Why It Takes A Fearful Avoidant Ex Long To Come Back

If you are asking, “How long does it take a fearful avoidant ex to come back?”, “Why does it taking so long for a fearful avoidant ex to come back?” and “How much longer is this going to take”, you are not alone.

As discussed in my article, What’s The Window Of Time To Get Back A Fearful Avoidant? , fearful avoidants can lean anxious or lean avoidant (dismissive) after a break-up. If they lean anxious (more open to contact and connection), it takes a fearful avoidant 1- 3 months to come back. After 3 months, you’re looking at least 5 months and more from the time of the break-up. After 3 months, fearful avoidants who initially leaned anxious start to distance and some fearful avoidant exes completely detach from an ex.

Missing the crucial time to get back a fearful avoidant ex doesn’t mean you can’t get them back, it just means it’s more work and will take longer. They’ll most likely be guarded, want to take things slow and even just be friends for a start. This is a fearful avoidant ex’s way of making sure that they’re safe and not taking a risk that’ll lead to hurt down the road.

If a fearful avoidant is responding, engaged, reaching out first, showing interest in you and your life, communicating the changes they’re making and interested in the changes you’ve made, there are several reasons why it may take them 5 months or even a year to come back. Some of the reasons why it may take a fearful avoidant longer to come back are unique to a relationship or situation. In this article, I discuss the 5 common reasons why fearful avoidant take long to come back.

Here are five reasons why it’s takes a fearful avoidant ex too long to come back

1. Feeling conflicted

One of the main reasons and probably the most likely reason a fearful avoidant ex is taking long to come back is because they’re constantly battling two conflicting forces inside of them – should they respond, should they reach out, should they trust you to not hurt them again, should they just move on and risk losing you forever etc. I’ve spent hours and hours with many fearful avoidant exes working together to draft two sets of texts or emails to an ex. One text is a closure text saying they’re moving on and the other is saying they still have feelings and want to give the relationship another chance. We go back and forth for several days, weeks and even months perfecting these two sets of texts. When I ask why they never send the texts, the answer is always “I’m confused”, which perfectly sums a fearful avoidant attachment.

If you are doing everything to make a fearful avoidant feel safe, and they’re equally sharing the work of keeping the lines of communication, you’re spending a significant amount of time together, they say they still have feelings for you/love you, appreciate the changes you’ve made, and feel safe with you but still can’t make up their mind whether they want to get back together or not, it’s not about what you are saying or doing anymore. It’s most likely that a fearful avoidant is conflicted and confused, doesn’t trust their own feelings and/or decision-making, or doesn’t trust the relationship can really work better.

If this is your fearful avoidant ex and you’re at that point where you’re asking, “how much longer is this going to take”, 1) be patient and let your fearful avoidant ex resolve their internal battle without you making them even more confused and conflicted and 2) see why they don’t trust you and/or trust the relationship can work better and work on regaining their trust.

2. They’re still hang up on what happened

Research on a fearful avoidant attachment shows that they have an excessive and maladaptive focus on negative feelings and their causes and consequences. After the break-up, a fearful avoidant ex will repetitively and passively focus on the negative things that happened before the break-up and the negative experience after the break-up.

Many of my fearful avoidant clients say that they feel like they’re stuck in a loop of repeated negative thoughts about the past and can’t seem to stop themselves even if they want to. They replay their exes words and actions over and over especially things that hurt them deeply and they also replay their own mistakes and ways they could have done things differently.

Because they can’t move past the past, they find it hard to forgive their ex or emotionally connect with an ex, and sometimes just don’t want to make any effort to emotionally connect let alone get back together. They still want contact and enjoy talking to their ex but fear that the past will repeat itself. And sometimes it doesn’t help when an ex in an attempt to emotionally connect brings up something from the past and trigger the repetitive negative thoughts they have about the past.

Ruminating on the negatives things that happened often send a fearful avoidant into depression and affects how long it’ll take a fearful avoidant ex to come back. You may even find that a fearful avoidant ex is more focused on coping with the damaging effects of rumination thoughts and feelings, and this may be the only thing holding them from getting back together.

3. You haven’t changed enough

Some exes rush to wanting more contact, to meet and even get back together without giving a fearful avoidant ex reason to wan these things. If a fearful avoidant ex wants to keep the lines of communication open and is even engaged but and doesn’t think there’s been enough in your dynamics to warrant more contact, connection, meet-ups or dates or getting back together, they’ll politely respond, engage here and there and even meet once in a while but take longer to come back because they want to see if time will show that your dynamics has truly changed enough to get back together.

A fearful avoidant ex may even ask you direct questions e.g. “What do you think of x or y” to see if you respond honestly and true to yourself or just say what you think they want to hear. If a fearful avoidant ex felt unheard, unappreciated or controlled they may try to test you to see how you respond. If it feels like nothing has changed, it doesn’t matter how much you tell a fearful avoidant that you’re working on yourself or have changed, they’ll be hesitant to come back. If they’re leaning very heavily towards coming back but still not sure if things have changed enough, they’ll take their time coming back.

But if you consistently show up as changed for the better and a fearful avoidant see that they can trust the change in your dynamic will last, a fearful avoidant e will come back sooner than later. They may not say “I want to come back” but as is characteristic of a fearful avoidant, they’ll hint here and there that things are so much better and they’re thinking about getting back together.

4. They’re feeling pressured or overwhelmed

It takes a fearful avoidant longer to come back if you make them more confused or conflicted, or they feel pressured, overwhelmed and unsafe. This includes doing things to make them even more anxious (e.g. going no contact, making them jealous, unnecessary arguments, brining up the past/break-up) etc.

Getting back with an ex is an overwhelming process whether you are the one trying to get back an ex or if an ex is trying to get you back. Fearful avoidants are unique in that they get easily overwhelmed and when they’re overwhelmed almost everything can feel like pressure (See what makes a fearful avoidant feel overwhelmed).

But what probably makes a fearful avoidant ex feel more pressured and overwhelmed is pushing for a definite answers on where they stand getting back together or how long it’ll take them to be ready to make a decision about getting back together. Chances are that your fearful avoidant ex doesn’t know how long or even if they want to get back together.

If you give a fearful avoidant ex to choose option A or B, in terms of how long before their ready to make a decision, they’ll either choose “all of the above” or choose the option they think gets them out of the situation with little risk of feeling rejected or getting hurt – and it may not be what they think/feel/want.

Pushing for answers or timelines increases pressure, makes an avoidant feel overwhelmed with the whole process and a fearful avoidant ex will either procrastinate or avoid making a decision all together or make a “convenient” decision which being anxious-avoidant, they’re unlikely to follow through on.

5. They’re keeping their options open

If a fearful avoidant is still in contact, still communicating with you but taking too long to come back they may already be in a relationship, seeing someone new or just keeping their options open.

Most fearful avoidants don’t feel conflicted about contact with an ex or even being sexually intimate with an ex while exploring other relationships or keeping their options open. If when the break-up happened they were already leaning towards ‘”seeing other people” or “exploring other options” they may want to keep an ex as one of their options (see: what do avoidants get out of keeping exes around?)

Anytime an ex’s relational, emotional or sexual needs are being met elsewhere it’s reasonable to expect that it’s going to take them longer to come back, and they may not even come back at all.

RELATED:

Fearful Avoidant Ex Stalling, Needs More Time Or Done?

What Makes A Fearful Avoidant Ex Feel Overwhelmed?

How To Deal With A Fearful Avoidant Ex’s Inconsistent Contact

How A Fearful Avoidant Ex Comes Back – Explained In Detail

When Should You Let Go Of A Fearful Avoidant Ex?

How to Make An Avoidant Ex Feel Safe Enough To Come Back

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37 Comments

  1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Chelsea

    This is very insightful. I’ve finally started realizing that sometimes it takes a little longer than one wants. I’m learning to be more patient, and it’s really reduced the stress pain and suffering in my life.

    1. Yangki Akiteng, Love DoctorYangki Akiteng, Love Doctorsays: Yangki Akiteng, Love Doctor

      Good for you for realizing that trying to force things to happen on your schedule only creates more stress and pain for you.

  2. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Hamza

    Yangki, I bought your eBook because I’d done very many “VERY BAD THINGS” with my ex ); HAHA! I have to say though that it was the happiest I’ve been considering that I was diagnozed with depression at age 16 and I’m 43.

    Anyways, I just wanted to say that the book is very helpful. However, even though I’m applying the steps, I feel like things are not moving forward. Two weeks ago, she was very open and receptive and this week, she’s distant and not responding to my texts. I called her last night after not hearing from her for 4 days and she seemed happy to hear from me, but cut the conversation short because she had an important call to make. I don’t want to just to conclusions, but part of me feels strongly that there is someone else involved. How do I approach this situation? Ask her directly or simply ignore it?

    1. As you may have read in the book, the pull and push phase of the process happens in almost all relationships. Let it not discourage you.

      It’s possible that there is someone else, but it’s also possible that there’s no one and she’s just trying to find her bearing in all this. Until she says something to you that indicates there is someone else or comes out directly and tells you, bringing it up will make you look needy, not to mention jealous and possessive. Not good when she’s trying to make up her mind about you.

  3. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: AlexK

    Thanks, Yangki. Lately I’ve tried to take a bit of a step back with my FA ex and let the contact happen more on his schedule, but your comment about how just ‘hanging in there’ can make things worse has me worried.

    So far I’ve tried to focus on making myself better, keeping the connection alive, having fun together and trying to have more open communication, but maybe that’s not enough? How do I find a balance between being hopeful for a future with him but also being at peace with the possibility that it may not happen?

    1. Love Doctor, Yangki AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      I didn’t mean to worry you, just being realistic.

      I think you are doing fine. In addition to what you are already doing, see if you can go beyond fun and open communication to making that emotional connection that builds “emotional safety” and makes him feel that elusive “feeling” of being in love again. Also make sure you communicate the changes you’ve made. At the end of the day, it’s emotional connection, emotional safety, feeling of being in love again and seeing that you made enough changes to make the relationship work better that will get him back. If you can do these effectively, it will not take very long… 🙂

  4. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Cheri

    I have progressed massively since starting to use your advice. At first it was hard, he ignored most of my texts, took days to reply and was very distant when he replied. But things have been getting better. We communicate better and he has gone from initially telling me he has moved on to initiating contact. But there is one problem. He says he’s afraid it will not work out because we have been broken up for almost 2 years. How do I deal with my situation?

    1. His fears are a “normal” part of the process. It just means you still have some work to do in terms of showing him that because you’ve changed, the relationship has a better chance of working.

      In other words, don’t let it discourage you. As long as you see progress, you are doing okay. When it starts to feel like whatever you do things remain the same for weeks or months, that’s when you get worried.

      All the best!… 🙂

  5. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Mercy

    Yangki, do APs also deactivate and detach or is this something only avoidants do? After 5 months of trying to get my DA ex back and getting nothing but rejection, I’ve noticed myself not wanting to reach out anymore and feel like I’m losing feelings for him. I have no idea what’s going on with me and wondering if this is what deactivation feels like?

    1. Love Doctor Yangki AkitengLove Doctor Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      It could be that you are in the detachment stage of separation anxiety.

      Stage 1 – Clinging to attachment figure to stop them from leaving. Stage 2 – Appear to be calmer although still upset. Stage 3 – Reject attachment figure.

      You can read more about it here: https://torontosnumber1datedoctor.com/blog/do-anxious-attachment-come-back-crucial-window-of-time/.

      This also sheds some light on why you are losing interest: 4 Reasons An Anxious Attachment Ex Doesn’t Want You Back

  6. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Patpa

    My DA ex and I have strong feelings for each other but we decided to start by hanging out as “friends”. It was her suggestion and I went along with it. I had previously made the mistake of telling an ex that it is all or nothing and she moved on. Also I wasn’t there for my ex and I needed her to see that I had made positive changes in my life to better myself. To cut the long story short, we have decided to get back together. I know that this time things will be different and I am excited to start the new relationship.

  7. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Augustine

    First of all, I’m very impressed by the advice on your site. I’ve read advice on getting DAs back from many other sources and yours is the only advice that not only makes sense but actually feels right.

    My question is: In your experience what is the right time period to expect to get a DA back? Two, three months or longer?

    1. Love Doctor, Yangki AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      As indicated in the article, when it comes to DAs, it could be the next three months, the next week, or even the next few hours. A lot depends on the type of relationship you had/how safe it was, the reasons for the break-up, a DA’s readiness for a relationship (any relationship), and DA’s willingness to be open to the possibility of getting back together.

  8. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Lorraine

    I’m in a similar situation of struggling with being hopeful and being at peace with the possibility that it might not happen. What’s helping me is not reading all the negative stories in other blogs and just focusing on my situation. I discovered that when I read negative stories I lose hope but when I’m being in my own place where I’m not allowing other people’s bad experiences to cloud my thinking, I feel at peace. I don’t know if this will help you. I just felt that I should share and may be it’ll help someone else.

    1. That’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve read in a long while. It is possible to get sucked into the despair and the drama played out in the lives of others. Sometimes from others’ stories, the mind can start to create stories of our own which are far different from the reality of our situation; then using our own created stories (which may have nothing to do with reality) we frighten or discourage ourselves. This is the main reason we do not allow personal stories and rants on this blog.

  9. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Sunbysea

    Thank you for your article, Yangki. Each time I feel anxious or hopeless I come to you site and it helps me to relax and feel more at peace. I find it hard not to get discouraged when it feels like the progress I’ve made with my DA ex is undone and things will never again get better between us. He opens up a bit more and is communicative, but then regresses into acting arrogant and dismissive when we talk (although he does still contact me regularly). It makes it hard to put myself out there when I feel rejected by him. I try to remain positive and not engage in the game playing, but after months of this behaviour it gets to be draining and I start to feel discouraged. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. I hear you. It takes time and can get discouraging and even lead to giving up just when you were closer than ever. Just trying to hang in there may prove to be a waste of time. And just following “how to” without the grounding of time-tested principles may just make things worse — and damage the relationship beyond repair.

      It’s all about how you perceive, handle and respond to uncertainty during this phase.

  10. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Musathegentlesoul

    There is a saying in the Tao, “Infinite patience brings immediate results.” This is the law of the universe, plain and simple.

  11. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Nicole

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH. He called and as you said, he had a perfectly good reason. I really need to stop thinking too much about things lol

  12. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Nicole

    Yangki, I hear what you are saying about being patient and I know that’s the right thing to do. But sometimes it is just very hard to be patient. My FA ex and I have been trying to work on the relationship. We talk daily on phone. Sometimes he calls and sometimes I call him. I called him the day before and it went straight to voicemail. I called him again last night, same thing. Now I’m really anxious because he may have met someone else. Should I call him again or should I go no contact and not contact him and if he calls let the machine get it? Please help.

    1. Love Doctor, Yangki AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      I agree with you 100%, it’s sometimes hard, but it’s only been a day or so and you’re already thinking it has to do with another woman! If it was a several weeks plus other “signals” then may be you’d have reason to be concerned.

      Wait and hear what he says when he calls you back. I’m almost 100% sure he will call. I say “100% sure” because the two of you been working on the relationship. He may have a perfectly good explanation and you’ll feel stupid for rushing to conclusions and wanting to go crazy for no good reason. I also suggest that you do not think too much about how you will react and go with things as they unfold. It’s the thinking too much that drives you nuts all by yourself!

  13. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Bijo

    I agree with this article wholeheartedly. There’s no quick fix and don’t put a time limit on anything. Trust the process and grow with it. It is also important to stay focused on what is important to you, be realistic and flexible.

  14. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Sophie

    I think I have already driven away my FA ex. He wants nothing to do with me. Says he can’t give me what I want. My regret is that I wish I had been a little patient.

  15. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Mika

    My DA ex says he wants to be close friends and says he still cares about me. When I contact him he seems to be interested in what I’m doing on a daily basis. But he also says he does not want to have close contact because it’ll make it harder for each of us to move on. Its been almost a year of trying to get him back. What’s going on?

    1. He obviously still cares about you, but a year of trying to get him back and he’s still talking about moving on is not a good sign. Three things may be going on

      1. Things were really over a long time ago, and the two of you have just been dragging it.

      2. You’ve been playing too safe (or playing mind games) because you are afraid that letting him know how you truly feel will drive him away, and now you’ve been friendzoned.

      3. He’s not seeing the “change” that’ll convince him that the relationship is worth another try.

  16. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Gabe

    It’s very refreshing to find a site that has a positive take on breakups. For the first time, I think that my situation with FA may not be so hopeless after all. She ended it end of October, but I was able to convince her not to breakup. That lasted for only two weeks. She sent me a text saying she could not do it anymore and needed space to find herself. I didn’t contact her for two weeks, and when I did, she didn’t respond. I left it for another week and contacted her again, still no response. Another week and half, and then I finally got a response. She said she misses me and still loves me but needs time. Given your experience in this matters, how do you suggest I approach this going forward? I do want her back and I’m willing to wait for as long as it takes.

    1. Give her the time she needs. From her response, the feelings are still there, and that’s usually a good sign. Whether or not you will get her back depends on if after she “finds herself”, she still wants to be with you. Give yourself the best chance by working on yourself as well, especially on those things that made he feel that she “couldn’t do it anymore”.

      Since she did not specify how much time she needs, and you did not ask, if she does not contact you in awk and half (which is the amount of time it took you to get her to respond the last time), reach out to her again. Don’t let too much time pass because “too much” time with no contact creates it’s own problems. The more time passes, the more emotional disconnection. Getting that connection back is not easy — and sometimes, it’s impossible.

  17. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Kayla

    Yangki, thank you for showing me I was doing all the wrong things to get back my FA ex. He and I decided to give us another chance. We’re both going into it cautiously but we realize we love each other too much to give up on us now. You were instrumental in getting me to where i am today and I came back to say thank, thank you.

    My advice to everyone trying to get their ex back, it is so easy to give up but trust your gut. It is never a loss when you fully apply yourself unreservedly with someone you love — regardless of how long it takes.

    1. Love Doctor, Yangki AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      Wow! that teared me up.

      I am so happy for you…:)

      Thanks for coming back to share your success story… means a LOT. Thank you.

    1. Love Doctor, Yangki AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      I don’t think that it’ll make him feel any less pressure. It might make him feel even more pressure.

      Imagine trying to make a decision and someone is telling you, “No pressure. Take your time”, and you know too well that they are waiting for you to make THE decision. You will pressured.

  18. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Aiden

    Yangki, I’m so appreciative of your work. I feel that I have made a lot of progress since starting to follow your advice. My FA ex went from saying we will never get back together to lets see where things go. We spend lots of time together and I can see from how he looks at me that he still loves me. But for the past week I sense him pulling away. I sensed this after we had a conversation about our future plans, a conversation btw he brought up. I asked him if he saw us being a couple again, and he said yes but felt pressured. We still talk several times a day, but it’s just not the same. Is the push-pull dynamic you talk about in your book?

    1. Love Doctor, Yangki AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      The push-pull dynamic with FAs usually happens when it feels like you are back together and yet really not back together. This seems to be what is happening. The pressure often causes them to rethink or change their minds.

      Continue what you’ve been doing, but take off the pressure from pushing for getting back together until he is ready.

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