Protest behaviour can go from aggressive to passive-aggressive and back to aggressive. This is all in hope that their behaviour will get their ex’s attention, and make their ex contact them.
While an ex reaching out or responding provides some reassurance to someone with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style, it does very little for their underlying constant need for reassurance. They may even try to act like they are not bothered by what they thought was their ex pulling away, but they just can’t keep it in for long because they NEED to know that everything okay, they didn’t to anything to upset their ex and if they did, they want their ex to know they are sorry.
An aggressive anxiously–preoccupied may want an explanation or demand an apology for their ex not responding or calling back (as they promised). Hearing their ex apologize is important because to an aggressive anxious–preoccupied, it’s reassuring guarantee their ex’s behaviour will not be repeated.
Since most anxiously–preoccupied people attract dismissive-avoidants the response to their protest behaviour is likely to be dismissive or avoidant.
Nothing is wrong, they were busy, didn’t have their phone with them, didn’t feel like talking, or they dismiss it as over-reacting or being needy.
But this does not reassure someone with an anxious–preoccupied attachment style.
Anxious–preoccupied men and women crave attention and affection, and when they get into a relationship, they give it their everything, quite often at their own expense and expect the same from their partners.
Most don’t realize that their need for attention, affection or reassurance is way above the scale of what most people want, can take, can give or are willing to give.
For example, they don’t see how someone can be ‘too busy” to respond to a text or why someone wouldn’t feel like “talking” to someone they love. To them if you love someone, you should respond to their text immediately and should want to talk to them all the time. They also say things like, “I put her on a pedestal”, “I did everything for him”, “I loved her more than I love myself”, “He was my everything” etc.
That’s the way they want to be loved and the kind of attention or affection they crave for; and can’t understand (or imagine) why anyone can not want to be ‘loved’ like that.
When the relationship ends, anxiously–preoccupied have a hard time accepting that someone who said they loved them (and still says they love them) does not want to be in a relationship anymore. To them if you love someone, you do not leave them. That’s where most of the needy and sometimes stalking behaviour comes from – the inability to understand or refusal to accept that someone can love you and leave.
When trying to get back their ex, they act in the way that they would want their ex to act towards them. They send more texts than most because they’d want their ex to send them many texts. They also spend more energy and time than the average person trying to make sure their ex knows how much they love him or her, and tell their ex they love them over and over and that they are not “giving up on them” because that’s the kind of reassurance they need from their ex. Most of the time they think they are showing that they care, are being supportive or trying to connect (and they are), but they do it in ways that go beyond what their ex is comfortable with, wants or is ready for.
If their ex is a securely attached person, they will communicate clearly that they are not comfortable with the attention or affection the anxious-preoccupied is giving or ready for the closeness the anxious-preoccupied wants. Most securely attached exes will set boundaries and communicate the consequences of violating the boundaries they’ve set for their anxious-preoccupied ex.
Setting and communicating clear boundaries is one thing that securely attached people are very good at, but it’s also where they have the most problems when dating or in a relationship with an anxiously-preoccupied.
Securely attached individuals have strong and healthy boundaries, anxiously-preoccupied have weak or no boundaries. Securely attached individuals respect boundaries others set for themselves, anxiously-preoccupied are chronic boundary violators.
In a relationship with an anxious-preoccupied, securely attached individuals find themselves always having to communicate their boundaries over and over, and sometimes set up new boundaries to just for the anxious-preoccupied.
Most securely attached individuals understand that anxiously-preoccupied feel safest when their partner is reassuring, available and attentive. They also understand that an anxious-preoccupied jumps to worse-case scenarios when they feel ignored or when their feelings are dismissed as just being needy, so they try to provide the anxious-preoccupied what they need to feel safe and loved.
It’s not always easy but I have known many securely attached people who helped their anxious-preoccupied partners or exes change their attachment style by providing the stability and security anxious-preoccupied men and women crave.