You may have noticed that your avoidant ex only responds to some of your texts and ignores others or replies days later when you thought they’d ignored your text. Like most, you assume that because your avoidant ex is responding to only some texts, they must not want contact and you’re just bothering them. It even feels rude and disrespectful because you wouldn’t ignore their text, in fact you’d drop everything and respond immediately.
There are several reasons why avoidants in general only respond to some texts and ignores others and I discuss them further down the article. What I want to address first is the feeling that many anxiously attached have that they must be bothering their avoidant ex when they reach out.
Contact becomes a problem for avoidants when you make it a problem
An avoidant ex responding only to some texts doesn’t mean they don’t want contact or that you’re bothering them contacting them. If your avoidant ex didn’t want contact, the easiest thing for them to do is to tell you to stop reaching out or ignore your texts completely. But the fact that an avoidant is responding to some texts means they want contact.
The problem avoidants especially avoidant exes have with contact is that individuals with an anxious attachment style want contact, lots of contact, like all the time. Constant contact makes most people with an anxious attachment feel wanted, loved, reassured and happy. This is why they give too much time and emotional energy into whether or not the other person responds, when they respond and what they respond to.
I have worked with so many men and women with attachment anxiety, and I can tell when we are approaching “when will my ex start meeting my need for more contact, connection and closeness?” phase. Usually it is at that stage when things are picking up momentum and/or an ex is showing signs of interest.
If there was no contact for months, it doesn’t even get to ‘picking up momentum’, they suppressed their need for contact, connection and closeness to complete the no contact rule, and now that they’ve completed the “no contact” period, they crave contact, connection and closeness more than before.
It’s like one of those diet programs where you avoid your favourite food for a certain period and after completing the program gradually ease yourself into your favourite good again, but instead you end up binging on it because you’ve starved yourself of it for so long. Some anxiously attached even find that after no contact with an ex for so long, they’ve become like fearful avoidants: wanting contact and connection but fearful of it.
Even when things are picking up and they’re finally getting some momentum, some anxiously attached clients still feel it’s not enough and get into that “when will my ex start meeting my need for more contact, connection and closeness?” phase. The obsess about how long it takes their ex to respond, why their ex only replies to some texts and ignores others, why they responded to a text days after ‘ignoring” it (translated when they think they should have responded) etc.
No matter how much I tell someone that their avoidant ex not replying to texts for hours/days or responding to only some texts doesn’t mean they don’t want contact or feel bothered by contact their attachment anxiety still pushes them to seek reassurance and even self-sabotage and ruin their chances of getting back together.
Your avoidant ex will never want as much contact as you do
Secures and avoidants in general don’t invest energy into when someone responds, how they respond or what they respond to unless your ex is an anxious fearful avoidant and is leaning heavily anxious.
The difference between secures and avoidants is that secures are tuned in to others’ needs. For example, they know that people with an anxious attachment get anxious, worried and even fall part when they they feel ignored. A securely attached person will do what’s within reason to reassure an anxiously attached that what they’re thinking is going on is not what us happening. For example, they’ll send a quick text to say they’re busy and will respond later on or explain that the question an anxiously attached ex is not something they have an answer to. They show availability, responsiveness, consistency and reliability because that’s what was modelled to them growing up, and come naturally to them.
Avoidants don’t have the secure modeling of the securely attached. Most didn’t have their needs met and learned to meet their needs on their own, which also made them less attuned to other’s needs or feelings. Most of the time they do what comes naturally to an avoidant attachment style without any malice or bad intentions. That’s why when you make contact, responding to texts or connection an expectation, you make it a problem that an avoidant feels they have to deal with. Something they have to push back on, get overwhelmed by and protect themselves from.
What I’m trying to say is avoidants want contact, they just don’t need contact and connection the way an anxious person needs it. This is not an opinion, it’s a fact that someone with an avoidants attachment will never want as much contact as an anxiously attachment. You can argue that it’s rude and disrespectful to ignore someone when they text you, and you’re absolutely right, but so is trying to force someone to be who they’re not or getting angry that they don’t want something as much as you do.
While constant contact makes most people with an anxious attachment feel wanted, loved, reassured and happy, constant contact makes avoidants feel overwhelmed because constant contact doesn’t mean to them as much as it means to someone with an anxious attachment.
Why avoidant exes only reply to some texts and respond only sometimes
Hopefully if you’re reading this, you will realize that just because you feel that your needs for connection and closeness is not being met doesn’t mean an avoidant doesn’t want contact, your bothering your ex or something is wrong.
Throughout the process of attracting back your avoidant ex, you will have moments when you feel that your need to connect and get close is not being met and even find yourself asking, “when will my ex start meeting my need for more contact and closeness?”, this is normal. What is not normal is letting your anxiety drive your actions.
Here’s are the likely reasons an avoidant ex only responds to some of your texts and only replies sometimes.
- If you’re double to triple texting your avoidant ex, you’re likely bothering them and an avoidant is responding just to be nice.
- If you’re texting back and forth and your avoidant ex responds to only some texts and ignores others, either the topic doesn’t interest them or makes them uncomfortable.
- If you’re chatting and your avoidant ex suddenly drops the conversation when you ask a question, they likely felt uncomfortable with the question or were triggered and needed to distance.
- If you’re chatting and your avoidant ex suddenly drops the conversation but reaches out a few hours or days later (or you wait and reach out a few days later and they respond immediately), they were likely distracted or suddenly felt they had enough contact or connection.
- If you reach out every few days and your avoidant ex takes days to respond, but when they respond they’re engaged and it’s like no time passed at all, they’re intentionally or sub-consciously spacing contact.
- If in the past you complained about your avoidant ex not responding in time, not responding to some texts or ignoring your questions, or if you’ve been telling your avoidant ex that you’re working on yourself or have shown that some of your behaviours have changed, there’s high chance that your avoidant ex is testing you to see if you’ve indeed changed.
- If there’s momentum, things are picking up, your avoidants may be responding to only some texts to control closeness to what they’re comfortable with.
Don’t let your anxiety about when, how and what an avoidant ex to get in the way
I’ve seen all the above this happen a lot and sometimes two or three of the reasons an avoidant ex only responds to some of your texts and only replies sometimes are happening at the same time.
Sometimes both people want things to move slowly and happen naturally, but attachment anxiety makes it hard to move slowly or slow things down. Attachment avoidance on the other hand doesn’t allow things to happen naturally because avoidants, especially dismissive avoidants militarily control how close others can get.
If you have worked so hard to get things to where there is momentum and your avoidant ex is showing interest and even making an effort to make things work, don’t let your anxiety get in the way and lose all that momentum or even make thigs worse because you’re investing too much energy and obsessing about when your avoidant ex responds, how they respond or what they respond to.
Watch how your ex engages or re-engages after pulling away for a while because that will tell you whether they are just being the avoidant that they are, or whether these are signs that your avoidant ex is moving on or has moved on.
And if you catch yourself having an anxious reaction to an avoidant ex only responding to some of texts, for example:
- Worrying that you will never hear from your ex again.
- Wanting to apologize for what you think (but don’t know) is the reason your ex hasn’t responded.
- Trying to fix what was wrong with the old relationship
- Reaching out to your ex for support when you should be reaching out to your friends or family
- Doing too much to show your ex how much you love and care about them
Instead of following through on anxious instincts, don’t rush to do anything before you’re sure your “gut feeling” is intuition and not your anxiety playing tricks on you. Take your time to observe your thoughts (and thinking), how you feel and what you’re hoping to achieve with your actions.
Once you’re sure that it’s not your anxiety playing tricks on you, set boundaries with an avoidant who takes too long to respond.