Question: I want to know how to make my anxious preoccupied attached ex feel loved and validated? We’ve been broken up for 4 months. I broke up with her and she asked for no-contact for 60 days because her therapist told her to do so. She told me she didn’t want to do it but everyone said she should. Long story short, she reached out to me two weeks ago and since we’ve been texting 10 – 20 texts a day. At first it was kind of fun, but it can be overwhelming sometimes. What really gets me is when I don’t respond right away, she sends several texts asking why I am ignoring her; then tells me she’s over me and to forget about her. A few minutes later she says she loves me etc.
Everyone tells me she’s crazy and to run but I know her; she’s not like this all the time but only when she feels insecure and unloved. I want to try to make this work and need your help.
Yangki’s Answer: Run! Kidding. I appreciate your question. I don’t get many questions asking “how do I make my anxious preoccupied attached ex feel loved and validated?”. It’s usually “how do I make my ex miss me?” and rarely about an ex.
I am sure there is more to this story and situation; but I’ll try my best to respond to how to make an anxious attachment ex feel safe.
As you may have realized when you a secure attachment style and your ex is an anxious or avoidant attachment style; they’re likely to feel more secure in the beginning stages of trying to get back together. They’ve mostly likely been trying to work on their anxious attachment style. But as things get more comfortable, the attachment anxiety comes back.
The best way to approach an anxious preoccupied attachment style is to ask what they need to feel safe. You can say, “What can I do to make you feel secure or loved?”, then try to do it.
I say “try” because most of the time you will feel that what they need to feel loved is way over the top. In addition, many anxiously preoccupied attachment don’t know how to receive love when offered without boundaries. Some can become manipulative and controlling.
Promising to ‘try’ and showing that you are genuinely trying to make them feel secure and loved; without giving up too much of your independence and autonomy goes a long way.
Make sure you are clear about what they mean because individuals with an anxious attachment style have a tendency to be vague and imprecise about their needs because they:
- Believe they will not get it anyway and;
- Are afraid that if they say what they want or are honest about their needs; it may end up pushing someone away (their past experiences have proven that’s the case).
Make a habit of repeating to them what you think they meant so they can hear it the way you hear it. Once you are clear about what they want and need, decide what you can do and what you can’t. It’s important that you have clear boundaries and communicate them clearly.
For example you can say, “I’ll respond to your texts within 30 minutes when I am able to, and when I am not; I’ll text to let you know I received your text and will respond as soon as I can. Will this show you that I am not ignoring you; or being disrespectful (or whatever they said not responding makes they feel)?”
If they say it does, add “But if you send me several texts before I have had the chance to respond, I’ll not respond at all. Do we agree on this?”
This way you give an anxious attachment ex the reassurance they need to feel safe; but also communicate clear boundaries and the consequences of violating those boundaries.
It’s important that you come from a place of love and genuinely trying to provide safety and security; and not anger or resentment. The good news is that anxious-preoccupied attached exes are the most likely to come back.