Question: I really like your insights and clear understanding of fearful avoidants feel after a breakup. What you write resonates with me and my current situation, but I’ll not bother you with a long back story.
We’ve been broken up for almost 8 months, didn’t speak for the first 2 months because I asked for space (no contact) and he never reached out. I then reached out 3 times with no response, but he was looking at my Instagram stories, and posting things which he clearly knew I would see, you know, all the things you write about fearful avoidants.
Fast forward to 8 months after the breakup, we text almost daily but I still don’t know if he has feelings for me or wants to get back together. In your experience, what are the signs a fearful avoidant ex’s feeling are coming back?
Yangki’s Answer: Almost everyone tying to attract back a fearful avoidant struggles with reading the signs a fearful avoidants ex wants to come back. It’s hard enough to figure out an ex wants to come back, but even harder with so many conflicting signs and mixed signals from fearful avoidants. I tell my clients, “Many fearful avoidants themselves don’t even know if they want to come back or will come back”.
Over the years, I’ve identified some consistent signs a fearful avoidant wants to come back.
1.They are consistent – Consistency for a fearful avoidant is not reaching out every day or even every other day, though this may happen with an anxious fearful avoidant ex. Consistency for a fearful avoidant is their words and actions consistently match.
2. They’re putting in the effort – and want you to know they’re trying. This includes opening up here and there and allowing themselves to be vulnerable in both their words and actions.
3. They’re doing self-work – Seeing a therapist or working on their issues on their own. Even acknowledging their role in the break-up, and showing an awareness of their attachment style is a step in the right direction.
4. They want to meet – An avoidant ex avoiding meeting you is expected, but fearful avoidants take it to another level. They won’t say they’ll don’t want to meet, but instead avoid conversations to meet, promise to meet but never follow up and cancel dates last minute. If they want to meet and act follow through, that’s a very good sign.
5. They deactivate less – They pull away less and for shorter periods of time; and when they lean back in, they’re more engaged and taking more risks (e.g. talking about their feelings, and even a future with you in it).
There are other signs a fearful avoidant wants you back, but these are pretty consistent signs and very good indicators a fearful avoidant ex will come back – eventually.
How you show up to a fearful avoidant ex makes a big difference
No question about it, being able to decode and predict an avoidant’s behaviour gives you some control of the situation. But you can’t fully control a situation when some avoidants don’t even know why they do what they do.
What you can control is your reality. How you show up whether someone is a fearful avoidant, dismissive avoidant or anxious preoccupied. And remember, there is more to any individual than their attachment style. In other words, a fearful avoidant attachment style doesn’t define someone; it just helps you understand them better.
Instead of asking “how do I make my fearful avoidant ex miss me?”; Ask yourself, “How do I make my fearful avoidant ex feel safe, secure and loved enough to want come back?”
There is increasing evidence that a secure attachment plays an important role in motivating an avoidant to want to persist in a relationship. Attachment security is also a factor in an avoidant’s willingness to open themselves up to the risk of getting hurt or rejected.