How A Fearful Avoidant Ex Comes Back – Explained In Detail

This explains in detail how a fearful avoidant ex comes back after the breakup; all the break-up stages from how a fearful avoidant ex feels, no contact, when they miss you, mixed signals about reaching out, and how they process the break-up etc.

What you learn will have important implications for your chances of getting back together with a fearful avoidant ex. It will increase the chances of a fearful avoidant coming back, and come back sooner.

How fearful avoidants feel in the initial stages of a break-up

Attachment theory has gained so much attention and become more relevant over the years because the strange situation experiment that first introduced the world to “attachment styles” mirrors adult romantic break-ups and attempts to reunite with an ex. To understand how a fearful avoidant ex feels after a break-up and why they come back; we must first understand why some people are said to have a fearful avoidant attachment style or conflicted attachment style.

The purpose of the strange situation (1971, 1978) was to test how young children responded to temporary separation and reunion with their mothers. Dr Ainsworth and her assistant Mary Main (Main and Solomon 1990) found that fearful avoidant children reacted to separation from the mother with anxiety and confusion. They didn’t seem to know whether they should cry or ignore the fact that the mother left the room. When the test was repeated, fearful avoidant children consistently showed confused, conflicted disorganized behaviour. When re-united with the mother, they also acted confused and conflicted; they wanted to go to the mother for comfort but were also fearful of her. This is how they came to be called anxious-avoidants, or disorganized attachment or fearful avoidants.

What you have is an attachment style that wants connection and craves closeness but also has a deep fear of getting too close; fears that you will leave or abandon them, but also pushes you away. This makes a fearful avoidant attachment style more complex than other attachment styles.

A fearful avoidant has both traits of anxious attachment and avoidant attachment

Understanding that a fearful avoidant is both afraid of getting too close (avoidant) and also afraid of abandonment (anxious) is key to getting back a fearful avoidant. Thinking of a fearful avoidant as just an avoidant who is excited and jubilant after a break-up and wants space is a mistake many people make and it often costs them the chance to attract back their ex.

Factually, a fearful avoidant is an anxious-avoidant. Which means that some fearful avoidants don’t want to break up but feel that they have to. After breaking up, they act like you’re not broken up. They still want the closeness, connection and even intimacy you had but they’re also afraid that things might get serious again and they’ll feel trapped. Others strongly feel that you are the reason they have to break up, and even though they feel attracted to you and developed feelings for you, you do things to make them feel unloved, unwanted, not good enough, rejected, abandoned and unsafe. After the break-up, they want space and some are done, done.

At any stage during the relationship and the break-up, a fearful avoidant ex can lean anxious (want closeness) or lean avoidant (want space).Understanding how a fearful avoidant ex who leans anxious or leans avoidant acts in the initial stages of the break-up is very important if you want to get back together with a fearful avoidant ex.

What a fearful avoidant ex who leans anxious goes through after a break-up

A fearful avoidant ex who leans anxious may after a break-up act just like an ex with an anxious attachment style. At this stage, their need for closeness is stronger than their doubts about you and their doubts about what is safe and not safe. Slowly however, their fear of abandonment takes over and they start to deactivate and become avoidant especially if you ignore them and they feel abandoned. This is when they go no contact. They may even completely detach from all feelings about you as a way of coping with feeling abandoned.

Just after the break-up, it felt like your fearful avoidant ex was chasing you, and suddenly they stopped and want no contact. In my experience, the chances of a fearful avoidant who leans anxious coming back are higher in the window between the break-up when they’re very anxious and before they deactivate and become more avoidant.

The mistake many people make is only focus on meeting an avoidants need for space thinking that this is what will make an avoidant feel safe. Sometimes “too much space” can feel to a fearful avoidant like abandonment.

What a fearful avoidant ex who leans avoidant goes through after a break-up

A fearful avoidant ex who leans avoidant may immediately attempt to not feel their feelings and pretend they’re absolutely fine. Most go no contact immediately after the break-up. Many of my clients who learned about attachment styles after a break-up often mistake a fearful avoidant leaning avoidant after a break-up for an ex with a dismissive avoidant attachment style.

After some time, the emotions and feelings find their way to the top and may cause a fearful avoidant to act anxious. When the emotions bubble to the surface is different for each fearful avoidant, other events happening in a fearful avoidants life e.g. job stress, unemployment, advice from social circle, depression etc., influence when and how a fearful avoidant starts to feel anxious and how they act.

To deal with the emotional pain of the break-up and mask growing anxiety and fears of abandonment, some fearful avoidants get involved in short-lived rebound relationships. A fearful avoidant ex’s self-awareness plays an important role in their behaviour after the break-up. A more self-ware fearful avoidant will try to mitigate the negative effects of both attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. They’re also more forgiving, take responsibility for their role in the break-up and are more willing to change.

Going no contact with a fearful avoidant ex is a big gamble

When you go no contact, it’s hard to predict how a fearful avoidant will react. They may get anxious and chase you, or pull away or even go no contact or get involved in a short-term rebound relationship. And because they’re fearful avoidants, anxious (hot) and avoidant (cold) they may swing from one extreme to the other several times over a short period of time.

Separations or no responsiveness, up to a point, can increase the intensity of proximity-seeking or closeness-seeking behaviour, but beyond some point they provoke defensive distancing so as to avoid the pain and distress caused by the frustrating relationship (Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change By Mario Mikulincer and Phillip R. Shaver. 2007).

As confusing and annoying their inconsistent behaviour is, the worst thing you can do to a fearful avoidant is reinforce their fear that they can’t trust you to be available and responsive when they need you. Growing up with an attachment figure who was inconsistently available and unresponsive (or responsive in an untimely manner) is what created their anxious-avoidant or disorganized attachment in the first place.

Fearful avoidants learned that a source of love, care and safety can also become a source of fear, rejection and hurt. They expect the people who claim to love them to become unavailable or unresponsive soon or later because in a fearful avoidant’s world, that’s what people do. They love you and make you feel wanted, then they reject and abandon you. They tell you they want you to be open and always tell them how you feel or what you need, but then act disappointed in you when you do. They promise you that they’ll always be there for you, then they reject or abandon you.

Going no contact reinforces all of these fearful avoidant’s expectations and fears. If they broke up with you and you go no contact it confirms to them that they can’t be open with you about how you feel or what you need because you’ll punish them. If you broke with them and you go no contact, it confirms to a fearful avoidant that you can’t be trusted to be there for them because you abandoned them.

The healthier and secure attachment alternative to no contact

Sometimes with a fearful avoidant ex, a break-up is an opportunity for you to “fight for them” by showing them that you’re different from what their programming has taught them about people who love them. Showing a fearful avoidant that you want and will fight for them and for a relationship is even more important if a fearful avoidant didn’t want to break-up but felt it was the only solution to the problems you were having.

To show that you’re different from what their fearful avoidant attachment programming has taught, you need to model behaviour that says: “I’m still here. You still matter, and your feelings and needs still matter to me even when right now I shouldn’t still be here (you don’t expect me to be here), and your needs and feelings shouldn’t matter to me because we’re broken up (you pushed me away/broke up with me). I understand that you were unhappy/felt pressured and overwhelmed/felt like you’re not a priority etc., and although I’m hurting from the break-up, I’m not going to punish you for the way you chose to express your feelings and needs.”

These are not words you say to a fearful avoidant ex but what your actions say to them. When you consistently counter a fearful avoidant attachment programming, it create a sense of stability that fearful avoidants never had growing up, and probably have never had in their romantic relationships. You become their attachment stabilizer, a constant or a secure base provider; someone they return to because you did what you said you would do. You said you loved them and cared about them and would be there for them and you kept your word, and matched it with your actions.

If your fearful avoidant ex asked to stay in contact or be friends, not going no contact is a powerful way of showing a fearful avoidant that you heard them and you value their feelings and needs. This has a big impact on their sense of safety since fearful avoidants grew up feeling unimportant and their feelings and needs were ignored or dismissed.

If you’re not in the mental or emotional state to stay in contact or be friends, see how you can get both of your needs met instead of outright rejecting their needs, and then reach out after no contact expecting them to meet your needs.

Fearful avoidants and nostalgia after the break-up

Whether or not a fearful avoidant ex comes back after a breakup depends a lot on how they remember the relationship; and the break-up. Specifically the memories that dominate their thoughts.

According to a study on the effects of nostalgia and avoidant attachment on relationship satisfaction, nostalgia appears to steer individuals with anxious and secure attachment styles towards relationships; but turn avoidants away from relationships.

In his latest research, Rutgers University–Camden researcher and assistant professor of psychology Andrew Abeyta found that nostalgia does not have the same positive psychological benefits for avoidants.

The findings, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, showed that, nostalgia did not change avoidants’ general reluctance to trust others; and their reduced desire to build intimacy and closeness in their relationships. “Nostalgia may actually make things worse” says Andrew Abeyta.

When a fearful avoidant blames you for the break-up

Individuals with a fearful avoidant attachment are especially known to become consumed with thoughts of regret for their actions. For example, “If I hadn’t pushed him away, we would still be together”. They also regret not acting when they should have. For example, “If only I had been more open, she wouldn’t have broken up with me”. But less self-aware fearful avoidants blame an ex for the break-up and take little to no responsibility.

Inducing romantic nostalgia in someone who is consumed with thoughts of regret or blames you for the break-up may not be the best approach for attracting back an avoidant.

“It might be necessary to work on these avoidant tendencies first; before throwing nostalgia into the mix or find a different approach altogether” says Andrew Abeyta researcher and assistant professor of psychology Rutgers University–Camden. See: Why An Avoidant Ex Posts About Good Memories

Why and when a fearful avoidant ex misses you after the break-up

How a fearful avoidant ex feels about you after the break-up is a good indicator of if they will miss you or come back.

If a fearful avoidant ex continues to blame you for the break-up, it’s unlikely they’ll miss you at all. But if they blame themselves or feel that they self-sabotaged, they’ll miss you because they realize they made a mistake breaking up or pushing you away.

Fearful avoidants miss you sooner if:

  1. The relationship was relatively good.
  2. They felt that you were good to them and treated them well.
  3. The relationship has more positive memories than negative ones.
  4. They felt safe because you respected their need to distance once in a while.
  5. There were not too many arguments and fights.
  6. You made a strong connection whether the relationship was short or long.
  7. Your friends and family liked them – they will miss you and miss them.

It’ll take a fearful avoidant ex longer to miss you if they feel you that you didn’t treat them well. If they think it wasn’t a good relationship in general a fearful avoidant ex will not miss you or come back.

Fearful avoidant exes and no contact after the break-up

Fearful avoidants of all the attachment styles are the most likely to react to a break-up with going no contact. They see no contact as a way to cope with control or discomforting emotions. Many fearful avoidants also see no contact as a way test if you will miss them. They see how long before you contact them as a test of how much you love them. And they also want you to chase them to prove to themselves that you love them.

If a fearful avoidant leans avoidant, they’ll most likely stick to the no contact period and not contact you even if they miss you. If a fearful avoidant leans anxious, they may not be able to go through with a 30 days or even 21 days no contact period. The part of their attachment style that desires contact and connection (even if they fear it) will override their attempts to do ‘no contact’; and they will contact you.

Fearful avoidants are also more likely than all the other attachment styles to block you but leave one line of communication open for you to reach out, or block you and unblock you several times (see: Why Did My Fearful Avoidant Ex Block and Then Unblock Me?)

Why fearful avoidants reach out after no contact

If a fearful avoidant goes through with the no contact period and they want you back; they’ll reach out first. They may send a text or indirectly reach out by liking your photos or commenting on your Instagram stories.

If you contact an ex with a fearful avoidant attachment who’s not doing no contact; they’ll likely respond immediately. But they may also take a while to respond because fearful avoidants don’t want to seem too eager. If they lean anxious however, 90% of the time they will respond immediately.

They may respond quickly to the first text and even a few more, then pull back. It does not mean they do not want you to contact them, it is just what fearful avoidants do. They may even like photos on your Instagram but not respond to texts. Then after a while, they start responding again.

Why a fearful avoidant ex may not reach out after a break-up

Fearful avoidants are very sensitive to rejection, criticism or embarrassment; and avoid situations where they may experience rejection or discomfort.

A fearful avoidant ex will more than likely contact you first if they believe that:

  1. You will respond
  2. It will be a pleasant experience for them
  3. You might still be attracted to them
  4. There is a chance you will get back together

A fearful avoidant ex will not reach out if they think the risk of rejection is high. They may also not reach out first because they don’t want to look needy and clingy. They will miss you and hope and pray that you miss them enough to contact them first.

A fearful avoidant will also not reach out if after the break-up you made them feel they can’t trust you. More: This Is How An Avoidant Ex Reacts To You After No Contact

Should you reach out or wait for a fearful avoidant to contact you?

You have two options when dealing with a fearful avoidant ex. The first option is to wait for a fearful avoidant to reach out. Most fearful avoidants especially if they lean anxious will at some point reach out. The problem with waiting for a fearful avoidant to reach out is that it could be anywhere from weeks to months, or even after they’ve moved on.

The second option is to reach out. Reaching out may create anxiety in some fearful avoidants who lean avoidant, but in general, reaching out first indicates to a fearful avoidant that they’re worthy of love, time and energy. They may respond right away or take time to respond, and they may even get it into their heads that you’re chasing them – which to a fearful avoidant is a good thing.

You may even reach out and they’ll tell you that they wanted to reach out and/or give some “fearful avoidant” reason why they didn’t. It’s that wanting connection and closeness, but fearing it at the same time disorganized attachment thing.

If you’re reaching out and initiating most of the contacts, it’s important to keep in mind that it’ll take longer than usual (compared to other attachment styles) for a fearful avoidant who leans avoidant to feel safe enough to be comfortable with regular contact and to start reaching out. If the break-up was because you did not show them enough that you love them, reach out at least three times and they do not respond, don’t reach out again. Wait for them to reach out to you.

Expect a fearful avoidant ex to pull and push you away (repeatedly)

Once the lines of communication are open, expect your fearful avoidant ex’s disorganized attachment style to go on full mode. If you thought your fearful avoidant was hot and cold during the relationship, this is whole other level.

The break-up was a fearful avoidant’s worst fear about relationships, and they’re not going to casually take the risk again. From time to time, you’ll see glimpses of their anxious attachment style (e.g. double and even triple texting and acting anxious when you don’t respond quick enough etc.), but most of the time, they’ll keep switching from anxious to avoidant. For example: A fearful avoidant ex will agree on plans to meet but then cancels last minute because they felt so anxious about seeing you and deactivated. This can happen time and time again.

Throughout the process it’ll feel like your fearful avoidant ex is sending mixed signals because they’re. It’s important to remember that most avoidants feel as confused by they’re behaviour just as you are. The mind games, manipulation, pull-push, blaming and overreacting to things most people let slide is all part of a fearful avoidant ex’s disorganized attachment style. At the end of the day, you can’t control someone else’s reality: what they think, feel or do; you can only control how you respond to it. This is the framework from which securely attached approach relationships. They focus more on their own words and action because it’s the only thing they can control.

What are the signs a fearful avoidant will come back?

If you’ve read this far, I’m sure the questions you want answers the most are: Do a fearful avoidant’s feelings come back and what are the signs a fearful avoidant will come back?

Yes, a fearful avoidant’s feelings can come back although with some fearful avoidant exes, things sometimes drag on for too long, and it begins to feel like there is no hope a fearful avoidant ex’s feelings will come back.

The truth is, many fearful avoidants themselves don’t even know if they want to come back or will come back. Even fearful avoidants who still have feelings for an ex fear putting themselves out there because to a fearful avoidant ex, every little thing is some potential threat to defend against or run away from.

Over the years, I’ve identified some consistent signs a fearful avoidant wants to come back.

1.They are consistent – Consistency for a fearful avoidant is not reaching out every day or even every other day, though this may happen with an anxious fearful avoidant ex. Consistency for a fearful avoidant is their words and actions consistently match.

2. They’re putting in the effort – and want you to know they’re trying. This includes opening up here and there and allowing themselves to be vulnerable in both their words and actions.

3. They’re doing self-work – Seeing a therapist or working on their issues on their own. Even acknowledging their role in the break-up, and showing an awareness of their attachment style is a step in the right direction.

4. They want to meet – An avoidant ex avoiding meeting you is expected, but fearful avoidants take it to another level. They won’t say they don’t want to meet, but instead avoid conversations about meeting, promise to meet but never follow up and cancel dates last minute. If they want to meet and follow through with it, that’s a very good sign.

5. They deactivate less – They pull away less and for shorter periods of time; and when they lean back in, they’re more engaged and taking more risks (e.g. talking about their feelings, and even a future with you in it).

There are other signs a fearful avoidant will come back, but these are pretty consistent signs and very good indicators a fearful avoidant ex will come back – eventually.

COMMENTS: I encourage comments from fearful avoidants on why, how and what makes you come back to an ex. Let’s learn from each other.  Thank you!


How Long Does It Take An Avoidant To Come Back? (FA vs. DA)

Should An Anxious Attachment Go Back To An Avoidant Ex?

How Avoidants Leave Open The Option To Reconnect With Exes

Attract Back An Avoidant Ex: 5 – Avoidant Wants to Text But Not Meet

How to Make An Avoidant Ex Feel Safe Enough To Come Back

Why Is My Fearful Avoidant Ex Acting Hot And Cold?

5 Strong Signs An Avoidant Ex Regrets The Break-Up

Join the Conversation


  1. says: Ellisa

    I’m so glad I came across your articles. I have an anxious attachment and have been with my FA ex for 3 years. This is our 3rd breakup and all my friends are telling me to let him go and find someone secure. Btw, 2 are single and 1 just started dating a DA.

    The most important thing I’ve learned reading your articles is that it’s more important to be secure than expect others to be safe for you. Since modeling secure behaviors, our relationship had improved. He has started opening up and being vulnerable with me. He also started therapy and doing many things I always asked him to do, and he would pull away and not talk to me for weeks. I feel like we have a real chance and all I did was change my behavior towards him.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I’m happy for you that you figured this out. Finding someone secure is not as easy as people make it to be. The competition for secures is high and between two options; anxious vs. secure, a secure will choose another secure anytime. And there is no guarantee that a relationship with someone secure will not have problems if you’re still anxious or avoidant.

      The other thing many people saying “Find someone secure” don’t get is that securely attached people will provide safety and try to make the relationship work for a short while, but if nothing changes, they’ll break-up with you too – and this time you only have yourself to blame for the break-up. An avoidant is actually more likely to stay longer in an unhealthy dynamic than a secure.

      In other words, you’re doing the right thing by working on becoming secure. You can provide the security and safety the relationship needs to work, but if nothing changes you can walk away as a securely attached and be attractive to other secures.

  2. says: Brandon

    The day I started reading this website is the day I started making tangible progress within myself mentally/emotionally. Not to mention that after digesting the content here thoroughly, I’ve created a new bond with my FA ex via genuinely understanding them better and displaying that naturally. It’s refreshing to discover that those other guys are selling to your emotions and not providing info that helps your needs like this site does.

  3. says: Billy

    Just go no contact, completely cut them off and block them everywhere and let them see what life is without you. They’ll come crawling back because they can see that you are doing great without them and they’re missing out.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I understand where you’re coming from, but I think it’s presumptuous, delusional and even egotistic to think that your ex is missing out because they’re not in your life or that you’re so important that your ex’s life is missing something because you’re not in it. This is the kind of thinking that makes most avoidants want out.

      Also keep in mind that by the time most avoidants break-up with you, they’ve been thinking about it for a while and most likely have adjusted to the possibility of a life without you in it. They may even miss you, but not want you back in their lives because of all the baggage you bring with you from the old relationship.

      Almost every sensible ex wants to know that they’re not coming back to the same problems, same old relationship. Even if you have worked on you and changed, your ex doesn’t know/can’t know that because you’ve completely cut them off and blocked them everywhere.

      1. says: Billy

        So your advice is what? Keep contacting them and annoy them and they block you instead? That’s ridiculous and bad advice.

        1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

          No, that’s not my advice. You’re only seeing the black and white of contact with an ex – keep contacting them and annoy them or go no contact. Healthy and secure relationships focus on balancing the need for connection and need for space – this is my approach and the consistent theme in all my advice.

          I think this will help you see things differently: How Much Space To Give A Fearful Avoidant Ex

  4. says: Cassey

    I found out about attachment styles after 18 days of no contact and after reading all the stuff about a fearful avoidant attachment style I broke no contact. She’s responding which is a positive sign but I’m also slowly finding out that she is guarded with me. Before I went no contact she responded when I asked, “how are you?” or “how was your day?” but now she completely ignores when I ask. She also doesn’t text back after 6 pm until the next day. I feel like missed the critical window of time to get her back and now I’m having to work harder to fix the damage from 18 days of no contact. I just hope I can get another chance with her and it’s not too late.

  5. says: Jaylene

    Yangki, thanks to your site and a session I had with you, my FA ex and I are now texting daily from zero response a couple of months ago. My worry is that I may be friendzoned, and my question is how do I know the difference between us taking it slow and being friendzoned?

    1. says: Tatasp

      I’m FA and due to my fear of rejection, I don’t initiate contact often. I wait to see if someone is genuinely interested in me or just meeting their own attachment needs before I put myself out there. If they’re texting me once every week or two weeks, it comes to the point where I just friend zone them. I understand that they may be giving me space but it’s just too much risk for me, I get anxious waiting for them to text me and it gets to a point where I don’t care if they text me or not, and that’s the friend zone.

      1. says: Ginni

        That absurd and sad at the same time. How is someone supposed to know you’re waiting for them to text you when don’t tell them? Were not mind readers.

        1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

          I understand that you’re looking for answers, but I don’t think you’ll get a response from a fearful avoidant or any avoidant calling their fears absurd. Tatasp shared his fears which many FAs have expressed to me and I think it’s helpful that he provided insight into understanding FAs a little better.

          How is someone supposed to know FA ex is waiting for them to text? Look at the level of engagement – how quickly they respond when you reach out, the length of their responses and interest. If they seem “eager” to communicate, they were waiting for you to reach out.

  6. says: Rechelle

    I think my ex went full dismissive avoidant too. I’m initiating all contact and all I get is one-word answers after 3 -4 days for the last 2 weeks. I’m not going to waste anymore of my time.

  7. says: Coleen

    I thought I was with a dismissive avoidant but was confused when he acted very anxious when I didn’t respond to text messages. He’d call me because he thought I was mad at him. After reading many of your articles, it makes more sense that he’s a fearful avoidant leaning dismissive. I wish I understood him better, I’d probably have responded to his anxious side. He always said I didn’t care about him and in hindsight he was seeking validation.

    1. says: Onyx30

      Mine is FA but I’m convinced he went full DA after the breakup. I’m FA myself and thought I knew all about FAs, but after reading many of Yangkee’s articles on DAs, they accurately describe this new person I’m dealing with. Is it even possible to shift to full DA?

      1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

        Temporally yes. Attachment styles (unless clinically diagnosed as a disorder) are not fixed like a “personality”. Instead, they exist on a spectrum of high/low anxiety and high/low avoidance. Certain experiences can push us further to one end of the spectrum, but we eventually return to our primary attachment style. The exception is when one does the work to permanently change their attachment style to secure attachment, but even then it’s only “earned security”. The triggers may still be present but one learns to manage them better.

  8. says: Karly

    My ex is an anxious fearful avoidant. I was about to go no contact and this might have just changed my life! Thank you, thank you Yangki.

  9. says: Wall_fly

    I brought up good memories from the relationship and my fearful avoidant ex said he couldn’t allow himself to remember the good memories because he couldn’t think of the good without thinking of the bad things that happened in the relationship. He can’t keep the good and bad memories separate. Do you think I ruined my chances?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      If it was a once-time thing, no, you didn’t ruin anything. Mentioning a good memory here and there doesn’t necessarily ruin your chances. It’s when you make “nostalgia” a central part of your approach to attracting back an avoidant that creates problems. As your ex so eloquently put it, “can’t keep the good and bad memories separate.”

      Many avoidants avoid an ex who wants to talk about the relationship or break-up. Staying present and creating better memories gives you a better chance with an avoidant.

  10. says: Tanya

    I’ve often identified as having an anxious attachment but my last 2 breakups, I was extremely avoidant. I’ve never experienced this before and now I think I’m probably a fearful avoidant leaning anxious rather than anxious preoccupied.

  11. says: Chuck38

    I’m a fearful avoidant, I don’t reach out first unless I’m sure it will be reciprocated. But when I really like you, I’ll reach out once, maybe a couple of times and if it’s not reciprocated I’ll not reach out again. I’ll reply if you text me, maybe not immediately but typically within 24 hours. I also constantly watch for any sign that you’re not happy because of something I’ve said or done and pull back or take longer to reply.

  12. says: Dramafree2022

    I was in an on-off again relationship with an anxious fearful avoidant for 2 yrs, more off than on actually. He initiated all the 6 breakups via text. He always came back after 2 – 8 days but the breakup before this last one we didn’t talk for 3 months. He went no contact and didn’t respond to my 3 text messages asking for a closure conversation and I stopped reaching out. He reached out and after a few conversations we got back together for just over 2 months. This last breakup, he went silent again but I had come across attachment styles and read many of your articles. I sent him a text as you advised in one of your articles and after 5 days of silence, he replied with a long text apologizing for what he put me through and asked if I can help him work on being healthy. We’ve mutually decided to work on us individually before attempting the relationship again. Our communication and connection has never been better.

  13. says: Jay

    I feel like I turned a corner. We’ve gone from seeing each other twice a week at the gym and waving from a distance to daily texts and her initiating most. We were even intimate a couple of days ago. This is after months of trying to get her to meet and her cancelling 5 times. As I said, things are really good at the moment, but as you say in your article, expect them to pull you close and then push you away. I think I’m well prepared, thanks to you, Yangki.

  14. says: Trotter78

    I’m definitely dealing with an anxious fearful avoidant ex. Cried when breaking up with me and apologized when I told him he pushed me away so many times that I couldn’t do it anymore. For 2 weeks, begged to give him another chance to prove he loves me and then I never heard from him again for almost 3 months. Recently he started watching my insta stories but doesn’t text me. I watched your video and you said it’s quite normal for their attachment style to be curious about your life but not enough to reach out.

  15. says: Cara Cooper

    If they move to the avoidant attachment, do they ever move back to anxious? When we were together my ex would get anxious if he didn’t hear from me. He always thought he had done something wrong or assumed something is bothering me. And after we broke up he’d send me nonsensical texts asking if he can ask me a question or if I was ok but when I replied he didn’t respond. I got tired of it and stopped responding. He stopped reaching out and we didn’t speak for 5 months. I reached out a month ago and there have been texts here and there however, he seems like a completely different person, very cold and aloof.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Yes, sometimes the anxiety comes back when you get close again. Most fearful avoidants once they veer way into avoidance stay that way for a long time. Once in a while you see their anxious side but most of the time they’re avoidant. Because your ex previously leaned heavily anxious, you might want to read this: How Do You Get Back An Ex With Anxious Attachment? (THIS!)

      There are also some very fearful avoidants that go full avoidant and detach – and never regain feelings for an ex. They may even respond out of politeness but have no interest in getting close again. And others just want to be friends.

  16. says: Kristene

    This makes so much sense. I always thought there were 2 types of FAs because my ex didn’t fit the typical FA profile. He didn’t pull back as often as FAs do and was very anxious when I didn’t respond, wanted constant contact and talked a lot about his abusive childhood. But since the breakup he’s become so avoidant. It’s like dealing with two personas. A few days after the breakup he said he wants me to chase him but now he wants me to leave him alone. I asked if he still loves me and got no response, is now 5 weeks of no contact.

  17. says: Bellaex

    FA reached out after 5 months of no communication, so I thought he’d time to process his emotions and wants to get back together. We had a brief conversation in the beginning where he mentioned wanting to be friends and I told him I can’t be friends with someone I have feelings for. I didn’t hear back from him for 13 days. He reached out talking about something else but when I brought up the conversation about being friends he said we can try to be friends and if we’re good as friends there’s a good chance we’ll get back together. But after 3 – 4 months of me 90% initiating and him refusing to meet I’m emotionally exhausted. I understand fearful avoidants need someone to be consistent in their words and actions before they can trust them and I’ve been consistent, but I just can’t do it anymore.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      If you initially said no to being friends and if an ex reached out or you reached out and you started to communicate on the regular, an ex takes it that you are now okay with just being friends.

      This is different because he said if you’re good as friends there’s a good chance you’ll get back together. It seems that he’s either consciously or subconsciously sabotaging the friendship to prove that you can’t get back together. And if you’re still initiating 90% and haven’t met after 3 – 4 months, it’s a sign that the process is stuck. Either there is something you’re not doing to move things forward/gain momentum, or he really just wants to be friends and stalling.

      See: Friendzoned By My An Avoidant Ex Or Starting As Friends?

  18. says: Page

    I’m seeing my fearful avoidant ex from a whole different perspective and like others have said, for the first time I truly believe there is hope for us. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Great site, great advice, great comments!

  19. says: Kinnisa

    My FA ex reached out a few days after the breakup and wanted to be friends. He said I’m the best friend he’s ever had and the only person that’s really been there for him. I said I couldn’t be friends and went into NC. 4 months and he hasn’t reached out, but I’m not blocked and he still follows me. The more I learn about FAs, the more I’m concerned that I’ve sabotaged any future relationship.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Some fearful avoidants leave at least one open line of communication for you to reach out first.

  20. says: TinaX

    My FA ex reached out 10 days after we broke up. I was shocked as I’d read that FAs don’t reach out after the breakup. After reading your article, I now understand he’s FA but on the anxious side. Anyways he wanted to see me and even mentioned starting afresh and dating again. I didn’t know if I should respond so I ignored his texts. But he was persistent and talked about the good times we had and how much he missed me. But after 3 weeks of texts every 3-4 days, he stopped. Also while he was sending me these texts he was also posting on Insta about not realizing what you had until it’s gone. When the texts stopped the Insta posts stopped too. It’s been 2 months and I haven’t heard from him. Do you think he’ll reach out again?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I don’t know. I think that when you ignored him, it made him feel rejected and his avoidant side kicked in. It will take a while for him to reach out again (if he ever reaches out). Why don’t you reach out?

      The longer there’s no contact the deeper the deactivation, at some point avoidants completely lose all feelings for you (detach); and it’s very hard to get them to feel anything for you again. They may even reach out, but it’ll be playing games (ego trip) with no intention of getting back together.

  21. says: Lazlo

    My FA initiates texts but keeps exchanges to 2-3. The texts seem effortless and surface level, no real conversation. I’ve read many of your articles and do as you say and ask questions to try to make the conversations more connecting but he doesn’t respond or responds with one-word. I understand that we dated for only 5-6 months, but we had great chemistry and connection. This is why I don’t get why he seems so distant. Breadcrumb texts are so confusing.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      It’s frustrating to be trying and getting little in response. My experience a lot of the time, is that what an anxious preoccupied sees as effortless may actually be effort on an avoidant’s part. Fearful avoidants especially struggle with finding the right thing to say and many have told me they sometimes don’t respond because they don’t know what to say or can’t process what the right response is fast enough.

      I don’t know if this is happening with your fearful avoidant ex, but a lot of the time, many of them circle back to a question you asked days or even a week later. It’s like they finally processed it and have an answer.

      1. says: Lazlo

        Yes, he answers some questions days or weeks later. It just feels like breadcrumbs to me. They’re not putting in any effort which makes me feel they don’t want contact.

        1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

          I don’t know the details of your break-up, and you may be right that your fearful avoidant ex is just being polite or enjoying the attention.

          What I know for fact is that an avoidant is never going to want to communicate like an anxious preoccupied. In fact, the constant need to connect or stay connected is one of the things that avoidants don’t like about anxious preoccupied.

          You’re always going to have days and moments where a fearful avoidant ex is reaching out more and is fully engaged, and days and moments when they pull back and are distant. This will lessen as their interest increases and they start thinking of coming back. Once this happens, it’s important for you to communicate (very skillfully) what you need from them; and set the tone of the new relationship right away.

          Until that time, you’ll have to find ways to self-soothe and be “okay” with a fearful avoidant being a fearful avoidant, otherwise you’ll drive yourself crazy, literally.

          It may be a lot to ask. What I’ve seen work with my clients who successfully got back together with a fearful avoidant is changing how you think of an avoidant’s “small efforts” to communicate. A different perspective goes a long way.

          1. says: Ken-Obi

            I’m FA leaning avoidant, I read many of your articles and feel like you really get us avoidants.

            I struggle to share my thoughts and feelings. If you ask me about how I feel about something and I respond, it means that I’m trying to show I care about you. To some people it may seem normal or low effort but to me it’s me trying to show you I appreciate you asking and care about you.

          2. says: Jacktbln

            I am FA/avoidant too and it took me years of therapy to get to a point where I’m vulnerable enough to talk about what I think or how I feel. However, I find that most people take it for granted and it makes me feel resentful. Going on and on about how I’m closed off when I’m trying makes me not want to even try.

  22. says: Sidian

    I used to be conflicted (Im FA, duh!) about someone checking on me when I deactivate. On one hand, it made me feel worse because I agonized about how I’m viewed if I do not respond and how it might make someone feel. On the other hand, it made me feel they care especially if it’s part of their consistency. I feel the later more with my current ex who is a genuinely caring person and checks on family, friends, coworkers etc. She’s a palliative care nurse and has a way of making you feel you matter. And the more I work through my attachment issues and in learning to trust more, I find myself less anxious about not responding and allowing someone to care about me. I would like to one day get back with my ex, but she wants to see I’ve changed before even considering it. I’m changing for her, but more so for myself. I reached a point where I’m so tired of being afraid and pushing people away.

    1. says: Vanessa

      Good for her, and for you. I wish my FA wanted to work on his issues (so much physical abuse and neglect), but he refuses to acknowledge that it has anything to do with the breakdown of the relationship, thinks attachment theory is pop psychology and blames me for everything. I love him very much and I know he loves me in his own way, but he needs to understand that in order for us to work, he must confront his demons. I’m in therapy working on my anxious attachment, but I know it will not be enough to keep us together if he doesn’t change.

      1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

        You’re exactly right. There is no guarantee that if you become secure the relationship will work, but there is a better chance of it working if you become secure even if the other person doesn’t change.

        At the end of the day, you can only do your part; he has to do his part. As you work through your issues, you may find that 1) things get better because you’re more secure or, 2) because you’re more secure, you want a different kind of relationship.

  23. says: Steve K

    I lean anxious or avoidant depending on my partner. With dismissive partner I’m more anxious and with anxious partner, I’m more avoidant. With friends, I’m more secure.

  24. says: Christina

    Just came across this and it’s so helpful in making sense of what I’m going through with my anxious FA ex. Thank you

  25. says: Billie

    I have read many posts and watched numerous videos and this by far is the most accurate representation of how fearful avoidants deal with break ups. I say this as a fearful avoidant who leans anxious. We’re often overlooked and misrepresented as only avoidant. Thank you.

    1. says: JJones38

      I have always thought I am more anxious than I am avoidant. I tested fearful avoidant attachment and tick all the boxes for avoidant attachment: hard to trust people, fear of being hurt by closeness, always worry that I am not loved coz I am not worthy of love etc. But I also I feel incomplete when not in a relationship, need constant reassurance and validation, fear that I will be abandoned, super clingy and needy when communication dips, and I do not push people away (at least not consciously). I go through phases of being avoidant and being anxious, but I am mostly anxious 75% of the time.

      1. says: Truegem

        My FA ex was very anxious in the relationship asking over and over if we were okay, where my head was at, how I was feeling etc. But after the breakup he’s gone totally avoidant. We’re currently in no contact for 32 days and he hasn’t reached out. Neither of us has blocked the other.

  26. says: xav

    Thank you. You say that FAs reach out, is this a sign they’ve made a step forward in their healing and breaking that fear to make contact is stepping out of their comfort zone?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Not necessarily. As the article explains, fearful avoidants also have an anxious side which makes them more likely to reach out compared to dismissive avoidants. And sometimes reaching out is just a fearful avoidant’s way of seeking reassurance that you still care and/or love them.

      If they continue to reach out and consistently show less fearful avoidant behaviours, then you can say they’re taking a step forward towards healing.

  27. says: MaryJo

    FA dumped me saying that he didn’t think we were compatible. I took 4 days to respond, and basically told him I was blindsided by what he said and didn’t agree we were incompatible, but I accepted that this was what he wanted. He apologized and said he didn’t want to hurt me and doesn’t know what he wants. He also said he missed me. I responded that I missed him too. I never heard from him again. What did I do wrong?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Just based of this, I don’t see anything you did wrong, in fact you did everything right. The fact that he apologized and said he didn’t want to hurt you suggest this is not the first time this has happened, and a part of him knows it’s self-sabotage again.

      It’s also possible that he tried to set the stage for you to chase him. A fearful avoidant who is aware that he doesn’t know what he wants is probably the most conflicted of all. He knows he wants something but doesn’t know what that is; and as result can’t even recognize it when he has it. Expect him to keep reaching out and disappearing.

  28. says: JGi33

    Very helpful, thank you. How should I show up? Also, can you explain what you mean by “framework from which securely attached approach relationships”?

  29. says: Joey M

    I’m at a point where I’ve accepted my FA ex is not coming back. She started to pull away after a small misunderstanding where she accused me of hiding things and said she couldn’t trust me again. I showed her the texts to clarify the misunderstanding and told her I love her and would never hide things from her. She asked for space, so I gave it to her. 2 months later I reached out, we had a nice text conversation and she said she’ll come back when the time is right. I believed she just needed some more time and space, but it’s been 7.5 months of waiting.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      She likely meant it when she said she’ll come back when the time is right (most FAs mean what they way when they’re saying it). But with FA’s hot and cold, anxious and avoidant switching, there’s no way of telling how they’ll feel a week or a month later.

      Reach out one more time. Some fearful avoidants when you don’t reach out after a long time think you are over them and will not reach out and risk rejection.

      1. says: Kirstie

        I just found out about attachment styles and only now realize my ex was just scared of how quickly things were moving. Reading this, I think I made things worse acting angry and blocking him. I should have calmed his fears and given him reassurance.

        I’d take him back in a heartbeat if he reached out and wanted to get back together. But right now he’s only concerned with his own self preservation that we haven’t talked to each other in 4 months. I’m debating whether or not I should reach out or wait for him to make the first move.

  30. says: Kaybrax

    Thanks for this well thought out article. My question is, how long does it take for FA who leans anxious to go from deactivation to detachment?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I’ve not found credible research on how long it takes an avoidant to go from deactivation to detachment. I’d think it depends on an individual avoidant, the reasons why the deactivation started, the way an ex responds to a fearful avoidant deactivating (make them safe or unsafe) and how a fearful avoidant process the event/experience. I don’t know which of the above is a major factor, or if they all play an equal role; and what role a period of no contact plays into this.

      What I know from experience is that it’s harder and takes much longer to get a fearful avoidant to come back once they’ve completely detached. Most avoidants in general don’t come back once they’ve completely detach.

  31. says: Bluewings

    Read this last night and reached out to FA ex who I suspect leans anxious. I saw some of his anxious side which confused me especially in the last 2 weeks before the breakup. He’d pull away and when I stopped reaching out, he’d get anxious and multiple text me. Then he’d pull away again. We never really officially broke up. I stopped reaching out late April and since then had only a few texts here and there. We hadn’t had any contact for 1 month when I reached out last night. He responded after an hour, “what do you want?”. Normally this would trigger me and start an argument, but I’ve been doing my self work and feel more calm and centered (secure). I responded back, “I just want to know how you are. That’s all.” Didn’t hear from him until this morning. He texted, “I’m doing fine. Just came back from DC. How are you?”. I responded and we chatted for a while. I asked how he felt about me reaching out every 2 -4 days and he said, “I’d love that!” Fingers crossed. I feel more secure and more hopeful that one day we’ll be able to have a normal relationship.

    Thank you for all the work you do, Yangki. You help more people than you realize. Your site was recommended to me by a friend who said you helped her so much.

  32. says: Greber41

    FA leans anxious reached out 2 weeks after the breakup. We texted back and forth for 2 hours . He reached out again 4 days later and wanted me to know he read the book Attached, which I had told him about when we were breaking up. We had a few exchanges talking about AT. I didn’t hear from him again for 8 days, then he reached. I suspected he was starting to feel rejected because he was the only one reaching out, so I reached out. This is pretty much the pattern now. He reaches out 2/3, I reach out 1/3.

    I’m earned SA and happy that he is interested in healing his attachment style and happy to help since he reached out to me but I’m not entertaining the idea of us getting back together until I see significant change from him.

    1. says: Makkar

      I found out attachment styles when it was too late. I wish I knew about stuff like this before. It’s like learning a new language only that you see things in hindsight.

  33. says: Jenn

    My fearful avoidant ex is very anxious leaning, and pushed me to break it off with avoidant behaviors. I can see he wants to get close and has been reaching out. Things were good for 1.5 months. Last week he deactivated after small argument. I was giving him space and haven’t reached out. If he is also anxious, how much space do I give him?

  34. says: Luss

    My relationship with a fearful avoidant was only 5 months long but he broke up with me 6 times. I finally told him we were done. He seemed surprised but still blamed me for the problems in the relationship. They refuse to take responsibility.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      This happens a lot with fearful avoidants who are not self-aware. A more self-aware fearful avoidant takes responsibility for their role in the break-up and sometimes blames themselves more than they blame their ex.

    2. says: Jaytee

      Mine didn’t want to take any responsibility too. Together, 8.5 months, broke up 2 times. This last time she said she didn’t know how she felt about me. Blamed me for not respecting her boundaries which she never communicated to me. Also when I tried to give her space, she got anxious and insistently texted me until I responded. I tried to tell her I gave her space but it didn’t go well.

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