Today we’re going to be covering one of my favorite topics which is why exes seem to come back when you least expect it. Now, I’ve written about this phenomenon in the past but with this article I thought I’d really dive into the psychology of what’s going on here.
In my opinion, exes tend to come back when you least expect it for three core reasons,
- They Have An Avoidant Attachment Style
- You’ve Re-prioritized Them On Your Pedestal
- You’ve Begun Adopting More Secure Behaviors
Let’s dive in.
Reason #1: They Have An Avoidant Attachment Style
So, one of the first things that popped into my mind when faced with the question on why exes always seem to come back when you least expect it has to do with the dynamics of an avoidant attachment style.
Our research has indicated that over 70% of our clients exes have this type of an attachment style,
What is an avoidant attachment style?
Well, our very own Coach Tyler defined it as,
A person that does not like a lot of emotional intimacy or vulnerability within a relationship. They typically revert a conversation back to someone else to talk about themselves to avoid the spotlight. Often that’s how you’ll figure out if they’re avoidant or not. Ultimately they are afraid of having a deeper emotional connection and it all can stem from their experience in childhood. They’ve learned that any time they are vulnerable, it can be used against them and therefore they don’t rely on other people.
The big thing to remember about avoidants is that they value independence and self sufficiency above all. Of course, we also know from research that most of our clients fall into the anxious attachment category which is at the other end of the spectrum from an avoidant. When these two get together it’s literally like fire and ice meeting. At first the effect that they create is profound but as the anxious persons fire begins to erupt the avoidants ice begins to melt and the relationship gets ruined.
So, how is it that an avoidant attachment style has anything to do with an ex coming back when you least expect it?
Well, one of the things our research has yielded is something I essentially talk about in this video,
I like to call it the nostalgia factor.
So, when queried about “when an avoidant will miss an ex” I learned that weirdly an avoidant usually only misses an ex way after the fact and if you understand their psychology this makes complete sense.
The avoidant is almost always looking for a relationship that they can’t have. It’s why our concept of an ungettable girl is so profound. They really want a relationship in which they can daydream about but not actually have to be vulnerable in.
So, usually they begin to have nostalgia about “the good times” with you when you have begun to move on in two ways,
- You have moved on to someone else
- You haven’t talked to them in months
Notice how I did not include,
- Tried to win them back
- Blow up their phone trying to get in touch
Really for the avoidant desire is created through space. Without it they aren’t going to “miss you.”
So, let’s circle back to the original question. One of the reasons I think that exes seem to come back when you least expect it is because you’re authentically going through the process of moving on which allows your ex to have that nostalgia and THAT’S WHEN THEY REACH OUT.
Of course, a few more important things usually unfold.
Reason #2: You’ve Reprioritized Them On Your Pedestal
Perhaps the greatest mistake I see many of my clients make has to do with time management more than anything.
Time is without a doubt our most precious resource. Yet, how many people waste it every day on things that aren’t going to give their lives meaning.
A lot, especially after a breakup.
Usually when a client comes into our orbit their time breakdown looks something like this,
- 70% of time focused on relationships
- 15% of time focused on health
- 15% of time focused on wealth
Within that “relationships” portion of the chart. The breakdown looks something like this,
- 65% focus on ex
- 13% focus on family
- 10% focus on friends
- 5% focus on pets
- 7% focus on work colleagues
Do you see how much time is cannibalized by an ex?
Thinking about them.
Obsessing about what they’re doing.
The goal I set for every one of my clients isn’t to forget about their ex but to lower their overall time management so they aren’t so relationship focused. Notice how I structure time management in with the holy trinity concept.
These are the things that matter after a breakup. Finding a time management balance so that your ex isn’t your first priority anymore. Something else is. In an ideal world your balance would look something like this,
- Wealth 45%
- Relationships 35%
- Health 20%
A couple of things to note here. Notice how “relationships” still takes a huge portion of the pie chart. This is because realistically you can’t spend all of your time working out, eating healthy and going to therapy sessions.
But still, we’ve dropped our time focus in relationships down to 35% from 70%. That’s a huge drop.
Taking its place is the “wealth” category but there’s something very specific I want you to do within this category. I want you to find your magnum opus.
Basically that thing in your life that gives you meaning and I want you to begin taking steps towards making money with it. It doesn’t have to be a lot but what it will do is kick your ex off the top pedestal. Instead, you’ll be spending your time towards a pursuit which gives you meaning and you can potentially earn some cash.
Now, we already know that avoidants are drawn towards self sufficiency so what we often see happens is when they sense they are no longer your top priority in life they begin to get interested in you again.
The irony is literally everything I wrote above is about displaying secure behaviors.
Which leads us to our final reason.
Reason #3: You’ve Begun Adopting More Secure Behaviors
First things first, what is a secure attachment style?
You are considered to have a secure attachment style if you are comfortable with intimacy; you’re not worried about rejection; and you are confident that your significant other wants to be in the relationship.
People with secure attachments will handle the breakup in a healthy way but there is usually one theme behind their approach.
Everything they do is meant to outgrow their ex so they aren’t reliant on the relationship anymore. The way I’ve always looked at secure attachments is that they are everything an avoidant and anxious attachment style would want.
For the avoidant they aren’t afraid to give them space when they sense them pulling away. The anxious on the other hand would be terrified of doing this because they would feel like if they gave the avoidant space they would leave forever.
For the anxious they aren’t afraid to give them emotional support during the moments where they feel paranoia.
Yet, the securely attached person isn’t afraid to set boundaries. They aren’t the type of person that’s going to allow an anxious person get away with complete paranoia. They aren’t the type of person that’s going to always give an avoidant space. Instead, they’ll show them how to be vulnerable.
In a way the best description of a secure attachment is that they are the north star for all the other attachment styles. A constant presence showing them how relationships are supposed to be.
This is something we’ve actually observed with our success stories. I often use the descriptor of gravity.
Like how all the planets revolve around the sun.
Forgive my crude handwriting. Notice how once the insecure attachment styles enters a secure attachments orbit the secure attachment style begins to pull that attachment style in.
What happens then?
Well, weirdly enough the insecure attachment style learns how to become more secure. It’s not an overnight process. In fact, it can sometimes take years but it happens. Of course, it’s a doubled edged sword at the same time.
Sometimes if a securely attached person enters the orbit of an insecure person that insecure person can impose their will and pull the securely attached person into them.
So, what ultimately ends up happening is that when the two opposing attachment styles get together this battle unfolds and there can only be one winner.
Of course, most of the time when our clients come to us they aren’t “secure.” They’re anxious and so in an odd way they have this interesting advantage. As they begin to exhibit more secure attachment behaviors it is such a jarring difference for their exes that their exes literally look at them like a new person. So, sometimes the contrast in attachment behaviors is enough to win the “attachment battle.”