Absence DOES NOT Make Your Ex’s Heart Grow Fonder

Question: Yangki, I’m a first timer on this blog and just trying to understand some things. I’ve read a lot about no contact and how it’s very effective for getting an ex back but I read your writings and have watched your videos and you’re probably the only coach I know who does not advice no contact. I have a really serious question for you: With no contact, can absence make the heart grow fonder in certain circumstances?

Yangki’s Answer: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” applies between two people who are fond of each other and are separated. The key word here is “fonder”, and I’ll get to that that later. Let’s talk about absence first.

Absence can certainly make one fonder. You miss them when they’re not around and think about when you’re reunited. But there is a big difference between being missed and wanting to be missed.

1) Being missed – Being missed is not something you have to do anything about. Being missed is a result of a genuine quality that makes your absence felt and missed. The person ‘absent’ in this way would rather be with their loved one, but for some reason are unbale to.

2) Wanting to be missed – Wanting to be missed on the other hand is something you feel the need to do because you do not feel confident that you have that genuine quality that makes your absence felt and missed. The person ‘absent’ in this way actively tries to make someone feel their absence, and/or uses absence to try to increase feelings of value – appreciated, validated, worthy of love etc.

In the former, the power of absence lies in a genuine quality that makes one’s absence felt and missed. In the later, the power of absence lies in the longing it generates. This is where attachment theory plays a significant and very important role is helping us understand the longing or lack of that absence generates.

Attachment styles and longing or lack of that absence generates

People with an anxious attachment and fearful avoidants leaning anxious are especially hang up on wanting to be missed and using absence to increase feelings of value. Because both attachment styles have a negative view of themselves often accompanied by low self-esteem, they generally have dysfunctional attitudes that conflate missing someone with caring or loving them.

To them when you miss someone it means you really care about the person and you value them. But because people with an anxious attachment and fearful avoidants don’t often feel that others don’t care about them, appreciate them or value them, they use absence to try to increase their value. If they’re missed, it means they’re valuable and they matter, valuable means wanted and wanted means loved.

Secure people don’t need to be missed. They know their value and know that they matter and don’t need to use absence to tell them that they are appreciated and worthy of love. And when they miss someone, it’s not because they feel rejected, abandoned or insecure about losing them, it’s because that person has a genuine quality that makes their absence felt and missed.

Dismissive avoidants have elevated self-esteem, but this is more emotional self-preservation than an actual positive evaluation of any and all aspects of the self. Because of their internal working model, they do not actively try to make someone feel their absence to increase their felt value. They’re absent because absence makes them feel safe from someone wanting closeness.

Break-ups happen because one person (or both people) is no longer fond of the other

Now let’s talk about “the heart grow fonder”. Not many people understand what this means when it comes to break-ups and exes.

Fond (meaning):

  • Having an affection or liking for;
  • Affectionate; loving; tender; indulgent; doting
    prizing highly; desirous

Here is where most people get confused with “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Saying someone is “fonder” of you means that there is increase in affection, liking, tenderness, indulgence, doting, desire etc. It’s easy for fondness to keep increasing in the heart even when you’re apart, if you were fond of the person before you were separated and apart.

Many (if not most) break-ups happen because one person (or both people) is no longer FOND of the other. Your ex may still love you, but not be fond of you at the time of the break-up; or hasn’t been fond of you for a very long time, and vice versa.

Your ex may miss you and you may actively use absence to create longing in someone with an anxious attachment or fearful avoidant (anxious-avoidant), But missing you or being aware of your absence and wishing you were there is not the same as wanting you back.

People miss other people, places or things all the time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they like or even want that person back, or want to return to a certain place. Say you had a roommate who snores, is untidy or too noisy, but who makes you laugh or is a great cook. When they move out because of a falling out (due to their snoring, untidiness or loudness), of course you are going to miss them – how they make you laugh or their good cooking – but it doesn’t necessarily mean you want them to move back in.

Too much emphasis on “absence”, and way too little importance on “fonder”

Why do so many people get “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” so wrong when it comes to break-ups and exes?

Because they put way too much emphasis on “absence”, and way too little importance on what makes the heart fonder. It’s like expecting an award for a race you didn’t run. And we wonder why our ex doesn’t come “crawling” back or why they moved on real fast after you cut off contact.

What I am saying is, if you want your ex to become ‘fonder” of you, put less emphasis in “absence” and more effort into creating affection, liking, tenderness, indulgence, doting, desire etc. At the end of the day (process), more affection, liking, tenderness, indulgence, doting, desire etc is what makes an ex fonder of you, and want to come back.


This Is How An Avoidant Ex Reacts To You After No Contact

3 Ways No Contact Hurts Your Chances (Attachment Styles)

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12 replies on “Absence DOES NOT Make Your Ex’s Heart Grow Fonder”
  1. says: Sophie

    Hi, this is the first time I’ve read this blog and love the advice. Me and my boyfriend broke up 5 months ago, since that time he has told me I’m not the one, he does not want me back and he no longer loves me. However his actions don’t always match up to his words as I have spent nights with him and I have seen how much he missed me? Any idea of what I should do, was going to try and just cut him out of my life, but I really want to fight for him

    1. says: Yangki Akiteng

      Spend a little more time on the site. There is a lot of advice on how to approach getting back someone who says one thing and does another. Read the comments as well, I have responded to many questions with a similar situation as yours.

  2. says: KarlfromNJ

    Yangki, it took me a while to understand your concept and now I see why my ex is not responding to my messages even when I send them anonymously. She told a mutual friend that she knew it was me because she knows I like to play mind games. I just wanted her to miss me and now I have completely lost her trust. She says she hates me and will never speak to me again.

  3. says: Jill Stidham

    Yangki, you say ignoring your ex when they try to contact you is immature. What about someone breaking up with you, isn’t that treating you like you’re disposable?

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      Yes, if they just disappear with no explanation or break up with you via text. They’re showing you they have no respect for you/you have no value to them.

      No, if they tell you why they are breaking up with you. You may not like that they ended the relationship or think their reason is valid… but it’s their reason. You can’t force anyone to be in a relationship.

      Emotionally mature/competent people when faced with a break-up RESPOND in ways that get them what they want, not REACT to not getting what they want.

      That said, if you no longer want anything to do with your ex because of a toxic dynamic, then cutting them off makes sense.

      Bottom line: Break-ups happen, it’s how you respond/react to the break-up that makes the difference.

      Africans have a saying: Do not burn a bridge if there’s even a very slight chance you might want to walk back that route.

  4. says: Jill Stidham

    After a month of NC I decided to text my ex boyfriend, he responded immediately with “I need more time”. So what do i do now?

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      I have no clue. The “no-contact experts” will probably give you a better answer.

      My guess would be to give him more time. For how long? Again, I have no clue. May be next time you break-up with someone…don’t do no contact. They’re not going to be sitting around “waiting” for you to contact them after you are done with no contact.

      Personally, if someone treated me like I am easily disposable…. I don’t want them back in my life.

  5. says: Jet

    Going “cold turkey” with your ex after a break up is great in theory, but it is not grounded in the reality. It downplays the fact that even though the relationship ended, you’ve invested so much time and energy into another human being. In most cases your ex is the most emotionally significant person in your life that’s why you need them, sometimes even more than when you were together.

  6. says: Fatima

    It would be just a short text “Something reminded me of you”. I don’t want him to think that I’m still not over him. I want to convey that I’m moving on with my life.

    1. I still don’t think it’ll make a difference, but give it a try. You seem to strongly believe that “giving it time” (no contact) is the magic solution. I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. You either get it, or you don’t.

      As for making your ex believe you moved on, be careful what you wish for. He might actually believe it.

  7. says: Fatima

    I was so surprised when my ex contacted me because we never spoke after we broke up 6 months ago. We exchanged a few texts after which he asked if he can call me. The conversation started well, we were laughing and flirting, then I said something and it all went down hill from there. He said he made a mistake contacting me and hang up. I let things cool down for a month then texted him “Something important to tell you.” His response “go to hell”. Should I give him more time and try to contact him again? We were together for 3 and a half years.

    1. You could try to contact him again at some point, but I don’t think any “more time” is going to make a difference.

      From the sounds of it, this was not exactly an easy relationship. You both thought that a little “time and space” would fix things, but all you had to do was get in contact again, and it’s same old.

      If all you are doing is “giving it time”, you will get the same result.

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