This article is a must-read if you’re trying to get a securely attached ex to come back or if you’re trying to become more secure and wondering how secure attachment deal with break-ups and if you should reach out to your ex.
I explain in much detail why “no contact” does not work with an ex with a secure attachment style and also why an ex with a secure attachment style may not want to come back. My hope is that use this information to understand and attract your securely attached ex and also help you in your journey to become more secure and experience the kind of relationships people with a securely attachment have.
How does someone with a securely attachment style handle a break-up?
Many studies on attachment styles compare how different attachment styles deal with separation or break-ups; and individuals with secure attachment is often cited as the healthiest attachment style with better relationship experiences and more “mature” and amicable break-ups.
These studies also show that an amicable break-up correlates with:
- Greater willingness to maintain contact or reach out after a break-up
- Less apprehension about seeing the ex-partner again
- Greater willingness to get back together again
- Less blaming of an ex-partner
- Lower sense of guilt compared to insecurely attached
- Greater willingness to remain friends
- Readiness to start dating again
A combination of all these makes a securely attached ex better able to deal with a break-up. more likely to reach out after the break-up.
Why people with a secure attachment style are available and responsive after a break-up
When a relationship ends, a securely attached ex will reach out because people with a healthy attachment style in general do not perceive a break-up as someone did them wrong. They try to understand an ex’s reasons for breaking up. They understand that feelings and people change, and nobody should expect or force another to stay in a relationship they don’t want to be in anymore. As a result, individuals with an secure attachment don’t see themselves as victims of a break-up and don’t perceive their ex as someone who they need to protect themselves from. They may be distressed by the break-up and be concerned that an ex may react in a hurtful way, but they’re generally hold a positive view of others – and of themselves.
And because people with a secure attachment style are able to regulate their emotions, they see no need to disconnect or distance from someone who may need them to show they still care about them even though the romantic relationship has ended. Unlike anxious preoccupied who after a break-up become easily frustrated or angered when their attachment needs go unmet and dismissive avoidants and fearful avoidants who act defensively, securely attached individuals try to work through the break-up as generously as possible.
If for some reason they need to create some distance after a breakup, a securely attached will communicate their needs directly and in a relationship building way; (more: “No Contact” Vs. A “Cool Off” Period After A Break-Up).
If you want space, a securely attached ex will respect your boundaries
Securely attached individuals are capable of allowing you space to heal if that’s what you need. All you have to do is tell them what they need to do (if anything) to make you feel safe and secure. They are secure themselves, they understand boundaries and respect other people’s boundaries.
If you don’t want to get back together that’s okay. A securely attached ex will hurt and miss you; but they are not going to try to ‘make you miss them”. They’re way too secure for that.
If you still want them in your life and want to stay in contact, no problem. Securely attached people neither fear break-up emotions, nor avoid them. They deal with them head on and in a healthy way..
If you change your mind and decide you want to try things again, a securely attached person’s attitude is let’s try to make it work. Break-ups happen all the time and exes get back together all the time; if it works out great, if it doesn’t well, it wasn’t meant to be. At least we both tried.
Will no contact work with a securely attached ex?
You may have read from other get back your ex coaches that no contact works on all attachment styles. But before you cut off contact with your securely attached ex hoping that they’ll miss you or starting “longing” for you and want you back, you need to learn a few things that make an ex with a secure attachment style different from others with insecure attachment styles; and why no contact will not work on a securely attached ex.
According to research published Researchers interested in the psychological underpinnings of making yourself seem more desirable by withholding obvious signs of romantic interest published a study in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences which shows that “If you’re secure about yourself and about others loving you, you’re less likely to get involved in such game-playing — and you’re not playing hard-to-get or pursuing people that are playing hard-to-get. But if you’re insecure you’re more likely to use these strategies, playing and pursuing, and it’s serving a role for both sides.” (Omri Gillath, professor of psychology at the University of Kansas)
So before you go no contact on an ex who is secure about themselves and about others loving them, understand that it will not work on an ex with a secure attachment style for 3 reasons.
1) Healthy attachment and secure internal working model
No contact will not work on a securely attached ex because they don’t react to separation (or being ignored) in same as someone who feels separation anxiety or has fear of abandonment .
According to attachment theory, people with a secure attachment style grew up with a foundation based on a feeling of safety, love, self-worth and trust. They have no difficulty forming relationships and have relatively happy, satisfying and lasting relationships. When separated from someone they love and care about, securely attached exes experience pain and heartache but are able to regulate their emotions and feelings in a healthy way, and find comfort in other attachment figures. Because they had caregivers who were consistently available and responsive without being overprotective, they developed a secure-base script or internal working model that reads something like:
“When I feel vulnerable [alone, weak, scared, helpless etc.] I can go to my secure base; they will be available and responsive; I will feel better and can then go on with my day knowing that help [support, understanding, encouragement, validation etc.]; will be available when I need it”.
With this internal working model, a securely attached person can soothe themselves or reach out to be soothed by their partner in a helpful way. This internal working model or secure-base script insulates securely attached them from feeling anxious, abandoned, lost or emotionally devastated after a break-up. After a break-up, securely attached exes are not afraid to reach out to an ex to be soothed; and and if an ex is not available, unresponsive or unsafe, they turn to family, friends, therapist etc., for secure-base support.
2) A high self concept and sense of self-worth
A high self concept and sense of self-worth makes securely attached individuals confident that they can provide the closeness and reassurance that someone with attachment anxiety needs; and the space avoidants need. This is another reason why securely attached exes don’t go no contact after the break-up. They are confident that they can deal with their emotions and their ex’s emotions in a healthy and constructive way.
And because securely attached people are confident of their ability to deal with their emotions, a securely attached ex is not afraid or worried about reaching out after a break-up. If you don’t respond, they’ll not take it personally. A secure ex may even become concerned about your well-being and reach out, but this is more out of concern for you than a reaction to no contact. But if they suspect that you are trying to get a reaction from them by doing no contact, they will not reach out; but even more importantly, they’ll not want to get back together with someone who plays mind games.
3) Positive view of relationship partners
No contact also does not work with people with a secure attachment style because they do not see a break-up as an end to any kind of possible relationship. This is largely because their brains don’t processes the experience as a threat, or as something traumatic. To them, breakups happen all the time, feelings change, people change and an ex has a right to walk away from a relationship they don’t want to be in anymore. Someone with a secure attachment style may not agree with an ex’s reasons for breaking up or the manner in which they did it; but they accept that’s their ex’s right.
People with a secure attachment style also do not see an ex as someone they need to protect themselves from. They have no problem staying in contact with an ex because securely attached individuals generally believe that most people 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 is acting with malicious intent or is purposefully being hurtful do people with secure attachment attribute bad intentions to an ex and act to remove an ex having a negative impact on a situation they are facing (Ahmad S, Mohammad H, Shafique Z (2018).
How do you make someone with a secure attachment style miss you?
You can’t make a secure ex miss you. If an ex with a secure attachment style misses you, it’s not because you did anything to make them miss you. They simply miss you and want to connection with you. They’ll reach out and tell you they miss you because securely attached do not fear being vulnerable or think vulnerability is a weakness. In fact when you’re dating or in a relationship with someone securely attached, you never have to guess how they feel about you or the relationship because they will tell you.
And because people with a secure attachment are consistent when things are good and consistent when things are bad, you can expect them to treat you the same way after the break as they did when you were together; until you give them reason to distance themselves from you.
They believe in loving, honest, open and empathetic communication where both people feel heard and their needs met and are willing to negotiate with an ex what contact feels safe and reasonable. When you cut off all contact and block all access to communication, someone with a securely attached ex sees it as your inability to negotiate your needs whether it be need for closeness or need for space in a healthy and constructive way.
They also see cutting off contact as you being purposefully hurtful, especially if they asked you to stay in contact. You dumped them, they’ve accepted the break-up. They are in control of their emotions; and if you want space after the break-up, they will give it to you. So what’s the purpose of ‘no contact’ other than an attempt to inflict emotional pain or emotionally manipulate them. People with a secure attachment style really don’t like emotional manipulation.
A securely attached ex is more willing to get back together
Because securely attached exes are less apprehensive about seeing their ex again and more willing to remain friends after a break-up, they’re also more willing to get back together. But a securely attached ex will not reach out after a break-up or want to get back together with someone who is:
- Is intentionally hurtful and/or toxic.
- Lacks enough insight to know that people have a right to break-up with someone they don’t love or don’t want to be with anymore.
- Does not have enough self-awareness to see that they played a role in the relationship ending.
- Lacks the tools and skills to communicate their attachment-related emotions and needs clearly and openly.
- Is so insecure that they feel they need to resort to mind games to make someone miss them or want them back.