What Happens When You Stay Away From Your Ex For Too Long?

When an avoidant ex responds and the interaction is surprising positive and wholesome, many anxiously attached and anxious avoidants begin wondering “Should I now back away and give my ex space?” or  “I think I should back away and let them be for a while.”

Stepping back to give an avoidant ex space is healthy behaviour, but it shouldn’t be used as a way to cope with intense anxiety. In the short-term, it makes anxiety better but the temporary relief comes at a heavy cost.

What happens when you stay away from your ex for too long

When you stay away from your ex for too long, you develop a fear of contacting them and eventually are forced to move on. This is good if you’re planning on moving on, but can be a problem if you want to contact your ex but are now too scared to do so because it’s been a very long time since you had contact.

I see this fear of reaching out to an ex in the in the comments on my site by people who did no contact and haven’t had any communication with their ex for months. Deep inside they know that their ex is not going to reach out and even know that their ex may also be too scared to reach out. They know that to re-establish contact, they have to reach out first, but they’ve lost all confidence in their ability to connect with their ex that reaching out now feels scary and even uncomfortable. Keep in mind that this is someone who only weeks or months ago was texting their ex nonstop and had a whole lot to say.

They went from being preoccupied with contacting their ex to intense fear of reaching out, from needing to express their feelings to being too afraid of being vulnerable and/or opening up emotionally. The ones I’ve spoken to say they feel that going no contact helped them self-regulate, but when it was time to re-open the lines of communication, they were overcome by fear and haven’t reached out. Others reached out, didn’t get a response and didn’t reach out again.

Mutual avoidance – you are avoiding your ex and your ex is avoiding you 

When you go from having an anxious attachment to avoiding contact and connection, and even pulling away when you get close to your ex, you have overcorrected. You’ve not learned a healthy way to self-regulate (let a lone becoming secure), instead, you are actively being anxious avoidant.

You swung the pendulum from an anxiously attached who is comfortable reaching out and getting close to an avoidant who is scared of reaching out and getting close. As if that is not bad enough, you are trying to get back a fearful avoidant who is also scared of reaching out or a dismissives avoidant who is scared of getting close; talk about mutual avoidance.

Mutually avoiding each other accomplishes three things:

1) It makes anxiously attached emotionally timid,

2) It makes avoidants less trustful of others and

3) It makes both anxiously attached and avoidants fear the unknown and uncertainty.

To correct an anxious attachment overcorrection, you need to swing back to the center. You have to overcome emotional timidity and relearn being comfortable with reaching out and getting close.

Doing too much (anxious attachment) is just as bad as doing too little (avoidant attachment)

The irony of overcorrecting an anxious attachment is that by trying so hard not to be too much, you get rejected for doing too little. So instead of quickly cutting contact, distancing and/or pulling away because you are afraid of coming across as needy, putting pressure on your ex or bothering our ex (or being a burden to them), replace that urge to run away from connection and closeness with learning to self-regulate and communicating your need in a safe and healthy way.

For most avoidant exes, a simpler and low-emotional investment text feels safe. But whether your avoidant ex responds or not, and whatever their response will be, always remember that other people’s actions are not an evaluation of your self -worth. You determine and communicate your worth as a relationship partner by being a secure person and safe relationship partner.

And being a secure and safe person is not doing ALL- (over contact, needy, pushy) or- NOTHING (no contact/communication/connection). Being a secure and safe person is not about denying your need for connection and catering wholly to an avoidant’s need for space. Denying your own needs is just as bad and insecure as being needy and clingy, if not worse because it’s self-abandonment and inauthentic.

Being a secure person is being able to balance closeness and giving each other “healthy space”. It’s building and maintaining connection and closeness while spacing your contacts in such a way that it’s meets an avoidant attachment’s need for space and also meets your anxious attachment’s need for closeness. Being a secure and safe person is also being a consistent constant even when others are inconsistent and unpredictable.


What To Do If You’re Too Scared to Contact Your Ex

How Do I Give My Avoidant Ex Space? (And How Much Space)

How To Respond When An Avoidant Ex Reaches Out (Bids)

How Do I Keep Momentum With My Avoidant Ex?

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2 replies on “What Happens When You Stay Away From Your Ex For Too Long?”
  1. says: Hannah L.

    I get what you’re saying but practically every relationship coach says not to make yourself too available, give them space and don’t reach out but wait for them to reach out, and also not appear to care too much, and act mysterious.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I know what other coaches’ advice, but have you ever stopped to think about the cost of pretending to be what you are not and denying your own needs in order to attract or be with someone?

      They say, you teach people how they treat you and if what you are teaching someone is, “I don’t care much about my own needs, you can come and go as you please”, you are going to attract people who will treat you on their own terms without any consideration for your needs.

      It’s no irony that the same people who embrace that kind of advice are the same people who complain that they attract people who are unavailable, unresponsive and inconsistent. YOU taught them that it’s ok to be too busy to want to connect (you are too busy yourself), it’s ok to reach out when they feel like it (you will wait), it’s ok not to appear to care (it’s not important to show you care), it’s okay to act aloof and distant (you find it attractive).

      You attract the energy you put out is not just a mantra it’s the law of attraction.

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