I’ve written in my articles that sometimes a fearful avoidant dumper seems confused and conflicted after a break-up. They initiates contact get close and then pull away, and when you back away they lean back in, or they say they’re never coming back (there’s never going to be us), then start reaching out more. In this article, I’ll focus on how to show a fearful avoidant dumper that you’re compatible, are meant to be together and can be happy together.
Acceptance is directly related to feeling that you belong together (or meant to be together)
One of the things attachment theory explains really well and clearly is that people who grew up feeling accepted and wanted (attachment figure was available, responsive, and consistent in their love and care) felt safe and secure, and developed a secure attachment. Those who grew up feeling rejected or unwanted (neglected, rejected, abandoned, ignored, controlled, restrained, unstructured, treated with indifference, overwhelmed with adult responsibilities, abused etc.) felt unsafe and insecure, and developed an insecure attachment.
In adult attachment theory circles, intimate partner acceptance refers to the willingness to love a partner exactly as they are, “warts and all,” and manifests as behavior that functions to maintain or pursue contact with one’s partner, rather than to avoid or change them (Córdova JV, The Marriage Checkup, p. 89). Belongingness is defined as valued involvement, fit, and qualifications for acceptance.
Studies consistently demonstrate that felt acceptance positively correlates with a sense of belongingness and relationship satisfaction. When someone feels accepted exactly as they are, they feel that their involvement in the relationship is valued and this creates both satisfaction with the relationship and the feeling that you belong together. But when two people clash repeatedly, judge or criticize each other and or try to “fix” the other, it undermines acceptance and creates the feeling that you are not compatible and can’t make each other happy.
Fearful avoidants experience more negative emotions when they are not accepted
While all attachment styles have an innate need for acceptance and belonging, and differ in intensity, need and expression, people with an anxious attachment style and fearful avoidants experience more negative emotions when they are not accepted or feel rejected than people with a secure attachment and dismissive avoidants.
This is because people with an anxious attachment style and fearful avoidants have both a negative self view and an intense fear of rejection and abandonment and have a hard time accepting that someone truly loves them, wants to be with them and/or wants to meet their needs.
Someone with an anxious attachment will engage in approval or acceptance-seeking behaviours including people-pleasing and accommodating, excessive caretaking and attentiveness, and advice-giving fixing when they don’t feel accepted or feel rejected. They experience uncontrollable surge of resentment and angry feelings and become manipulative when their efforts to get approval or acceptance are not acknowledged or reciprocated.
A fearful avoidant may engage in approval or acceptance-seeking but will quickly pull back or withdraw when their acceptance needs are frustrated or not satisfied. Past experiences have taught them that it is difficult to gain acceptance. Some fearful avoidants even perceive themselves as a burden to others. They tell you you’ll be better off with someone more compatible with your needs, relationships experience, education or career or financial status, life-view or lifestyle, culture, religion or political views etc., and break up with you to ‘release you” from them holding you back.
When trying to get them back, a fearful avoidant dumper who still has feelings for you and even wants to get back together but doesn’t feel that you truly accept them will refuse to answer direct questions about where they stand, give evasive replies, withdraw from the conversation or intentionally shut down a conversation about where they stand or keep bringing up incompatibility as a reason for not getting back together.
How do you show a fearful avoidant dumper that you accept them, that you’re compatible, are meant to be and can make each other happy?
1) See a fearful avoidant for who they are, as they are and where they’re at
No one likes to be judged or considered flawed, unlovable/difficult to love or needs to be single until they’ve changed. If you’re judging your fearful avoidant ex, you’ve not accepted them, and they have good reason to not want to come back. You’re not safe and don’t belong together.
Yes, they need to work on their attachment issues, but you don’t motivate someone to change by judging and criticizing them, or calling them “avoidant”, “emotionally stunted” or “insecure’.
Seeing a fearful avoidant for who they are and as they are is accepting them where they are at in their personal journey and growth without judgement or bias. It’s recognizing and accepting that they didn’t choose to be fearful avoidants and certainly didn’t choose their childhood just like you didn’t choose your insecure attachment style. Avoidant attachment is just the other side of an anxious attachment. Both are insecure attachment, so you’re no better than they are.
You’re just two people with insecure attachment styles trying to make a relationship work the best way you know how to. Your way is anxious and their way is fearful avoidant. Have compassion for both of your journeys.
2) Accept that they have feelings and needs too
It doesn’t matter if you’re an avoidant or anxiously attached, if there is one thing that says “I don’t accept you”, it’s acting like only your feelings and needs matter, and the other person’s feelings and needs are an inconvenience or obstacle to getting you needs met.
When you ignore or dismiss the other person’s feelings and needs, you not only show them you do not accept their feelings and needs, you also create an environment in which they don’t accept your feelings and needs.
I see this in my work everyday. Anxiously attached clients complain that their avoidant ex doesn’t open up or allow themselves to vulnerable but what they don’t often acknowledge is their reaction or an avoidants past experience with opening up or being vulnerable makes them not want to open up or be vulnerable. For example, you ask an avoidant, “Do you miss me?” and they respond with “Not really” or “I’m happy being single” or “I feel so hurt by what happened and don’t miss us”. You get upset or feel resentful because it’s not what you want to hear, want them to say or feel.
They say they’re hurt or still hurting (which is a very vulnerable thing for an avoidant to say), and you react with “What about how I feel?” or “You hurt me too”. You asked what they think or feel but then you turn around and make it about your feelings and your hurt, or even try to fix “how they should think or feel” with relationships advice-giving or guilt-tripping.
This is a form of rejection along with jumping to conclusions before someone finishes what they’re saying, responding in a negative way when they’re only trying to explain themselves and acting on the assumption of a worst-case scenario. Most avoidants are like “If you don’t want to hear what I have to say or how I feel, then don’t ask”.
Accepting someone is accepting that they have their own needs, feelings, thoughts, experience and perspective and they’re entitled to them just like you’re entitled to yours. Their feelings, thoughts, experience, perspective and needs don’t invalidate yours. By embracing their steps toward openness, you’re slowly giving an avoidant the safety they need to allow themselves to be vulnerable. The more you accept their needs, feelings, thoughts, experience and perspective as valid and worthy of attention and respect, the more an avoidant will open up, reciprocate your efforts and slowly lower their guard. Conversations become more intimate and vulnerable creating a feeling in a fearful avoidant dumper that you’re a compatible and therefore meant to be together.
3. Be patient with how things progress
Trying to get an avoidant ex back is not easy and acting on your frustration, resentment and anxiety not only makes it harder to get back together, but also creates a sense that you don’t recognize and accept the reality of the situation and are trying to change it by force or manipulation.
When you accept a fearful avoidant, you’re accepting that there will be days when they want connection and closeness and there will be days when they pull away and want to be by themselves. Instead of getting frustrated about things you can’t change and thinking negative thoughts about them, accept the reality of the situation and focus more on the overall progress. For example, you text message your fearful avoidant ex pouring your heart out, only to receive no response, leaving you hanging in a state of uncertainty. Instead of responding with frustration or attempting to extract an instant reply, allow them a few days to process and respond at their own pace (or choose not to respond). Through these deliberate acts of patience, you’re showing acceptance not just of what is, but also of a fearful avoidant’s way of processing information, feelings and emotions..
Each time you choose to be patient, you’re showcasing your understanding and acceptance of their attachment style’s longing for connection and closeness and their need to proceed cautiously without feeling rushed. Your presence becomes a soothing constant amidst the chaos of a disorganized attachment, a safe haven a fearful avoidant can turn to, and be happy.
4. Learn to appreciate the way they show that they love you and care about you
I’ve said in my articles so many times and will say it again, “there’s more to a person than their attachment style.” Ignoring all the positive qualities that someone brings to the table, qualities that attracted you to them and made you fall in love with them, and fixating on their avoidant attachment style is a sign that you’re not accepting your ex.
Acceptance is when you see everything good, bad and ugly about someone and accept them as a human being who doesn’t need to be “perfect” or even secure to be loved. It’s learning to appreciate who they are, the things they do and the imperfect way they’re trying to love you and show you that they care.
Your ex may be a fearful avoidant who pulls away when afraid, pressured or overwhelmed, but they’re also the same person with whom you can have intelligent conversations with and makes you laugh. They may not show much affection but when you have a cold, they’re the same person who offers to bring you soup. They may value their independence, but they’re also hardworking/successful and someone you can be proud to introduce to friends and family.
So instead of fixating on what’s “wrong” with an avoidant and all the things they don’t do “right”, complaining about how they’re not meeting your needs or making you confused and miserable etc. show acceptance. When appropriate tell them why you are still attracted to them or still want them in our life, how much you value their involvement (e.g. in keeping the lines of communication open, spending time with you, doing something for you etc.,) and compliment them on things they put effort into etc.
5. Go beyond just tolerating to accepting
Olver the author of Secrets of Happy Couples says, “When we tolerate behaviour, we are still angry, frustrated and resentful about it. However, when we get to acceptance, all the negativity falls away — there is no frustration, anger, or resentment. When you accept your partner as-is, or a certain thing about them, you feel like this: “I accept this thing is a small part of the bigger package that is you. I realize it is working for you, and I accept it as an integral part of who you are and I don’t want you to change it.”
She goes on to say “When a person can get to look at the behavior that they were tolerating and understand how it provides them something positive, then the couple can actually go beyond accepting to appreciating that behavior.”
Some ways you can go beyond acceptance and show a fearful avoidant who doesn’t feel accepted that you appreciate them is show them that you may not agree on something but you can appreciate their perspective on it. And if they have interest or hobby that you don’t care for, try to see what it is they like about is and make a genuine effort to share in it even if it’s not something you would normally do; or at the least find common ground between your interests and theirs. Sharing in things they care about can provide a new perspective on who someone is, strengthen the idea that you’re a team and sometimes reduce conflict.
You don’t have to think exactly alike or always agree with your fearful avoidant ex on everything, like what they like or have do what they ask you to. Accepting someone means appreciating them exactly as they are and not a version of them that makes you more comfortable. If you can’t accept them unconditionally, let them go. Find yourself someone who makes you happier.
6. Trust that a fearful avoidant dumper is trying to do the right thing
Most of us can try to trust that things will work out, and sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. But trusting that others especially an ex is trying to do the right thing is not an easy thing to do because no one wants to blindly trust someone without first assessing if they are deserving of our trust.
So how do you truly accept someone if you don’t trust them? How do you know they’re trying to do the right thing when you don’t know what their intentions and motivations are? I’ll tell you how securely attached do it.
One, by learning to trust yourself first. When you trust yourself, you can accept others even if they hurt you and even if you know that they might hurt you again. Your trust doesn’t rely on what they do or how they might act, your trust depends on your confidence in your ability to get through whatever hurt you find yourself in.
Two, by choosing to see the goodness and positive in others. This is a choice not blind acceptance. Are there people with bad intentions and motives? Yes, absolutely. But are these the people you want to control your happiness, how you exist on this earth and how you treat others? That’s giving away too much personal power.
But before you can trust yourself, you must first accept your feelings, thoughts, needs, fears and instincts. When you truly accept your feelings, thoughts, needs, fears, you are more able to clearly see if someone is trying to do the right thing. You are also more able to see the real from the imagined, the possible from the longed for without your own anxiety, longing, denial, fears and triggers getting in the way of clarity.
If your untainted instincts free of anxiety, longing, denial, fears are telling you that you can’t trust a fearful avoidant dumper to do the right thing, then you have no business trying to get back together. There is a very high chance that your efforts will fail and even if you do end up getting back together, you will not last very long together.
But if your instincts and experience with them is telling you that your fearful avoidant ex is trying to do the right thing even if they’re not doing it well because of their attachment style, then trust yourself to see the goodness and positive in them and accept their effort in trying to do what’s right for both of you.
7. Let go to the need to fix your ex’s attachment style
Rejection is “you need to change so I can love you” or “let me fix you to be good enough for me”. This kind of attitude pushes avoidants further way, but it does more than that. It makes you an angry, bitter, negative, miserable and very difficult to love, let alone want back person. Why? Because you can’t make somebody change and yet your happiness is depending on changing them.
When you accept a fearful avoidant, you let go to the need to fix them. You can inspire them to change, you can share information that helps them want to change, and you can heal together by exploring how to support each other’s emotional well-being and building a foundation of trust that withstands the tests of time.
As you heal and grow together, every page of your story becomes a reflection of your commitment to accepting each other. Two people who fit well together and meant to be together celebrating the beauty of imperfection, embracing the past as part of their collective story, and setting the stage for a bond that’s more secure, resilient, and satisfying on all levels.
Accepting someone especially someone who dumped you is a process
As you can see, acceptance is vital to your chances getting a fearful avoidant dumper back. You can respect a fearful avoidant’s independence all you want and give them all the space they need, but if they don’t feel accepted, don’t feel that you fit together or that you or they will be happy if you got back together, they’ll stonewall, go hot and cold and at the end of it all, not come back.
If you’re reading all this and overwhelmed by how much work you have to do to accept your fearful avoidant ex, don’t feel discouraged. Acceptance is a process. You don’t have to do everything at once. Do what you can bit by bit, and it’ll add up.