Many exes after a break-up tend text, talk about or post about memories as reminders to themselves and to their ex of the good memories. Some of the “nostalgic memories” are pretty straight forward and you can tell what is being said, but others are confusing and even anxiety-inducing prompting some of my clients to ask “why is my fearful avoidant ex posting about good memories on Instagram?” And because there is so much advice there on how to get an ex back, many people also wonder if using nostalgia to get your avoidant ex back is good or bad or if it’s okay to remind an ex of the good times and good memories.
In this article, I’ll attempt to answer “Why is my fearful avoidant ex posting about good memories on Instagram?”, and if it’s okay to remind an ex of the good times and good memories.
I’ll being by saying nostalgia and reminiscing about the good memories after a break-up is real, powerful and can be a useful tool for getting an ex back. It can be a sign that an ex wants you back especially if they make a habit of bringing up special moments you shared or posting songs, stories, quotes or memes that only mean something to the two of you.
In fact, when working with my clients, I always look for signs of nostalgic memories to see if it’s time to move things to the next phase. For example, when an ex who said it was over and they’d never come back or who was hostile and resistant starts posting things on social media that send an obvious message that they’re not just trying to get your attention but want to remind you of the special moments you shared, I see that as a tuning point. But I’m also conscious of the fact that attachment styles plays a role in feeling nostalgia for an ex and the decision to go back to an ex or turn away from the relationship.
Nostalgia decreases avoidants intentions to connect
Studies on effects of nostalgia on relationship satisfaction and romantic motives suggest that nostalgia promotes more active strategies to directly connect with others by energizing the motivation to connect (Abeyta, Routledge, & Juhl, 2015). In addition, nostalgia increases commitment to getting closer, repairing conflicts and bolstering feelings of social connectedness. However, the positive effects of nostalgia have been found to vary depending on the extent to which people seek out relationships for psychological security in the first place.
What this means is that nostalgia has a positive effect on individuals with attachment anxiety who tend to seek relationships for attachment security but not on avoidants who tend to rely on themselves for attachment security. In a follow-up study (Abeyta, Nelson and Routledgeb 2019) found that nostalgia decreases avoidants intentions to connect with others.
Compared to individuals with low avoidance (secure attachment and anxious attachment) avoidants are less likely to nostalgize about loving relationships. Avoidants are also generally less concerned with the welfare of others and tend to pursue goals and behaviors aimed at distancing oneself from relationship partners which may explain why nostalgia further shifts highly avoidant individuals from pursuing connectedness. In fact, nostalgia can drive people with a history of avoidance further from relationships.
Why some fearful avoidants post about good memories on social media
So next time you’re attempted to use nostalgia to get your ex back remember that the getting closer, repairing conflicts and bolstering feelings of connectedness positive effect of nostalgia may not apply to an avoidant the way it works with exes with an anxious attachment who tend to seek relationships for attachment security
“It might be necessary to work on these avoidant tendencies first; before throwing nostalgia into the mix or find a different approach altogether” says Andrew Abeyta researcher and assistant professor of psychology Rutgers University–Camden.
In my work, I’ve also found that rather than address their feelings of loss, abandonment and rejection, some fearful avoidant use social media to mess with an ex’s feelings and emotions especially on social media (Instagram). While most fearful avoidants just want an ex’s attention (and or trigger an ex to reach out), some fearful avoidants post songs, stories, quotes or memes that only mean something to the two of you, but when you respond they ignore you, stop watching your stories or use this as an opportunity to start an argument or fight. This passive aggressive behaviour in fearful avoidants is not just mind game playing to mess with your emotions and feelings, it’s also intended to hurt you back for making them feel abandoned and rejected.
Should you remind your ex of the good times and good memories?
Should you remind your ex of the good times, maybe send a good memory text? Will it hurt your chances of getting them back?
Depending on where things are with your ex and if they’re open and receptive to sharing good memories, it is oaky to remind your ex of the good times and happy memories. It however does not necessarily mean they will want to relive or recreate those memories if the memories especially if the memories make them feel sad, stressed, disappointed, depressed, resentful or angry.
Here are some scientific facts to keep in mind when using nostalgia to get back your ex
1) Painful memories linger longer than happy memories
While it’s true that we remember some pieces of an event but forget others, it’s not true that over time the brain forgets bad memories and only remembers happy memories. In fact, studies show that remembering negative experiences and holding on to negative memories comes more naturally to us.
“It really does matter whether [an event is] positive or negative in that most of the time, if not all of the time, negative events tend to be remembered in a more accurate fashion than positive events,” says review author Elizabeth Kensinger of Boston College.
“Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones, he said. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.” says Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at Florida State University.
What does this mean for you trying to attract back your ex? It means that it is okay to remind your ex of the good times. But you should not bank on this as a strategy for attracting back your ex. Your ex may remember the good times and good memories, but the bad or negative memories are stronger and last longer.
You may even find that the reason your ex is hot and cold is because they remember the good memories and seem interested and engaged. Then a few hours or days later, they remember negative memories. They are like “I don’t think we should continue contact. It’s preventing me from moving on”; or “I am worried that we’re spending too much time together, I don’t want to lead you on”; or “I don’t see us getting back together.”
You didn’t say or do anything to make them want to pull away, they just remembered the negative memories and they were stronger than the good memories.
2) Memories aren’t reliable
Memories are subject to distortion especially if we tell our story of what happened again and again. Each time we retell it, we change the facts and sometimes add false details without even realising. But because we have told it too many times, we become increasingly confident in its accuracy. But that’s not all, a study from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, found that people base their decisions on subjective memory — how they feel about a memory — more than on its accuracy
What does this mean for you trying to attract back your ex? It means that it is okay to remind your ex of the good times. But keep in mind that the way you remember the relationship and the break-up may be different from the way your ex remembers it. You may be thinking your ex is missing you, becoming nostalgic and will reach out. But your ex is angry or feeling resentful. They are making decisions based on something that happened in the past rather than what actually happened.
You have a better chance of pulling your ex closer creating new and better memories
So while it is true that memories and nostalgia play an important role in attracting back your ex, it is not a straight line between nostalgia and attracting back your ex. In some cases, trying to trigger nostalgia may actually hurt you chances and prevent you from getting back together.
If you are not in contact with your ex, it’s a good idea to open up the lines of communication so that you can keep track in real time of how your ex remembers certain events, how they feel about them, which memories are holding them back, and which memories need to be overridden with better memories and
But more importantly open up the lines of communication so that you can start creating new memories instead of relying on old memories.
This short video explains why regret for losing you and regret for the break-up can keep some bad memories longer; and how this can affect your chances of getting back together.