How Often Should You Contact Your Ex? (Attachment Styles)

How often should you contact your ex and how much contact is too much contact is a question everyone trying to attract back their ex asks at some point.

You want to keep the lines of communication open especially if your ex is not initiating contact. but you also don’t want to do too much contact.

If you don’t know about attachment styles (find out your attachment style), you may assume that there is a standard or at least a ‘safe’ amount of contact that helps you not seem needy and also brings you and your ex closer to getting back together.

If you know about attachment styles, you know that an ex with an anxious pre-occupied attachment style (AP) needs more closeness to feel loved, wanted, valued and cared for. That also means that they need a lot more contact. If you don’t reach out or don’t respond, they get anxious and feel rejected. In fact most people with an anxious pre-occupied attachment style don’t mind if you reach out everyday and several times a day. The more connection the better.

On the other hand, someone with a dismissive avoidant attachment style (DA) feels too much closeness is suffocating and infringing on their independence. This doesn’t mean they don’t want be close to a loved one, it just means that they prefer a lot more me-time than we-time (most of the time). They may for example be comfortable with one or two texts a week, and more than that is “too much”.

Individuals with a secure attachment style (SA) and individuals with a fearful-avoidant attachment styles (FA) fall in between; sometimes they want more closeness and we-time and sometimes they want less closeness and more me-time. The reasons for needing more closeness or distance is different for someone with a secure attachment style and someone with a fearful-avoidant attachment style.

Trying to figure out just how much contact is too much for each attachment style can be a challenge when you are dating. And even when you are in a relationship or married, balancing me-time and we-time can be a source of contact friction. But when you’re broken up, let’s just say, things get more complicated.

A dismissive-avoidant who was comfortable with some amount of closeness now barely responds at all. A fearful-avoidant who was initiating most contacts, arranging most of the dates and even needy at times, now wants “space” to focus on themselves. An ex with attachment anxiety who days following the break-up was blowing up your phone and begging you to come back now wants no contact. Even an ex with a secure attachment style is taking longer to respond and initiating contact less and less because they don’t want to lead you on or want to take it slow.

Most of the time the “change” in contact-seeking and contact-avoiding behaviour is only temporary, a reaction to the break-up. With time, exes revert back to their core contact-seeking and contact-avoiding patterns.

While how well you space or time your contacts alone will not attract back your ex, an understanding of how much contact makes your ex feel safe enough to respond or initiate contact can make a big difference as to whether they engage in contact-seeking or contact-avoiding.

To help you try to figure out how much contact will make your ex feel safe and less threatened by contact, I have included an illustration below. This is based on my own experience working with different attachment styles and helping clients figure out often they contact their ex. For example, I have found out that an ex with attachment anxiety is more likely to want increased contact just after the break-up regardless of the reasons for the break-up. If they don’t want to try things again, they will cut off contact or simply disappear over time. If they want to try things again, they will be comfortable with contact as if nothing has changed. But if they have had some serious self-reflection (and done self-work) they may initiate contact less but respond to almost every text, and even try to engage on social media.

Use this only as a basic guide. There are individual factors that may affect the amount of contact an ex is comfortable with, including 1) what else is happening in your exe’s life that may be a priority (new relationship,  illness in the family, work or busy schedule etc.), and 2) issues outside of their control (e.g. depression, long distance etc.).

A more detailed examination of how contact plays out for each attachment style can be found in Avoidant Ex- How to Attract Back An Avoidant

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