Do fearful avoidant exes secretly want you to chase them? What happens when you stop chasing a fearful avoidant, or don’t chase them at all?
To understand why fearful avoidants secretly want you to chase them, it’s important to understand why they feel the need to be chased
A fearful avoidant ex knows they love you, they just don’t know if you love them or can love them. It’s instilled in them that they are not good enough. Deep in their core they believe nobody can love them or want them. All the games fearful avoidants play stem from their fear that they are not good enough to be loved.
You may not see this constant doubting your love in the beginning of a relationship. Most relationships with a fearful avoidant ex start as:
- Secure – openly express love over time, seeking closeness and spending time together, confident and relaxed, or
- Anxious – right away express undying love and commitment, call every day and all the time, feel slighted when the you don’t want to spend time together and generally act needy and clingy, or
- Avoidant – approach the relationship cautiously often playing hard-to-get and “make-you-miss-me” mind games.
A fearful avoidant ex’s fear of getting close as a relationship gets serious
As the relationship progresses and gets serious, they start to verbally or through actions show fear that the relationship might not work. They constantly question:
- How they feel (i.e. I don’t feel how I am supposed to feel)
- The person they are with (i.e. I don’t think you love me as much as I love you.)
- The relationship (i.e. We have too many problems. We’re incompatible/don’t want the same things. The relationship is too much work it shouldn’t be this hard) etc.
If they lean anxious, they become more needy and clingy. If they lean avoidant they escalate playing hard-to-get and “make-you-miss-me” mind games. Most of the time, they swing from needy and clingy (pull) to indifferent and distant (push).
Even when you reassure them that you love them, they doubt your love for them. They’re always thinking, how much do you really love me, and for how long will you love me.
Avoidant exes manipulate space to see if you will miss them and chase them
Dismissive avoidants mostly use space to control closeness and keep you at a distance. They are rate high on attachment which means that they don’t form strong attachments or bonds with someone they’re in a relationship with. It also means they avoid spending time and independence over relationships.
They also score low on attachment anxiety which means that they don’t:
- Get anxious when are not around, leave or break-up with them
- Want you to miss them because then it means you formed an attachment to them.
- Play mind games or respond to mind games because it interfere with their strong need for independence.
Fearful avoidants also score high on attachment avoidance and use space to control closeness. But they also score high on anxiety and get anxious when you are not around, leave or break-up with them. This is why a fearful avoidant ex keeps coming back. The part of them that formed an attachment with you makes them miss you.
And because being away from you makes them miss you, they also believe that them being away from you, will make you miss them. This is why they play “miss-me” mind games.
These top 5 games are good examples that fearful avoidants secretly want you to chase them.
1. Playing hard to get
Dismissive avoidant exes are hard to get, period. No mind game playing there. This is not to say they are not manipulative, because they are. For example, they use texting and physical intimacy to control and manipulate how close you can get to them. But this is more about keeping you at a distance than playing games.
Anxious preoccupied and fearful avoidant attachment styles play mind games the most. They play hard to get mostly in the beginning of the relationship to see how much you love them; and for how long. But also because fearful avoidants secretly want you to chase them.
Unlike dismissive avoidants who don’t want you to chase them; fearful avoidants want you to chase them. They are mostly insecure about who they are and chasing them makes them feel that you want them more than they want you. The more you chase them, the more they feel that you love them more than they love you. And to a fearful avoidant this is a good thing. Remember, it’s instilled in them that they are not good enough, and nobody can love them or want them. Here you are chasing them, that a high for a fearful avoidant.
Sometimes it can even become an addiction. A fearful avoidant ex distances, you chase them, and they feel loved. Then after a while, they don’t feel loved again; and their drug of choice… “chase me”.
2. Pulling away and immediately come back
Some fearful avoidant exes will ask for space when it looks like you are getting closer. But most fearful avoidants pull away when they don’t feel loved and/or the relationship is not doing too well. For instance:
- A conversation doesn’t go too well or soon after a disagreement.
- Something happened that made them feel you’re not prioritizing them in your life
- They asked for something and you said no (or not now)
- Something you said or did made them jealous
They get away from the situation to feel safe, but also to see if you will miss them; and chase them. If you miss them and reach out, it means you love them; and/or love them more than they love you. Most of them ask for space but keep coming back before the time they asked for. For example, they’ll say a week, but reach out only after a few days.
The whole relationship with a fearful avoidant is constant tests of how much you love them and for how long. This is all because fearful avoidant exes secretly want you to chase them.
3. No contact
One of a fearful avoidant ex’s hoops you will jump through to get them back is “no contact”. They can’t ask for space to see if you will miss them; you’re broken up. So they do “no contact”.
It’s just another mind game a fearful avoidant ex is playing to see if you miss them and love them. They want you to contact them, so that they can ignore you to somehow prove their worth. If you contact them while they’re in no contact, it means you miss them. “No contact worked!”, they say. You are not even back together, but that is besides the point. The goals of no contact was to make you miss them, and contact them. The fact that you reached out first means “no contact worked!”. It made you miss them and proved that you still have feelings for them.
If you contact them many times during no contact, it means you love them more than they love you. Most fearful avoidant want to respond but the high of you missing them is too much to resist. But if you don’t contact them at all; it means you don’t love and they must not be good enough to be missed.
Most fearful avoidants say, “I am doing no contact to heal and detach from my ex” or move on. But after 30 days or whatever time the rule is, they reach out to the ex they supposedly detached from. When their ex doesn’t respond or they don’t get a positive response, they go back to doing no contact. I know of fearful avoidants who did 3- 10 intervals of 30 days no contact. They honestly believe that making someone miss you is how you get someone to love you.
4. Provoking jealousy
Studies show that preoccupied and fearful avoidant attachment styles are the most likely to feel jealous; and to consider rivals as more threatening. They are also the most likely to try to or provoke jealousy on purpose.
The purpose is to get your attention and test your love for them. A Fearful avoidant will:
- Ignore you to make you wonder that they’re doing/what’s going on
- Openly flirt with other people more so on social media than in real life
- Lie about how someone else is interested in them to make you think they have many admirers
- Post on social media how well they are doing without you etc.
If you feel jealous, then you must love them. Act indifferent, you don’t care about them.
If they lean anxious, as soon as it looks like you are losing interest or moving on they become anxious and start chasing you. Yes, an avoidant will chase you when you stop chasing an avoidant or refuse to chase them. If they lean avoidant they will cut you off completely. They don’t want to be friends, don’t want to hear from you and don’t want to know anything about you.
5. Breaking up for any reason
Most fearful avoidant exes break-up for the same reason as other attachment styles: Poor communication, unmet needs, no commitment, falling out of love etc. But there is another reason individuals with attachment anxiety; anxious preoccupied and fearful avoidants break-up with several times and keep coming back.
A fearful avoidant ex will break up with you to see if you will chase them, fight for them. This is where you see that fearful avoidants are truly the most conflicted and confused of all attachment styles. If you chase them and fight for them, their natural instinct is to play hard to get. They may not respond to your first text, but if you send a second or third, a fearful avoidant is likely to respond. They may even play this game a few times; disappearing and reappearing several times before they finally come back.
What happens when you stop chasing a fearful avoidant ex (or don’t chase them at all)?
If you don’t chase an avoidant, they will chase you if they lean anxious. But they’ll not approach you directly. They may like your Instagram photos and read your stories, but not contact you directly. The part of them that wants connection is liking your photos and reading your stories. The part of them that fears rejection is stopping them from directly contacting you.
If you don’t chase or if you stop chasing an avoidant leaning avoidant, they’ll likely never contact you. They play hard to get, do things to try to make you jealous, and do no contact; but they can’t take rejection.
Is there even a chance of a healthy relationship with a fearful avoidant ex?
Good question. Some people find a relationship with fearful avoidant ex is too much work. It’s too difficult, too complicated, too stressful, too painful and/or toxic. Talk about self-fulfilling prophesy!
But that’s not to say a relationship with a fearful avoidant ex can’t work. It can, if you can provide the safety and security they need to feel you truly love them and will love them for a long time.