Question: Why did my fearful avoidant ex block me and why did he unblock me? Is there some hidden meaning behind this?
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 friends 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? Is there some hidden meaning behind this?
Yangki’s Answer: There always seems to be a “hidden” meaning behind most fearful avoidant actions, and blocking and unblocking is no exception. But like with most things fearful avoidants say and do, there is no one single reason to explain they’re disorganized attachment behaviour including why they block and unblock someone.
With dismissive avoidants, things are often pretty much (painfully) straightforward. But with fearful avoidants, it’s truly a disorganized attachment and sometimes even they themselves don’t know why they do what they do.
Over the years, I’ve observed several reasons why a fearful avoidant ex blocks you then unblocks an ex and here are the 10 main reasons why fearful avoidants block then unblock you.
1. Stop themselves from reaching out
Many fearful avoidants block an ex to stop themselves from reaching out or when they feel anxious. By blocking an ex, they think they’re removing the temptation to reach out with the hope that over time they will be able to move on. A fearful avoidant ex may also block you to stop you from reaching out and move on – especially if it seems to them that you’re obsessing over them and are unable to move.
Sometimes however, the anxious attachment side of them overrides their avoidant coping strategy and they unblock and block and ex a few times before they can finally block them for good.
2. Conflicted feelings
Usually when an avoidant ex blocks you after the break-up, they do it to heal or 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.
3. Impulsive action
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. The only “hidden” meaning behind a fearful avoidant blocking and unblocking you is that they’re angry, feeling hurt or are afraid you will hurt them.
Most fearful avoidants after deactivating for a while, when their anxious side kicks, they calm down or if they feel guilty for their impulsive action unblock you. But whether you stay unblocked depends on what’s going on inside a fearful avoidant and their level of anger or fear of rejection.
4. They don’t like being watched
Fearful avoidants in general don’t trust the majority of people and leaving an ex unblocked feels like they’re being watched and spied on. Some of them may have had negative experiences with exes and block you to prevent the same experiences from happening again.
Many fearful avoidants who block you because they don’t like feeling like they’re being watched often don’t unblock you, and if they do, it may be months or years later.
5. Testing to see if you’ll fight for them
Blocking and unblocking you is also a fearful avoidant’s way of testing you to see if you’ll fight for them. This is common with a fearful avoidant if you were together for a long time and you ended the relationship. Typically they’re confused as to why you ended the relationship and hope that you doubt your decision and blocking and unblocking you is an attempt to trigger you to fight for them.
If they ended the relationship and you expressed that you still loved them and want them back, a fearful avoidant may be expecting you to fight against the break-up and using and blocking and unblocking you to get you to fight against the break-up.
6. Following your lead
Blocking and unblocking is sometimes a fearful avoidant reflecting back to you what they think is how they’re expected to act to get a specific outcome.
Fearful avoidants because of their sometimes messy, tumultuous, disorganized and/or abusive childhood have a hard time understanding what is expected of two people who love each other. They watch to see how you show you care and reflect back to you the level of sensitivity and care they receive. If at some point you did something to create anxiety or make them miss you and it worked, they’ll try to do the same because that’s what they think they’re supposed to do pressure, punish or manipulate you into coming back.
7. 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. But blocking and unblocking you is also a game fearful avoidants play when they’re curious or bored, especially with an ex they know still has feelings for them. There reach out just for attention with no real intention to open up the lines of communication and as soon as they’ve entertained themselves at your expense, they block you again.
It’s an incredibly hard pattern to break. The irony is that mind game playing prevents fearful avoidants from experiencing the thing they desire the most (and fear the most) – deep connection and full intimacy in all it’s forms.
8) A fearful avoidant ex still cares
Some fearful avoidants block you on social media because they still care but don’t want you to know they do or fear that they’ll be tempted to act on their true feelings. They may even watch your stories or check your account anonymously so you don’t know or see that they’re doing it.
Depending on the reason for the break-up, sometimes a fearful avoidant ex will unblock you and reach out or wait for you to reach out, and sometimes they keep you permanently block because they feel empowered being anonymously connected to you – with no risk of rejection.
9. They’re seeing someone else
A fearful avoidant ex may block you if they’re seeing someone else and think that they’re protecting you from seeing what might hurt you or feel that talking to you interferes with their ability to focus on the new relationship. If this is the case, there is a chance the block is permanent or at least until the new relationship ends. But they may also not be ready to completely let you go and may go back and forth between blocking and unblocking you to keep you “on hold” until they’re ready to let you go.
10. A fearful avoidant ex is angry
It’s easy to tell a fearful avoidant is blocking and unblocking you because they’re angry about the break-up (why and how it happened). Before a fearful avoidant ex who’s angry about the break-up blocks you there’s always a passive aggressive message that is clearly directed towards you either in stories that reveal their feelings about the break-up, song lyrics etc. Sometimes they unblock you just enough for you to see ‘thirst traps” or photos with other guys/beautiful women etc. and to see if you will react. When you don’t react as they expect you to, you get blocked again.
A fearful avoidant ex who’s angry because you violate their boundaries or can’t leave them alone will block you without saying anything. You only find out you’ve been blocked when your messages can’t go through. They may unblock you to check if you’ve been checking if they unblocked you and if you message them as soon as they unblock you, they block you again.
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”.