By Chris Seiter

Published on July 26th, 2021

Communicating with an ex is never easy, but avoidant exes make it particularly difficult.

You really need to understand the mindset of an avoidant ex to effectively communicate with them.

Today we’re gonna talk about how to communicate with your avoidant ex, but before we get into it, let’s take a quick crash course into attachment styles.

There are 4 main attachment styles: secure, avoidant, anxious, and fearful.

Most of our clients have an anxious attachment style, and their exes have an avoidant attachment style. That combination is usually a recipe for disaster.


People with anxious attachment styles put their whole identity into a relationship and often seek validation from their partners, turning their partners off.

Avoidant attachment styles tend to avoid emotional intimacy and usually feel smothered by their anxious attachment counterparts.

Let’s take a deeper look into avoidant attachment styles:

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Breakdown Of Avoidant Exes

Someone with an avoidant attachment style will have discomfort with deep connection.

They value their own independence highly and invest a lot more at the beginning of a relationship than later. They get sucked into the exciting aspects and bored with the deeper ones as time goes on, so they end the relationship.

Most of our clients tend to have anxious attachment styles, while their exes have avoidant attachment styles.

Interestingly, this has been true throughout the history of mankind because those with anxious attachment styles and avoidant attachment styles are naturally drawn to each other.

I know it sounds weird because they’re polar opposites, but the key to understanding this lies in truly understanding people with avoidant attachment styles.

One of the calling cards of someone with an avoidant attachment style is that they’re really into the relationship initially, but as the relationship grows, deepens, and becomes more intense, they begin to get a little bit more frightened.

Ultimately they value their own independence so highly that they prefer being a lone wolf.

So as they feel themselves slipping away from their former lone wolf selves into a pack, they get afraid and bail.
One of the main reasons avoidants are drawn to anxious attachment styles is that someone with an anxious attachment style will put in maximum effort at all times throughout the relationship. Avoidants love this at first and then slowly get annoyed by it.

This is linked to the self-fulfilling attachment cycle.

The self-fulfilling attachment cycle is rooted in one of the biggest misconceptions about people with avoidant attachment styles. People think that they’re always avoiding relationships with deep levels of connection, and they don’t want a relationship at all. That’s usually not true.

One of the reasons avoidants date is because they’re unhappy with being alone all the time, but they still highly value their independence, and therein lies the paradox. Imagine those conflicting feelings and the resulting confusion in relationships.

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At the beginning of a relationship, avoidants seek validation, connection, and commitment, and someone with an anxious attachment style will instantly give them that. However, as the relationship deepens and their anxious counterpart starts to grate on their nerves, avoidants feel increasingly trapped as if they’re losing their independence. So they leave.

Then the self-fulfilling prophecy repeats itself as the avoidant person craves connection again.

Further Insight Into Avoidants And How To Communicate With Them

The first key component here is understanding that an avoidant person’s paradigm is much different than your paradigm.

You’re probably coming at this from a secure attachment style tendency or an anxious attachment style tendency, which often makes it incredibly difficult to understand and empathize with avoidants.

An important first insight into avoidant attachment styles is that they don’t experience nostalgia as we usually do.

They still have it, but it doesn’t surface immediately after the breakup as it does for those with anxious attachment styles.

People with anxious attachment styles often get depressed after the breakup and try everything from obsessively calling their ex to showing up at their doorsteps to get them back.

On the other hand, avoidants only experience nostalgia and allow themselves to miss their ex after they are sure you have moved on.

This mismatch of the grieving process and timing for nostalgia explains why every action you have with an avoidant until they’re convinced you’ve moved on can trigger their avoidant side.

Think of it like this – your avoidant ex will not miss you until they feel like you’re over them. So if you keep reaching out to them, you’re just reinforcing that you’re still into them, and therefore, they are not safe to miss you yet.

Understanding how and when avoidants feel nostalgia coupled with how it’s not a good idea to push them right after a breakup by trying to fix things will give you insight into how you should be communicating with them.

Communicating With an Avoidant Post Breakup

Now that you have a better idea of your avoidant ex’s mindset, let’s get into my four ultimate tips for communicating with them:

  • Become securely attached and determine if you still want them back
  • Learn tactical empathy
  • Let them feel what they want to feel
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about your own flaws and mistakes

Let’s dive deeper.

Become Securely Attached and Determine If You Still Want Them Back

This may seem a little out of left field, but it’s all about this concept of secure attachment gravity. So when an anxious attachment style and avoidant attachment style are together in a relationship they are almost like two polar opposites that have fun at the beginning.

Still, like fire and ice, one will eventually win and destroy the other. Most of the time, it’s the anxious person’s anxious tendencies getting on the avoidant person’s nerves, and boom, you have a breakup.

Whereas if you come into a relationship with a secure attachment, you will stop hyper analyzing everything your ex does, and you can actually cause the avoidant person to take on more of your secure attachment tendencies.

This concept doesn’t directly relate to communication but it’s about understanding that you need to shift your anxious attachment tendencies to secure attachment to effectively communicate with and positively influence your ex.

Having a secure attachment style means being so emotionally secure that you can accept that it’s okay if you don’t get your ex back. You will be fine either way.

This secure self-identity will give you more clarity and confidence. If you still want your ex back after you get to this point, then you know it’s definitely worth pursuing, and you’ll be a much more confident person when you approach them.

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Learn Tactical Empathy

An avoidant ex is someone who has a tough time communicating. Every time you push them on communicating, they don’t feel like doing it because it triggers their avoidant tendencies.

You often see them look away and refuse to maintain eye contact, especially in emotionally intimate moments.

For example, when you say something so powerful like I love you and all they do is smile without looking at you directly in the eye.

It’s not that they don’t understand the gravity of the moment; it’s more like the moment is so intense for them that they have trouble reciprocating in a way you would like.

This can really upset people with anxious tendencies and lead to fights because they see it as their avoidant partners not loving them back.

Ultimately the only way to bridge this communication gap is tactical empathy.

Tactical empathy is a concept coined by FBI expert negotiator Chriss Voss who basically explains it as empathizing with the other party’s worldview and repeating it back to them, so they feel heard, and therefore more open to negotiation/conversation.

Using tactical empathy when communicating with someone with an avoidant attachment style looks like this: repeat their worldview back to them by literally letting them know that you know what they’re going through.

Don’t be vague like, “I understand what you’re going through.” Instead, label exactly what you think, for example, “I know you’re worried that you’re not going to have your independence anymore the deeper we get into this relationship, but I want to assure you that’s not going to be the case.”

If you do it right, tactical empathy will make your ex think that you truly understand them. This might not make them instantly open up to you, but it’ll definitely help bridge the gap.

Let Them Feel What They Want to Feel

If you’re anything like me, you’re a fixer.

Your first instinct when someone comes to you with a problem is to fix it immediately.

I actually have a hard time with this myself because it’s often hard to understand that sometimes your partner doesn’t need a solution from you; they may just need you to listen or leave them alone to feel their feelings.

This is a common problem for people with anxious attachment styles because they’re hypersensitive to their partner’s emotions and moods.

They can sense something is off from their partner’s subtle body language cues, and they can’t help but ask what’s wrong. It’s okay to ask your avoidant ex/partner what’s wrong, but don’t push them for a response if they don’t feel like sharing.

You just have to accept that you cannot solve every problem possible, so you need to let your partner feel what they want to feel and be comfortable that giving them space is the right decision. This will put you so much further ahead of the version you were at the beginning of your relationship.

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Your Own Flaws and Mistakes

Humans are inherently self-interested to some extent and look out for themselves.

Last year I did a whole YouTube video about altruism vs. selfishness and how many people think there is no truly altruistic act.

Avoidant people have these selfish tendencies, too, so they get a tunnel vision of self-interest where they do what they think is best for them.

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The best way to snap them out of this self-centered tunnel vision is by simply pointing out to them that you’re not perfect either.

If you have an anxious attachment style, you probably have a hard time doing this because you’re in a problem-solving mode, but sometimes self-deprecation can go a long way to allow your avoidant partner to relax.

This point relates back to tactical empathy because it takes understanding your ex’s worldview to the next level by sharing personal stories of when you experienced the same situation and reacted the same way as they did. You don’t need to share how you overcame and fixed the situation; just be self-deprecating, so your avoidant ex knows it’s normal to not always have the right answer.


Avoidant exes have discomfort with deep emotional connections, so they usually shut down when having conversations.

They also don’t allow themselves to miss their ex until they believe their ex has moved on. These factors make it hard to talk to them, but here are my top 4 tips for doing so:

  • Become Securely Attached and Determine If You Still Want Them Back
  • Learn Tactical Empathy
  • Let Them Feel What They Want to Feel
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Your Own Flaws and Mistakes

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25 thoughts on “How To Communicate With An Avoidant Ex”

  1. Tan

    June 23, 2024 at 10:45 pm

    My ex and I were together for 2 years when one saturday he told me he was moving back to his home town in another part of the country for his mental health. I didn’t see it coming, everything was fine to the point that he was still making plans for us for the future. He said he had decided it would be bad for me if I went with him. He told me we could try long distance but that I could find someone better, he said I could visit him but listed why it would be bad for me: he’d be in the middle of nowhere for work, I wouldn’t have a vehicle, what if I missed the bus that only went to the town once a day. I was confused and asked him if he wanted to break up. He said no. He was completely emotionless and seemed like it was so easy to be leaving me. I sent a few too many messages saying I didn’t understand why he didn’t include me in the decision, why it was so easy to leave me, did he not love me anymore and asking him to please not break up with me. He just said I was overthinking and annoying him. The day when he left he told me he loved me but didn’t want to be with me because I’d just overthink and I was too needy and too much drama. He left and unfollowed/unfriended me from everything and I haven’t heard from him since. That was a month ago and I don’t think he’d want to hear from me but am not sure what to do because I thought he was the one for me

  2. Ira Teller

    February 26, 2024 at 3:26 pm

    My former partner-ex has always been a kind and wonderful person. After four years does she need to hear I’ve moved on? Is it really that important? Now I just want to have a calm conversation with her. If she hears from others I’ve moved on; do you believe she could reach out to me?

    1. Coach Shaunna

      March 10, 2024 at 11:28 pm

      Hi Ira, if you have moved on and have no intention of getting her back then you do NOT need to tell her that you have moved on. You can live your life happily moving on and leave her to move on with her life. There is no reason for this conversation to happen between you both. If others tell her that you have moved on, so be it. If she reaches out to you about this, it is then up to you if you want to have that conversation, however, you need to consider what benefits come from having that conversation if you are truly happy with your new partner.

  3. Syd

    April 20, 2023 at 6:28 am

    My avoidant ex and I were together 5 years. Everything I’m reading has given me so much clarity about how he thinks. He broke up with me a little over a week ago and I have not spoken to him since last Saturday. He is already rebounding with his coworker. Is it best to contact him before the 45 days like around the 30 day mark? Or at that 45 day mark and just keep the text casual and ask how he’s doing?
    Thank you!

    1. Coach Shaunna Nicol

      May 4, 2023 at 4:29 pm

      Hey Syd, I would say that if he has a rebound relationship going then you need to complete the 45 day NC rule

  4. Izzy

    October 5, 2022 at 9:10 am

    Who should contact first after NC with an avoidant ex?

    1. Coach Shaunna Nicol

      October 10, 2022 at 10:48 am

      You still reach out first, but you need to follow a 45 day NC

  5. Summer

    August 9, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    Hi my avoidant ex broke up me 7 months ago we had a short term relationship long distance which was very passionate and intense I’m an anxious attachment style he broke up with me..I did the no contact it worked out..I tried to focus on my life and own personal development..he reached out to me after 7 months I still have feelings for him .. we’ve been taking things’s been 22 days we’ve been talking to eachother..I try to maintain space in the relationship I don’t want to loose myself completely to him ..Im afraid of loosing him as well.. we’ve been talking like friends we had a few intense moment..I try my best to control my feeling and emotions with him can I continue this relationship

    1. Coach Shaunna Nicol

      August 15, 2022 at 8:06 pm

      Hey Summer, so you need to do some self work where you can work to achieve a more secure attachment style. However, this does not change how your ex deals with relationships / emotions. When you feel that your emotions are getting the best of you, distract yourself or spend time with your friends/ family. You need to be sure that you do not go too fast this time around.

  6. Julia

    July 24, 2022 at 2:30 pm

    Hi Shaunna Nicol,
    Thanks for responding. I had a hunch to reach out at the 3rd week because I think I was taking into consideration that at the time of break up he sounded genuine about keeping in touch and that he said he was sad about shutting down being out of his control (which led to the break up). Since then I’ve texted about once a week and it is the same pattern, he responds seemingly excited, shares, asks how I am but leaves it there. I read the articles but can’t tell if he is still dealing with stuff or just not interested.

  7. Julia

    June 25, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    My FA leaning anxious ex had wanted to stay in touch, at 3rd week of NC I reached out and he responded right away, clearly said he “definitely” wants to keep contact. It felt like the times we had just started texting before our first date, respectful and curious to hear about how things go in my life. How frequently am I supposed to text? I’m SA.

    1. Coach Shaunna Nicol

      July 18, 2022 at 8:44 pm

      Hey Julia, I’m just wondering why you reached out your third week of NC? Your texting method is going to depend on how you are able to build rapport with your ex but be sure that you are using the articles that Chris has provided about tide theory

  8. Wesley

    June 7, 2022 at 6:19 pm

    I have been with an avoidant ex for 5 years we fought cried laughed and loved. We ended up having a child. It has since been 5 months since the break up. We talk constantly. Even about our relationship and I tell her I want to build something new free of our hardships from the past. She says me too I’m just content on being alone right now. Says we have the rest of our lives to figure us out. Even tried to get me into a dating app. I said no! I have been doing therapy new hobbies …etc to keep my mind interested. I find we go into these yo yo bouts where she is super fun and flirty then next min the min something comes up she doesn’t like she is super distant and cold. How can I build a new attraction for her. Also going on a trip for a week with our son. Any help would be greatly appreciated

  9. A

    March 15, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    I was with my avoidant ex for 2 years, we lived together and actively talked about the future. We had mutually talked about engagement, and I was taking the active steps towards that end goal (I thought we were on the same page about it). I accidentally told him about these steps I was taking, and he broke up with me a week later – very out of the blue. He told me we were “doomed” and he thought I couldn’t emotionally support him. He is now with another woman and is actively avoiding me (ie – I sent him a screenshot of a document I received with no text with the message I sent, and I heard nothing back). We had a big conversation after the breakup, but I haven’t been pursuing him/speaking to him since then. Should I reach out, or will that be construed as smothering? Thank you!

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      April 10, 2022 at 7:59 pm

      Hi A, so he is with someone else so you need to complete a 45 day NC from when you found this information out or when you last reached out. You need 45 days to allow their new relationship some time to pass their honeymoon phase

  10. Lucy

    December 23, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    I have an avoidant partner of 7 years who didn’t break up with me- he just left 6 weeks ago. I’ve kept contact minimal (some is work related) but he’s not reached out to me at all. The whole time we were together he was very affectionate I thought we had a good connection. I don’t see him through work at the moment and it feels like he’s never going to contact me again. I have been working on myself and plan to continue no contact for longer , any thoughts? I feel like he’s forgotten me and moved out whilst I’m struggling.

  11. Natalie

    November 8, 2021 at 6:34 am

    Since I didn’t read this article before, I didn’t know that you should keep avoidant styles for 45 days. We never were in official relationship with a man, we dated only for 2 months, but we liked each other a lot. We both avoidant styles, he has an anxious side too. So it made things go not perfect as we both wanted. I kept him NC for 30 days instead of 45 days. Is it okay in this situation?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      November 17, 2021 at 10:23 pm

      Hey Natalie, if you have already started reaching out and things are going well then I would keep up your momentum.

  12. Mave

    October 11, 2021 at 4:52 am

    I’m in an avoidant-anxious situationship, we broke off like 5 times and this time around, he came back after being in NC for 30days. Idk if it’s worth pursuing anymore even though I know about all these – it’s so tiring, I just want to focus on myself at the same time I also wanna feel loved(?) what do I do?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      October 11, 2021 at 8:13 pm

      Hey Mave, it’s only you who can decide this I am so sorry! If you feel that there is no future or progress possible then maybe consider what is best for YOU.

  13. Suzanna

    September 28, 2021 at 5:37 am

    Hi, my avoidant ex broke up with me about 7 weeks ago. I immediately went into NC and then when it was over started the text phase. Unfortunately I was dealing with some really difficult issues with my family at the time and I got really emotional and asked him if he missed me and wanted to meet. He replied and said he didn’t want to hurt me, implying that he hasn’t changed his mind. I can see that I tried to jump the value chain. We chatted about a week ago and I kept it light but I don’t know what to do now. As he’s very avoidant I feel like I’ve scared him away and shown that I’m still anxious. What do I do? Go back into another NC? Please help!

  14. Joan

    September 24, 2021 at 7:39 am

    I have an avoidant ex boyfriend. He broke up with me even tho it seemed like he didn’t want to and said we should be friends for now but I told him we can’t be friends. I left him alone but every week he would contact me and when I respond he will go cold again. He kept doing it for about 4 weeks. He would even call me love and say he misses me but he would go cold again. I decided to go no contact on him. He called and texted but I didn’t respond and since then he hasn’t reach out out again and it’s been over 30 days already. Now I know about avoidant and I have a clearer understanding on how we can work but I’m wondering why he hasn’t reached out. Has he forgotten about me ?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      October 7, 2021 at 8:39 pm

      Hi Joan, no he wouldn’t have forgotten about you in such a short amount of time. It is important if you want to follow this program that you start your reaching out text before you reach the 45 day NC

  15. Maria

    September 21, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    My ex broke up with me a month ago, we were still in touch until one day he said he wanted to try again. We were in the “talking” stage until yesterday he told me he hasn’t healed, and even though he broke up with me he said that he is in pain and he cannot give me a relationship without healing first. But for now he doesn’t see anything with me. This hurts me because after being left when he broke up with me, it hurts that he is leaving again. I want him back, is the no contact going to work?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      September 23, 2021 at 4:28 pm

      Hi Maria, yes you need to follow the NC and stick with it, you need to allow him some space from you and you from him. Allowing that time apart and then going to the texting phase after at least 45 days.