Question: How do I stop avoiding my ex and running away?
I’ve read your articles may of your articles and I appreciate that you do not paint us avoidants as villains. I’m aware of my habit of withdrawing and running away from conversations and I’m working on communicating to my ex when I need to pull away and I tell her I’m not going away for good, I just need space. She says it’s helping make her feel less anxious. But we still have the problem of me clamming up and shutting down every time she brings up issues from the relationship and wants to talk about why we broke up. The last time she brought it up, it led to a fight, and we didn’t speak for 6 days, the longest time we had no contact since the break-up. We had 3 days of no contact immediately after the breakup, she reached out first and since we spoken every other day or two. We’re both working n our attachment styles and wanting to be more secure.
I know at some point we will have to talk about what happened and try to resolve our issues and I’ve told her, lets create better memories so when we talk about the past, these things aren’t so emotionally overwhelming for both of us (btw, I read this from your eBook), and she’s agreed to postpone these conversations for now. My problem is I’m scared that when the time comes, I’ll still clam up, shut down or even completely run away. Any advice you can offer on how to overcome my attachment’s fear of these hard conversations and get her back.
Yangki’s Answer: How to overcome an avoidant attachment’s fear of conflict requires me to write book, but I’m happy to talk about avoiding conversations about the relationship or break-up and how you can mentally prepare yourself so when the time comes, you’re able to deal with the conversations in ways that are constructive, and hopefully will help resolve your issues and get back together.
I’ve found that most avoidant exes avoid conversations about the relationship or break-up mostly because they expect a negative experience i.e. it to be emotionally stressful or to lead to conflict/ and or drama. Expecting a negative experience is why many avoidants avoid not just conversations about the relationship or break-up, but avoid contact and even completely avoid their ex.
How a fearful avoidant ex can mentally prepare for conversations about the break-up
In addition to expecting to feel uncomfortable, fearful avoidants because of their attachment’s fear of negative evaluation also expect conversations about the relationship or break-up to lead to further hurt, rejection and ruminating about what went wrong, and the could’ves and should’ves etc.
Your fearful avoidant attachment mental script tells you that you have not good at these type of situations and there’s probably no solution. You’ve tried and really wanted the relationship to work but you simply can’t see how your problems can be solved. Your anxious attachment ex wants you to communicate, open up and talk about how you feel but your fearful avoidant attachment is telling you what’s the point of having conversations about relationship problems if nothing gets resolved, and how can you trust someone who keeps letting you down?
You know from past experiences that having these conversations is just going to end up creating more problems and get you rejected again because you’re not good at these type of conversations. It’s less stressful and safer to distance and feel judged, criticized, disliked, or rejected at a distance than risk being reprimanded, punished and/or rejected for trying to do something you know you’re not good at.
I’m not going to tell you that your thoughts, feelings and fears aren’t valid because they are valid. What I can tell you is that you can change your experience by opening yourself to seeing the good (in addition to the bad) in the situation and believe that there is more than one solution to a problem and that it’s okay not to have a solution to every problem.
If you want to stop avoiding difficult conversations, you need to be okay with not to having a solution to every problem. You don’t have to be “perfect” or “know everything” (nobody really does, not even securely attached). Sometimes just showing up is have the battle won. Learn something from people who have a secure attachment style and try to see these difficult to have conversations as opportunities to better yourself and improve your relationship.
How a dismissive avoidant ex can mentally prepare for conversations about the break-up
Dismissive avoidants on the other hand avoid contact and even avoid their ex to avoid conversations about the relationship or break-up, because they consider them unnecessary and emotionally exhausting.
Your attachment’s fear of feelings and emotions expect these conversations to become irrational and there being no solution. It’s what happens every time when you open yourself to emotional conversations; there will be emotional outbursts, tears, you’ll be accused of things you have no idea what they’re talking about. You will end up emotionally stressed and distancing and/or cutting off all contact out of frustration. The problem or situation will still not be resolved, and may have even been made worse by trying to talk about it.
But while avoiding “emotional drama” seems easier, it is also not the solution. The dismissive avoidant mantra of “Don’t bring me problems—bring me solutions” may work in an office or work setting where other people’s feelings and emotions are not important in getting the job done, but in a close relationship setting, “solutions, not problems” prevents the resolution of the problem because you can’t have a solution when you don’t truly understand the problem, let alone acknowledge that there’s a problem.
Of course, it’d be great if anxiously attached managed their emotions better instead of talking about their feelings and emotions and asking the same questions over and over. But anxious attachment and fearful avoidants need to be seen, listened to, heard, understood, and acknowledged first before you can talk about solutions.
If you want to stop avoiding difficult conversations, instead of reacting to emotional conversations with indifference, or dismissing someone’s concerns, feelings, needs before you even hear them out, try to see past the irrationality that comes with someone being emotionally charged and do your best to facilitate a solution by trying to they feel and making them feel listened to, heard and their point of view validated even if you think differently.
The point is avoiding conflict is learned behaviour, learned behaviour can be unlearned. Hopefully when the time comes for you to have conversations about what happened in the relationship and/or the break-up, you will not run away and avoid your ex, but confidently try to resolve your issues and get back together.