Question: My avoidant ex takes days to respond and it bothers me. Should I bring it up that it bothers me?
I just found out about attachment styles and beating myself up for not knowing about it before our breakup. If I’d known about attachment styles I would have done things differently and given her space and not been so needy. Luckily for me I came across your site 2 weeks into no contact. She was liking my tik toks and it looked like she was waiting for me to reach out which I did.
I’m following your advice and reaching out every 3 -4 days because I think she’s a fearful avoidant but she could also be a dismissive avoidant, all I know is that she’s an avoidant. When I text her something fun and light she takes 2 – 10 hours to respond but when I ask a question or try to talk about something deeper she’ll reply after 2 days. She seems to want to talk to me but she does not share her feelings and is taking way too long for her to reply. When we were together she’d take 2 mins to 1 hour to reply and we’d chat all day.
My question to you is should I bring it up that it bothers me? I feel like telling her I need to know how she feels and more contact because that would be respecting my needs and communicating what I need, but in your articles you say avoidants feel they are not obligated to text me back or reply quickly. Also is there something else I need to be doing besides learning to self-regulate and not get anxious and needy or jump to text back as soon as she replies. I know now from doing a lot of research on attachment tyles that I need to manage my triggers and avoid triggering an avoidant by being needy and pushy.
Yangki’s Answer: Her taking 2 days to respond may be her needing time to figure out how much she wants to share, but it could also be her way of spacing interaction/contacts. Avoidants and even securely attached know that if they respond, you will respond immediately and before long, there’s more back and forth than they’re comfortable with, so they try to limit the back and forth by waiting to respond.
Learning how to self regulate, manage your triggers and avoid triggering an avoidant, and giving them space when they need it will for sure help a lot, but these are only measures to avoid something unwanted from happening e.g. an avoidant pulling away and deactivating.
You need to go beyond avoiding the unwanted and proactively make what you want happen. The first thing you need to do is figure out if she’s a fearful avoidant or a dismissive avoidant. Both styles are avoidant attachment but very different in terms of how they perceive, think, feel, processes information and how they operates in their reality.
When you don’t understand how a different attachment perceives, thinks, feels, processes information or operates in their reality, you make assumptions and project onto them your thoughts, feelings, and reality.
Anxiously attached are the most likely to project their thought processes, assumptions, expectations, insecurities, fears, worries and negative behaviours on their partners and feel victimized because the other person does not see things, or is not thinking, feeling or acting like they do. They’re always asking, “Don you think they SHOULD x, y” or “If it was me, I WOULD x, y” etc., and I have to remind them that their reality, feelings and way of thinking or doing things is valid, but different from their avoidant ex’s reality and feelings and way of thinking or doing things, which is also valid. And unfortunately, both attachment styles are insecure attachment styles.
Make sure that the behaviours you see as concerning are indeed a concern that affects the relationship and not your own triggered reactions or insecurities which I think is the case here.
For a relationship to be safe for both of you, you should be able to communicate what you need without fear that you’ll be seen as needy or push the other person away, but for a positive conversation abut needs, the emotional environment has to be safe for both of you, I don’t know enough about your situation to know if bringing up your needs and concerns at this point is safe for either of you and will result in things getting better or may make things worse.
In my experience, timing, place and tone are just as important as what you say. Don’t bring up difficult or sensitive conversations when things between the two of you are not good or in the middle of an argument or fight. If things are not good between the two of you, all the other person hears is I’m being attacked, criticized, devalued, rejected and likely to be abandoned. And when you bring difficult or sensitive conversations in the middle of an argument or fight, nobody is listening to the other.
Also, when communicating your needs, ask for what you want more of, see happen or change rather than complain or criticize the other person’s behaviours or engage in personal attacks.
And last but not least, the most effective way to influence change is to be the change you want to see happen. You can’t change someone else, so see if there is something you can do on your part to positively change the dynamics before going to the other person and asking them to change. This is why working on becoming securely attached is more important and more effective than trying to get an avoidant or anxious person to change.