This Is How An Avoidant Ex Reacts To You After No Contact

Going no contact with a fearful avoidant ex or dismissive avoidant ex is a big gamble. The way an avoidant ex reacts when you go no contact and ignore them, and then reach out after no contact may shock you to the core.  Pay close attention to the research on how an avoidant reacts to perceived threats and to someone they think did them wrong. These studies give you deep insight into why ignoring an avoidant ex could potentially ruin any chance of a relationship.

How fearful avoidants react when you go contact after the break-up

The short of it is that you never know how a fearful avoidant is going to react to you when they feel ignored and abandoned. The nature of a fearful avoidant attachment style is that their attachment system can both be activated and deactivated, meaning that a fearful avoidant ex is either going to get anxious and reach out or deactivate and pull further away.

If a fearful avoidant ex leans anxious, they’ll feel abandoned when you ignore them and will most likely reach out. They’re taking the risk to reach out not because they want you back but so you can stop making them feel rejected and abandoned. When you respond an anxious fearful avoidant ex will be happy because it mean that you still care and they’ve not been abandoned. But they’ll also be angry that you ignored them in the first place. Every so often a fearful avoidant ex will remind themselves that you ignored or were indifferent to them and made them feel unwanted, unworthy and unloved. The more they think about it, the more likely they’re to deactivate, stop responding and disappear – start ignoring you back.

If a fearful avoidant ex leans avoidant, they’re going to react to no contact more like a dismissive avoidant ex.

How dismissive avoidants react when you go contact after the break-up

Dismissive avoidants in general are better at adjusting to an ex going no contact after the break-up. Some dismissive avoidants feel hurt and sad and may want to stay in contact after the break-up, but when you go no contact and ignore them, it’ll bother them but it’s only for a very short time. They quickly deactivate and shut down all feelings for you.

The majority of dismissive avoidants don’t obsess about the break-up or even think about an ex. Many of them go on with life like the break-up never happened, and it’s not an act, they truly feel nothing for you because they shut down their emotions. It takes a very long time for these feelings to come back, if they come back at all.

Why avoidants get angry when you ignore them and then reach out

You’d think that an avoidant wouldn’t get angry when you ignore them. They ignore you all the time, right? Wrong. Avoidants get angry when you ignore them then reach out after no contact but not for the same reasons. Why and how fearful avoidants react to being ignored is different from why and how dismissive avoidants react to being ignored because fearful avoidants are anxious-avoidants, and dismissive avoidants are not.

Let’s own it. Every one gets angry sometimes; and every attachment style gets angry. It’s perfectly natural to get angry. It’s how we express anger that always destroys relationships with the people we love.

Research on attachment and expression of anger has found that people with a preoccupied attachment style and fearful avoidant attachment style report feeling more anger when ignored. The general consensus is that anger hyperactivates attachment anxiety. And because most people with attachment anxiety already have poor emotional regulation, their expression of anger is often unhealthy and may be uncontrolled. Anxious preoccupied react aggressively while fearful avoidants react passive aggressively.

Dismissive avoidants react with suppressing anger for two reasons:

  1. It conflicts with their goal of maintaining independence and;
  2. To keep their attachment system deactivated.

The suppression of anger over time causes a build-up of anger that can potentially result in an outburst; and even violent behaviour.

Anger could in fact be an avoidant attachment way of maintaining distance

This is valuable information as most people find that when they reach out after 30-days or even 21 days of no contact, their avoidant ex seems angry, aloof, cold and even hostile. It’s not the reaction they hoped for.

Contrary to common belief that when someone reacts with anger; it implies that they still have feelings or are emotionally invested. Research on attachment styles is showing that outward expression of anger could in fact be an avoidant attachment way of maintaining distance. Expressing anger often motivates avoidance behaviours in others (Lang et al., 1998).

While avoidants get angry to keep others away, individuals with attachment anxiety react with anger with the hope that the same negative experience will not happen again.

How a fearful avoidant ex reacts when you reach out after no contact

When you first reach out after no contact, fearful avoidants leaning anxious are curious as to why you are reaching out and what you want. They will not respond right away, but wait a while to respond. Once they find out you want them back, fearful avoidants both leaning anxious and avoidant start:

  • Sending mixed messages and being intentionally ambiguous
  • Acting nice and warm but actually being cynical or intending to criticize
  • Sharing something on social media that seems innocent but is actually aimed at you
  • Ignoring texts for long periods of time
  • Reaching out and disappearing
  • Texting but refusing to meet
  • Pulling away and/or distancing themselves

If they’d preciously expressed that they want to stay in contact and/or be friends, you going no contact is likely to have triggered the rejection and abandonment they experienced in childhood and that created their disorganized attachment style in the first place. And because fearful avoidants grew up feeling unimportant and their feelings and needs ignored or dismissed, the message no contact sends is: you don’t matter and your feelings and needs don’t matter to me. It reinforces their fear that you weren’t going to stick around anyways, why should they trust you?

How a dismissive avoidant ex reacts when you reach out after no contact

When you go no contact, a dismissive avoidant ex suppresses all their thoughts and feelings of you. They may be aware that you are ignoring them but choose to suppress all feelings about it. When you reach out after no contact, you find that you’ve been emotionally shut out. All that is left is coldness. Some dismissive avoidants respond to tell you they’re good with things the way they are – with no contact.

Even dismissive avoidant exes who still have feelings for you have a problem with someone needing 30 or more days of no contact to regulate their emotions. They worry that someone who struggles this much with emotions is going to struggle with regulating their emotions in a relationship. This is especially true if your emotions – being needy, clingy, arguments, conflict, drama, jealousy etc., – were the reason for the break-up. Needing 30 days of no contact to deal with your emotions is proof that they were right to end the relationship, and right not to take you back.

The percentage of dismissive avoidant exes who respond after no contact is very minimal, except of course if there is “no-strings attached sex” involved.

How your ex feels about you doing no contact affects not only your chances of getting back together; it also affects the new relationship if you end up getting back together.

How an ex with an anxious- preoccupied attachment style feels after you ignore them

Remember anxious-preoccupied worry that a relationship partner is/will be unavailable and unresponsive to their need for closeness. No contact confirms their worst fear; and because of an anxious preoccupied’s tendency to hold a grudge, their fear of you being unavailable and unresponsive is exacerbated after no contact. Even after you get back together, they’ll continually dwell on thoughts of you one day abandoning them and cutting off all contact again.

How an ex with a fearful avoidant attachment style feels after you ignore them

Fearful avoidants have the hardest time trusting others, and often feel alone and unworthy of love. No contact intensifies and reinforces a fearful avoidant’s fear of getting close, and in some cases makes it worse. They feel that if you can abandon them and treat them like they don’t matter, maybe they really don’t matter. Maybe they’re indeed unworthy of love and better off alone. The inability to trust you and feeling that they may be better off alone will create the push-pull dynamic (more: What happens when you ignore a fearful avoidant). 

How an ex with a dismissive avoidant attachment style feels after you ignore them

No contact and ignoring a dismissive avoidant strengthens their disregard for close relationships. As far as a dismissive avoidant ex is concerned, what’s the point of being in a relationship when two people can be perfectly okay with ignoring each other. Maybe they’ve been right all along; relationships are overrated.

Re-introducing you back into their life after weeks of no contact is inviting back expectations; demands for their time and space; drama and everything they don’t like about relationships. If you get back together, they’ll always have one foot out of the door. They’ll always be thinking of the time when there was no contact and they could be themselves, do whatever they wanted; and ignore you back without any guilt (more: What happens when you ignore a dismissive avoidant).

Can your ex get over how they feel about ignoring them?

If you’re reading this and have been confused and puzzled as to why your avoidant ex reacts with anger or is cold when you reach out; now you know why.

It may take a while for your ex to get over their feelings about you doing no contact and ignoring them; and some exes may never get over it. Next next time you think about doing no contact, don’t think just about how you feel in the moment; think about how your one action now will affect your chances later.

COMMENTS: I encourage comments from avoidants on how you react to an ex when they reach out to you after no contact. Let’s all learn from each other. Thank you!

RELATED:

No Contact Works Differently With A Dismissive Avoidant Ex

3 Ways No Contact Hurts Your Chances (Attachment Styles)

“No Contact” Vs. A “Cool Off” Period After A Break-Up

How A Fearful Avoidant Ex Comes Back – A Detailed Analysis

What Makes A Dismissive Avoidant Ex Miss You And Come Back?

How Long It Takes Dismissive Avoidants To Come Back

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41 Comments

  1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Quest

    I’m FA and done no contact with former exs and now I’m on the other side, it feels wrong. She’s posting pics with guys on social media obviously to make me jealous and every indication that she is happy without me. It hurts so bad but it’s also making me lose attraction for her. TBh, I don’t know if I even want her back now. She’s lost my trust.

  2. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Lony

    I was distant from my ex when she broke up with me (reason for breakup) but I think I deactivated further during no contact. She reached out and I’ve tried to respond and initiate a few contacts, but my heart is just not into it anymore. I don’t want to hurt her further, and feel depressed acting feelings that I don’t have.

    1. Love Doctor Yangki AkitengLove Doctor Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      You’re hurting her leading her on. It’s best to be honest with her. She’ll hurt for sure, but she’ll also hurt much more later when she finds out you led her on. It’ll also help with your depression not to have to pretend to feel what you don’t feel.

  3. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Qwantum

    I’m a fearful avoidant with dismissive lean. I have a hard time getting excited when someone contacts me after months of no contact. I may respond because I’m curious but feel I disconnected. With my last ex, I tried to force myself to feel cheerful when she reached out and even reached out a few times myself. I wanted to feel connected to her again, but the feelings just never came back.

        1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Julien

          We don’t dish out avoidance, we are avoidant because of childhood attachment trauma. It’s not an excuse but the reason why we are avoidants. What is your excuse? Temper tantrum because you can’t get what you want?

  4. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Jessica

    I reached out to my FA ex 8 months after the breakup. I wanted to apologize for the things I did wrong in the relationship and how I handled the breakup. He texted back within minutes. This somehow gave me hope that we might be able to work things out.

    We met and it was like talking to a stranger, an empty shell of the person I was with for 5 years. I said what I came to say, and he sat there with no emotion. I asked if there was anything he wanted to ask me, he said “Nope”. I tried to press, and he said he came to give me closure and if we were done, he had things to do.

    Despite all this, I’m still glad I did it. Now I can move on with no regrets.

  5. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Alexy

    NC with FA for 30 days then reached out but let him take the majority of the initiative. He really warmed back up to talk to me every day, ask me how I am doing etc. But the last couple of weeks he’s pulled back and initiating 2-3 days. He’s also gone back to one word texts ok, huh, cool. I feel myself getting anxious but trying to keep myself in check. It felt like he was really coming around and feeling more secure with me, and now I don’t know. This is really hard.

  6. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Lari

    Self-aware DA here. I prefer to give each other 2 weeks to calm down and then talk to see how we feel, what we want and what needs to change. If we can’t agree on any of those things, I move on. Life is too short to waste.

    1. Love Doctor Yangki AkitengLove Doctor Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      2 weeks is enough time for some people, and as a dismissive avoidant, your ability to compartmentalize and bounce back faster is unmatched.

      As one of the few coaches who discourages using no contact as a strategy for attracting back an ex, let alone an avoidant, I don’t think anyone should feel bad if they need more time and distance as long as they know that the time and distance is about them and what them need at the time.

      Also, if you want an ex back, its’ important to communicate to your ex how much time you need in a way that protects whatever connection you have at that moment. There is a real risk of an avoidant completely detaching during no contact; and once they completely detach, it’s really hard to get them back.

  7. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Rau Stuart

    I am a very out of sight out of mind dismissive avoidant. I’ve reached out to only one ex that I had a very strong connection with. I broke things off because I was making her miserable and I didn’t want to hold her back. She replied very kindly and said she did not hate me but had moved on. I left it at that. She reached out 2 months later and asked if we could be friends. 1.5 years later and we’re still friends.

  8. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Keila

    Fearful avoidant reached out after two months of no contact. No real interest to engage in conversations but when I didn’t text back, he reached out with some link about something. After 6 weeks of breadcrumbs, I blocked him.

    I need to stop dating avoidants. Not worth it.

    1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Luel

      My fearful avoidant reached out and chased me after 10 weeks of no contact. Was super responsive (text back within a minute), saying all the right things like he missed me and thought about me everyday, how great I was, he had changed, and things will be different etc. It felt like out of a movie, for about 2 weeks! LOL. I found out he was also seeing a woman he met a month after we broke up and still with her even as he tells me all these things. I confronted him about it and no response. 11 months and they’re still together.

  9. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Dom

    I’m a dismissive avoidant and do not ignore an ex who was good to me, or I was emotionally attached to. I always respond when they reach out to me and will initiate contact from time to time. If, however I had no strong feelings for them or they were just not a good person, I ignore them without the slightest remorse. I also do not comeback once I deactivate.

  10. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Lucylaine

    After the breakup I unfriended FA on FB and he immediately took down pics I was tagged in. 2 months ago I reached out to him to at least explain that I unfriended him because it was emotionally hard for me to stop checking his page. He didn’t respond. Now I see he’s in a relationship and has pics of her all over his IG. I feel bad for what I did but I think the outcome would’ve been the same if I had not unfriended him on FB or gone NC which I did after he took down pics I was tagged in.

    1. Love Doctor Yangki AkitengLove Doctor Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      You’re probably right the outcome would’ve been the same if your FA didn’t think the relationship was worth going back to. But if he’d not completely checked out, he was triggered by you unfriending him and that’s why his reaction was immediate.

  11. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Divabelle

    I’m not sure if my ex is dismissive avoidant or fearful avoidant (can he be both?). He broke up with me two months ago because he felt the level of commitment and expectations I wanted from him were too much to handle. I didn’t know about attachment styles then and now realize that I put too much pressure on him.

    The problem is soon after the breakup, I initiated no contact and blocked him, so there’s been no contact for 6 months. My therapist advised me to send him an email basically explaining to him that I realize my expectations for him were too high and apologize. He did not respond, and I don’t know if he read the email. Another coach told me to write him a letter and send it by mail and I did. The letter was returned unopened.

    It makes me incredibly sad that he doesn’t know I let go many of those expectations and he still thinks I have the same expectations.

    1. Love Doctor Yangki AkitengLove Doctor Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I can only imagine how you must feel not being able to communicate with him, even if just to let him know you’re sorry.

      6 months is a long time, but I hope he reaches out at some point and you have the opportunity to apologize and stop torturing yourself. But even if he doesn’t, you have to find ways to get closure for yourself. You deserve that.

      Can someone be both dismissive avoidant and fearful avoidant?

      Yes, you can have a primary and secondary attachment style. For example, your ex could be a dismissive avoidant (primary attachment style) with fearful avoidant traits (secondary attachment style), or the other way around.

      In attachment theory circles we call this “leaning” e.g. Dismissive avoidant leaning fearful avoidant.

      1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Divabelle

        Do you think that enough time has passed and if I reach out he will be more open to us starting to talk again?

  12. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Carri An

    My ex is FA and I’m fairly secure. Our problems were mainly him being conflict averse and after one argument he stopped responding. I asked if we were broken up and he blocked me on FB, IG, WhatsApp. I think it’s reasonable to think he’s never coming back and I’m ok with that. If he reaches out I’m going to tell him how it made me feel and if he wants to come back, I’ll tell him it’s too late. I truly loved him, but don’t disrespect me and expect me to take you back. No thank you.

  13. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Tristen

    I’ve ignored both DA and FA. DA never reached out after the breakup and when I did, he responded neutrally, was warm but distant at the same time. FA aggressively reached out and was persistent for almost 2 months. Now I’m blocked and he seems to have moved on with someone else less than 2 weeks after telling me he had strong feelings for me. Maybe this is for the best for both of us.

    1. Love Doctor Yangki AkitengLove Doctor Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Ignoring someone you want a relationship with is unhealthy when avoidants do it, and is unhealthy when you do it.

      Fearful avoidants have an anxious side, this is triggered when you ignore them. Their attachment system remains fully or partially activated until they deactivate/swing back to avoidant. Sometimes a response is all they need for the attachment system to deactivate.

      What works best for fearful avoidants is consistency; act the same way when they hyperactivate or deactivate. The on/hot/pursuit and off/withdrawal gradually even out.

  14. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Flybabe

    All my FA exes reached out after i ignored them, but it generally went nowhere. I think they reach out to see your reaction and breadcrumb you. So f***ed up.

  15. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Graceyll

    I’m learning about this 4 months after my relationship ended. I believe he will never come back. I wish I knew about attachment styles early on. This is going to haunt me for life.

  16. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Denton

    My FA reached out 2 weeks into NC. We broke up end of April. Last week I reached out and got a text back, “Please don’t contact me. Thank you and goodbye”. After reading your article I now understand why she’s cold. I’ll leave her alone until she contacts me again. I just wish it wasn’t this hard with FAs.

  17. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Asulta

    I can definitely relate. I had a dream in the beginning of no contact that my FA would reach out because that’s what all the online advice says. It’s been 8 months. I’ve reached out 6 times and radio silence, not a word. I’m now focusing on healing and moving on. Should of moved on and not wasted 8 months hoping.

  18. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Taylor37

    I’m DA and what you anxious type need to understand is that when we ignore you, we don’t mean ill or malice, we’re not trying to hurt you or make you miss us. We just need to be alone for some time. When you ignore us to make us miss you and chase you, we see it as desperation and malicious intent and it turns us off.

    We can come back to you when we have had some time to ourselves, but you have to let us have that space and time.

    1. Love Doctor Yangki AkitengLove Doctor Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Thank you for clarifying the difference between ignoring someone because you need the space and time and ignoring someone because you want them to miss you and chase you. I hope individuals with attachment anxiety can truly understand this and stop the harmful and unhealthy “I want you to miss me” games.

      That said, don’t you think it would help an anxious person to feel less anxious if you took the time to explain to them that you need space and time and will come back when you are ready to re-engage?

      This is what we securely attached do. Anxious people can sometimes be too intense/overwhelming for us too, and we need time and space away. But we also know that they get anxious when they feel ignored, so we do our best to reassure them that us needing a few hours or days to be on our own doesn’t mean we’re abandoning them or don’t love them anymore. This makes a huge difference for a relationship with an anxious person.

      1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Zgbar

        I think that for fearful avoidants if you completely ignore them when they push you away, they will think that they were right, and you never cared about them. The first thing my ex said when I reached out the first time after 45 days of no contact is, “why didn’t you fight for me?”. I told her I thought she needed space and she said that was for her to say. I assumed and lost her trust. I tried to explain and argue my case, but she blocked me, and I remain blocked for 7 months.

    1. Love Doctor Yangki AkitengLove Doctor Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Not entirely true. You can ignore an avoidant, but don’t expect them to react to being ignored like an anxious-preoccupied reacts to being ignored (anxiety, worry, overcontact, protest behaviour, miss you, come back etc).

    2. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Oddball

      I’m a dismissive avoidant and I don’t personally enjoy ignoring someone but if you ignore me, I’ll show you ignoring.

  19. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Adu003

    Things can go back to normal if two people have a few hours or days of giving each other space. There’s no going back to normal with weeks or months of no contact. This is enough time for an ex to establish a whole new life with new friends, interests and routines. Personally, I’d have a hard time connecting with someone who chose to take themselves out of my life. I don’t want them back, and I’m securely attached.

  20. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Bino

    DA ex wanted to stay in contact but I was too hurt and went 45 day no contact. He never reached out once. I reached out, he responded 5 days later. 6 weeks in and he hasn’t initiated one single text. I reach out 2 times a week. I worry that this now superficial contact is our new normal.

    1. Love Doctor Yangki AkitengLove Doctor Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      DAs are known for completely “turning off” their feelings after the break-up and responding without any emotion. The feelings may eventually come back, but it takes a long while.

  21. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Kate

    Hi Yangki,

    I had an avoidant boyfriend for 5 years before he left 4 months ago to be with another woman.

    Since then, on the 3 occasions he came home to collect things, he has tried to hug me. I completed a 30 day no contact rule and then messaged him. He said about meeting, hoped I’m ok and said he was missing me. We texted a few times before he then just ignored me .

    What should I do? Text again or initiate a new no contact rule? He is living with the new woman.

    Your advice is appreciated. Thank you

    1. Love Doctor Yangki AkitengLove Doctor Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Doing no contact rule does more harm than good, and as you can see, it didn’t change the fact that your ex moved on with a new woman.

      As the article says “Next next time you think about doing no contact, don’t think just about how you feel in the moment; think about how your one action now will affect your chances later”.

      Use no contact, if you have to, to move on and not as a strategy to attract back an ex.

      1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Iris

        I went no contact with FA and it seems to have backfired. He seemed anxious after the breakup and sent 2 texts saying he still had feelings for me but wanted to stay friends and maybe eventually we’d get back together if we worked on our issues. Now he’s not responding to my texts. I feel like he deactivated and now leaning avoidant.

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