How often do exes come back based on an ex’s attachment style? Attachment styles offers insights into why exes come back, how often and how they come back.
But first what does the research say on the percentages of exes who come back say. There aren’t many credible scientific studies on percentages of exes who come back. Most studies I found online were conducted by “get your ex back” sites… and let’s just say, take them with a grain of salt.
The credible scientific studies are somewhat old, but they all show that the percentages of exes who come back are in the range of 40-50 percent.
1. A study conducted by Kansas State University found that nearly 50 percent of all exes come back. The exes who got back together assumed their ex had changed for the better; or that they would be better at communicating.
2. Psychology Today, a credible source has on their site roughly the same percentage of 40-50 percent of exes who come back. Exes cited various reasons why they come back; top on the list was lingering feelings
3. Kansas State University also did another study and found that 37 percent of cohabiters and 27 percent of married couples had experienced a breakup and got back together with their exes (Vennum et al., 2014).
4. The JSTOR Journal (for the intellectually curious) sites a study by Dr. Howard Wineberg studied 506 women who attempted reconciliation before divorce was finalized.
- 50 percent them got divorced eventually.
- 44 percent were still living with their spouses.
- 32% successfully got back together and stayed that way for more than one year.
While there are not many credible studies on percentages of exes who come back, there are many studies that draw a direct link between how different attachment styles behave following a break-up and the likelihood of an ex coming back.
1) How often securely attached exes come back
Exes with a secure attachment style react well to break-ups and are open to coming back to an ex. “They face relationship breakups with greater resilience, acceptance, and emotional recovery. But more importantly, they recognize both their attachment needs and their ex’s attachment needs and act accordingly. Their use strategies that are open, empathetic communication, and negotiation of needs and desires gives them greater willingness to reunite.” (Madey & Jilek, 2012)
The Verdict – There is a relatively high chance that an ex with a secure attachment will come back but they may not want to come back if you engage in self-destructive coping strategies such as obsessive pursuit. The may also be put off by some of the avoidant defensive strategies you use (i.e no contact, mind games). Individuals with a secure attachment style believe in open communication and negotiating both of your needs and not avoiding.
2) How often anxious attachment exes come
Of all the attachment styles, preoccupied and fearful avoidant attachment leaning anxious exes are the most likely to come back. They’re likely to be available and responsive after a break-up because they need connection and a relationship. This increases their chances as they are able to persist where most attachment styles would give up.
Studies also show that exes with an anxious attachment are more willing than other attachment styles to stay friends with an ex to potentially maintain close ties allowing for later reconnection.
But having a high anxiety also means that people with an anxious attachment have more trouble adapting to a relationship breakup and acting independently. They experience greater emotional distress, anger, anxiety, depression, and loss of emotional control, and their use of hyper-activating emotion regulatory strategies leads to unwanted pursuit behaviour; which leads to a cycle of repeatedly breaking up and getting back together.
And even if anxious attachment are more willing to stay friends with an ex to potentially maintain close ties allowing for later reconnection, they’re often more self-focused and not necessarily in the best interest of an ex or even the relationship.
The verdict – There is very high that an ex with an anxious preoccupied or a fearful avoidant attachment leaning anxious will come back, but they’re also likely play lots of mind games during the course of you trying to attract them back. This will likely decrease the chances of your ex coming back.
How often dismissive avoidant exes come back
Of all the attachment styles, dismissive avoidants are the least likely to come back. Once they emotionally detach, most dismissive avoidants don’t get back feelings for an ex. Their emotion-suppression strategies don’t just create more emotional distance with an ex, they also make accessing suppressed feelings for an ex later on more difficult. The longer the detachment, the harder it is to recover lost feelings.
A dismissive avoidant’s emotional detachment in this sense is a conscious decision to disengage from all feelings for an ex rather than inability or difficulty connecting. Meaning, a dismissive avoidant will have difficulty recovering lost feelings for an ex but have no difficulty developing feelings for a new romantic interest.
The Verdict – The chances of your ex coming back are less with a dismissive avoidant. This doesn’t mean dismissive avoidants don’t come back, this means that it’s much harder but not impossible to get back a dismissive avoidant ex.
How often fearful avoidant exes come back
Of all the attachment styles fearful avoidants are the most unpredictable in terms of how often they come back. They’re more unpredictable than anxious preoccupied attachment or dismissive avoidants because fearful avoidants are both anxious attachment and avoidant attachment style.
This means that after the break-up, a fearful avoidant’s behaviour may be similar to someone with an anxious attachment or similar to someone with a dismissive avoidant attachment style. Very often however, fearful avoidant exes will exhibit a combination of high anxiety (hot) and high avoidance (cold) behaviours.
The Verdict – Fearful avoidants who lean anxious often come back than fearful avoidant who lean avoidant. The way an ex reacts to the break-up and acts towards a fearful avoidant ex plays an important role in how often fearful avoidants come back.
Why avoidants in general often don’t come back after a break-up
The main reason avoidants often don’t come back after a break-up is because they use deactivating strategies which create more emotional distance and make it harder to get back together after a break-up. The second reason avoidants often don’t come back after a break-up is because avoidants in general tend to be involved in short-term relationships. They have very little to no emotional investment in their relationships and many of these relationships have lower interdependence, commitment, trust, and satisfaction. So when the relationship ends, most avoidants are ready to move on.
It’s however important to note that avoidants tend to come back more often if they formed a strong emotional bond with an ex, and if the break-up ended with no “hard feelings”.
Because avoidants have a hard time forming strong attachment bonds they may have a hard time forming new relationships and come back to exes. But being avoidant they may not initiate or actively pursue a reconciliation with an ex. They’ll indicate that they’re open to changing their minds and come back, but leave the reaching out, initiating conversations, meetings, hanging out, dates etc., to an ex.
To get a better idea of how often each attachment style comes back, I have written detailed articles on individual attachment styles: why they come back, what makes them come back and how long it takes them to come back. You will find the links at the bottom.
There is more to an ex coming back than just their attachment style
There are other individual factors unique to your ex that may affect whether or not they will come back. (See: 10 Factors That Affect The Chances Of Getting Back Together With Your Ex)
When all is said, don’t be discouraged from trying to attract back your ex because right your chances seem bad. It takes work and it takes time, but it’s possible.
When you feel discouraged and want to give up, these Incredible Success Stories of readers like you who got back their ex might help!