How A Fearful Avoidant Ex Comes Back – Explained In Detail

This explains in detail how a fearful avoidant ex comes back after the breakup; everything you need to know from how a fearful avoidant ex feels, no contact, when they miss you, mixed feelings 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 not only increase the chances of a fearful avoidant coming back, but may help a fearful avoidant ex come back sooner.

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

To understand how fearful avoidant ex feels after a break-up and why they come back, it’s important to look at what studies say about on how attachment styles react in the initial phases of a break-up.

Studies show that individuals with an anxious-preoccupied and a fearful avoidant attachment react with the most difficulties following a break-up. They report being more anxious, more depressed, more confused, more “cheated”, and more attached to their ex.

Because of their high sensitivity to rejection, both attachment styles have been observed to react to a break-up with a mixture of anger, hostility, and longing for their ex. While anxious-preoccupied tend to engage in obsessive pursuit of an ex, exes with a fearful avoidant attachment react defensively by organizing their behaviour to minimize the pain of a break-up, i.e. no contact and playing mind games.

A fearful avoidant ex leaning anxious vs. a fearful avoidant ex leaning avoidant

Whether a fearful avoidant ex leans anxious or leans avoidant is something you should take into consideration when trying to get back together with a fearful avoidant ex.

Individuals with a fearful avoidant attachment style have both anxious and avoidant tendencies; which makes a fearful avoidant attachment style more complex than other attachment styles.

After a break-up, a fearful avoidant ex with more anxious tendencies may act just like someone with a preoccupied attachment style soon after a break-up. But then they start to deactivate and become avoidant; especially if you ignore them and they feel rejected. They may even completely detach. A fearful avoidant ex who leans more avoidant may immediately detach and become cold, distant, emotionless and dismissive after the break-up; and remain that way for a very long time.

A fearful avoidant ex’s self-awareness also plays an important role in their behaviour after the break-up; and when trying to attract them back. A much more self-ware fearful avoidant tries 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 more willing to change.

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 while they’re in no contact.

According to a study: The effects of nostalgia and avoidant attachment on relationship satisfaction and romantic motives, nostalgia appears to orient 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.

When a fearful avoidant blames you for the break-up

The evidence that nostalgic reflection may push avoidants further away from closeness and intimacy has important implications on how fearful avoidants come back after a breakup; or if they come back at all.

Individuals with a fearful avoidant attachment are especially known to become consumed with thoughts of regret for their actions (e.g., If I hadn’t pushed him away, we would still be together.) and inactions (e.g. If only I had been more open, she wouldn’t have broken up with me). Less self-aware avoidants are also known to blame an ex for the break-up.

Inducing romantic nostalgia in someone who is consumed with thoughts of regret for their actions; and/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.

More: Do Exes Remember The Good Memories Or The Bad 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; and/or come back.

If a fearful avoidant ex continues to blame you for the break-up, it’s unlikely they’ll miss you soon after the break-up; or miss you at all. But because many fearful avoidants break up with even the people they truly love, they may experience more anxiety after the break-up than what they experience during the relationship; especially if they realize they made a mistake breaking up or pushing the person they love 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 will take an ex with a fearful avoidant attachment longer to miss you or come back if they feel you: 1) didn’t treat them well and/or 2) meet their needs. And if they think the relationship wasn’t a good relationship in general; an ex with a fearful attachment may 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 doing no contact. They see no contact as a way to cope with emotions that are out of control or discomforting; and also see no contact as a way test if you will miss them. They want you to chase them to prove to themselves that you love them. They also see how long before you contact them as a test of how much 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, 45 or 60 day 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.

If a fearful avoidant goes through with the no contact period, and they still want you back, they will 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; unless they are listening to a coach, therapist, or advice not to respond right away.

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 want contact and connection and fear it at the same time. 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 especially in close relationships; and avoid situations where they may experience rejection, embarrassment 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 contact you  first because they don’t want to look like they love and care about you more than you love and care about them. They will miss you and hope and pray that you miss them enough to contact them first.

A fearful avoidant may also not reach out if your actions after the break-up made them feel even more rejected and distrustful or angry.

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?

That depends on if you want to prove to them you love them; and if they are worth chasing. If the break-up was because you did not show them enough that you love them, contact them once (or twice). If they do not respond, don’t reach out again. Wait for them to reach out to you.

At the end of the day, you can’t control someone else’s reality: what they think, feel or do.

More: 5 Ways A Fearful Avoidant Ex Self Sabotaged The Relationship

The trap of trying to decode a fearful avoidant ex’s mixed signals

Learning about attachment styles; how each attachment styles plays out and how they interact is the first step to a functional, lasting and rewarding relationship. But trying to decode every single avoidant behaviour is a trap you may never come out of.

No question about it, being able to decode, interpret and predict an avoidant’s behaviour gives you some control of the situation. But how can you control the a situation when some avoidants don’t even know how they feel or why they do the things they do.

What you can control is your reality. How you show up whether someone is a fearful avoidant, dismissive avoidant or anxious preoccupied. And remember, there is more to any individual than their attachment style. In other words, a fearful avoidant attachment style doesn’t define someone; it just helps you understand them better.

How you show up is what separates securely attached from insecurely attached

Instead of asking “will my ex miss me”, “will a fearful avoidant reach out first?” Ask yourself: How do I want to love and be loved? Do my thoughts, feelings and actions reflect how I want to be loved? Do my actions make the person I love feel safe, secure and loved?

This is the framework from which securely attached approach relationships. And there is increasing evidence that a partner’s attachment security plays an important role as a motivation to maintain and persist in a relationship. Attachment security is also a factor in an avoidant’s willingness to open themselves up to the risk of getting hurt or rejected.

RELATED:

5 Strong Signs An Avoidant Ex Regrets The Break-Up

10 Most Confusing Mixed Signals From A Fearful Avoidant Ex

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22 Comments

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  1. 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 the reaching out is just a fearful avoidant’s way of seeking reassurance that you still care and/or love them (mind games).

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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”?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.