidant ex make a secure attachment anxious? The simple answer is yes, an avoidant can make someone with a secure attachment switch to anxious. But it’s more likely that instead of an avoidant making a secure more anxious, secures make avoidants less avoidant.

Research after research shows that if someone with an avoidant attachment (or an anxious attachment) has a long term relationship with someone with a secure attachment, an avoidant (or anxious attachment) felt more positively about themselves, about their partner and about the relationship, and they acted and functioned differently from their attachment style. Instead of avoidants making secures more anxious, secures made avoidants more secure.
But there is also evidence that a long term relationship with an avoidant can make someone with a secure attachment anxious especially if the secure attachment is earned secure. Some attachment and early childhood trauma experts have suggested that it is entirely possible to be well down the path toward earned security yet still also get triggered from past traumas.

Continuous secure attachment is different from earned secure attachment

For people new to attachment styles, “earned security” or “earned secure attachment” is when you have an insecure attachment from childhood experiences but become secure either through long-term relationship(s) with secure individuals also know as secure base or attachment stabilizers, therapy, or intense self-work. Earned secures are therefore different (not significantly) from people who have always been securely attached from childhood also known as continuous secures.

The implicit assumption of earned security is that one has faced their deep inner pain and/or traumatic childhood experiences – recognized, acknowledged, processed and overcome their negative original attachment programming (thinking patterns, beliefs and behaviours). These people often have to work through the trauma or attachment changing experience to regain their secure attachment.

Secure attachment can switch to anxious after a breakup

A relationship between earned secure and an avoidant often begins really well and a secure can feel secure and also provide an avoidant safety and security. As long as they remain secure the relationship can feel safe for both people. But if an avoidant partners behaviours become increasing worse, it can trigger an earned secures unresolved attachment issues.

The more unresolved attachment issues an earned secure has, the more progressively worse the relationship gets. If the earned secure had an anxious attachment prior to becoming secure, they start to show anxious attachment behaviours. If the earned secure had an avoidant attachment prior to becoming secure, they start to show avoidant attachment behaviours.

Many earned secures are able to regain their secure attachment after the break-up, but some lose their earned security after the break-up and remain anxious throughout the process of trying to get back together with an avoidant ex. If their avoidant ex goes on long periods of time without responding they feel anxious and dysregulated. They also over invest in trying to get back an ex because they’re distraught that they don’t feel as secure as they should.

It’s important for people who just became securely attachment to always remember that they may still have the same thinking patterns, beliefs and behaviours that they’ve always had but now have the awareness to recognize those thoughts and thinking patterns and better tools for processing and overcoming their insecure attachment tendencies. And to remember to be patient and have empathy for their changing selves when they don’t always act secure. Just because you become anxious or avoidant every now and then doesn’t mean you haven’t earned your secure attachment.

It’s also important for people who just became securely attachment to recognize and acknowledge when they’re being “dragged back” to insecure attachment.

To switch back from anxious to secure, focus back on you

Most earned secures are able to regain their secure attachment after the break-up recognize that they are not as secure as they want to be and trying to get back with an avoidant ex will undermine their efforts to become permanently secure.

So maybe the question is not “Can an avoidant ex make a secure attachment anxious?”, the question is “Does a relationship with an avoidant focus the light on our attachment trauma and if so, what do we do about it? Do we continue to blame avoidants for us not doing the work we need to do to reprogram our internal working models and anxious attachment style, or do we do the work and change our relationship experiences?”

Same question goes to avoidants, “Do you continue to blame people with an anxious attachment for being needy and for making you want to distance and/or avoid committed relationships, or do you take responsibility and accountability for your maladaptive coping strategies, do the work so you are able to create a safe and secure relationship where an anxious attachment or fearful avoidant doesn’t have to constantly be afraid of your rejection, and worry that you’ll abandon them or not be there for them when they need you (like you always do).”

The responsibility of making the person we love feel safe and secure goes both ways. For example, if your ex has an anxious attachment or is an anxious avoidant (fearful avoidant) and from past experience know that they’ll get anxious, worried and feel rejected and abandoned if they don’t hear from you and when you finally get to talk to them, they’ll be upset and that’ll make you upset too, then text them back even if it’s just to tell them you’re busy and can’t talk at the moment. You’ll both be happier, and the relationship will have less problems if you don’t give them a chance to be anxious, worried or feel rejected and abandoned.


Should An Anxious Attachment Go Back To An Avoidant Ex?

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

Avoidant Ex Says “I Don’t Want A Relationship” (What to Do)

Can Avoidants Have A Healthy Relationship? (Ideal Vs. Reality)

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