How Do I Get My Dismissive Avoidant Ex To Forgive Me?

Question: How do I get my dismissive avoidant ex to forgive me? I admit I wasn’t the best boyfriend. I now realize I was way too clingy and controlling; and when I was angry I put her down.

I am an anxious-preoccupied who is becoming securely attached. Three weeks ago I contacted my ex about some important documents that I needed her help with; and she agreed to help. We haven’t had much contact after the breakup but we keep each other updated on family and mutual friends. My family adores her, and her family loves me. I then asked her if I can buy her dinner as a thank you; and to my surprise she said yes. A month ago she wouldn’t even return any of my calls.

Since the dinner, we have had many phone conversation mostly about business, family, and friends. When we talk I’m cheerful, confident and relaxed. I want her to see that I am not the emotional wreck she knew a few weeks ago. Some days she’s really warm, friendly and even flirtatious and other days she’s cold and answers with one word. Yesterday, I asked her if being in contact made her uncomfortable and she said yes. I’ve come a long way thanks to therapy. She says I hurt her deeply and she is having a hard forgiving me. What should I say to get my dismissive avoidant ex to forgive me?

Yangki’s Answer: There is obviously still a connection there; I can’t say with 100% certainty that it’s love, only she can. And whether that connection is sufficient to get the two of you back together or not depends on A dismissive avoidant ex can forgive you can trust you again.

Studies on attachment styles show that dismissive avoidants in general tend to hold grudges and be vengeful. It also depends on other things going on in her life, and if getting back with you is top on her priority list.

I assume that you’ve already apologized to her for the hurt you caused her. Not “I am sorry. I was going through some stuff” or “I am sorry, I have changed” sort of apology. That is the same as justifying you action. It is not the same as taking responsibility for the hurt you caused her.

She needs to know you really, really understand how you hurt her and that you’re genuinely sorry. Do not expect her to forgive you right away, give her time to process her hurt in her own time and way.

Next time she says she’s having a hard time forgiving you (and she will); acknowledge it with something like, “I can understand why you feel that way. I’m really sorry I hurt you. What can I do to make it up to you?” She will likely say there is nothing you can do, and she’s right.

You can’t talk someone out of feeling hurt. You can temporarily calm the feeling of hurt with an apology but when she is on her own, it’ll come back up again because feelings MUST be and have to be processed by the person feeling them, not by someone else.

The point asking what you can do is:

  1. If there is something you can do, give her the opportunity to tell you. Sometimes when people are hurting they hold on to the pain; but when given a “safe space” to express their emotions, the healing process begins.
  2. Move you beyond taking responsibility for your actions to accountability and making amends. Whatever she says will help her heal faster, do it for her but also for yourself. It will help with the ‘guilt’ you feel about who you were then and what you did then.

The next step is for you to show her that it won’t happen again. This means making sure you don’t do things that remind her of why she’s hurting and why you’re not together. This all comes down to how much changing you have done.

Don’t be surprised if after a few “great moments” she says she thinks she needs to pull back. I’ve seen it so many times before with so many of my clients trying to attract back a dismissive avoidant ex.

Do not panic and get all clingy (again) or completely pull back and stop all communication. Simply tell her it’s not what you want but you understand; and hope that she knows that she can reach out to you any time she wants to. Then ask her if you can text/email/call her once in a while just to see how she’s doing. Tell her you expect nothing, you just want to know she’s okay.

The goal is to make sure the door is still open for when she’s processed her emotions; and is ready to put the past behind her, and also to show to her that you indeed have changed.

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

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    1. Love Doctor, Yangki AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      It simply means he is not happy that you didn’t return his calls/emails. Calling that “caring” is stretching it; angry and caring are two different things. People get angry with people they don’t care about all the time. Anger is not about the other person, it’s about the person who is angry.

  1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Jay

    We broke up two months ago. I tried several times to contact her but she never responded. Yesterday she sent me hugs from facebook. What does all of this mean with her contacting me and sharing?

    1. Love Doctor, Yangki AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      It may mean she’s missing that emotional sharing and wants to re-establish it or it could also mean she’s feeling much more comfortable talking to you again compared to when you first broke up. I think you should not jump ahead of yourself and start pushing anything, just take a moment at a time, a day at a time and see what happens.

  2. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Karenp

    Should I ask him if he still has feelings for me? He said as recently as last week (to a friend) that he’s sad that we never were right for each other. I’m guilty of putting pressure on him when he was going through child custody issue with ex-wife and he said he just could not handle both at the same. After thinking about it, I know I acted needy and desperate. I still love him very much and miss him.

    1. I give you credit for admitting where you’ve gone wrong. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to do that.

      If you’ve not been in contact or haven’t been warm to each other, it’d seem desperate and needy for you to at this point ask him if he still has feelings for you. There is a danger of him thinking you’re making this about you again. You saw where that got you with putting pressure on him when he was dealing with something that had nothing to do with you. He saw that as the two of you not being right for each other when the real issue could have just being bad timing on your part.

      Start with baby steps and go with one contact at a time. No rush, no pressure. If after a while you don’t see signs of him warming up to you, then you know he’s moved on. The important thing is to make sure you are giving yourselves the best possible chance. In other words, try to do everything within your power, and do it right.

  3. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Shaun

    Hi, I live in the UK. My girlfriend dumped me 3 weeks ago. This is the best site I have found. And I like how it makes sense.

    I am desperate for advice. The situation is very complicated and involves unresolved bereavement and health issues. I can’t find anything on the net remotely close to our situation and I need help so badly. Regards Shaun

  4. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Ace

    We never had any major fights either but one day she just told me she doesn’t see a future for us. I asked her to explain it but she said she didn’t feel about me the way she wants to. I begged her and told her how much I love her but she was firm about her decision. I went no contact for 2 weeks but after reading your blog, I realized I was making a mistake and immediately contacted her. She responds to my texts and is friendly. But when I tell her I love her, she does not respond. You say in your article that if you love someone you should let them know. I still love her and miss her very much. How should I go about telling her I love her?

    1. I believe that if you love someone you should tell them, but now is not the right time to be telling her how much you love her or want her back. You already did a lot of that when you were “begging” and that didn’t change her mind. That’s because at this point in time, how much you love her is probably not what she wants to hear.

      The only person who right now cares if they are still loved is you. You are the only one feeling bad because you think that she might not love you anymore. So you keep saying “I love you” over and over and in so many different ways because you think somehow you’ll get some kind of reassurance that she still has feelings for you. Trying to get assurance of love makes you comes across as need, clingy and emotionally unattractive

      If she’s responding, keep the contact and build on it to get her to warm up to you again. But hold off the “love overload” because it will turn her off.

  5. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Benita

    Okay so I text my ex after 2 months of no contact and he sends me a text back saying he’s sorry for everything and feels bad for breaking up with me, but it’s for the best. He says he wants to be on good terms and misses my friendship. What exactly does he mean by that? And should I be friends with him even though I want him back?

    1. If he still have feelings for you, saying mean things about you is an immature way to show it.

      My take is that he’s hurt and trying to get attention, or he may be angry at you and (right or wrong) wants the world to know what kind of person you are.

  6. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Curious

    Bad timing has always been a problem for me. My older sister told me to give him some time and space because of the custody battle and to be there for him, but all my friends said he was a commitment phobe and I believed it.

    I’ll text him today and see where it goes. Thank you so much.

  7. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Curious

    He didn’t want to commit but now he is with a new woman and have been together for only 3 months and acting like a couple. He is attentive to her the way he’s was never with me. He never even bothered to look my direction the whole time. Does he still have feelings for me and is trying to hurt me by showing me what a good catch he is? I still have feelings for him but now I’m really mad at him for trying to hurt me. What do you think I should do?

    1. Think you should do about what? About the feelings you still have for him or about him trying to hurt you? (which may not be what he is doing. It’s possible that he has indeed moved on and is happy with his new life especially if he seems genuinely in love with this new woman.)

  8. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Claire

    My ex says he can’t be there for me in the way that I need, but will always be there to support me in anything. He says he wants me to be happy. What does that mean?

  9. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Hameed

    I met her two years ago and we become so intimate in 3 days than she went back to her country..we kept in contact for few days than suddenly she told me stop contact and take care….I was surprise and try to call her and text to her, she did not answer…..I beg her to talk for once but she did not… almost two years no words from her…..please help me….what should I do to get her back…….???

  10. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Vanessa

    To Mimi. I know what you are going through. My ex of 7 years got married exactly 3 months after he left me. Everyone kept telling me it was a rebound. He also said she is the one he has been waiting for all his life, mind you that’s after 7 years with me. People are still telling me it won’t last but soon she’ll be pregnant and they’ll still be telling me it won’t last. I feel so broken and inadequate but learning to accept that I wasted 7 years of my life on someone who didn’t love me as much as I loved him.

  11. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Mimi

    My ex of 3 years moved on so fast. We were only apart 2 weeks and he met this woman he is now with. I want to believe this is a rebound but he is telling everyone she’s the one after knowing her for about two months. I can’t see how he can know that in just two months. When we were together his whole world was about me and he was my world too. The last thing I want is to jump into another relation but apparently I did not mean as much to him as he meant and still means to me.

  12. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays:

    girlfriend of 2 years dumped me 8 weeks ago. Says it hadnt felt ‘right’ for a few months, and doesnt love me anymore. I didnt contact her for a whole month, although she tried a few times. when I finally do call to ask for my stuff back, and to ‘be friends’ she asks if I want lunch and I end up staying the night.

    4 weeks later we try to see each other every weekend, and speak most nights. lots of intimacy, romance and laughter, go out for dinner, walks, hotels, etc…but she says she still doesnt love me, or is unsure…this leads to ‘questions’ and me being upset (3 times she has ‘Freudian-slipped’ in conversation and said ‘I love you’ then apologised, saying it was out of habit…CONFUSION4ME!). I am leaving the country in 2-3 months time for 6 months travelling…this seems to come up a fair bit about her resistance to ‘search inside herself for answers or put her heart on the line’. All I want to know-does she love me?

    1. I can’t say with certainty if she loves you — only she can tell you. But there is definitely some strong pull there. Just based on the information you’ve provided me, my guess is that she has strong feelings for you but 1) not sure if those feelings are love, or 2) not sure if you’re right for her, or 3) does not feel that all her needs are being met by the relationship. It’s possible to love someone and not want to be in a relationship with that person because of any one, two or three of these reasons.

  13. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Lianne

    His actions show me that he is not over me but he is in denial i think because its been 5 months and he still says rude things but also talks about me to all his friends. I’m very confussed, i can’t tell if he still loves me or if he has built up anger and can’t let it go and move on. Either way i need to find a way to move on from all this becuase he is holding me back and i can’t have a healthy relationship with someone else when my past is still so fresh -Thanks for your time.

    1. If he says rude things and probably talks negatively about you to his friends, then it’s most likely that he still has built up anger. Whether or not he can’t let go and move on is his business. Likewise moving on is your own business. There is nothing he is doing or can do to hold you back from moving on – if that is what you want to do. It seems to me that you’re using him as an excuse for your own inability to let go. Take responsibility for your thoughts and actions and you’ll be able to let go, move on, find someone new and have a healthy relationship – IF THAT IS WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DO!

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