Reconnecting with a dismissive avoidant or fearful avoidant may not be as hopeless as it looks. There are signs that some avoidants leave the door open to reconnect and come back, and that the break-up is temporary and not permanent or final. Understanding what these signs are will help you better reconnect with an avoidant ex.
When breaking up, did your avoidant ex reflect less care for you or reflect concern for you? Did they express anger about things that happened in the relationship or talk about the positive aspects of the relationship? Did they sit down with you and break-up with you face-to-face or did they ghost you or end the relationship without telling you?
The answers to these question may not tell you exactly whether an avoidant will reach out, when they’ll reach out, if they’ll come back or initiate a reconnection, but they shed light on how you can best approach a reconnection with your avoidant ex and give yourselves the best possible outcome.
Avoidants typically use break-up strategies that minimize a reconnection later on
Avoidants in general tend to use break-up strategies which minimize the possibility of a reconnection at a later time. These break-up strategies are consistent with avoidants’ tendency to avoid relational issues, use deactivating strategies when coping with emotions or relationships, maintain emotional distance from relationship partners by acting indifferently or unresponsively when caregiving is needed.
But avoidants have also been found to use other break-up strategies. Researchers (Tara J. Collins, Omri Gillath 2012) conducted a study on break-up strategies, and how they affect break-up outcomes and found that people who use positive tone break-up strategies have an overall better outcome in terms of how it makes the dumped ex feel during the break-up and because positive tone break-up strategies allow for reconnection at a later time.
The use of positive tone break-up styles is particularly significant with avoidants because it decreases the current level of closeness without completely cutting off contact. This gives avoidants space to self-regulate but also keep the lines of communication open. For fearful avoidants, decreasing the current level of closeness without completely cutting off contact minimizes their fear of reaching out and not getting a response. For dismissive avoidants, decreasing the current level of closeness without completely cutting off contact helps them not completely detach from all emotions and feelings for you.
What are the signs that an avoidant is using (or used) positive tone strategies?
1. Show concern for an ex – They text or call just to check on you and see how you’re doing and want you to know they care about your well being.
2. Try to prevent ‘‘hard feelings’’ – They say they do not regret the time spent together in the relationship and focus on the good that happened in the relationship.
3. Present the break-up as unwanted but necessary – They try to convince an ex that the break-up is in both parties’ interest.
4. Take responsibility for the break-up – They not only take responsibility for the break-up, but they also avoid blaming an ex at all costs.
5. Maintain contact – They maintain the same level of contact as before the break-up and in some cases there is increased contact following the break-up.
Positive tone strategies offer clues to an avoidant’s thinking at the time of the break-up and even signs an avoidant will want to come back at a later time. If an avoidant is leaving the door open to reconnect later, it means in an avoidant’s mind, the break-up may be temporary and not final.
An avoidant ex leaving the door open for a reconnection is a good thing
While it may seem cruel for someone breaking up with you to talk about how great a person you are, how much they appreciate your love and everything you did for them, and how much they learned from being in a relationship with you positive, but these positive tone break-up strategies may actually not be bad if they leave open the door for an avoidant re-entering a relationship later; and even increase the chances of an avoidant initiating a reconnection after they ended the relationship.
And as annoying as it is to get those random check-ins from a fearful avoidant ex that feel like low-effort contact, and platonic texts from a dismissive avoidant ex may not always be them eating their cake and having it too. The random check-ins may be an avoidant’s way of trying not to completely emotionally detach from all feelings for you. Once they emotionally detach from all emotions and feelings, most dismissive avoidants don’t come back.
However, when a positive tone strategy is used to try to make a partner feel guilty if they didn’t want to break-up, it can potentially make things less positive. Positive tone strategies can also offer false and sometimes lead to ‘on–off’ relationships.
Securing a backup plan for the future and the possibility to get back together
It’s not just the break-up strategies your avoidant ex is using that can potentially change the likely outcome of your break-up. Your own break-up strategies can minimize the possibility of a reconnection at a later time or allow for reconnection at a later time.
Are you reflecting less care or reflecting concern for your avoidant ex? Are you expressing anger about things that happened in the relationship or highlighting the positive aspects of the relationship? Did you block your ex from seeing you on social media or “waiting it out” until they’re ready to talk? Are you being cold and distant in the hopes that your avoidant will miss you and reach out or proactively trying to ease them back into communicating in a heathy way?
Always keep in mind that everything you do before, during and post break-up plays a very important role in how your avoidant ex reacts and the outcomes following a break-up. Strategies such as positive tone that allow for continued access to an ex-partner potentially secure a backup plan for the future and the possibility to get back together.
The study found that feeling secure and using positive tone break-up strategies can lead to an avoidant opting out of using indirect or selfish break-up strategies; and using more empathy and compassion has the potential to reduce the negative reactions common with avoidants following a break-up.
Avoidants are more likely to initiate a reconnection if they think you cared about them
Avoidants in general do not think their partners genuinely care about them. Fearful avoidants especially had a “chaotic” upbringing and never learned what to expect from people who said they love them. In relationships, fearful avoidants are often unsure if someone loves them and most don’t know how to act with someone they love. This is why their relationships are often turbulent, tumultuous and even toxic.
When the relationship ends, most avoidants aren’t sure if an ex really cared about them, if they imagined the whole thing or allowed themselves to be fooled into what was a lie or wasn’t there. They look at their ex’s words and actions to determine what is true and what is not.
Even avoidants who initially push you away after a break-up slowly start responding and even showing care (e.g. apologize, initiate texts, show some vulnerability, etc.,) once they see that an ex genuinely cares about them as a person and not just someone they want back.
In the study, participants who reported that their ex was concerned about their feelings when breaking up with them and post-break-up reported feeling that their ex cared about them, and this led to the desire to maintain a friendship or attempts to get back together.
Conversely using distant or mediated communication break-up strategies (e.g. breaking up via text, blocking someone from seeing you on social media, changing relationship status on social media, ghosting or ending the relationship without telling someone about it, etc.) lower the likelihood of remaining friends.
Use positive tone strategies when communicating with an avoidant ex
Though break-up strategies that leave an ex feeling that you genuinely cared about them alone do not guarantee that an avoidant will come back, a positive tone strategy increases the chances of an avoidant ex coming back, and even initiating a reconnection.
Your chances get even better if you use positive tone strategies when communicating with an avoidant, especially one who doesn’t feel that you genuinely cared about them or doesn’t trust your intentions.
A positive tone is not just about being nice or using positive language (positive words or phrases). A positive tone is how you affect someone positively. Sometimes it’s in the language you use but very often it’s how someone subconsciously senses care, trust and intentions.
Here are some ways you can use a positive tone strategy to reconnect with with an avoidant.
- Do not rush thing to “like before”. Even if an avoidant is initiating contact, take thing slow and build connection back up slowly
- Try as much as possible to avoid talking about “feelings” or the old relationship right away.
- Don’t tell an avoidant you regret the time you spent together in the relationship
- Look at the break-up from an avoidant’s perspective (even though you don’t agree with the break-up or their reasons for breaking up)
- Take responsibility for the role you played in the break-up (only what you’re responsible for)
- Emphasize the good things gained from the relationship (e.g. growth, relationship skills etc.,).
If you need help reconnecting with a dismissive avoidant or fearful avoidant who doesn’t believe you genuinely cared about them, is holding a grudge or doesn’t trust your intentions, I’m happy to work with you one-on-one to change that.