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.
- 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.