You should know this if you want to win back a fearful avoidant. Small little gestures go a long way in winning back a fearful avoidant ex. One of those small gestures is showing appreciation and gratitude.
A new study found that when people high in attachment anxiety receive a partner’s recognition and appreciation; they feel more worthy and competent.
People high on attachment anxiety are anxious preoccupied and fearful avoidants. Gratitude is an emotion that results from recognizing that a positive experience or outcome occurred due to another person’s responsive or thoughtful behavior (Algoe, 2012: Find, remind, and bind: The functions of gratitude in everyday relationships.).
How often do you show a fearful avoidant ex that you appreciate them?
Researchers analyzed data from a long-term study in Germany that surveyed romantic couples yearly over seven years. To measure attachment anxiety, couples were asked to rate how much they agreed with statements like:
- “Sometimes I’m not sure if my partner enjoys being with me; as much as I enjoy being with him/her,”
- “I’m often afraid my partner thinks I’m silly or stupid if I make a mistake.”
They also rated how satisfied they were with their relationship overall; and reported how grateful their partner was by answering questions like:
- “How often does your partner express recognition for what you’ve done?”
- “How often does your partner show that he/she appreciates you?”
The researchers then ran a series of analyses on the data, trying to see how these factors changed over time.
Their findings showed that when people high in attachment anxiety felt greater gratitude from their partners; their anxiety was significantly lower a year later. The reverse was not true—lower anxiety did not seem to predict more gratitude later on.
To Yoobin Park, the study’s lead author, this suggests that gratitude plays a role in reducing the stress that attachment anxiety causes in a relationship.
“When people high in attachment anxiety receive a partner’s recognition and appreciation, they feel more worthy and competent,” says Park. “They can infer that their act of kindness has successfully met their partner’s needs and that their partner values them and their relationship.”
“I’d recommend we all think about what it is about our partners that we appreciate the most,” says Park. “Then, make sure our partner is aware of how grateful we are”.
You will increase your chances of winning back a fearful avoidant with small gestures of appreciation
Many studies have also associated lower relationship satisfaction with little or lack of appreciation and gratitude for the little things a partner does. And because individuals with higher levels of anxiety value and experience happiness of their relationships, appreciation and gratitude meet their need for attention and validation, which results in feelings of happiness and satisfaction.
So if you are trying to win back a fearful avoidant ex or an anxious preoccupied ex; using words like “I appreciate you saying/doing…”, “Thank you for…” and other words that show appreciation and gratitude will deliver some positive mileage.
There is a catch… there’s always one.
Showing appreciation and gratitude for the small things a fearful avoidant ex says or does only works with longer relationships and with the age of your ex.
In shorter relationships and with fearful avoidants below the age of 25, showing appreciation and gratitude may meet a fearful avoidant’s strong desire for closeness; but it may also cause negative emotions that interfere with feelings of gratitude. This is because individuals high in attachment anxiety fear not being able to reciprocate a partner’s kindness and meet a partner’s expectations.