It’s a different set of emotions for each attachment style when they find out their ex is seeing someone else. Some attachment styles handle an ex seeing in a new relationship with distancing to make their ex miss them; and others become needy and clingy.
How attachment styles internally process their ex is seeing someone else
One’s attachment style plays a huge role in how they internally process the upsetting news; and how they respond or react:
1) Securely attached (low-anxiety, low-avoidance)
Although hurt, they accept it as another obstacle they have to overcome to attract back their ex.
2) Dismissive avoidant (low-anxiety, high-avoidance)
Feel hurt, upset but choose distance so as not to show emotion or react in anyway
3) Anxious/preoccupied (high-anxiety, low-avoidance)
Feel hurt, distraught and worried that they may never get their ex back. Often react with jealousy behaviour.
4) Fearful-avoidant (high-anxiety, high-avoidance)
Feel hurt, angry and worried that they may never get their ex back. If they lean anxious they may react with jealousy behaviour; and they lean avoidant, they’ll distance with the hope that it’ll make you miss them.
Response or reaction may be immediate or delayed
Depending on previous relationship experiences, general coping style, overall mental health (i.e. struggle with depression) and other life stressors; one may react immediately to hearing your ex is in a new relationship, or take a while for to react.
Secure attachment style
Someone with a secure attachment style may initially ask many questions about the new relationship; and even say they need to move on. Later after they process their emotions and feelings, they may choose to keep trying to attract back their ex; but set boundaries that protect their chances of attracting back their ex and also protect them.
Anxious attachment style
Someone with anxious attachment style (anxious- preoccupied and fearful avoidants) may initially panic and get emotional; or try to act calm and reasonable. Their past experiences have taught them that acting needy, clingy and emotional will push their ex further away. They may even tell their ex they understand that their ex is single and can date whoever they want. But after a few hours or days, they become more distraught; and desperately try anything and everything to try to discourage their ex from pursing the new relationship. They just can’t keep it together emotionally.
Avoidant attachment style
Someone with attachment avoidance (fearful and dismissives) may immediately pull away or distance. A fearful avoidant in these moments may express more anxiety than avoidance (e.g. plead, reason, bargain and act needy). After they think more about it (more like overthink it), they become more upset, fearful and even angry; and begin the process of distancing. The desire to “get even” is often stronger in people with attachment avoidance.
Depending on how an ex started the new relationship or if they had some emotional investment in trying things again; a dismissive avoidant may initially show some emotion and may even express anger. After they think more about it, they emotionally shut down, distance and move on.
Is there a ‘normal” reaction to an ex seeing someone else or dating someone new?
There is no normal way to feel about anything; whether you are secure, anxious, fearful or have a dismissive avoidant attachment style. How you feel is always the right feeling. You shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling a certain way. But there is a constructive and relationship building way to respond; and a destructive and relationship- destroying way to respond or react.
No reaction (or detachment) where one is expected to feel or show some emotion may look like a show of emotional strength. But in interpersonal relationships, and especially when you still want your ex back, acting like you are not bothered (detached) or pretending like your ex is not in a new relationship can hurt your chances.
But what hurts your chances more than anything else is when you become ‘too bothered” by the fact that your ex is in a new relationship. Like I said, some kind of ‘reaction’ is normal and even expected, what is not normal is getting so distraught that you:
- Overthink things so much that your subjective perception distorts your reality.
- Are incapable of thinking about anything else. It’s all you think about, research about, talk about.
- Seriously “lose it” and act full-on crazy.
These reaction do not protect your best interest, respect and dignity; and they certainly are not in the best interest of a future relationship with your ex.
Some people even react without knowing the facts about what is really going on. Not only do they make complete fools of themselves and earn the title of “the crazy ex”; they keep making things worse because they can’t bring themselves to keep it together.
Whatever you do, don’t let your emotions get in the way of getting back your ex
Whether you have an anxious or fearful attachment style or whether you are a dismissive avoidant, how you handle your ex seeing someone else or in a new relationship, can take you from hope to no hope in a millisecond; and can mean the difference getting back together and not.
There are times when I have had to beg my client not to do something stupid and ruin all the progress we’ve made, and they are like, “I don’t care if it ruins my chances.”
It’s easy to say “I don’t care” when your emotions are talking; but months later (forget months, days later) when you calm down, you will feel “stupid” (if you have some sense of shame) for the way you overreacted.
In my experience, many of the things that prevent someone from attracting back their ex are clearly their own fault; a result of their own intended or unintended actions.
Your emotions should not run the show, your emotions should not get in the way of what you want. Emotions are supposed to be your ally’ not your foe.