By Chris Seiter

Updated on March 21st, 2022

This is a complete breakdown of what tends to happen when you stop chasing an avoidant.

In this in-depth guide you’re going to learn,

  • What Usually Happens When You Stop Chasing An Avoidant
  • If People With Avoidant Attachment Styles Secretly Want You To Chase Them
  • Why They Give You Mixed Signals

Let’s get started.

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What Usually Happens When You Stop Chasing An Avoidant

We’ve found that out of the four main attachment styles avoidants need space more than anyone else. They often fall into this, “I want you, but go away” mentality which can lead a lot of our clients confused as to what they want.

In this section I’d like to talk specifically about the psychology of why it’s so important for you to stop chasing an avoidant if you want to have a happy and healthy relationship with them.

First things first, what is an avoidant attachment style?

Simply put, you have an avoidant attachment style if you have a very positive view of yourself and negative view of others. You tend to avoid conflict or intimacy in relationship for fear of losing yourself in them. In some cases, you may actually deny the fact that you’re doing this.

All in all, being in a relationship with these individuals can be difficult. One look at the comments of relevant videos on my YouTube account can tell us that.

Over the years as we’ve studied avoidants we’ve kind of learned exactly what works on them.

For instance, avoidants usually need more space than any other attachment style. The reasoning is simple, it makes them feel more independent and safe. If you want to get really technical we can even trace this back to their childhood.

According To Free to Attach (one of the best avoidant resources I’ve ever found)

Avoidants are protective of their own space and can withdraw totally, not always being present when together. Growing up, they were only able to get comfort or relief from anxiety by being alone, so they’re used to being by themselves when upset and don’t really know how to get relief or comfort with someone without getting space from them.

Their “safe space” is literally found “in space.”

Now, that’s a pretty simple concept to understand but there’s one fly in the ointment. Most of our clients tend to anxious attachment styles and they are on the other end of the spectrum.

Their greatest fear is being abandoned and as a result they derive meaning in relationships through their closeness. So, a lot of times our work with anxious individuals is helping them recognize that they have to go against their internal programming if they want to see success with their avoidant partner.

Take a look at one of our more recent breakup success stories,

Heather, who I interviewed for close to 45 minutes readily admitted that she adopted our famous,

“When they pull back, you pull back”

Mantra in regards to her ex boyfriend and after an admittedly long period of time her ex ended up coming back citing that “she just got him.” The truth is that Coach Anna, who Heather coached with, didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel. All she ended up doing was explaining the basics to her in what works with avoidants.

So yes, it’s important that you stop chasing an avoidant and give them the space that they crave if you want to be successful in any facet with them.

Of course, this brings up an interesting question.

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Do Avoidants Secretly Want You To Chase Them?

Recently I’ve talked about the anxious/avoidant self fulfilling cycle which answers this query pretty well.

Here’s how it works,

  1. The avoidant thinks, “I just want someone to love me.”
  2. They hook up with an anxious attached person and think they’ve found someone and their troubles are over
  3. Then they notice some worrying things. That anxious person won’t give them any space
  4. They start thinking of leaving
  5. Then they actually leave
  6. Then they are happy they left
  7. Then the loneliness sets in
  8. Leaving them to think, why can’t I ever find the right person?

And around and around the avoidant goes.

It’s a mistake to automatically assume that because an avoidant isn’t great with emotional intimacy they don’t want it. They do, they are just their own worst enemy when they let someone close. At the heart of every avoidant lies a simple paradox,

I want to let someone close but not close enough to allow them to hurt me.

But we’re getting a bit off topic here.

The ultimate thing we’re trying to determine is if an avoidant actually wants you to chase them and I think the answer to that is that they do but only on their own terms. For example, last year we really found out some interesting findings based on how they react to breakups.

After an avoidant breaks up with you they won’t miss you until they feel like there’s no chance of ever reuniting with you. Why? Well, it’s because that’s when they feel safe. There is no risk of losing their independence since the two of you are broken up with and as a result they can live with that nostalgic reverie hit.

We’ve even seen a few avoidants begin the chasing process again here because they fool themselves into only remembering the good times and forget all the close emotional intimate moments.

Admittedly that’s more rare than common but it does happen.

Which leads me to my final point.

Why Do Avoidants Give You Such Mixed Signals In Relationships

I think the answer to this question is simple to hear but difficult to understand.

It’s important to remind yourself that avoidants live with an inherent contradiction in their day to day life.

They want to let people close so they can experience love but they don’t want to let people close enough that they could end up hurt.

If you look at their world in this way their “mixed signals” begin to make a lot more sense. I stumbled across a comment on a website the other day that I think perfectly encapsulates this mentality.

Here’s the breakdown of her situation.

  • She dated a man that treated her really well.
  • After two weeks she married him
  • Then his entire personality began to change
  • He started hitting on other women

So, why the crazy shift in behavior?

Well, I’ve noted in the past how I believe every avoidant has certain “commitment tipping points” that set them off where you’re likely to see a shift in their behavior.

  • Getting asked out on a date
  • Becoming “official”
  • Talking about moving in together
  • Actually moving in together
  • Talking seriously about marriage
  • Looking at rings together
  • Getting engaged
  • Getting married
  • Having a child together

You’ll notice that each of these tipping points requires some new level of commitment or intimacy. In the case of the commentor above the tipping point happened around when they got married which is a huge commitment.

And I’ve seen this across the bored. Again, if you understand the psychology it makes sense.

The tipping points are essentially an expectation from the avoidant that they are going to lose independence and they rage against this. Of course, most anxious people try to solve the problem by doing what they do best, problem solving.

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The issue is that problem solving won’t work in this case. All it ends up doing is pushing the avoidant further away.

I’m very big into focusing only on the factors you can control which in this case is giving that avoidant space.

It’s ok to let someone feel the way they want to feel.

Often an anxious individual can’t cope with the fact that an avoidant may be having second thoughts and so they’ll overcrowd the avoidant making them feel like they want to leave.

So, as weird as it sounds one of the smartest things you can do when you are in a relationship/going through a breakup with an avoidant personality is to let them feel how they want to feel.

Their entire lives they have learned how to cope with complicated emotions alone and no matter how great a love story the two of you have you aren’t going to be able to reprogram a lifetime of practice in a matter of days.

When they pull back, you pull back.

It’s as simple as that.

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12 thoughts on “Here’s What Happens When You Stop Chasing An Avoidant?”

  1. Timothy Allen Kyler

    February 11, 2023 at 10:11 pm

    Dated an an avoidant for a few months, and at first everything was amazing. She called, texted, and actually put in as much effort , if not more, thank did. She was here a week, and we were together every night. Then she went on a planned vacation, still called and texted several times a day. Came back a week,again, saw each other every night. Then another two week vacation, and I noticed a change halfway through it. She called less, texted less , etc. I figured it was because she and a girlfriend were out doing there thing. They get to Las Vegas, last 3-4 days of their trip and again,called and texted a lot. She comes back , and we spent the first 3 nights together. Then all the sudden she wants space, which I took to mean a day, maybe two, occasionally. But it just kept getting weirder. She’d see me, but not much. I’d call or text and she’d answer or not. Then I stayed at her house, it seemed good ,but I brought up things that were bothering me,like what she had going on , and she pretty much said she’s not ready to talk about the stuff she’s dealing with. I felt bad ,and sent her a thing for a free massage. The next day ,she just said she doesn’t want this, during a 2 hour call. I didnt blow up or beg, just explained what I was feeling. And asked if I can call in a few days,which she replied she didn’t know how she’d feel ina few days. I haven’t reached out,in any way really ,no calls or texts, just trying to give her space. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing

  2. patrick ellsworth

    September 12, 2022 at 1:26 am

    Thanks for the response. So, after a week of being blocked, she all of a sudden unblocks me with a text after a week saying she was sorry for doing what she did. She did t think I was right for her, etc. we texted back and forth all night, with some of our old style communication, loving, funny, etc. she sent me a voice text, saying she misses me like crazy. Called her the next morning. Everything was fine. She texted me sayi
    G she was y ready for me and didn’t know if she ever could be. I texted saying I wanted to understand and be that safe place for her. Well, she told me she’d get back to me: 10
    Days later, no response and blocked again. I sent her a folder I put together for her about empathy, understanding and safety. It was my “poem” to her. Not about winning her back or anything. Just showing her that I want her voice to be heard and she’s valued. That was 4 days ago.. nothing. A lost cause? Will she reach back out, I wonder?

    1. Coach Shaunna Nicol

      November 15, 2022 at 6:13 pm

      Hi Patrick, I think you’re ex reached out thinking that she was going to be losing you forever once you confirmed you are still there waiting for her she felt that she has you as a back up / there waiting for when she is ready. Follow a strict 45 day NC and I would also suggest if she does reach out again you do not rush into trying to get her back or reassure her that you still care. Don’t be too easy to get back

  3. patrick ellsworth

    September 1, 2022 at 12:52 am

    So, k have been dating a FA for over a month. We actually talked on the phone for 2 weeks before we met. Actually, I was out of the country, so no choice there. But, we both liked it that way. Got to know each other’s personalities. She told me some very intimate secrets of her past that nobody knows. She regressed a few times by blocking me then unblocking me. The last time, I got this long text that was the biggest apology I ever got. It was heartfelt and sincere. I get home. Things are good. She was still trying to find red flags about me so she could leave, but would always calm down. Admittedly, I think we were going a bit fast. She told me she has never felt like this with anyone. Backstory: she had a bad childhood and 2 emotionally abusive marriages, so, last week, she said she needed some time and she misses me like crazy. For 4-5 day, it was quiet. I gave her a few small texts telling her good morning, evening. Im here whenever you are ready. Nothing forceful. Well, not only am I blocked from her phone, social media too. What gives? Do I give her time to get back to a better emotional state before she unblocks me? Heck, she even told me she could see us getting married in distant future, but had reservations because she thought I’d be ashamed being husband #3. Im lost for words. I really care for her and could see a good future for us

    1. Coach Shaunna Nicol

      September 1, 2022 at 8:08 pm

      Hey Patrick, so with the FA and the abuse in the past along with two failed marriages, I would say that your ex needs to spend some time working on herself and in therapy. It doesn’t sound as if she is able to cope with a relationship right now. I would say that for now you allow her some space and see what happens when she reaches out to you, while you are willing to work on things but she does not deal with her own issues your patterns are bound to continue the way they are.

  4. Bethany

    August 28, 2022 at 1:17 am

    So if they don’t reach out and you don’t reach out, who is going to reach out and what can be said, something mild, isn’t any form of reach out showing interest?

    1. Coach Shaunna Nicol

      August 28, 2022 at 9:25 pm

      Hi Bethany, you reach out once you have completed your 45 days NC – with an avoidant we would suggest that you take the longer NC so that they have enough time to process their own emotions right now.

  5. Jolene

    February 1, 2022 at 6:43 am

    This article really hits home. I was dating who I thought was the love of my life since a year and a half ago. Everytime things started going well he would break up with me. It was usually when he knew we were looking way too committed, spending too much quality time together and he did not want that. I knew he loved me, wanted me and needed me, but the minute I came back after a break up and got comfortable he would do the same. It was a tiring game of push and pull, fear and rejection that even when I was secure and giving him tons of space, he still broke up with me. I am exhausted and emotionally drained and finally let him go. Knowing he still loves me. Two days after our last break up he told me he missed me and thinks of me every day. I just couldn’t anymore. It becomes toxic and I would not recommend any person put themselves through that. Let him go.

  6. Jim

    January 31, 2022 at 8:29 pm

    My ex of 6 months broke up now has been giving me mixed msgs from she broke up with me ! Mostly on her social media & a few texts etc but i always feel the texts are the opposite of what she really wants & means !
    I agreed with her last month i know we are definitely over & it wasnt going to work snyway but i think she didn’t expect me to say that & from looking at her stories since she looks really sad but alteting to act happy !

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      February 13, 2022 at 1:12 pm

      Hi Jim, so with social media we tend to see what we WANT to see… so try to avoid taking too much into account when seeing her posts. HOWEVER, if you want to follow this program then you need to start following what we call a no contact period, this includes watching her social media posts. If you do not want her back then there is no need to complete this NC and there is also no need to analyse her behaviour online either. Focus on yourself and how well you are doing.

  7. Laurie

    January 31, 2022 at 8:07 pm

    Is it even worth staying with an avoider. Even if you love them. That pattern from them is going to continue. So basically it’s pain over and over again for the other person. That just does not seem healthy

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      February 13, 2022 at 1:14 pm

      Hey Laurie, Great question!

      If you are in a relationship with an avoidant, usually the opposite partner becomes anxious attachment as they are always looking for that connection, however if you work on yourself and become the secure attachment more often you draw in that secure side of the avoidant too which creates a safer environment for the avoidant to being to discuss their feelings and emotions. Including telling you when they need time to themselves, away from you or the pressures they feel in their lives at that time. It takes a lot of patience, security and understanding that some of their emotions will have absolutely nothing to do with you it is just how the self sooth as a person.