When someone has a secure attachment style, you never have to wonder if they will initiate contact or respond to your texts or calls because they always do. If they can’t respond right away because of other pressing priorities, they will let you know that they are not ignoring you and even when they don’t, you are not worried because you know that they will reach out or respond, they always do.
Making a relationship partner feel safe and secure and themselves feeling safe and secure is so important to them that they have no problem setting clear boundaries for themselves and encourage their relationship partner to do the same.
You also never have to worry about how someone with a secure attachment style feels about you – if they are into you, if they’re playing mind games, if they are using you, if they want a relationship with you and all that stuff. You never have to worry about it because they are able to express attachment-related emotions and needs clearly and openly, neither fearing them nor avoiding them and, not preoccupied with them either.
When a relationship ends, you never have to guess what they’ll do – if they’ll want space, cut you off or stay in contact, if they’ll want to be friends, if you’ll be friendzone you or if they’ll want to get back together at some point because they’ll tell you directly and clearly. If they need space they will tell you they need space, how much and for how long. If they think you are toxic and a friendship post break-up is unhealthy, they will tell you exactly how they feel. If they think there is a chance you may get back together at some point, they will tell you, and also tell you what it will take to get back together.
Do these securely attached people exist? Yes, they do.
We hear a lot more about anxious, dismissive avoidants and fearful avoidants, but estimates suggest roughly:
- 50 % of the population is secure (low-anxiety, low-avoidance)
- 20 % of the population is anxious (high-anxiety, low-avoidance)
- 25 % of the population is avoidant (low-anxiety, high-avoidance)
- 5% of the population is fearful (high-anxiety, high-avoidance)
Why are these percentages important and what have they got to do with ‘no contact’?
These figures are important because it means that 70% of the population is low-avoidance (50 % secure + 20 % anxious). This is huge. 70% of the population feels safe and secure in the relationship when there is regular contact, communication and connection which means 70% of the population does not think ‘no contact’ makes them feel safe and secure.
But if you read what’s on the internet, you’d think 99% of the population thinks ‘no contact’ is a good idea and everybody does ‘no contact’. But that’s the internet for you.
The difference between the secure and the anxious’ need for contact is that someone with an anxious attachment style not only overwhelms a relationship partner with their need for contact (preoccupied), they also fall apart when a relationship partner does not respond in the time frame and manner the anxious person needs to feel safe and secure. Secure individuals do none of that.
That leaves us with 30% of the population that is high-avoidance or in a layman’s language, avoids closeness and contact. 5% of high-avoidants are fearful-avoidants. The distinguishing characteristic of fearful-avoidance is that they want and need contact to feel safe and secure in a relationship, but they also fear that being too close to someone or showing a need for contact will push someone away.
If fearful avoidants who want their ex back had a 100% full-proof guarantee or even some guarantee that being too close to someone or showing a need for contact will not push them away, fearful avoidants will go with contact because what they want more than anything is to talk to their ex and get close to them again.
Individuals with a secure attachment style do not need such guarantees. Their self esteem and sense of self-worth is so high that they are confident that they can provide the closeness and reassurance that someone with an anxious and fearful attachment style needs; and they can also provide avoidants with the space they need, so they don’t get overwhelmed and want to run away.
Most of all, securely attached men and women don’t see a break-up as a crime committed against them. They know that 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 right.
And because securely attached men and women generally believe 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.
Does ‘no contact’ work with someone with a secure attachment style? No.
Even the supporters of ‘no contact’ acknowledge that ‘no contact’ does not seem to work with secure attachment. The majority of men and women with secure attachment after a break-up want to be able to have some form of contact even if it’s once in a while. They’re the most likely of all attachment styles to object to ‘no contact’, not because they feel that they can’t do without their ex but because they don’t believe in two people who once loved each other acting as strangers or even enemies.
When you cut off all contact and block all access to communication, someone with a secure attachment sees it as you being purposefully hurtful, especially if they asked you to stay in contact. Maybe you dumped them, they’ve accepted the break-up, why would someone who once said they loved them want to act as strangers or even enemies? Maybe the relationship wasn’t working for them and they ended it, why would you be so angry to want to punish them?
They are capable of allowing you space to heal if that’s what you need, all you have to do is tell them how much space you need and 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. They’ll hurt and miss you but they are not going to beg or manipulate you into loving them, they’re way too secure for that.
If you still want them in your life and want to stay in contact, no problem. They neither fear break-up emotions, nor avoid them and, will not be preoccupied with them either.
If you change your mind and decide you want to try things again, that’s okay too. Break-ups happen all the time and exes get back together all the time. If it works great, if it doesn’t well, it wasn’t meant to be. At least you both tried.
But what they don’t want and avoid is:
- Someone who is intentionally being hurtful and/or toxic.
- Someone who 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.
- Someone who lacks enough self-awareness to see that they played a role in the relationship ending.
- Someone who lacks the tools and skills to communicate their attachment-related emotions and needs clearly and openly.
- Someone who is so insecure that they feel they need to resort to mind games to make someone miss them or want them back.
Remember, fifty percent of the population feels this way, and as more people learn about attachment styles, the percentage of people who are secure is likely to go up.
When do most people learn about attachment styles? Following a break-up.
Break-ups inspire people to work on their attachment related issues so they don’t go through the same pain again. Maybe your ex was anxious, fearful or avoidant when you were in the relationship, but since the break-up they have become more secure.
No contact is not going to work on your now secure ex, not the way you’ve been told it will. They want better than your insecure attachment mind games. They want someone who does not ignore them; someone who they never have to wonder if they will initiate contact or respond to texts because always do. And if they can’t respond right away, they will let them know that they are not ignoring them. They want someone who makes them feel safe and secure.
You should want that too!