Do Exes Really Ever Come Back? (ATTACHMENT STYLES)

Do exes really ever come back? More specifically, do avoidant exes ever come back?

Yes, exes do come back and yes, both fearful avoidants and dismissive avoidants can come back after a break-up.

Most break-ups are not mutual in that one person want to break-up while the other does not. The person initiating the break-up thinks it’s over for them. They are not thinking of getting back together or that they will come back.

They are not thinking… “I am breaking up with you, but we’ll get back together”. They are thinking…

  • I am not happy/I am miserable and I don’t like it
  • I don’t feel this relationship is working for me
  • I can’t do what I want to do with you around, I need my space
  • We’re hurting each other and I need to get away from you
  • I don’t like you the way I used to
  • I don’t see a future with you, etc.

They are not thinking of getting back together at this point because they are thinking of themselves, how they feel and what they want– and rightly so.

Even exes that say “may be we’ll get back together in the future” or “we’ll see what happens in two months” or “if it’s meant to be it’ll be” etc., are not promising that you’ll get back together. Rather, they are leaving the door open for all possibilities — including the possibility that you’ll go your separate ways.

Attachment theory provides powerful insights as to how different attachment styles will likely act after a break-up, why and how they come back.

Individuals high in attachment avoidance use deactivating emotion-regulatory suppression strategies that create emotional distance with an ex. Deactivating strategies have been linked to a greater tendency to breakup, weaker emotional reactions to breakups, and self-destructive coping strategies (T.J. Collins, O. Gillath / Journal of Research in Personality 46 (2012).

Individuals high in attachment anxiety have more trouble adapting to a relationship breakup and acting independently, and they experience greater emotional distress, anger, anxiety, depression, and loss of emotional control (Fagundes, 2012; Gilbert & Sifers, 2011).

Their use hyper-activating emotion regulatory strategies that include trying to immediately reengage with their ex and repeated attempts to get back together leads to unwanted pursuit behaviour which leads to a vicious cycle of repeatedly breaking up and getting back together. (Davis et al., 2003; Dutton & Winstead, 2006).

Secure individuals tend to face relationship breakups with greater resilience, acceptance, and emotional recovery than do insecure individuals (Madey & Jilek, 2012). They recognize both their attachment needs and their ex’s attachment needs and act accordingly using strategies characterized by open, empathetic communication, and negotiation about someone’s needs and desires.

They generally tend to experience fewer break-ups, use more social and less self-destructive coping strategies, and greater willingness to reunite (Madey & Jilek, 2012).

What does this mean for you asking, “do exes ever come back?”

1) Dismissive Avoidant Ex/Fearful Avoidant Leaning More Avoidant

It means that if your ex is a dismissive avoidant or fearful avoidant leaning more avoidant, the chances that your ex will come back is less than some with an ex high on attachment anxiety or with a secure attachment style. This doesn’t mean the chances of your ex coming back are zero, it just means the probability of them not coming back is higher than them coming back.

One reason for this is that avoidants in general, dismissive avoidants in particular tend to be involved in short-term dating relationships characterized by lower interdependence, commitment, trust, and satisfaction. When the relationship ends, they are ready to move on.

Over the years however, I have found that when the relationship is over 3 years, dismissive avoidants tend to be more open to getting back together and may even actively pursue a reconciliation. This is important to note, because it goes against all the information out there that dismissive avoidant exes never come back. They do and it depends on how emotionally invested they were before the break-up happened.

2) Anxious-Preoccupied Ex/Fearful Avoidant Leaning More Anxious

If your ex is anxious-preoccupied or fearful avoidant leaning more anxious, there is a very high chance that they will come back. Studies have shown that people high on attachment anxiety are more willing to stay friends with an ex to potentially maintain close ties allowing for later reconnection and getting back together. But their motive especially in times of distress is more self-focused and not necessarily in the best interest of an ex or even the relationship. So yes, your ex will come back but you may also break up soon after.

The good news is that more recent studies have found that attachment-anxious individuals experience greater personal growth following romantic break-ups compared to attachment-avoidant individuals. This may help reduce the chances of breaking up soon after your ex comes back.

In addition to an ex’s attachment style, there are other general and individual factors unique to your ex that may affect whether or not they will come back.

RELATED: 10 Factors That Influence Getting Back Together With Your Ex

My point is: Don’t be discouraged from trying to attract back your ex simply because right now your ex is saying it’s over and they’re not changing their mind.

It takes work and it takes time, but it’s possible.

When you feel discouraged and want to give up, these Incredible Success Stories of readers like you who got back their ex might help!

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  1. says: Idris Nafisat

    My ex broke up with me three months ago and I did all those post break up mistakes, I begged him after two weeks and he said me begging him he felt guilty after searching different site I did no contact for 3weeks to stop myself from acting needy and access the situation, I found your page ago advising against no contact, and I reached out to my ex, at first he was responsive for 2weeks but getting to the third week he was acting cold, he does not reply to my texts and even if he replies it’s one word answers and he has never initiate contact and I do give space before I make another contact I don’t know if I should give up already , it’s actually hard work getting an ex back

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      There are several reasons why your ex changed from being responsive to being hold and cold.

      1) It could be something you said or something you are not doing enough of to make them attracted to you.

      See: How to Pull Your Ex Closer Vs. How To Avoid Pushing Away Your Ex

      2) It could also be your ex’s attachment style.

      Try reading articles here of people who might have your similar situation, You can try a site search on words like “ex one word answers” or “ex hot and cold” and other keywords related toy our situation.

  2. says: Mikhozi Namara

    Wow! I’ve spent serval days reading your articles and I have to say, this is the most positive advice on getting back with an ex on the web, wait, the whole world.

    You truly know what you are talking about, and I like that you see things from both sides. I took an online course on perspective-taking and it is a joy to see it in practice. Keep up the ‘good work’, the good Lord is watching over you.

  3. says: Edna

    My ex said he had made up his mind and he is the kind to not change his mind. Lucky for me I had found your site so I asked to keep in contact and at first he said what is the point, I am not changing my mind, but then he said yes. I followed the advice in your ebook and after a month of text messaging, I asked to meet up, he said he did not want to give me the wrong message. I waited a week and asked again and this time he relented. We had a great time and were laughing and holding hands. When he walked me to my car he kissed me on the lips and said he does not know what the future holds but he knows that he does not want to lose me forever. Today he initiated his first text and wished me a merry Christmas. I know in your ebook that it is not much to go by but it feels good to know he still wants me in his life. I am going to keep implementing your advice and see where it goes. I really believe we will get back together.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      You are right. It’s not much to go by, but it’s enough to show that things are moving in the right direction. What you’re doing is working, so don’t change it or get needy and try to move things faster.

      I believe with you!