By Chris Seiter

Published on June 21st, 2023

Today we’re going to talk about if avoidants care if you leave.

This is actually a difficult question to answer because there’s not a specific pass/fail or yes/no response to it.

Here’s the best I can come up with.

At first an avoidant will go through this period of separation elation and often won’t feel your loss until they perceive that you have moved on. At that point they start to reminisce and could potentially start caring if you leave.

I think it’s important to kind of take into account the entire scope of what’s going on with avoidants when you go through a breakup with them.

So, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to answer the following questions.

  • Understanding The Death Wheel Prison Most Avoidants Are Trapped In Gives You Insight Into When They Start Caring
  • Pinpointing Exactly When The Avoidant Will Care
  • Looking At The Major Signs An Avoidant Exhibit When They Are Affected By Your Loss?


Let’s get started.

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Understanding The Death Wheel Prison Most Avoidants Are Trapped In Gives You Insight Into When They Start Caring

So, the first thing that I think is important to understand is how a dismissive avoidant’s core wound typically operates.

A dismissive avoidant has a core wound where they constantly fear losing their independence.

If you’re in a relationship with them anything can really set them off.

  • You
  • The environment
  • Sometimes even the sphere of influence of people around them

Can trigger a fear of loss of independence, this can prompt the avoidant to run.

I am well-known for devising a concept called the ‘death wheel’.

It captures the entire experience that an avoidant has from start to finish – essentially, the lifecycle of a relationship.

I’ve found it intriguing that if you apply the core wound to the death wheel, it makes complete sense. In fact, the death wheel in and of itself traps avoidants in a kind of prison. Understanding this prison can give you insight into when they start caring.

There are typically eight stages to the avoidant ‘death wheel’.

However, I’ve found it’s best to consider these stages by dividing them into two distinct categories:

  1. The relationship stages
  2. The breakup stages

Remember, this examines the entire lifecycle of an avoidant’s relationships and how they transition from one relationship to another.

The Relationship Stages:

  1. They start out yearning for someone to love them.
  2. They then find you and believe their problems are over.
  3. They bask in the honeymoon period until they start noticing some worrying things that can trigger or irritate their core wound – anything that threatens their independence. This can be something as minor as your mom asking about grandchildren or as significant as discussing moving in together or ring shopping. Sometimes, your anxious energy can trigger the avoidant’s fear of losing independence.
  4. Once they start noticing these worrying things, they begin to contemplate leaving the relationship.

The Breakup Stages

The breakup stages commence with them actually leaving the relationship.

  1. What shocks most people when I explain how avoidants typically operate is the fact that, usually, when an avoidant breaks up with you, they feel happy.
  2. They go through a period of ‘separation elation’. If you understand how their core wound operates, this makes complete sense. For the first time in forever, they feel like they’ve regained their independence and can just sit back and relax.
  3. However, over time, they start to feel a little lonely because although avoidants are typically lone wolves, they do seek companionship. They don’t want to be alone forever, and then they begin to feel sorry for themselves.
  4. They start questioning, ‘Why can’t I ever find the right person? Why does this always happen to me?’ They begin blaming others for their emotional state, which ultimately leads them right back to where they started. They desire someone to love them, and often they either rush into a new relationship by going on the rebound, or return to you, creating an on-again-off-again cycle.

Pinpointing Exactly When An Avoidant Will Care

But I believe it’s important to pinpoint the exact moment when an avoidant starts to care about losing you.

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The first crucial aspect to understand about avoidants is their constant pursuit of the honeymoon period euphoria.

It makes complete sense if you think about it.

During the honeymoon period, the focus is on enjoying each other’s company without the threat of deeper commitment being at risk. Avoidants often seek out this honeymoon phase, either with you or someone else.

They go through that entire avoidant death wheel cycle, in pursuit of that “perfect relationship,” one where they don’t have to get too close emotionally but still reap the other great benefits and feel good about themselves.

But the big lesson I’ve learned from the death wheel is that it demonstrates that if you move on from them, it actually increases the likelihood of them reminiscing fondly about you.

I created this video a couple of years ago, specifically highlighting the moments when avoidant exes tend to miss you.

The big point I make in that video is that an avoidant ex tends to miss you only after you have moved on from them.

Moving on can manifest in various ways.

  • It can involve a significant amount of time passing. How many times have we heard back from an ex we never expected to hear from, two years after the breakup?
  • Sometimes it’s as simple as you beginning to date other people or getting into a new relationship.
  • Other times, it’s merely the perception that you have moved on. They might be keeping tabs on you through social media and notice that you’re out enjoying yourself, no longer sitting in a corner crying over them.

This can trigger their sense of nostalgia.

Nostalgia is crucial because they won’t allow themselves to miss you until they believe there is no chance of you returning. It always comes back to that core wound.

They will only start to miss you when they are certain that your absence won’t threaten their independence anymore.

The Signs An Avoidant Will Exhibit When Affected By Your Loss

There are four:

  1. They start reaching out to you indirectly
  2. They reach out to you directly
  3. Bringing up Peak memories
  4. They seem vulnerable and get scared off.

As always let’s dissect!

Sign #1: They Start Reaching Out To You Indirectly

We see this a lot in our community.

Oftentimes we’ll have a client come and say, my ex watched my stories.

Like the screenshot above.

Avoidants are huge fans of doing this kind of thing because they dislike confrontation and tend to shy away from it or even ignore it altogether.

However, if they have painted you as the “phantom ex,” the one that got away, and it appears that you have moved on, they may start to feel drawn back.

But really what we’re looking for here is a pattern. You want to see them doing this consistently.

  • Liking
  • Commenting
  • Watching

If you notice a huge pattern it could be something.

Sign #2: Direct Reach Out

The second sign is direct reaching out, which is quite rare.

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Interestingly, we have discovered that when our clients implement the no contact rule,

The common assumption is that their exes are more likely to respond or initiate contact.

However, we have found the opposite to be true.

This is likely because most of our clients’ exes have dismissive avoidant attachment styles and are usually not inclined to reach out first.

While this can be disheartening to hear, there are always exceptions.

If your ex has painted you as the phantom ex, there is a chance they may reach out.

However, their message won’t be a long, heartfelt declaration of their feelings. Instead, it will be something short and seemingly insignificant, like:

  • Sharing a meme
  • A funny gif.
  • A simple “hey”

They will do the bare minimum, but it’s still a direct reach-out.

Sign #3: Peak Memories

I am a proponent of the concept known as the peak-end rule,

Which suggests that human beings remember experiences based on two distinct points—

The end of the experience:

And the peak moments:

These peak moments can have positive or negative associations.

If your ex starts a conversation with you and begins bringing up the peak positive moments of your relationship, it usually indicates that they are affected by the loss of your connection.

There isn’t much more depth to delve into regarding this sign, so let’s move on to the last one.

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Sign #4: They Get Vulnerable (Then Flee)

This last sign is the most uncommon of them all, but I have witnessed it happening.

This is when the avoidant appears vulnerable but then becomes scared and withdraws.

Upon reflection, their withdrawal is not surprising, but their vulnerability can be rare.

Typically, these four signs occur in sequence.

  • They start with indirect reaching out
  • Followed by direct but brief and non-committal messages, such as one-word texts or sharing memes and gifs.
  • Once a conversation is initiated, they may bring up peak memories.
  • This can make them more vulnerable, which ultimately scares them off, and you stop hearing from them again.

This is why it’s essential to follow the idea of mirroring.

When they pull back, you also pull back, demonstrating that you can give them space and won’t overwhelm them, thus potentially drawing them back in.

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2 thoughts on “Do Avoidants Care If You Leave?”

  1. Mandy adam

    March 7, 2024 at 8:19 pm

    My bf broke up with me when he found out he had cancer. He said he didn’t want me to get hurt. I’ve been doing the no contact rule but its hard cause he lives 4 doors away from me. He is a avoidant and i am a anxious person. Has this happened to anyone else

    1. Coach Shaunna

      March 10, 2024 at 11:21 pm

      Hi Mandy, one of my coaching clients is going through this exact situation – It is very likely that your ex is scared that he is not going to get better, he is going through something that is life changing and scary you need to stick with your NC and reach out to him after 30 days. Understand that he is going through something emotionally draining that no one else is going to understand unless you have been through the same situation as him right now. Show him lots of grace and understanding.