Question: I’ve read many of your articles and learned so much from you than my 8 years in therapy. I’m trying to be more secure so I can attract back my avoidant ex but if she’s completely done, I want to make sure I don’t mess up the next relationship.
We were together for 3 years, before that we were friends for 2 years, so altogether we’ve known each other for 5 years. A little over 2 months ago she broke up with me and according to her, I didn’t do anything wrong. She says I’m perfect and don’t need to change anything and that she will always care about me. She was very sad breaking up and said she hoped we’d still be in each other’s lives but left the choice to me when I was ready. I still love her and care about her, and despite my pain from the breakup continued contact after the breakup. We get along really well as friends and she makes the effort to reach out and when I need her, she’s there for me. This is very confusing for me because on one hand, she says she still cares about me and always will and her actions show she does, but on the other hand, she broke up with me. In your experience, do avoidants break-up with someone they care about, and why?
Yangki’s Answer: Do avoidants break-up with someone they still care about or even still have feelings for? Yes, they do, more often than many people realize.
If you know something about attachment styles, you know that avoidants fear getting close to others and tend to pull away and even break-up when things get a little ore serious than surface level. The reasons for a dismissive avoidant pulling away and breaking up are different from why fearful avoidants pull away and even break-up when things get a little too close for an avoidant attachment comfort. You can read more about this in m articles,
Avoidant Ex Says “I Don’t Want A Relationship” (What to Do) and Should You Tell A Fearful Avoidant Ex You Love Them?
If your avoidant ex is telling you they still care about you or love you (and always will), they most likely mean it even if they don’t want to be with you. I understand this is confusing for many people with an anxious attachment because “If you still care about me and love me, why don’t you want to be with me?”. As mentioned in the two articles referenced about, one of the greatest fears of people with an anxious attachment is that others don’t want to get close to them or don’t want to be with them. This is their internal working model of relationships and defines how they approach relationships, act in relationships and act after a break-up. This is the filter through which they evaluate other’s words, actions or behaviours that what triggers an anxious attachment.
To help you process what your avoidant ex is telling you about how they feel about you (which as I said is likely true) and why they don’t want to be with you, it’s important to remember that unlike people with an anxious attachment who define themselves by their relationships, and how much someone loves or cares about them , most avoidants can separate the person from the relationship.
They may like the person and still have feelings for them but not want a relationship with them. Dismissive avoidants just don’t prioritize relationships and even if they like the person and still have feelings for them, they may not want a relationship because it just doesn’t feel good or right. A dismissive avoidant may even end a relationship because they’re afraid they’re going to hurt you. It’s happened many times before that someone wants a relationship (or commitment) and they don’t and they’re conscious of it, and even alert for signs that you want more than they can give you or ready to give you.
In addition to fear of hurting you because they might lose interest or are starting to lose interest and feel that they should end the relationship, fearful avoidants also end a relationship with someone they may still have feelings for because they don’t like who they are/were in the relationship. If they lean more anxious, they may be uncomfortable with their anxiously attached part of them or with feeling anxious (and needy and clingy) and end a relationship to stop themselves from experiencing the strong emotions that some with being anxious. If they’re not self-aware, they may think that you are the one causing these emotions in them (making them anxious) and they need to distance from you because you bring out the part of them they’re not comfortable with or don’t like (you are unsafe).
If they still like the person or still have feelings for them but don’t want a relationship with them, both fearful avoidants and dismissive avoidants often start distancing and even deactivating and detaching before they break-up with you. You find that by the time they end the relationship, they’ve already processed the break-up in their mind or logically (and not necessarily their emotions) and decided that even if they still care about you, ending the relationship is the best cause of action.
An avoidant ex may even tell you that you’re an amazing person with many great qualities and they still care about you and even still love you (and will away care about you), but a relationship is not just something they’re ready for t the time. The more conscious avoidant may tell you they need time and space to work on themselves (but whether that actually happens is another story), or they don’t want to lead you on. Some dismissive avoidants will tell you straight up “I don’t want to hurt you”.
But there also avoidants who tell you that you’re an amazing person, you don’t need o change anything, it’s them not you etc., and they still care about you to avoid hurting your feelings. They made a decision that telling you why they don’t want to be with you will hurt your feelings now and may affect your view of yourself, and they care enough not to hurt you even further.
Other times, avoidants tell you that you’re an amazing person, you don’t need to change anything, it’s them not you and they still care about you to hide the fact that they’re seeing someone else. During the time they pulled away and deactivated from you, they may have started seeing someone else or became interested in someone else and telling you that you’re perfect the way you are is them feeling guilty or not sure how to tell you they’re already seeing someone else. It doesn’t mean they stopped caring about you, as I said, most avoidants can separate the person from the relationship, and it means they chose being with the other person over being with you.
In some cases, an avoidant saying you’re an amazing person with many great qualities and they still care about you and even still love you and will away care about you is an avoidant ex’s way of leaving the door open to reconnect later on. Sometimes it comes down to how you play the cards you’re dealt.