How Do I Reassure An Ex With An Anxious Attachment Style?

Question: I want to get back with my ex with and anxious attachment style but don’t know how to reassure her and make her less anxious when I don’t respond quick enough.

I broke up with her 4 months ago and she asked for no contact right after the break up. I didn’t reach out but hoped that she would reach out to me. She reached out to me two weeks ago after only 18 days of no contact. This was the longest we’ve gone without any contact and it felt awful. She told me she missed me and I told her I missed her too. Since we’ve been texting back and forth every day. Some days we exchange up to 20 texts each. At first it was kind of nice after no contact but it’s started to overwhelm me making me want space.

I’m working on being more secure and not deactivate when I feel overwhelmed but don’t what to do when she gets anxious if I don’t respond right away. She always assumes I’m distancing or wanting space and get very anxious. One time she sent me 8 text messages asking why I was leaving her messages on read and ignoring her. She also said she’s over me and to forget about her. When I replied and said I was with a client (I’m a lawyer), she apologized and said she loved me and wasn’t over me.

I read in your articles that exes with an anxious attachment style need lots of  reassurance and validation to feel safe. Frequent reassurance and validation makes them feel that you love them and are committed to making the relationship work but I don’t know what to say to her to reassure her and make her less anxious when I don’t respond quick enough. I feel like if I don’t make her feel safe, she’s going to move on.

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 attachment ex feel loved and validated?”. It’s usually “how do I make my ex miss me?” or “how do I get back an avoidant attachment style?”

I am sure there is more to this story and situation; but I’ll try my best to respond to how to reassure and validate an ex with anxious attachment style; and make them feel loved and safe.

In my work, one of the biggest fears of an ex with an anxious attachment style is that their ex doesn’t want them back. Even when an ex is responding, they’re afraid that they’re being led on, have been friendzoned or being made a fool of. They overanalyze every text from their ex and second guess their own responses. Most get so into their heads that they sometimes lose touch with what’s really going on.

When you don’t text back quick enough or don’t respond at all, they assume their worst fears are being confirmed. This is why it’s important to frequently reassure them that you want them back and have not lost interest.

The best way to approach an anxious 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 people with an anxious 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 5 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.”

This way you give an anxious attachment ex the reassurance you’re always there for them; 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 exes with an anxious attachment are the most likely to come back if they’re made to feel loved and wanted.

RELATED:

How Often Do Exes Come Back? (The Odds By Attachment Styles)

Attachment Styles And Why Your Ex Doesn’t Want You Back

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