The Strong Feeling To Text Your Ex – Attachment Anxiety Vs. Gut Feeling

Trying to show an ex that you still care about them, still love them and want them back and doing so without coming across as needy is something many of us struggle with. The norms of what you can say and what you can’t changed with the break-up, and navigating what is okay and what is not is tricky for anyone trying to attract back their ex.

Attachment anxiety makes figuring out what is okay to say and do and what is not a lot harder. The general tendency when you have attachment anxiety is either to overwhelm someone you love with attention and affection often with the hope that they will reciprocate, but as many of us may have found out, the more you push your love onto someone (smother them), the less attention, affection and love you get in return.

Contrary to some relationship advice out there, it’s not that people want you to not care or not show them you love them in order for them to love you back; what they don’t want is for you to overwhelm or smother them with your love and affection. Just like you can’t force someone to eat more food than they need or want (let alone force them to eat at all), however much love you have for someone, you can’t force them to take all of your “love”, even if you are willing to sacrifice everything for them.

I don’t even know why I am writing about this here. If you are reading this you must already know that there is such a thing as “loving someone too much”, but it’s one thing to ‘know’ something and another thing to practice it.

As I said earlier, attachment anxiety makes it a lot harder to practice not “loving too much”, and to some degree fearful-avoidance does too. Even as you try to navigate what is okay and what is not okay to say or do, you find yourself pulled towards saying and doing things that lean more towards “doing too much” because of your anxious and/or fear-driven thoughts.

Anxious-driven: What if my ex thinks I don’t love them? What if they think I am turning my back on them? What if they feel I abandoned them? What if they need me to show them love? What if they need me? What if they think I am ignoring them? Etc.

Fear-driven: What if I am just wasting my time? What if I am giving them what they want and, in the end, get rejected anyways? What if I am being played or taken advantage of? What if I say the wrong thing and push them away? What if I ask and they say “no!”… on and on and on.

The bad news is that all the things you worry about and fear can and might happen. But while all the things you think and fear can and might happen, there is also a possibility that what you fear might happen may not happen at all.

What I am trying to say here, and hopefully I am saying it right (and not triggering more attachment anxiety) is that when you have attachment anxiety or are a fearful-avoidant, your mind always tries to find some “logical” explanation for why you feel the way you feel, and/or some “justifiable” reason for you to do something that deep in your gut you know you should not be doing.

You know you shouldn’t be blowing your ex’s phone, sending them flowers and gifts, writing them letters telling your ex ‘how much you love them”, showing up at their home or work, stalking their social media etc,. but “something” inside of you tells you that it’s what you have to do to show your ex how much you love them, how much you are hurting and/or how much you want them back.

You tell yourself, “My gut feeling tells me…” or “I need to follow my gut feeling”.

There is nothing wrong with following one’s ‘gut feeling’, in fact, we all should listen and trust what our intuition is telling us because there are just some things that we know without us knowing why we know them or how we know them. So yes, listen and trust your intuition, every time.

But when you have attachment anxiety or are a fearful-avoidant, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between your intuition and anxiety or fear-driven thinking. Sometimes you think you are following your gut feeling when you are just being needy, and other times you don’t act on your gut feeling because you are scared of saying or doing something you think will scare away your ex. Most of the time you find you are either second guessing yourself or constantly feeling anxious because you can’t trust yourself.

How do you know the difference between a gut feeling and anxiety or fear-driven thinking?

I don’t want to make this article about “intuition” and certainly don’t want people sending me emails asking me to predict the future. I am not gifted like that, I am just a relationship coach and that’s why I’ll only discuss “intuition” in relation to attachment styles, more specifically contact and connection with your ex.

Contrary to what most of us have heard or read, not all gut feelings come with that immediate “Aha Moment”. Sometimes, gut feelings are scary because there is no logical explanation for how we know what we know. One moment you know absolutely nothing and the next you know everything. That’s scary. But unlike anxious or fearful thoughts which keep you stuck in scared, an intuitive thought or feeling quickly turns into clarity and calm.

For example:

You are thinking of reaching out to your ex but have no idea what to say in your text. Then a thought, feeling, or voice comes forward and it feels right. How do you know it’s the right thing to say? You do not, and that’s the scary part. But the feeling that it is the right thing to say is stronger than the fear that you don’t know if it’s the right thing to say. What’s more, there is no desire to overthink it or worry about what could happen or might happen. And after you’ve sent the text, you don’t sit there wondering if you should have said something else, done something else. It was the right thing to say and you said it. Moving on ahead.

Anxious or fearful thoughts on the other hand create unrest, discomfort or stress. The thought may even start as a gut feeling but because there is anxiety and/or fear attached to it, you overthink it, second guess yourself, procrastinate, try to come up with something else to say, and write 100 different drafts. In the process, you lose sight of what may have started as a gut feeling. What started as a simple text now feels like your whole life depends on it.

The action that comes from anxious or fearful thoughts is less about ‘the right thing’ to do and more about wanting that (anxiety/fear) discomfort to go away.

You either end up not sending the text at all or click ‘send” because you can’t take the stress anymore. But as soon as you click ‘send,’ you start worrying about what could happen, might happen. You even question if you should you have sent the text in the first place. Did you say the right thing? Did you use the right words? Was it interesting enough? What if your ex does not respond? Etc.

If you are a fearful avoidant, you are thinking, “I should not contact them again”. You even convince yourself that your ex needs space. Mind you, your ex hasn’t asked for space, this whole “give my ex space” is all in your head. That’s what avoidants do. When things get ‘uncomfortable’ they run away, emotionally and/or physically. They don’t have (or have limited) capacity to sit through discomfort, show up even when they’re scared and hold the space for a relationship to unfold slowly and naturally.

If you are anxiously preoccupied, you send a second text “You don’t need to respond (no pressure)”. The longer your ex takes to respond, the needier you become. You may even send your ex a third text, “I’ll give you space” or “I need space to focus on myself” blah blah.

In the short term, you may reduce anxiety, manage your fears and feel better, but that relief will be short-lived. The anxious and fear-driven thoughts will come back, and sometimes they come back stronger, and more persistent. You find it difficult to focus on the present because your mind is busy trying to un-do, modify and change the past or predict and fix the future before what you fear will happen happens.

Next time you have that “gut feeling” about what to do to show your ex that you still care about them, still love them and want them back, check with yourself to see if the action you are about to take gives you more clarity and makes you feel more calm and confident, or if the action is driven by a need to make the anxiety, fear or discomfort you feel go away.

Ask yourself “Am I afraid of something? Am I trying to get rid of the discomfort I feel?” If the answer is “yes”, that’s not your gut feeling that’s your anxiety and fear talking to you. If the answer is “no”,  check if you have more clarity, feel calm and confident about what you are about to do and follow your gut.

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