Feeling and acting needy when your ex does not respond is a sign of attachment anxiety.
Attachment anxiety comes from the fear that an attachment figure (in this case your ex) will be unavailable, or unresponsive to your attachment needs. This fear is constantly in the minds of people with attachment anxiety (anxious preoccupied and fearful avoidants). When they don’t get a response from an ex, they jump to the conclusion that their ex is intentionally ignoring hem, and this triggers needy behaviour.
They take their ex not responding or not texting back as:
- A reflection on who they are. If they were ‘good enough’ their ex would value them and respond.
- Evidence of ‘bad’ judgement”. They didn’t choose the right partner’ or didn’t word the text well, didn’t time it well etc. If they had done everything ‘perfectly’ they would have received a response.
- Bad intentions. They think their ex not responding is intentionally trying to hurt them. It’s hard for them to accept that just maybe; it has nothing to do with them. Maybe their ex is busy; or maybe their ex just doesn’t feel like responding (which is their right).
Expecting your ex to respond is normal and not a bad thing
The difference is that someone not so attached to the outcome will feel the hurt and even feel a little anxious; but be able to balance that off with other things happening around you that are positive. Overly anxious people can’t seem to think of anything else except why their ex isn’t responding; and what it means.
This often hurts their chances of getting back together with an ex. I’ve seen and worked with so many people who can’t handle an ex not responding; and end up self-sabotaging.
So if you find yourself routinely feeling and acting needy when you do not get a response from your ex; or thrown off track in your efforts to get back your ex because you didn’t get a response:
1. Examine your beliefs about closeness
You may have insecure beliefs about “what is right” and how things “should be” and these beliefs are driving needy and clingy behaviours.
Realistically, there will be times (and many of them) when your ex doesn’t respond and it has nothing to do with you.
2. Write a list of times your ex has been responsive
Train your mind to manage anxiety instead of feeling into it attachment anxiety with thoughts of “something is wrong”; and making assumption that make things seem much worse than they actually are.
I’ve found that writing down a list of ways your ex has been responsive in the past, or shown that they care helps neutralize catastrophic thinking.
3. Talk to your ex about how you feel
It helps to talk to your ex about how it makes you feel when they don’t respond. But make sure you use non-violent communication especially with an avoidant ex. Avoidants don’t handle conversations about “how you feel” too well especially if it requires them changing their behaviour.
4. Work on becoming more secure
Needy behaviours often make the fear an ex will be unavailable and unresponsive come true. Needy is not just about how often you reach out, it’s your communication style, the words you use and your attitude.
If you always make your ex feel that you want validation or reassurance; interrogating them instead of having a conversation; or turning away from your ex’s bids for connection, they’ll pull away and stop responding.