How to Make An Avoidant Ex Feel Safe Enough To Come Back

When you say and do thing that make an avoidant feel unsafe and insecure, you’re essentially sending the message “Don’t come close, I’m capable of hurting you!”. You may be doing so many things not to push them away, but not doing enough to make an avoidant feel safe enough to want to get close and come back. So if you’re trying to get back with an avoidant ex, making them feel safe should be your number one priority.

Here are 12 things that you can do to make an avoidant ex feel safe:

1. Give an avoidant the space they need

When an avoidant needs space, let them have it. It’s not personal. Often times avoidants aren’t distancing from you (the person), they’re distancing from closeness and vulnerability, so don’t take it personally. If they come close, rather than complaining about their avoidant behaviour, offer understanding and reinforce their positive actions.

They key words here is “needs space“. Don’t assume an avoidant needs space or try to impose space on them because this will backfire. Avoidants have a strong need to feel that they’re independent and make their own decisions.

2. Don’t rush or force closeness, be patient

To create safety, be honest with your feelings and intentions at all times but emotionally open up and share your time, space and self incrementally as things progress. Don’t demand more of an avoidant’s time, space and affections than they can give at the moment. In my experience, often times avoidants end up not coming back not because they didn’t want to but because they felt hurried and made a decision not to come back because they felt pressured. Let them come closer as they feel safe to do so. Your patience in the short term will pay off in the long term.

3. Regulate your emotions (tone down the drama/conflict)

Arguments, outbursts, wanting to talk about relationship problems or about your feelings all the time, complaining about not being happy, consistently worrying and talking about an avoidant wanting space, over emotionality –  anything and any situation that makes them feel that they need to deal with your emotions make an avoidant unsafe.

To make an avoidant feel safe, try to regulate or deal with your emotions on your own and learn to communicate your feelings without making an avoidant feel that your feelings and emotions are something they need to avoid or distance from.

4. Communicate vulnerability

Modelling safe vulnerability is so important for avoidants who are afraid of opening up and “exposing” themselves to hurt, judgement, ridicule, manipulation, being controlled etc. They need to see that you are capable of creating a safe space for yourself to be vulnerable before they can feel safe being vulnerable with you. If you disregard your own emotional safety e.g. talk about your thoughts, feelings, etc., without regard for the situation or consequences, why would they want to be vulnerable with you?

5. Give an avoidant time to respond

Communication especially where emotions are involved is harder for an avoidant than it is for you (anxious or secure attachment). Sometimes it can feel like an avoidant is being polite, cold or distant or doesn’t want to chat when it’s really that they don’t know what to say or are still processing the information and what they feel about. Give time to respond in their own time. It can take an avoidant from hours to days to respond. Don’t keep texting to try to jolt them into responding or make them respond faster.

To create safety for both of you, and avoid things from spiraling out of control, learn to self-soothe without needing reassurance from an avoidant. Check with yourself if you are responding to what is actually being said (or done) or reacting to how you feel about it. Most of the time, it’s our reactions to our own negative feelings that get in the way of a constructive communication.

6. Don’t force an avoidant to talk if they don’t want to

When an avoidant doesn’t want to talk, don’t force them to talk even if you know directly dealing with issues is better than avoiding them. In these kind of situations, make keeping the lines of communication open your main goal. Open lines of communication even if they’re are avoiding the issue has a calming effect on avoidants because there is no requirement for them to invest time or emotion. Keeping the lines of communication open also prevents triggering feelings of shame and guilt. But perhaps more importantly, open lines of communication even if an avoidant is avoiding difficult conversations communicates to an avoidant that you’re capable of holding a safe space for them think about the issue in their own time and at their own pace.

If you are emotionally invested in resolving the issue, try to see if you can reframe your perspective and see the situation in a different way, therefore resolving it on your own.

7. Let them have control of their own actions

To make an avoidant feel safe, let them feel that they are in control of what happens to them or what is most important to them. If for example they are doing a project that is important to them, and you want to be supportive, ask if you can help with little things here and there; things they are willing to let you help with. Even if you think you can do it better than they can, find ways to offer your help but in a way that an avoidant feels that they control or have a choice in what happens.

8. Be supportive but non-intrusive

Research suggests that avoidants are more open to support when offered as useful information or a helping hand (acts of service) than they’re to encouragement, or advice intended to enhance self- worth. This ties in with an avoidant’s need to feel independent and control of their experience.

To make an avoidant feel safe receiving support from you, let them make the major decisions and only step in to provide encouragement or advice if asked.

9. Be trustworthy, reliable and dependable

Avoidants in general have a hard time trusting and may never be able to fully trust. But they see when you make the effort, and feel safe.

You show an avoidant that you are making an effort to gain their trust when you:

  • Listen, empathize and respect their perspective
  • Are open, honest and as transparent as you can be
  • Take full responsibility for your actions
  • Apologize when necessary, but don’t over apologize
  • Don’t create drama but also don’t run away when you feel like you’re losing control

Knowing that you can be counted on makes avoidants who have a hard time trusting others feel safe. They don’t have to constantly worry that you will let them down or that they will disappoint themselves for trusting you to do what you said you’ll do.

10. Be accessible and available

There are several ways that you can show an avoidant ex that you’re accessible and available without coming across as needy and clingy or don’t have a life of your own. This includes keeping the lines of communication open when things are good between the two of you and when they’re not so good, spacing your contacts, checking in periodically, taking rain checks when necessary etc.

11. Be receptive and responsive

To be truly responsive in a way that makes an avoidant feel safe, be present and receptive and convey warmth, empathy and sensitivity. Recognize their bids for connection and distress cues and respond in ways that make them feel listened to, understood, appreciated and valued.

12. Be consistent

Consistency is important for all attachment styles but more important for a fearful avoidant because it’s inconsistency that created their disorganized attachment style in the first place. They expect you to reject/abandon them (not be available or response), punish them for breaking up with you or put your own self-protective interests/agenda above theirs. Consistency means showing them that “I’m still here”, you still matter and your feelings and needs still matter to me even when right now I shouldn’t still be here and your needs and feelings shouldn’t matter to me because we’re broken up. I’m the same person who fell in love you, and will remain the same throughout this process.

To make an avoidant ex feel safe, be consistent in how you show up for them. Even when they’re pulling away or deactivating, don’t change how you’ve been showing them you care and love them. This is especially important when dealing with a fearful avoidant attachment.

COMMENTS:

If you’re an avoidant, tell us what being safe means for you; and if you love an avoidant, tell us some of the ways you are making your avoidant feel safe. Remember, we’re in this together!

RELATED:

How Do I Give My Avoidant Ex Space? (And How Much Space)

How to Be Consistent With A Fearful Avoidant Ex (Get Them Back).

Why An Avoidant Ex Pulls Away After An Argument (STOP IT)

How To Handle A Highly Independent Avoidant Ex

How To Approach An Avoidant Ex About A Problem

How To Be Supportive To  A Fearful Avoidant Ex – And Earn Their Trust).

How A Fearful Avoidant Ex Comes Back – Explained In Detail

What Makes A Dismissive Avoidant Ex Miss You And Come Back?

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36 replies on “How to Make An Avoidant Ex Feel Safe Enough To Come Back”
  1. says: Tiggy

    I was doing many of the things here even before reading the article. Things are definitely better since I started focusing on making my DA feel safe. My first question is, is this enough? My second question is I’m sure one you’ve been asked a million times, can an avoidant change?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Is this enough to make an avoidant feel safe? To a large extent yes. These are the common things that make an avoidant feel unsafe, but not all. The article would be unreadable if I were to list them all.

      Is it enough to make an avoidant come back? Yes and no. You still have to address the reasons why you broke up. Attachment styles as powerful a tool as it is only a factor but often not the reason for break-ups. As I say in my articles, people are more than their attachment style and relationships problems are more than about attachment styles.

      Can an avoidant change? Yes, absolutely.

      Can An Avoidant Ex Change Their Attachment Style?

      Do they want to change? That’s another story. Many avoidants specifically DAs like who they are.

      How To Handle A Highly Independent Avoidant Ex (Triggers)

  2. says: Moriah

    I’ve learned a lot about how my actions make an avoidant feel unsafe and working on becoming more secure. Right now, however, I’m struggling emotionally. I’ve struggled with severe depression since late teens and find myself struggling to be emotionally available for my FA ex when I just want to sleep all day and not talk to anyone. He leans anxious and I don’t want to go no contact, I’ve seen how he reacts in the past and it’s part of the reason he broke up with me. He thought I pulled away and broke up with me by text. With the help of your site, I’ve been able to get him to a place where he responds to all my texts and 2 weeks ago tarted initiating on his own. Do you have advice on how to take space for myself to self-care without triggering in him the fear of abandonment? Thank you.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I’m sorry about your depression. You’re right to want time to yourself to self-care. It’s hard to be emotionally available for someone else when your own emotional resources are depleted.

      This article will help you do just that without triggering your FA ex, and also help protect the connection you currently have.

      Why A Cool Off Period Is More Powerful Than No Contact

  3. says: Tiffany

    You should post more YouTube videos. There are only a select few youtubers that part about attachments & tbh I feel like yours are more relatable & realistic to actual real life scenarios. I think you’d blow up! Especially if you do shorts because they seem to reach everyone & it’ll help your business worth your clients as well. Love all of your articles & videos. Thank you so much!!! ??????

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I appreciate your kind words. Videos require time and commitment but I’m also weary of causing more confusion and even promoting unhelpful stereotypes which happens a lot with a three-minute video. Writing articles helps me explain how to best move forward in our relationships without focusing on the attachment style itself.

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