Question: Why did my fearful avoidant ex block me and why did he unblock me? He has blocked and unblocked three times since the breakup.
I have read your articles on attachment styles and decided to reach out. I am anxious preoccupied, and my ex is a fearful-avoidant. We have been together on-and-off for 3 years. In the beginning, my attachment anxiety was a constant problem. But I have since worked on myself to become less anxious and continue to do so. My ex on the other hand has not and although I love him so much; I feel like I am constantly walking on egg shells trying not to do anything to make him stop talking to me for days.
I am the one always reaching out and trying to make peace. We never talk about our issues because he doesn’t want to talk about them. If I insist, he breaks up with me and immediately blocks me and cuts off all contact. After a few weeks, I find that he has unblocked me. I reach out and we begin to talk and eventually get back together. This has been pretty much the pattern for 3 years.
All my friend and family tell me to make him know what it is like to miss me and not contact him, so he misses me. I did this a few times before I started working on my own attachment style and it worked sometimes and did not work other times. I always ended up reaching out first. Now that I am more secure, I see my ex’s behavior as manipulation and just don’t feel comfortable responding with being manipulative myself. Do you have any sights on why fearful avoidants block you then unblock you?
Yangki’s Answer: There are several reasons why a fearful avoidant ex blocks you then unblocks you. Here are the three main ones.
1. An avoidant ex blocks you and unblocks you because they’re conflicted
Usually when a ex blocks you after the break-up, they do it to heal or move on. They want no contact and see blocking you as the best way for them to move on.
But when an avoidant blocks you and then unlocks, it’s usually the case that a fearful avoidant is confused and conflicted about their feelings for you. Rather than address their feelings of loss, fearful avoidant lash out by blocking you but after a while, their feelings for you overcome their fear of abandonment and rejection, and they unblock you.
2. An avoidant ex blocks and unblocks you as a tool, and a weapon
Blocking and cutting off all contact and then unblocking you after a few days or weeks is part of the conflicted nature of a fearful avoidant attachment style. They act like they want to be in a relationship with you and even seem emotionally invested; but are also so fearful of rejection and not trusting by nature.
In the relationship, fearful avoidants use “the silent treatment” to pressure, punish or manipulate; and it does enormous damage to the relationship. The impact is that it reduces the ability to communicate in a way that’s healthy and meaningful. When the relationship ends and usually for a good reason; a fearful avoidant ex blocks and unblocks you to pressure, punish or manipulate you into coming back.
3. An avoidant ex blocks and unblocks you as a mind game
Some exes block you hoping that you will miss them or regret the break-up. Blocking and unblocking you is also a mind game that fearful avoidants play to get you to chase them. They block you hoping that it’ll make you miss them; then unblock you hoping that you will reach out.
It’s an incredibly hard pattern to break. The irony is that these manipulative strategies prevent fearful avoidants from experiencing the thing they desire the most (and fear the most) – deep connection and full intimacy in all it’s forms.
Can you still make it work? Yes, absolutely
As you have seen first hand, a relationship with a fearful avoidant is not easy. It’d be a lot easier if your ex was willing and open to working on becoming less fearful avoidant; and more secure. But in my experience, self-reflection and self-work is not something many avoidants are keen on. Many don’t see anything wrong with the way they are (they’re just protecting themselves); and even blame their ex for all the problems in the relationship.
This means the burden of making it work falls mainly on your shoulders.
1. When your fearful avoidant ex blocks you, pulls away or distances; try to understand what the pulling away is truly about. Is it because they feel things are getting too close (fear);or is it because they need space to rebalance as an individual (secure)? Then respond appropriately. Each of these require a different response.
2. Continue to work on being more secure and model (be a secure-base provider) to him what a secure relationship looks; and feels like. Hopefully this will give him felt-security and your fearful avoidant ex stop blocking and unblocking you.
3. Walk away. Using abandonment as a weapon to pressure, punish or manipulate a loved on is an incredibly hard pattern to break; because it works sometimes. It’s not a productive and meaningful way to deal with relationship problems; and not a healthy way to be with someone, but unfortunately some people make this choice.
Nobody in their right mind will blame you for saying “I deserve better, I can do better than my manipulative fearful avoidant ex”.