Should you remind your ex of the good times, maybe send a good memory text? Yes, it’s OK to text your ex about the good times but it depends a lot on your ex’s attachment style.
Abeyta, Routledge, & Juhl, 2015 did a study they called “Looking back to move forward: Nostalgia as a psychological resource for promoting relationship goals and overcoming relationship challenges” and found that the positive effects of nostalgia vary depending on the extent to which people seek out relationships for psychological security in the first place.
“We found evidence that it is the interpersonal nature of nostalgia that is associated with striving to connect with others”.
Based of this, it’s I think safe to say that if your ex is securely attached, anxious attachment or fearful avoidant leaning anxious, they’ll be more open to talking about the past and even receptive to sharing good memories because these attachment are more likely to seek out relationships for psychological security and to strive to connect with an ex after the break-up.
It does not necessarily mean they will want to relive or recreate those memories especially if the memories make them feel sad, stressed, disappointed, depressed, resentful or angry.
Not all memories are the same, some memories do hurt your chances
It’s important to understand that not all memories are the same and talking about some memories do hurt your chances of getting back with your ex, especially avoidants who tend to rely on themselves for attachment security.
“It really does matter whether [an event is] positive or negative in that most of the time, if not all of the time, negative events tend to be remembered in a more accurate fashion than positive events,” says review author Elizabeth Kensinger of Boston College.
“Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones, he said. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.” says Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at Florida State University.
What this means for you is even if nostalgic memories have a positive effect on individuals with attachment anxiety and anxious-avoidants (especially anxious leaning fearful avoidants), you should not bank on texting your ex about the good times as a strategy for keeping the lingering feelings of love alive, or even grow them back into in a relationship.
You may even find that the reason your ex doesn’t want to come back is because they remember the good times and seem interested and engaged, then a few hours or days later, they remember negative memories and they are like “I don’t think we should continue contact. It’s preventing me from moving on”; or “I am worried that we’re spending too much time together, I don’t want to lead you on”; or “I don’t see us getting back together.”
You didn’t say or do anything to make them want to pull away, they just remembered the bad times during the relationship and the negative memories were stronger than the good memories.
Is it OK to text a fearful avoidant ex about the good times?
This is more complicated, as the studies show, avoidants have a complicated relationship with memories.
In a 2019 follow-up study “The pushes and pulls of the past: The effects of attachment-related avoidance and nostalgia on approach-oriented social goals”, Abeyta, Nelson and Routledgeb found that nostalgia decreases avoidants intentions to connect with others.
“Avoidants are also generally less concerned with the welfare of others and tend to pursue goals and behaviors aimed at distancing oneself from relationship partners which may explain why nostalgia further shifts highly avoidant individuals from pursuing connectedness.”
The study went further to say, “It can drive people with a history of avoidance further from relationships”.
It makes so much sense that nostalgic memories push away avoidants given the way avoidants deal all things emotions. Fearful avoidants who often have multiple layers of attachment trauma tend to have their memories of the relationship and the break-up clouded by past traumas. This sometimes creates an incoherent and disorganized recollection of difficult conversations and events prior, during and after the break-up.
And if you’re reading this and have tried to talk to your fearful avoidant ex about the relationship or the break-up, you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes wonder if they have a borderline personality disorder or something. And when you push for your recollection of what happened they angrily lash out and even cut off all contact.
You get lumped with all the other people who’ve abused them, neglected them, crossed boundaries, ignored their needs, treated them badly etc., even when that’s not “exactly” what happened. To them it is, and that’s why fearful avoidants react attempts to “remind them of the good times” with confusion and incoherency.
When you’re dealing with a fearful avoidant ex whose memories of the good times are mixed up with “unresolved” attachment traumas that have nothing to do with the relationship, break-up or you, texting about the good times is not exactly a smart strategy.
In my work, I’ve also found that rather than address their feelings of loss, abandonment and rejection, some fearful avoidant use social media to mess with an ex’s feelings and emotions especially on social media (Instagram). While most fearful avoidants just want an ex’s attention (and or trigger an ex to reach out), some fearful avoidants post songs, stories, quotes or memes that only mean something to the two of you, but when you respond they ignore you, stop watching your stories or use this as an opportunity to start an argument or fight. This passive aggressive behaviour in fearful avoidants is not just mind game playing to mess with your emotions and feelings, it’s also intended to hurt you back for making them feel abandoned and rejected.
Is it OK to text a dismissive avoidant ex about the good times?
While fearful avoidants have an incoherent and disorganized recollection of relationship and break-up events, most dismissive avoidants just don’t remember most things with emotional content.
When dismissive avoidants say “I don’t remember” specific relationship or breakup memories, they actually not remember, and are not just trying to avoid the subject. You will be surprised to find that your dismissive avoidant ex doesn’t even remember who broke up with who. You think they broke up with you and they think you broke up with them.
When you text a dismissive avoidant ex about the good times and they don’t respond at all or respond with something completely unrelated to the memory, it can feel like they changed the subject and naturally your anxious attached mind goes “It must be too painful for them or think about the good times” or “It must have made them miss me”, when the explanation is simply that a dismissive avoidant doesn’t remember the “emotional” event you’re trying to remind them of.
As I discuss in my article What Are A Dismissive Avoidant Break Up Stages? chances are your dismissive avoidant ex has not processed the processed the break-up at all and may never do; too emotionally and mentally energy consuming,
But wanting to keep the lingering feelings of love alive, or even grow them back into mutual attraction and eventually into in a relationship, you keep texting about texting a dismissive avoidant about the good times thinking it’s making them think about you or miss you. But after a while, dismissive avoidants just stop responding altogether
So next time you’re attempted to text an avoidant about the good times remember that nostalgic memories can make avoidants not want to pursue connectedness and even push the further away.
“It might be necessary to work on these avoidant tendencies first; before throwing nostalgia into the mix or find a different approach altogether” says Andrew Abeyta researcher and assistant professor of psychology Rutgers University–Camden.
You have a better chance of getting an avoidant to respond and even reach out when you create new and better memories than rely on the old good times.