In this article I show you exactly how to get close to an avoidant ex; get an avoidant ex to trust you and want to get close to you.
When most of us think of someone with an avoidant attachment style, the first thing that comes to mind is that they are afraid of getting close; and they are. Every time you get too close, an avoidant will pull away or push you.
What we never ask is why is an avoidant afraid of getting close to anyone? Even those of us who understand why an avoidant is an avoidant, we don’t empathize enough with why they are avoidant in the first place.
We just want them to stop being afraid of getting close and stop being avoidant.
Imagine someone, a man or woman sitting alone in a locked room afraid to come out because they don’t trust the people around them. They’ve been ignored, neglected, abused and terrorized by the very people who were supposed to protect, nurture and love them. Because this they have a hard time trusting anyone or getting close to anyone.
You think it’s time they come out of the room? Walk through the door. What would you do to get them of the room?
1. Scare the daylight out of them. Yell and scream and tell them something really bad is going to happen if they don’t come out of the room.
2. Use reverse psychology and tell them what you really want is for them to keep the door shut and stay in the room.
3. Ignore them and hope that when they realize that no one cares, they’ll come out on his own.
4. Beg, plead and promise them that if they come out of the room, you will protect them and take care of them
5. Sit by the door, talk to them and let them know you are there for them; and when they feel safe enough to walk out, you’ll be waiting on the other side of the door.
Only one of this approaches provides someone who doesn’t trust others or is afraid of getting close with the safety and security they need to learn to trust the people who say they love them.
That approach is not what many of us use when dealing with an avoidant partner or ex. The way we deal with avoidant confirms to an avoidant that “it’s not safe to get close to anyone, because in the end, they don’t really care about me They don’t understand me and some of them will hurt me if I let them come close”.
Even if it s feels lonely, cold and dark into he room, it is safer than getting close or trusting someone.
If you want the avoidant to get close to you, you must be willing to sit with them until they feel safe enough to come out. But more importantly, you must make them feel that if they come out, you are not going to hurt them.
How do you get close to an avoidant, make them trust you and want to get close to you?
1. Don’t judge or ridicule your avoidant ex for being an avoidant
There is nothing wrong with trying to understand someone we love; why they are the way they are, why they do the things they do, and how we can better relate to them.
But for an avoidant to feel that you understand them and want a better relationship, they need to first feel that you don’t judge them for being avoidant.
Some of the ways an avoidant may feel judged is getting angry and disparaging them for being an avoidant. This is not going to make an avoidant want to get close to you, let alone trust you.
Some of my clients have told me that they feel judged when someone calls them “a fearful avoidant or dismissive avoidant”. Many avoidants, especially dismissive avoidants reject labels. And you can’t blame them. Just Google the description of a dismissive avoidant. Nobody wants to think that people think they have no friends, cant form relationships and freak out when someone tries to get intimate with them.
It is true that this description fits some dismissive avoidants, but not all dismissive avoidants are the same. I know this first hand because I work with so many of them.
An avoidant may also feel judged if you trying to fix them. Randomly sending them videos and articles about what’s wrong with them; or constantly pointing out how their behaviour is typical of avoidant attachment and generally attributing everything they say or do to their attachment style, even if you mean well, is too much judgement.
Judgement is a form of rejection; and if you want an avoidant to feel safe enough to want to get close; stop judging and rejecting your avoidant ex.
2. Be consistent in how you show up when dealing with an avoidant ex
Nothing says you are not safe to an avoidant than being loving and caring one day; and ignoring and punishing them the next. For many of them, this is what their childhood was like; and the reason they’re avoidant in the first place.
If love or care was given it was conditional on them being “good” or used to manipulate them into doing or giving what the caregiver wanted from them. And if you are doing exactly the same thing, why would an avoidant want to get close to you?
Yes, avoidants do the same things, they pull away, ignore you and even manipulate you; and that is why they are called avoidants. They do these things to avoid getting close to anyone. They do it to create emotional and physical distance. If you are trying to create distance and avoid getting close to an avoidant, by all means do the same things avoidants do.
But if you’re trying to get close to an avoidant and want them to feel safe enough to get close to you, it’s very important that your avoidantly ex feels that you can be relied on through consistency in your words and actions; and in the way you show you love them.
Even if being close doesn’t come naturally to your avoidant, they could very well get used to it as they feel safe and comfortable around you.
3. Respect an avoidant’s need for space
Respecting someone’s need for space is allowing them to take the space when they need it. Giving an avoidant space when they haven’t indicated that they need space doesn’t communicate safety.
Avoidants know when they need space. It’s something that is wired in them; and needs to be triggered for them to want space. They don’t need you telling them, “I am giving you space. Have your space. Take it.” An avoidant will be thinking “OK… What was that about?”
If they’re fearful avoidant, they’ll think they did something to make you give them space. If they’re dismissive avoidant, they will think you’re being dramatic and passive aggressive. And if there is something dismissive avoidants don’t like it is drama. They don’t want to have to deal with your uncontrolled emotions, and they’ll distance from it.
Force-feeding an avoidant space is not about them. It’s about your own anxiety and fear of rejection or abandonment. Avoidant or secure, it’s hard to be close to someone who takes everything personally; and sees rejection and abandonment in every word you say and every action you take.
So if you want an avoidant to stop distancing and resisting getting close to you; act like someone who knows how to get close without causing too much emotional stress.
4. Listen, Empathize, Respond
Granted, it’s hard to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t open up about what they think or feel. But you should try anyways. Securely attached people do it with some ease, you can too; if you take the time to learn how to communicate with an avoidant.
Many studies show that avoidants tend to open up and communicate more when you use active listening and empathetic communication.
Empathy speaks to the deepest part of the human experience; that part in all of us that needs to feel seen, heard, valued, and understood. A huge part of empathic communication is the ability to understand how another person perceives their experience; their thought processes and emotional reactions.
Think of that person in that lonely room all alone, afraid to trust and afraid to get close. Put yourself in that room and try to think, feel and experience connection and closeness the way an avoidant experiences it; and reflect that experience back your avoidant ex.
Your avoidant ex may still feel that don’t get them; but they will see that you are trying. And that if they can overcome their fear of getting close; you are that someone they can trust waiting on the other side of the door. Someone who makes them feel safe and want to get close.
This may be a different approach to dealing with an avoidant ex; one that you are not used to. But it is the only approach that provides someone who doesn’t trust others; or is afraid of getting close with the safety and security they need to learn to trust and want closeness. The only way you to get close to an avoidant ex, get your avoidant ex to trust you and want to get close to you.