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

To understand how fearful avoidants feel after a break-up and why they come back; it’s important to look at what studies say about how attachment styles react in the initial stages 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 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, an ex with a fearful avoidant attachment also known as anxious-avoidant reacts with longing and wanting an ex back but also creating distance by going no contact or playing mind games. This is why a fearful avoidant attachment style is also known as a disorganized attachment style.

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

Thinking of a fearful avoidant as just an avoidant 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. This means that individuals with a fearful avoidant attachment style have a mix of an anxious attachment style and avoidant attachment style at varying degrees. This makes a fearful avoidant attachment style more complex than other attachment styles.

After a break-up a fearful avoidant may experience and exhibit conflicted behaviour because the anxious part of them that needs and longs for connection will feel anxious, despondent and depressed but the avoidant part of them that’s mistrustful and afraid of connection will feel the break-up was unavoidable and even necessary.

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

In the initial stages of a break-up, whether a fearful avoidant ex leans anxious or leans avoidant is something you should take into consideration if you want to get back together with a fearful avoidant ex.

A fearful avoidant ex who leans anxious may after a break-up act just like an ex with an anxious attachment style: needy and constantly reaching out, pushy and wanting to talk about the break-up or getting back together but slowly they start to deactivate and become avoidant; especially if you ignore them and they feel abandoned. They may even completely detach from all feelings about you as a way of coping with feeling abandoned. 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.

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

A fearful avoidant ex who leans avoidant may immediately detach and become cold and distant after the break-up; and remain that way for a long time especially if they feel like they ‘deserve’ the break-up. They may even act just like a dismissive avoidant ex after a 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.

In other words, going no contact with a fearful avoidant ex is a big gamble. They’re either going to get anxious and reach out to you, or deactivate and pull further away.

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.

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. 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 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 doing 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 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 avoidant who lean anxious are also more likely to block you; but leave one line of communication open for you to reach out.

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.

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’ll don’t want to meet, but instead avoid conversations to meet, promise to meet but never follow up and cancel dates last minute. If they want to meet and act follow through, 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!

RELATED:

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

10 Most Confusing Mixed Signals From A Fearful Avoidant Ex

 

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59 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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