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 you back.
1.They are consistent – A fearful avoidant who wants you back will be less hot and cold, and more consistent. Consistency for a fearful avoidant is not reaching out every day or even every other day, though this may happen with a fearful avoidant ex leaning anxious, consistency for a fearful avoidant is their words and actions consistently match. So if they’re worlds are matching their actions, it’s a really good sign coming from people known for mixed signals and confusion.
2. They’re putting in the effort – This is probably the most telling of all the signs a fearful avoidant wants you back. Fearful avoidants in general don’t want you to think they’re more into you than you’re into them, so when they want you to know they’re putting in the effort, it’s a sign they want you back. This includes reaching out more, opening up here and there and allowing themselves to be vulnerable in both their words and actions.
3. They’re doing their self-work – Seeing a therapist or working on their issues on their own is not a definite sign that an avoidant wants you back. Sometimes they realize they want better experiences in their relationship and they go to therapy f do their inner work. But if they seem eager to tell you they’re in therapy or working on themselves and actually do the work, it’s a good sign. Sometimes 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 don’t want to meet, but instead avoid conversations about meeting, promise to meet but never follow up and cancel dates last minute. If they want to meet and follow through with it, that’s a very good sign a fearful avoidant wants you back.
5. They deactivate less – Getting close and pulling away is an integral part of an avoidant attachment style. They need to pull back every once in a while to self-regulate and feel safe. A sign that a fearful avoidant wants you back is 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).
6. They talk about you –Fearful avoidants hide their relationships for fear of being judged or being told they’re making a mistake wanting their ex back. When they talk to their friends and family about you, they want them to know you’re still talking to each other and in each other’s life – and they’re willing to risk their judgment and/or disapproval.
7. They trust you– Trust is very important to a fearful avoidant. If they can’t trust you, a fearful avoidant will not want to come back even if they still have feelings for you. They may even come back but end up breaking up with you again – because of trust.
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.