How Do I Give My Avoidant Ex Space? (And How Much Space)

Question: Yangki, your site has kept me sane these past few weeks. I’ve learned so much about my attachment style and my fearful avoidant ex’s attachment style reading your articles. I have one question that I hope you can answer for me: How do I give my avoidant ex space?

You wrote in your article “How to make an avoidant ex feel safe” that giving them space makes them feel safe. How many days of space should I give a fearful avoidant ex to make them feel safe? I give my avoidant ex 5-7 days of space if he hasn’t reached out. Sometimes he responds right away like he’s been waiting for me to reach out. Other times he does not respond until I reach out again, which makes me think he needs more space. How much space does an avoidant ex need without creating more disconnection and more distance? I’m looking forward to your response.

Yangki’s Answer: It’s true that giving an avoidant ex space makes them feel safe, but it’s equally important not to presume an avoidant needs space (because you feel anxious) and give it to them unasked for. A dismissive avoidant might (if they notice it) see it as protest behaviour; an emotional over-reaction to something they said or did and emotionally shutdown. A fearful avoidant, because of their high sensitivity to rejection, and as I explain in the short video below might see you giving them space they didn’t need or ask for as you pulling away or distancing yourself. They’ll wonder why you feel they needed space. What did they do wrong? Are you upset? Do you want to break-up? Do you want no contact?

So yes, give an avoidant space but giving an avoidant space should be when they need it and in the amount they need to feel safe again. When you ‘force” space on an avoidant ex because you want to control how and when they distance; or as an attempt to calm your anxiety, you create an unsafe relationship for an avoidant.

Of course, it’d really help if avoidants communicated that they need space but most avoidants don’t openly communicate their need for space, and some avoidants aren’t even consciously aware they need space. All you can go by is a change in their pattern of behaviour: they take longer to respond, say less, show less affection, want to spend less time with you or avoid seeing you altogether etc. If this extends over a period of time, say 3 days of pulling away behaviour (deactivating), it’s pretty obvious that your avoidant needs space.

What I’ve found works best over the years is:

1) Have a conversation about an avoidant needing space 

If an avoidant needs space give them space. If they say they don’t need contact for a specified period of time; don’t reach out until they reach out. But if “space” is not specified (how long and what happens when they’re taking space); it’s okay to have a conversation about space.

The right time to have a conversation with an avoidant about them needing space is when things are good; and not when an avoidant is pulling away or deactivating. Trying to have this conversation during deactivation is like trying to have a conversation with someone running a 100M sprint. No one hears the other.

2) Communicate your relationship needs

It’s imperative that you take care of yourself when an avoidant needs space. Reach out to your social support system and refocus your time and energy on what makes you happy and fulfilled outside of the relationship etc.

But in order for the relationship to be healthy and balanced, your relationship needs need to be met too. And this can only happen if you communicate your needs and try to work as a team to find ways both of our needs can be met.

It’s important that an avoidant understands that a relationship is not just about what they need; it’s also about what you need and what you need is connection. Explain this to your avoidant in a non-intrusive (non-violent communication) way.

3) Show them you care with check-ins

A check-in is a short preferably one or two sentence text you send out of concern for someone’s well-being. It’s not a text to tell them about someone or something you saw that reminded you of them, or some exciting thing that happened in your life. Check-ins don’t even require the other person to respond. You just want them to know they matter, and you care. That’s all. If they say they don’t want to be checked on, you respect that because it’s something they want and need (for their well-being).

This part is so important. A check -in should not imply that something is wrong and an avoidant needs your support or help, or that an avoidant is taking space (if they hadn’t asked or expressed a need for it). A check-in should only be to touch base. Something along the lines, “Hey, we haven’t spoken in a while, I hope everything is okay” or even “Hey, I haven’t heard from you in a while. How are you?”

Unless they specifically expressed something was wrong or they were going through a hard time, do not say “I’m here for you if you need me” or “You don’t have to reply”. This just creates stress and most avoidants don’t respond at all.

5) Let them reach out on their own

A reasonable check-in is 4 -5 days since last contact for a dismissive avoidant and 3 – 4 days for a fearful avoidant or whatever the two of you agree feels safe for both of you. A fearful avoidant ex who leans more anxious may need less space than a fearful avoidant who leans avoidant or a dismissive avoidant. A reasonable check-in for a fearful avoidant ex who leans more anxious is 2 – 3 days (preferably 2 days) since last contact.

If an avoidant ex pulls away for relatively short periods of time (1 – 3 days), there is no need for check-ins. They’ll reach out back on their own.

It’s important to note that while non- intrusive check-ins are game changers, not all avoidants are receptive to them. This is probably the first clue that an avoidant’s needs will always come before yours. Not a good sign.

More: How Much Space To Give A Fearful Avoidant or How Much Space To Give A Dismissive Avoidant

6) Trust that your avoidant loves you

Trusting that your avoidant loves you even when they pull away is key to not freaking out when they deactivate.

Most of the time when an avoidant pulls away, it’s something they need to do for themselves. It’s not something they’re doing against you (to hurt you). They may feel less connected and their feelings for you may slightly change; but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped loving you.

Getting to a point where you don’t feel threatened and trust that after an avoidant has processed their emotions, they will come back takes time. It helps during the time when they’ve deactivated to remind yourself of the times they’ve shown you they love and care about you.

7) Be consistent

The avoidant attachment style is a result of inconsistent, unreliable and deficient love and caregiving from primary caregivers. Because of this, consistency to an avoidant equals safety and security.

Consistency means showing you care and love them when they pull away and when they lean back in. It means being respectful of their need for space and not shaming or guilt tripping them for deactivating. It means not playing mind games to try to get a reaction from them (in a way making them feel unsafe and afraid to trust you).

When you’re consistent, reliable and supportive in a non-intrusive way; it makes an avoidant feel safe. This makes an avoidant feel less likely to get triggered and pull away.

8) Have some self-respect 

Giving avoidants “all the time and space they need” without asking for your need for connection to be met may sound like an act love but over time it builds resentment and may even completely end the relationship.

It’ll will feel like a one-sided relationship to you because it is. Your needs don’t matter, only the avoidant’s need for space matters. Whether you are aware of it or not, this does major damage to your self-esteem and self-view, in addition to the resentment you feel.

Some avoidants also feel the one-sidedness of the relationship. They may feel that they can get away with anything and resent you for focusing on meeting their needs and neglecting your own (a.k.a. co-dependent). Most avoidants push you away because the relationship is one-sided. I know this as someone who had a dismissive avoidant attachment. It made me angry that 1) someone was “living my life” because they had no life of their own and 2) needed “taking care of” because they weren’t taking care of themselves.

Respecting your avoidant’s need for space while at the same time getting your need for connection met will strengthen your connection; and your future relationship.

9) Be patient

Finding the right balance between space and closeness takes time; some avoidant-anxious couples never quite find that balance. Working towards becoming more secure will help you stop feeling anxious while you both work on finding the balance that works for your relationship.

COMMENTS: This is a conversation that needs to be had. If you’re an avoidant, please let us know how you feel about check-ins while you take your space. And if you have an anxious attachment style, let us know how you self-soothe when your avoidant asks for space. What works for the two of you to get both of your needs met?


How Long Does An Avoidant Ex Stay Deactivated?

How Often To Reach Out Or Text An Avoidant Ex

WARNING: Read Before Giving Your Ex Space

How Long It Takes Dismissive Avoidants To Come Back

How To Reach Out But Not Chase A Dismissive Avoidant Ex

How A Fearful Avoidant Ex Comes Back – A Detailed Analysis

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  1. says: Taylor

    I’m FA and I’m okay with an occasional check -in but it has to be a message that treats me the same as I always. I’ll respond to “hey, we haven’t spoken in a bit. How are you?” but I’ll not respond to someone making assumptions about me e.g., “If you need space, I’ll give it to you.”

  2. says: Chris

    I just found you after learning about attachment styles for a while now. I recently had a sit down with my avoidant ex and it was the first time I mentioned attachment styles to him and explained what the avoidant is. He was open to this and agrees that the dismissive avoidant very much fits how he feels. We left that evening with that he’ll reach out in his own time, knowing I’m there for him. Meanwhile I continue working on healing my anxious attachment style (which I also admitted to him). I might do a check-in with him in a few days if I don’t hear. Do you have examples of check-ins that don’t require a response?

  3. says: Ems

    I was doing this with my fearful avoidant ex even before I found this article. I’ve mainly dated avoidants and felt lonely and abandoned when they pulled away. I’ve been working on myself trying to become more secure and now I give my avoidant the space he needs but also communicate that I need to maintain a certain amount of connection with him. We had a talk about space and I let him know that if the relationship is going to work I need him to let me know he needs space for a few days and to send me at least a text every 2-3 days to let me know he is okay and we’re okay. He has been consistent with it and things seem to be going well this way for both of us.

  4. says: Zaia

    Thank you, Yangki. It took me years to learn how to give an avoidant space. Like some people positing here, I too thought giving an avoidant space meant being someone who doesn’t have needs. I let the avoidant take all the space they needed but it only made things worse. I felt invisible and my self esteem hit rock bottom. In the end, the avoidant left because I had very low self-esteem and was very insecure.

  5. says: Bayur

    Thank you. The conversation about regular checkin went really well. He texted “I’d love that” which surprised me. He tends to withdraw and isolate when stressed and I just assumed he needed space and didn’t reach out. I’m trying to show I care about him but can also give him space because he said during the breakup that he didn’t I think I loved him because I never showed it.

  6. says: Heyman

    Best advice I’ve read anywhere on giving avoidant space. Most advice tells people with an anxious attachment to bend backwards to accommodate an avoidant attachment style. However, both parties have to learn to accommodate each other for the relationship to be balanced.

    1. says: Jill Doyle

      I agree. I’m tired of learning tricks and tips to cater to avoidants and in the process invalidating my own feelings and needs. It makes me feel like I’m only there for an avoidant’s convenience.

    2. says: Kalini

      I give my DA the space he needs and reach out every 2 weeks. He responds but I feel it’s unfair that things have to always be his way. It’s always me trying to give him what he needs and never the other way. How do we make a relationship work if I’m the only one to try?

      1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

        I hear you. Dismissive avoidants are known for wanting love and connection but (when and how) on their terms, and in a way that’s safe for them. This is why they’re said to be selfish and care only about themselves. In my experience, however, most dismissive avoidants appreciate it when you give them space, but they also don’t want to feel like someone is “waiting” for them to come out of their deactivation and reach out.

        The article explains how to deal with the imbalance you mention, and in the comments others have shared what they do to give an avoidant space but make sure one’s own need for closeness is also met. I think my answers in the comments will also help you with how to go about giving an avoidant space – and not too much space to make you feel it’s unfair.

  7. says: Cannuck38

    I don’t know about checking up on someone who has made it clear they don’t want to communicate and is not ready to open up. I just feel like it’s forced communication. I tried reaching out to a DA once every 2 weeks and he always responded but it didn’t feel like he liked being checked on. He has a hard time opening up and communicating his feelings especially when he’s in a deactivated state. I don’t want to keep forcing him to communicate and make him feel more unsafe. I wait for him to reach out and sometimes he reaches out after a few weeks and sometimes a few months. I’ve learned to accept that this is who he is.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      You make a valid point of accepting an avoidant for who they are, although I don’t see how you’ll get back together with contacts so far apart. Maybe it’s a friendship now, and not an attempt at getting back together.

      What I want to address is the difference between forcing communication and check-ins. Forcing communication is when the other person doesn’t want to communicate, and you insist that they do because you think they should. Even if you think you’re trying to help them open up, it’s invasive and disrespectful. This is a major turn off even for a securely attached person who is more open to talking things through than avoiding issues.

      Check-ins are out of concern for the other person’s well being. It has nothing to do with trying to get them to communicate or open up. 

  8. says: Hype1-2

    Does 3 – 4 days of no contact apply to soon after the breakup? It seems intrusive to be reaching out to an ex, let alone an avoidant only 3 days after the breakup.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      If while you were together you agreed on how much time should pass before you reach out, 3-4 days, or even less isn’t intrusive. It actually shows consistency, which many avoidants (and anxious people) lacked in their childhood and hence the insecure attachment style.

      But if you didn’t have the conversation on space, 3 -4 days may seem too short. My recommendation is usually 7 – 10 days at most (and no more than 2 weeks) if the break-up was contentious and ugly. If the break-up was mutual or civil, 2-4 days to give each other time to self-soothe is reasonable and healthy.

      This article explains in more detail: “No Contact” Vs. A “Cool Off” Period After A Break-Up

  9. says: Chloe

    I’m AP lean SA, and I’ve been practicing communicating my needs in a nonviolent communication way, not just with my BF but with all the people in my life. The first time we spoke about my needs, he was taken aback. He said he’d never seen things from my perspective and it made him feel bad. I explained to him that it’s not all his fault coz I never communicated my needs, instead I complained, nagged and gave him the silent treatment. He said he was ready to listen, and we had a decent conversation, a far cry from our conversations in the past. Afterwards, we felt much closer.

    We still have other problems in our relationship related to our anxious-avoidant attachments, but he now comes to me and says he needs space for xyz reason, and that he’ll text me in a few days. I text back, “Take all the time you need” or “I’ll be here when you are ready”. He deactivates less and usually reaches out in 1-3 days. I don’t get anxious when he deactivates coz I know he cares about me and will reach out when he’s ready.

  10. says: JPG

    DA leaning secure. A text showing you care once every couple of days is ok. What I don’t like is to be checked on only to be told how I feel or how I should feel. And you can ask if I need to talk about it, but don’t push. If I want to talk about it, I will and if I don’t, I won’t.

  11. says: Boldbeauty

    This all sounds good, but I think it’s hard to pull it off. Asking for clarity is ultimately going to push them away further. It’s best to let them come back after deactivating by themselves. Don’t ask them to talk about it, they’ll talk about it when they’re ready.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I appreciate where you’re coming from; and there is some validity to what you say from an anxious person’s point of reference.

      This is the difference between securely attached and anxious preoccupied/fearful avoidants. Secure people put in effort into making sure both people feel safe enough to communicate their needs and get their needs met. Anxious people (preoccupied and fearful avoidants) are so scared of abandonment and rejection that they invest almost all of their time and effort trying to stop an avoidant from abandoning them. They neglect their own needs, resentment builds up, and they start acting out. And guess what? They push an avoidant away.

      Helping avoidants learn to meet your needs, not by trying to change them but by modeling secure behaviour is your best shot at the kind of relationship you long for. If they leave because you’re secure, they were not going to stay in the first place. If they stay, it’s a chance for you to change the anxious-avoidant dynamic.

      1. says: Showhorse

        I’m a fearful avoidant, I don’t mind “hey, you okay?” every couple of days, but it has to be in a way that isn’t invasive or pressuring and doesn’t require an answer.

  12. says: Lee Lee

    I am FA and also conflict avoidant. I usually need 1 – 2 days of space, but if my partner acts needy and clingy and keeps contacting me, I will stay away longer. I will also stay away longer if I think I am going to be interrogated and criticized.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Makes sense to stay away longer if coming back is going to be unsafe. I also don’t think there is need for a check-in if the deactivation is this short, and you communicated why you need space.

  13. says: Glittergirl

    Communication is so important. I’m AP and I would not get anxious giving an avoidant space if they communicated it to me. My trigger is when they pull away and I don’t know why they pulled away. I always worry that it is something I did, and this makes me more anxious. I think I pushed them away and they’re never coming back.

    1. says: Flecher31

      Communication changes everything. I’m dismissive avoidant and due to my attachment style, I’ll probably always need to deactivate. But since becoming aware of how this affects my partner, I now actually care that she feels okay with me needing space. We have a code that I text her because I usually don’t feel like talking to anyone and just need to be left alone. We agreed that I will not take more than 3 days without letting her know how I’m doing. If she doesn’t hear from me, she texts on the 4rd day to ask if I’m okay. We also have short debriefing sessions where I share my process with her and reaffirm my commitment to her and to us. I feel accepted and supported and it has helped me deactivate less.

      1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

        Have I worked with you? Sounds like something I’d recommend, almost word for word… 🙂

        I hope this helps someone else. Thank you for sharing.

      2. says: Paulson

        I’m FA with secure ex and we have a similar pact minus the debriefing sessions. I’ll definitely introduce this into our dynamic. Thank you.

  14. says: Sarha

    I made the mistake with my DA Ex thinking I could save the relationship by giving him all the space he needed and let him come to me. I was so afraid of him leaving and never openly communicated with him what I wanted or how his actions were affecting me. He ended leaving and is now happily with somebody else and have been together longer than we were together. When I look back the more powerless I felt the more power I was giving to his avoidant insecurities. What I should have done is had an honest conversation about my needs, reinforced boundaries and not given away my power to someone who was likely to pull away regardless of what I did.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      It hurts, especially seeing things in hindsight.

      Communicating needs, healthy boundaries (and communicating them), and staying too long in bad relationships is something anxious people need to work on.

  15. says: Celine

    THANK YOU! I read many posts and blogs saying give an avoidant space, don’t contact them or do checkins because it will piss them off and push them further away, and I think, this is well and good, but what about my needs? Why should I be the one to always put his needs first and my needs go unmet? I can meet my own needs from family and friends and I have no problem with doing so, but what is the point of being in a relationship then?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Your needs matter just as much as an avoidant’s needs. Anxious preoccupied (bless your hearts), put in so much more into a relationship, often at the expense of your own needs. This is where much of the protest behaviour comes from – unexpressed or inappropriately expressed unmet needs.

      If you’re in a relationship where you’re too afraid to express your needs or ask for what you need because doing so will piss off or push the other away, that relationship is unhealthy even if it’s functioning.

      The problem in most anxious-avoidant relationships is communication: how each expresses their needs and asks for what they need from the other.

      1. says: Heyman

        2 yrs I gave DA space when she pulled away, didn’t contact her or check-in and let her initiate contact, dates etc. When she was breaking up with me she said she lost feelings for me because she felt like the man in the relationship, and I was just there for the ride. I didn’t argue with her, she was right. I thought I was giving her everything she wanted, space, control, love, trust etc. but what she wanted from me was to show up as a man. It’s taking me a long time to build my self-confidence back up after this.

        1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

          I’m sorry. Feeling that you didn’t show up (as a man) is a different kind of hurt that can do a real number on self-esteem. It will take time to get your self-confidence back up, but you’ll eventually get there. All the best to you!

      2. says: Kim B

        I’m FA female and over the past few months I’ve had therapy and actively worked to fix my attachment style. I’m on my way to secure attachment and my AP ex acknowledges the change in me. But I still feel like I cannot give him what he emotionally needs and expects of me. AP emotional needs are impossible to meet. They also need therapy and work on their constant need for attention, over intrusive and smothering behaviors.

  16. says: Karmal

    If “taking space’ means they’re ignoring you for a month, dump them. If they’re your ex, let them contact you first. If they don’t contact you within a month, move on.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I agree with dumping an avoidant if they ignore you for a month; and not reaching out to an ex if they ignore you 2- 3 times.

      But it’s important to look at why someone may not be responding. Ignoring you is when you’re reaching out and they just don’t respond at all. But if they’re responding, not at the intensity an anxious person needs (most anxious people need constant intensity to feel connected, even secure people find it a bit much), it’s not always the case that they’re ignoring you. It may have nothing to do with you i.e. depression or they’re focusing on something else more important to them.

      I’m not saying someone not prioritizing you is okay, I’m saying, it’s not always about you. Avoidants and secures aren’t preoccupied with connection and relationships as anxious people are.

  17. says: Nina08

    I think the best policy is to not take things personally. Give them space but while still reminding them that they’re loved, and you will be there for them. This seems to work with my fearful avoidant ex. He has gone from saying he did not feel safe enough to ask for space to telling me what he is feeling and needs a few days to be alone. He reaches back out usually within 3 – 5 days.

    1. says: DaveD

      I never feel safe enough to communicate that I need space. I may say I need time to think but that could mean a few minutes or an hour. I can see how someone would feel anxious and angry when 2 days later, I’m still thinking and not replying texts or taking their calls.

    2. says: Lollyusa

      It’s so beautiful that you don’t take it personally. I haven’t really been able to because it’s not easy for me to deal with rejection. While I’ve worked on a lot of things to become more secure I’m yet to be able not to take rejection personally.

  18. says: Addison

    I’m a fearful avoidant (anxious) and lately began doing 2- 3 days check ins with my fearful avoidant ex (dismissive). At first it was hard because the avoidant in me didn’t want to look weak and needy, but he was responsive to my check ins and we even had a talk about it. He has also been working on healing his dismissive avoidant attachment style (He never told me). I think all in all it has been better than I expected.

  19. says: Hootie24

    I’m FA and my ex AA. We had an on-and-off again relationship for 4 years. We went to therapy and our therapist introduced us to attachment theory. For a year, we tried really hard to work on our attachment issues, but his AA reaction when I asked for space made me start to lose attraction for him. He’d seem okay with it but act passive aggressive when we reconnected. We agreed to separate for 4 months with no contact and work on our issues separately. This last week we met up for the first time since the separation and I just don’t feel anything for him. I missed him a lot when we weren’t talking but the way I feel now, I know I have to end things and give him the chance to be with someone who can make him happy.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Feeling that you lost feelings of attraction or that the feelings are fading happens to some fearful avoidants after an extended period of no contact. Because you for so long deny the anxious part of you that needs intimate connection, you get used to not wanting it (you lean dismissive). It feels like you’ve lost the feelings but it’s really that you’re not allowing yourself to feel them.

      I suggest spending a bit more quality time together, remind yourself why you’re with them in the first place and the value they add to your life; if you still feel the same way, then maybe the feelings are gone for good.

    2. says: Rays

      I’m FA and currently going through the same thing. I missed her when we were in no contact, and the feelings were there briefly when we reconnected, but now they seem to be fading away. I have to talk myself to even respond to her text messages. It sucks but I guess I’ll keep trying, maybe the feelings can return if we spend more time together.

  20. says: Julia Tru

    The only secure response to someone asking for space is “No problem. Take all the time you need” and then not text or call until they reach out.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      That’s more like a response of someone with attachment anxiety trying to appear okay with an avoidant needing space, and not how someone with a secure attachment style responds.

      Secure people are low anxiety and low avoidance; meaning they’ll give you space if you need it, but they’ll also not avoid you because they don’t get triggered by you needing space. They’re consistent when an avoidant leans in and consistent when an avoidant needs space.

      A secure response therefore is “No problem. Take all the time you need. But I’d like to check-in on you in a couple of days (or whatever), if that’s okay with you.”

      Maintaining a healthy and safe connection (for both sides) is at the core of secure attachment. An avoidant gets their need for space met; and a secure person gets their need for connection met.

      1. says: Lissa

        I have zero problem giving my FA ex space, but he never told me when he needed space or what he wanted from me. He only told me when we were breaking up that I never gave him space when he needed it. I told him all I would have needed was for him to explain to me what he was feeling and why he needed space. His response was that he thought I would not give him space. How does he know I would not give him space if he didn’t ask?

        1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

          You’re right. Avoidants need to learn to ask for space and not just pull away or break-up.

          I think what your fearful avoidant ex was saying is that he did not feel safe enough to sit down with you or text you about him needing space. I’m not saying it is entirely your fault that he did not feel safe enough to talk to you about what he needed. Fearful avoidants are conflict avoidant, and often make up scenarios that scare them from being vulnerable or asking for what they need. Most have a history of others not valuing their feelings and needs; and expect everyone else to do the same.

          All you can do is to create an environment for them to feel safe to open up about how they feel and what they need; the rest is up to them. They have to want to change and work to heal their attachment wounds. They’re more likely to do so when they feel you have their best interest and are consistently there for them in a safe, loving and supportive way.

    2. says: AngelsWalk

      I’m secure and I’m happy to give an avoidant space if they need it even if I don’t know or understand why they need it. But I don’t want the relationship to be all about accommodating an avoidant’s needs. For me this is not a safe relationship if my needs aren’t met too.

      If an avoidant communicates to me how long they’ll be gone and set a boundary (i.e. no texting or calls), I’ll respect what they asked for, but if they do not communicate what they need from me, I take it upon myself to ask in a nonviolent communication way that I need to still feel connected to them in a way that feels safe for them. If an avoidant can’t accommodate my need for connection, then I don’t want to be in a relationship where I’m giving you everything you want and my own needs are being ignored.

      1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

        Spoken like a truly securely attached person.

        Most people learning to be securely attached think that “giving an avoidant space” means giving up their own need for connection. When I tell my clients essentially what you’ve said here, “your needs matter too”; most of them immediately react with “will that not make an avoidant feel pressured/make an avoidant pull further away”. They’re so scared of losing an avoidant that they’re willing to stay in a relationship that’s not safe for them.

        1. says: Void

          This is helpful. I’m new to attachment styles and tested dismissive avoidant. I’m one of those people who ignores someone for a few days with no contact. I don’t do it to hurt them or make them miss me, I do it because I need to get away and be by myself for a while. After reading about attachment styles, I understand it is a hurtful thing to do regardless of my intentions, but at the same time, I don’t know how to I tell someone I need space. Any advice on what to say?

          1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

            It’s really about being honest with someone and giving them reassurance that taking space doesn’t mean you’ll be gone indefinitely.

            Keep it simple and direct. Something along the lines, “I’m feeling XYZ, and need to be alone to process everything. I will reach out in XYZ days (or state date).” Don’t extend the period too long (no more than 3-5 days); and if you need more time communicate that too, and allow for check-ins.

            Most people will understand; some will ask questions. Do your best to briefly explain why you need space. I know that sometimes avoidants don’t really know or understand it themselves why they feel the intense need to distance, and if that’s the case, just be honest, and tell them you don’t know why. If they don’t understand or can’t respect that you need space, that’s a problem. As mentioned above, both people need to feel their needs are being met for the relationship to feel safe.

  21. says: Roberta

    I’ve noticed that my fearful avoidant ex reaches out and opens up to me about personal stuff and right after that he distances, stops initiating conversations and responds in 1-word or one sentence texts. Then after a week or two, he reaches out with something personal, and I don’t know how to react. Do I not say anything, or do I ask why he pulled away?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      This is common with fearful avoidants; so common that I tell my clients to expect it. It can also be addictive because of the highs and lows.

      You can’t control what he does, but you can try to manage your emotions when he distances, stops initiating conversations and responds in 1-emoji or 1-word texts. Don’t take it personally because it’s very likely you didn’t say or do anything to cause him to distance. Your ex just needs to time to self-soothe.

      If you’re at the stage of communication where you talk about feelings and needs, let him know it’s confusing when he pulls away and you don’t now why. It’d make you feel better if he let you know he needed space. If you are not at the stage of talking about feelings and needs, reach out every 3-4 days.

      As long as he keeps coming back and opening up some more, you’re making progress.

  22. says: NaturesChi

    I’m learning about this 4 months after my relationship ended. I believe he will never come back. He says he has no feelings for me anymore. I wish I knew about attachment styles early on. This is going to haunt me for life.

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