How to Pull Your Ex Closer Vs. How To Avoid Pushing Away Your Ex

When most of us think of an avoidant, we think of someone who avoids getting emotionally close, and when we think of avoiding behaviours, words like withdrawing, pulling away, shutting down or suppressing emotions come to mind.

Very rarely do we think of being overly focused on a negative outcome as a form of avoidance. I have worked with clients who would swear up and down that they are anxious pre-occupied and not avoidant but in the next breath say, “What I want to know is how do I avoid pushing my ex further away”.

This form of avoidance is what is known as as avoidance coping

You can argue that avoidance coping is not the same as withdrawing from connection, pulling away from someone you are in a relationship with or shutting down to avoid feeling emotions, but the goal is the same and that is to prevent an undesired outcome before it happens.

In many other situations, engaging in an action in order to avoid discomfort or a negative result is actually a smart thing to do. But when it comes to connection, closeness or attracting back your ex, avoiding behaviours or “away moves” hurt more than they help.

‘Away-from’ (something you don’t want) Vs. Towards (something you want) moves

Away moves are short-term actions that function to reduce distress but ultimately pull us away from what is most important to us. The other side of this is “towards moves” which are actions you take that move you toward what you want or what is most important to you.

When you are trying to avoid discomfort or a negative outcome, in this case “pushing away” or “scaring off” your ex, you are directing your energy and focus away from what you truly want. The energy, creativity and focus that should be going towards actions that attract back your ex is going towards trying not to push them away or scare them off.

For example, instead of thinking “how do I make sure that when I contact my ex, we are emotionally connecting and I am pulling my ex closer?”, you will be thinking “how do I make sure my contacts don’t push my ex further away”. These are two very different things. But to someone using avoidance coping, it feels like the same thing: If I am not pushing way my ex, it means I am pulling them close.

If you apply this logic to an object. If you are not pushing the object away, it is sitting still, no movement. In order for it to come closer to you, you have to pull it closer or move towards it.

Just because you are not pushing your ex away doesn’t mean you are pulling them close

Away-moves are driven by fear of rejection and fear of getting hurt. Toward-moves are driven by the desire for connection and closeness. But because the desire to avoid rejection or avoid getting hurt is so strong, many of us spend most of our time on away-moves like no contact, minimum contact, and engaging in superficial conversations, or playing mind game. These “away-moves” protect you from rejection or getting hurt, but they do nothing to strengthen connection or nurture closeness, and most times they create even more distance.

Emotional Self-Regulation

In addition to doing nothing to strengthen connection or nurture closeness, focusing on preventing an undesired outcome before it happens prevents you from learning emotional self-regulate or trusting yourself to know when you are doing too much or too little contact, or when you’ve gone too far or acted too soon.

When you think you are contacting your ex too much and might push them away, what do you do? Stop contacting your ex (a.k.a. give them space). When you think you might have said or done something that might seem “too soon”, what do you do? Stop contacting your ex to “give them space”.

“Give them space” (away-move) becomes your go-to behaviour when you can’t self-regulate

This actually can work short term, but as someone said “avoidance is a short term solution to a long-tern problem”, sooner or later, you will realize that you can’t keep “giving your ex space” and get back together and stay together at the same time. For a relationship to work there has to be consistency, continuity and connection.

But since you do not know how to stay in contact without running away every time there is a threat of rejection or getting hurt, and since you don’t know how to strengthen connection or nurture closeness (you’ve been avoiding both), you find yourself caught up in this loop of trying to avoid pushing away or scaring off your ex away and also trying to connect and draw them closer.

At some point, the stress of it all (and the emotional discomfort) will force you to give up, not because you don’t have a chance but because you’ve been focusing all your energy, time and effort trying to prevent rejection or getting before it happens. Little to no time, energy and focus has gone into pulling your ex close.

To pull your ex close you have to use toward-moves

In order for you to get back together you have to reach out, communicate, emotionally connect, have fun and enjoy each other’s company, sort out your difference or problems, discuss boundaries, talk about the future etc. These are the things that bond two people, keep them attracted to each other, and close to each other. Without these, you can give your ex all the “space” in the world, and they still will not want to come back.

True and strong connection requires you to be vulnerable, being vulnerable means putting yourself out there with the possibility that you could be rejected or get hurt. This is one thing that securely attached people understand all too well, and they get rewarded for it with healthier, happier, more fulfilling and more lasting relationships.

Make a decision today to start directing your energy, creativity and focus to doing things that attract back your ex instead of trying not to push them away or scare them off. A decision to move towards your ex when everything in you, and every ‘advice” on the internet is telling you to move away from.

Will you get rejected or get hurt? Probably. But you could also be rewarded with your ex back in your life.

 

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