Today, we’re going to talk about how to break down your ex-boyfriend’s emotional wall.
- More specifically, we’re going to actually talk about what an emotional wall looks like when your ex is putting it up.
- We’re going to talk a little bit about why they put up an emotional wall and what type of attachment style people who have these emotional walls typically are.
- And finally, most importantly, we will talk about how to break down the emotional wall that your ex is putting up after a breakup.
So let’s just jump right into this.
What does an ex putting up an emotional wall typically look like?
Breaking Down What An Ex Putting Up An Emotional Wall Actually Looks Like
Now there’s a lot of different symptoms of the emotional wall, but most of the time, the symptoms are going to have four things in common.
The first thing is you will be with your ex-boyfriend after the breakup, or maybe during the breakup, or maybe even a little bit before the breakup, but you’ll have this feeling and you don’t really know how to describe it.
- Maybe you’re picking up their body language being different.
- Maybe you’re picking up the responses not being as quick.
- Maybe you’re picking up that your ex-boyfriend or your boyfriend is not as interested. You just get the sense that they’re becoming distant.
So if you noticed they’re distant a lot, this is maybe one of the first dominoes falling with regards to putting up that emotional wall.
The next thing you’re probably going to notice a lot is a lot of hot and cold behavior.
So this is kind of a weird one, but sometimes, especially after a breakup, what ends up happening is your ex will flirt with you and you will be, after the flirting, you’ll go to bed at night thinking, “Wow, I’m making a lot of progress.”
Then you wake up the next day and you won’t hear from them and you’ll think, “Okay, well maybe they needed some space.” Then another day goes by and you don’t hear from them again. Now you’re starting to become a little bit worried.
Well, what typically is happening here is the ex has put up the emotional wall.
Well, typically speaking, when you’re really hot, they’re allowing themselves to be vulnerable. So when things are going well, they’re flirting with you, it seems like they’re kind of into you, they’re allowing themselves to be vulnerable, but when they become vulnerable, they get scared because they have past experience where you’ve maybe hurt them, or they are hurt by the breakup that they put this emotional wall up.
And then the emotional wall comes down and they get hot again, or they’re on the on again phase and the emotional wall comes down, they get afraid, the emotional wall goes up, rinse and repeat.
This is the hot and cold.
Now what’s interesting is a lot of times when you’re noticing that they’re hot and cold, or you’re noticing that they’re becoming distant in conversations with you, you’ll say, “Hey, are you okay?”
And they’ll simply reply, “I’m fine.”
They’ll become extra defensive when you call them out a little bit. These are the typical signs that someone has their emotional wall up.
There’s a lot going on internally when you notice an ex-boyfriend has their emotional wall up, but what’s important or what can maybe shed some light onto what’s going on internally is actually by understanding why they’re putting that emotional wall up.
Now, there are really two big reasons for why people or why exes will put up emotional walls.
Number one is it keeps people out, and number two is it protects them from being hurt.
Now we’re talking about ex-boyfriends in this case, so most of the time when you’re encountering an ex-boyfriend who has an emotional wall up, it’s because they’re protecting themselves from being hurt by you.
You are the source of their pain.
When they think about you, and we see this a lot, even in social media, when they look at your social media posts, you’re posting something on Instagram, you’re posting something on Facebook, it hurts to look at that stuff because it reminds them of the good times that they had, and it reminds them of the pain and the emotional turmoil that they’re feeling currently.
So by putting up the emotional wall and keeping you at an arm’s length of distance, it protects them from being hurt, especially if you’re getting back in touch with them.
The other thing, or the other factor that I think is often lost on a lot of my clients is past experiences can sometimes inform their reality.
Let’s say that … and you’re going to find that this actually really, really plays into this a lot when we start talking about the attachment style tendencies and the self-fulfilling cycle tendencies.
But oftentimes, if you have dated an ex-boyfriend who has a lot of bad experiences with breakups, they will naturally assume that this breakup is going to be the same and they will naturally have their protective walls up. So those are basically the reasons.
So they want to keep people out and they want to protect themselves from being hurt, so it’s all about self-preservation. They look at you as the source of their pain. They won’t always look at you that way, but when you begin to get close to them, when they become vulnerable with you, they will look at themselves and protect themselves and put up that emotional barrier.
Why Looking At Attachment Styles Is A Good Idea To Understand Your Exes Emotional Wall
Now, where this gets really interesting is when we look at the attachment style of people who have emotional walls up.
Now we know from research that most of our clients have anxious attachment styles, so as you can imagine, most of the people that are coming to our website or watching our YouTube content or listening to our podcasts want their exes back, or they’re going through a breakup and have at least considered the idea of getting an ex back.
These are people who have anxious tendencies, because people who have secure tendencies tend not to think about getting their back.
They’re like, “Okay, cool. I will move on with my life. I’m too cool for school. I’m cooler than you.” That’s the way they have this internal swagger, this internal confidence.
Anxious people are the exact opposite.
They look at this relationship as if it’s the entirety of their world.
They don’t have a world outside of this relationship, and so they do everything they can to fix their world or fix the relationship.
This includes very anxious behaviors, like constantly blowing up an ex’s phone, nagging, which is going on to texting, showing up at their ex’s doorstep, sending their ex gifts, all sorts of the desperate behaviors are very anxious type of tendencies. But what’s interesting is when we actually do look at the research, most of the time our anxious clients have avoidant boyfriends.
Now, avoidants are kind of an interesting thing, because we’ve done most of our research when it comes to attachment styles on mostly anxious people and avoidant people, because those are the two most foremost types of attachment styles that we see at our coaching practice.
So what’s interesting about avoidant tendency people is, it really fits with the emotional wall.
A lot of the reasons or a lot of the times that an avoidant will push someone away, is if they feel themselves becoming too vulnerable, they really value their independence to a level that if they feel that their independence is becoming threatened, they feel like they need to do what they can to preserve that independence.
And sometimes when we become vulnerable and we become emotionally intimate with someone, we can honestly feel the pressure of expectation, specifically expectations of marriage, because some people look at marriage as this constraint on their lives.
And I know this is kind of a weird way of talking about it, but it does need to be talked about.
Someone with an avoidant tendency does not look at marriage the same way as someone with a secure tendency, because someone with an avoidant tendency tends to see the cons of the marriage.
Well, if I am with this person, that means I have to move in with them, I have to live with them, that means I’m not going to have my own free time anymore, all of my time is going to be stretched out into this relationship. And this just becomes too much for them, and they actually have these really interesting anxiety ridden fears that are not true.
So the idea of just maybe getting married or the idea of being with someone where things began to get serious threatens the idea of marriage, they start to freak out and think all of these things that aren’t true or haven’t happened.
And what’s interesting about it is this is why they push you away, because they want to preserve themselves, they want to protect themselves, they want to keep you away so that their independence is preserved.
And what is cool about this is the avoidant person has the self-fulfilling cycle that they go through.
So a lot of times the biggest misconceptions that people have about people with avoidant tendencies is that they don’t want relationships.
That’s actually not true.
People with avoidant tendencies or people with an avoidant attachment style want a relationship, a loving, intimate relationship, arguably more than anyone else. They want the relationship so badly that they’re willing to get into a relationship with people, but they enter into this self-fulfilling cycle and they’re not even aware of it.
So they start out the cycle wanting a relationship super badly, so they find someone that they can have a relationship with, you. And they start thinking, “Wow, this is cool. I have this relationship, I feel really great,” this is the honeymoon period in action.
But what’s interesting is avoidant people tend to be drawn towards anxious people and anxious people tend to be drawn to avoidant people. That law of playing hard to get for the anxious attachment style. But when they’re with someone who has an anxious attachment style, the avoidant begins to realize, wait, this person is starting to ask for too much too soon.
Something as similar as even asking for a picture together can freak an avoidant person out, because the cause and effect or the causality of the situation makes them believe that you’re going to eventually ask for more.
So they start percolating this idea, this anxiety ridden fear pivots in their mind, and they first get the idea that they want to leave the relationship, but they’re too scared to do anything about it because they do care about your feelings, they’re not a monster.
And as they become more distant, as they begin to put those emotional walls up, someone with an anxious style tends to be really good at bomb sniffing, dogging this concept out. They notice their current boyfriend or girlfriend is becoming distant.
They’re hot and cold.
They’re becoming super defensive.
And this, in turn, just ends up freaking the avoidant out more, because as the anxious person feels like the avoidant is about to leave the relationship, they start pushing harder to fix things. This freaks the avoidant out because they feel more responsibility and end up finally leaving.
And then of course, they start thinking, “Well, why is this always happening to me?” And they kind of get down on themselves and ultimately leading to the beginning of the cycle, which is, I really want a relationship so badly. And they just rinse and repeat that concept.
So this leads us to our million dollar question.
How do you break down the emotional wall of someone who goes through this cycle?
How To Break Down Your Exes Emotional Wall
Well, there’s a lot of things you can do. I think the first thing really revolves around understanding the anxious and avoidant mentalities.
If you understand that you have anxious tendencies, you can work on those tendencies so that you are not appearing as anxious, and if you understand that your ex has avoidant tendencies, you can make sure behaviors are present that will not trigger avoidant tendencies, or you’ll figure out the language to speak to the avoidant person.
So just understanding the concept of anxious and avoidant mentalities will help you in your road.
Now I’m going to go out on a limb here and say most of the people reading this and are serious of getting their exes back, have anxious tendencies, they have anxious attachment styles. And that is the first place that you need to start when you’re looking at how to break down someone’s emotional wall. You start with it. This is kind of a weird thing, but you’re going to start with your time. So we notice that someone with an anxious attachment style tends to dedicate most of their time towards that romantic relationship.
So if you imagine, and this was an analogy given to me by a really, really smart woman named Antia Boyd, who I’ve done multiple interviews with, and I’ve done multiple webinars with and seminars with.
And her jam is attachment styles, and using attachment styles to help understand romantic relationships.
And she gave this analogy once, and I thought it was maybe the most brilliant thing I ever heard. Imagine that your time is like a cake and an anxious person, 70% of the cake is dedicated to their romantic relationship, whereas 30% of the cake is dedicated to all of the other areas of their life.
The smartest thing that you can do, if you find yourself any situation where you realize or recognize, hey, I have anxious tendencies and 70% of my time is spent worrying or trying to win back my ex-boyfriend, you need to shift that. Instead, you need to shift that to maybe 30%. So it needs to be the exact opposite of the ratio that you’re at now.
Most of your time literally needs to be spent on health, wealth, Magnum Opus ideals and relationships outside of your ex.
So 70% of your time needs to be focused on those four distinct categories.
So again, I’ll repeat health, wealth, relationships, and Magnum Opus, but the relationships aspect is only relationships outside of your ex. So, friends, family, even other romantic relationships with different partners. 70% of your time needs to be focused on those things, and then 30% of the time needs to be focused on your actual ex and the process of winning them back. Now, why? Why is this a good idea?
Well, because it signals to your ex, to your ex who has the emotional wall up, that you are no longer as obsessed about them as they would have you believe.
The other concept that I want you to understand is when you do get back in touch with an avoidant ex who has an emotional wall up, this is the principle you need to live your life by. When they pull back, you pull back.
Well, because it shows a maturity on your part, and it shows that you are different because in the past, when your ex has pulled back, what have you done? You have chased and tried to fix. That has not worked.
The often quoted Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Well, if you have chased your ex over and over again, and they’ve just avoided you more, put more of an emotional wall up, well, that approach isn’t going to work anymore.
What we’ve noticed is when you’re dealing with someone who has anxious tendencies, and you’re dealing with someone who has avoidant tendencies, when the avoidant pulls back, the anxious person should also pull back and give that avoidant person space, give them time to work through and realize, eh, I’m being ridiculous, and then they’ll come back. This is what secure attachment styles do. And the beauty of this is this all integrates with that cake analogy. So often times, you’ll have no problem pulling back in your romantic relationship a little bit if your ex pulls back, because you have all these other things on the cake that you can spend your time doing.
The final thing I want to talk about that you can do to break down your ex’s emotional wall is actually using the fear of loss. Now, I was actually trying to research for this specific topic. How do you break down an exes emotional wall? And one of the best places I always start is actually with real people, because I find sometimes if you go to Google and you type in, “Hey, how do you break down someone’s emotional wall?” And you try to find psychological research, it’s kind of bland, and it also doesn’t answer the exact question that you’re asking about.
So what I did is I went to our private Facebook support group. There’s over 6,300 people in there, currently, all of them going through breakups, some of them trying to get over their ex, some of them trying to get their exes back. And what’s interesting is literally today, there was a comment from someone who made a post in the Facebook group talking about the dumper’s experience. And it was fascinating to me because this girl ended up dumping her ex and putting up an emotional wall, it was just becoming too much for her. And so she broke up with her ex while he was on vacation. And what’s really interesting about the whole thing is that he came back from vacation and tried to win her back and tried to talk through things. And she almost gave in and said, “Yeah, I made a mistake.”
And what’s interesting is she went on and said that basically, the reason she did not admit that she made a mistake or took him back or anything was because she was having this huge internal turmoil. So one part of her just wanted to hug and kiss, forget any of it ever happened, let the nightmare end right there. But on the other hand, she was extremely scared and she was extremely emotional, and she was really frightened of things going bad a few more months down the road and she wanted to protect herself. So the prototypical, the emotional wall is up, she needs to protect herself. But it really wasn’t until she found out that he had someone new two months down the road, that her mindset shifted a little bit.
Now this is interesting, because I’m going to use her exact words here to describe what she felt when she saw the fear of loss at play.
“Well, it wasn’t until I found out he had someone new two months down the road. That day I received the news, I kept feeling something weird running down my spine. I tried to shake it off, but it kept piling. I only understood what that feeling was that night, when I finally got engulfed by it. It was the sense of loss. I only felt this sense of loss when I realized he was gone. So it’s true. We really need to evoke the sense or fear of loss in our ERP exes. If not, they wouldn’t budge. I’m not saying we got to find a rebound for that to happen, but we need to definitely evoke that fear in some ways.”
So as odd as it sounds, I think the best approach isn’t to go in the rebound, but I think it is to put forth signals that you are moving on. And this actually meets up with the literature and the psychological research, because what we know about people who have avoidant tendencies is that they don’t begin to miss you until they feel like you have moved on. And this is the case here with this woman. She didn’t feel like she lost her ex or missed her ex, until he had completely moved on to someone new.
And I think this is a lesson that we can all take, because you notice if you want to break down the ex’s emotional wall, a lot of the things that I’m instructing you to do, understanding the anxious versus avoidant mentality, make sure you have your time management skills so that the cake is not taken up directly by the romantic relationship, making sure that when they pull back, you pull back, making sure that you are instituting a fear of loss, however you’re doing that, are all things that indicate you are okay with moving on. And this is the key to breaking down an ex-boyfriend’s emotional wall.