Dealing With A Cold And Distant Fearful Avoidant Ex

When trying to get back an avoidant, it’s very important that you understand the difference between a fearful avoidant ex and a dismissive avoidant ex because it could be the difference between you getting them back and not getting them back.

I’ve worked with many, many clients who were convinced that their ex was a dismissive avoidant because after the break-up, their ex was very cold, distant and more avoidant, but during the coaching session they realized that their ex is not a dismissive avoidant but a fearful avoidant or a fearful avoidant who is leaning dismissive. Suddenly many “confusing” things that didn’t make sense about their “dismissive avoidant ex” makes so much sense. They start making progress because they approach a fearful avoidant in a way that meets both their need for connection and their need for space.

I’ve also worked with some clients who thought their ex was a fearful avoidant but during the coaching session they realized that their ex is actually a dismissive avoidant. They projected many feelings on their dismissive avoidant ex that dismissive avoidants typically don’t feel (or even think that way) and were doing everything wrong to get their dismissive avoidant ex back. Realizing that their ex is a dismissive avoidant and not a fearful avoidant allowed them to see what triggers which behaviours and how to sidestep those triggers, how to make their dismissive avoidant ex feel safe, how to create attraction etc.

Fearful avoidants after the break-up can lean anxious or avoidant

Fearful avoidants are called anxious-avoidants for a reason. They have a fear of rejection or abandonment and don’t feel good enough (anxious attachment), and they also have a fear of getting too close to others and are protective of their independence (avoidant attachment).

At any given time throughout the relationship and after the break-up, they can lean anxious or lean avoidant. Leaning anxious means a fearful avoidant is displaying more anxious than avoidant behaviours, and leaning avoidant means they’re displaying more avoidant than anxious behaviours.

Think of it this way, on one extreme of the sliding scale you have an anxious attachment, on the other you have a dismissive avoidant attachment, and in the middle you have a fearful avoidant attachment. Most of the time, a fearful avoidant doesn’t stray very far from the (anxious-avoidant) middle. But every once in a while, a fearful avoidant can slide further towards an anxious attachment and can also slide the opposite direction towards a dismissive avoidant attachment. But they’re still anxious-avoidant just more anxious or more avoidant.

After the break-up, some fearful avoidants don’t just lean avoidant, they go avoidant all the way to dismissive. The anxious attachment side of them is completely deactivated and they’re full-on dismissive. It’s doesn’t mean a fearful avoidant changed their attachment style and became a dismissive avoidant after the break-up, it just means they’re using dismissive coping strategies to deal with the break-up. Real or perceived fear which is the central aspect of a fearful avoidant development, is still the driving force directing their thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

What it means for chances when a fearful avoidant is leaning dismissive after the breakup

In my experience a fearful avoidant ex leaning dismissive after the break-up is just as hard to get back as a dismissive avoidant, if not harder. With a dismissive avoidant, if you were with them for enough time to “get used” to their low effort and low investment in the relationship, you can pretty much handle the even lower effort lower investment when trying to get them back because you expect it. And if after the breakup you became more aware of attachment styles, you can use what you know to get a dismissive avoidant to feel safe enough to put in more effort and invest more.

With a fearful avoidant ex leaning dismissive after the break-up, it’s hard to process their very cold, distant and more avoidant behaviour after the breakup. It’s almost feels like dealing with a stranger and sometimes it even feels like they stopped loving you and want to be left alone.

Before the break-up and/or if they leaned anxious after the breakup, if you reached out, they’d respond, if you didn’t reach out, they’d reach out. If you showed less interest and pulled back, they’d reach out more and even chase you. You could tell that there were still feelings there, and even interest in getting back together later on.
When a fearful avoidant ex leans dismissive, it’s like they pulled down the blinds and you can no longer see what is going on inside. If you’ve been reading articles and books or watching videos on how to get back a fearful avoidant, this is the time to start reading articles and books or watching videos on how to get back a dismissive avoidant.

What to do when a fearful avoidant ex is leaning dismissive

Depending on how deep and how long your fearful avoidant ex leans dismissive, things are going to be cold, distant and more avoidant for a while, months as a matter of fact. Some of the things you’re going to have to do/and or change from how you would normally go about getting back a fearful avoidant are:

1. Stop waiting for your ex to contact you because they’re not going to when they’re leaning dismissive. Just because fearful avoidants leaning dismissive won’t reach out, doesn’t mean they don’t want you to reach out, they’re still fearful avoidants, and fearful avoidants need both connection and space.

2. Space your contacts much further apart than you would with a fearful avoidant. You may need to do a little trial and error here to find the right balance between connection and space.

3. Avoid emotional drama and anger outbursts. A fearful avoidant attachment is in many instances created from a chaotic childhood which means that fearful avoidants have a high tolerance for chaos and often even seek it. But when they lean dismissive, their tolerance level for chaos significantly drops, and they’ll cut you off in a minute.

4. Cut down on validating and reassuring your dismissive leaning fearful avoidant ex. Too much “you’re amazing” type-talk turn off dismissive avoidants because it feels manipulative and/or condescending;, it’ll most likely turn off dismissive leaning fearful avoidant. Reassure (they’re still fearful avoidant), but not too much and not too often.

5. Don’t send confusing messages about contact. Of all attachment styles, dismissive avoidants and dismissive leaning avoidants have the lowest tolerance for people who don’t seem to be able to make up their minds about what they want.

6. Stop obsessing about what they’re thinking or feeling and self-abandoning and show up as someone capable of meeting your own emotional needs etc..

But like I said, your fearful avoidant ex didn’t change their attachment style and become a dismissive avoidant, they’re still a fearful avoidant, so don’t completely abandon information on how to make a fearful avoidant feel safe or reassured. The key is to be aware that your fearful avoidant ex is leaning dismissive and make adjustments to how you get them back. The more avoidant they are, the more adjustments you need to make.

And don’t just focus on your ex’s attachment style (or the fact that they’re more avoidant). You have to work on your own attachment issues for the relationship to work. In my experience, people who focus on attachment styles as the only cause of the break-up and the only pathway to getting back together never get their ex back.

Attachment theory and attachment styles is an important tool not a magic wand. Attachment styles only explains the dynamic of the relationship but is not the only reason for a break-up. Even two securely attached people can break-up which means that it’s not all about your attachment styles.


A Fearful Avoidant Ex Vs. A Dismissive Avoidant Ex

Why A Fearful Avoidant Ex Is Hostile Towards You

How A Fearful Avoidant Ex Comes Back – A Detailed Analysis

How Long Does An Avoidant Ex Stay Deactivated?

How To Give An Avoidant Space And How To Do Check-ins

What Triggers A Highly Independent Avoidant Ex? (What to Do)

How Does Being Friends Help Get an Avoidant Ex Back?


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