Does A Securely Attached Ex Reach Out After A Break-Up?


Does an ex with a securely attached ex reach out after a break-up? Does no contact work with someone with a secure attachment style? How do you make a securely attached ex miss you?

These are among the many question my clients ask me about secure attachment style. I’ll try to answer these questions as best as I can; and with verifiable studies and research.

Does a securely attached ex miss you after a break-up?

Research on break-ups in general show that people who are more emotionally invested in the relationship and in their partner experience the more distress when a relationship ends. And if you know about attachment styles, you also know that securely attached individuals, more than any attachment styles have relationships with more emotional involvement, investment and security.

So yes, securely attached exes miss their ex when a relationship ends; and a securely attached ex reaches out after a break-up.

Studies on attachment styles and break-ups show that securely attached break-ups are more likely to be amicable. An amicable breakup also 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 the ex-partner
  • Lower sense of guilt compared to insecurely attached
  • Greater willingness to remain friends
  • Readiness to start dating again

If exes with a securely attached individuals are less apprehension about seeing their ex again; more willing to get back together again; and more willing to remain friends after a break-up, it means that they are also likely to reach out to an ex.

Securely attached people are available and responsive after a break-up

When a relationship ends, a securely attached ex does not perceive their ex as someone who hurt them, and they need to protect themselves from. They also do not view the break-up as distressing situation that may lead to further hurt or rejection. Because they are able to regulate their emotions, they see no need to disconnect or withdraw to protect themselves.

Unlike anxious preoccupied who after a break-up engage in protest behaviours that push their ex further; 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.

Does no contact work with a securely attached ex?

No contact will not work on a securely attached person because they have very low sensitivity to rejection, not fearful of abandonment, and do not defensively break-up.

Rejection sensitivity is the extent to which an individual goes to avoid rejection or avoid distressing situations that may lead to rejection.

When a child ‘s attachment needs are disregarded or not met consistently, a child becomes sensitive to rejection. Individuals who have experienced abuse or neglect may also develop sensitivity to rejection in adulthood.

On the other hand, when a child’s attachment needs are consistently recognize and promptly responded to, a child develop a secure-base script 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”.

This secure base script helps individuals with a secure attachment style express attachment-related emotions and needs clearly and openly; neither fearing them nor avoiding them and; not preoccupied with them either.

Securely attached people are confident of their ability to deal with their emotions 

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 need no contact. They are confident that they can deal with their emotions and their ex’s emotions in a healthy and constructive way.

They also do not need to do no contact because they do not see an ex as someone they need to protect themselves from. Breakups happen all the time; and an ex has a right to walk away from a relationship they don’t want to be in anymore. They 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.

And because people with a secure attachment style generally believe that most people have good intentions; and that any negative behaviours their partner (or ex) may display are temporary and reversible; they have no issue staying in contact with an ex. Only when there is clear evidence that their ex is acting with malicious intent; or is purposefully being hurtful do securely attached men and women attribute bad intentions to an ex; and act to protect themselves.

How do you make someone with a secure attachment style miss you?

You can’t make a securely attached ex miss you. If they miss you, it’s not because you did anything to make them miss you. And if they miss you, a securely attached ex will reach out and tell you they miss you. You don’t have to wonder if they miss you or not.

Secure attachment strategy of attracting back an ex is characterized by open, empathetic communication, negotiation about someone’s needs and desires.

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 and desire 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 an attempt to emotionally manipulate them; and securely attached individuals 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 are also more willing to get back together. But they will not get back together with someone who is:

  1. Is intentionally hurtful and/or toxic.
  2. 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.
  3. Does not have enough self-awareness to see that they played a role in the relationship ending.
  4. Lacks the tools and skills to communicate their attachment-related emotions and needs clearly and openly.
  5. Is so insecure that they feel they need to resort to mind games to make someone miss them or want them back.

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