By Chris Seiter

Published on February 8th, 2022

Today we’re going to talk about why guys go cold after a breakup.

Essentially I’m going to argue that there are four main reasons for why guys appear to go cold after a breakup and it’s connected to their avoidant nature more than anything else. They don’t want to experience emotional overwhelm so they ‘ve found ways to cope which you are taking as them being cold.

What are the “core four?”

  1. Your ex is most likely an avoidant
  2. They become overwhelmed by your perceived needs
  3. You get tricked by their nostalgic reverie stage
  4. They have this idea that you’re always available

Let’s begin by diving into each of these.

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Reason #1: Your Ex Boyfriend Is Most Likely An Avoidant

I’ve been on an avoidant craze lately as you can see here, here and here.

So, what exactly is an avoidant?

Avoidants are very independent and self-sufficient. They’ve learned to rely on themselves and not on others. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to have relationships. It’s just that the dismissive characteristics get in the way some time of fully reaching their full potential.

But do I even know what I’m talking about?

Well, who better to teach you about avoidants than an avoidant themselves?

Last week I took this handy little quiz thinking I had a secure attachment style… Nope, avoidant.

Here’s the big thing you need to learn about avoidants. Everything usually stems from a “core wound” and for an avoidant that core wound is a loss of self to the relationship. They value independence more than anything else so that makes relationships extremely challenging especially if their partner is overly dependent on them.

Yet our research consistently finds that our clients exes end up being avoidant.

To make matters even worse many of our clients end up having anxious attachment styles. When you understand this then their cold behavior makes a lot more sense. If you exhibit anxious behaviors after the breakup it just causes an avoidant to retreat further away.

Of course, you perceive this as “coldness” but they perceive it as “safe.”

Once again we return to that age old adage,

“When they pull back, you pull back.”

Let’s dig deeper on why your ex is acting so coldly towards you after a breakup.

Reason #2: They Become Overwhelmed By Your Perceived Needs

Sticking with this theme that your ex is probably an avoidant we can dig deeper into their psyche by paying attention to the psychology of an avoidant.

According to Free to Attach,

Avoidants get a bad rap for breakups, but in their situation it makes complete sense. The fear of being stifled by someone is very valid – if you’re not able to connect strongly with what your needs are and/or express them, or effectively respond to and limit your guilt over someone else’s, then you are in constant danger of being overwhelmed by another’s needs (particularly if a partner can be forthright expressing their own), and a situation can quickly become draining, unpleasant or threatening.

One thing we know about avoidants is that immediately after a breakup they have this “sigh of relief.”

Looking back at my own breakups throughout my life this was definitely the case. For the first time in a long time it really felt like I didn’t need to stress anymore. Why? Well, I felt like I put so much effort into caring about the relationship when I was scared to do just that and this created stress within the relationship that usually manifested itself in me withdrawing or getting into fights.

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When I broke up with my ex I literally felt like, “Ok, now I can breathe.”

Let’s get off of me and focus on your behavior a bit. Many of you searching Google for, “Why is my ex acting so cold towards me” aren’t potentially taking into account your own actions post breakup.

Our average client will do the following,

  • Beg for their exes back
  • Break a no contact rule
  • Become a text GNAT (go nuts at texting)
  • Get into fights with an ex
  • Give exes ultimatums
  • The list can go on and on

What we’ve found though is that this behavior creates this perceived neediness in their eyes which they feel like they don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with.

Reason #3: You Get Tricked By Their Nostalgic Reverie

I always cite this video but that’s because it’s so darn important,

There will always be a certain segment of people who are flabbergasted by their exes actions post breakup.

It seemed like he wanted to rekindle things but now he’s fallen off the face of the earth. What the heck happened? 

What ended up happening is that your ex went through the nostalgic reverie period. Avoidant exes like to have what we call “the phantom ex” syndrome. They love daydreaming about the good old days and usually that only happens when they feel like enough time has gone by post breakup.

So they’ll get back in touch with you. Things will seem great but the second you start to bring “commitment” or “constraints” into the picture they clam up and fall away.

Reason #4: They Have This Idea That You’re Always Available

This is perhaps the most unique reason for an ex going cold after a breakup.

Let’s first start with a primer from Free to Attach again,

Yet even when they end things with someone, in their head they typically still retain the illusion of attachment permanence – that their ex-partner may still be available to them at some level, which is what for them makes it safe to do so.

It’s entirely possible that your ex thinks they can get you at any time and this creates a leverage issue. After all, we tend to take for granted those things that are easy to come by and by disrespect in this case I literally mean your ex will,

  • Ignore you
  • Ghost you
  • Be short with you
  • Be non committal in responses

They do all of this because in the back of their mind they think they can get you whenever they want. It usually isn’t until they see you’ve moved on to someone else that they begin to get that “reverie” and want to contact you all of a sudden. In fact, that’s a phenomenon we’ve see as far back as when I started my podcast.

Natalie, during my third episode, found that it was only years after she had moved on from her ex and made all these improvements in her life that her ex suddenly started talking to her again.

And that’s where this next insight comes in. At one point I used to think that what was happening here was that Natalie was playing hard to get and that’s why her ex came back but with experience and more knowledge it’s far more complicated than that.

In fact, I even crafted a game plan for her during that episode which you can see below,

A huge part of this game plan is about “playing hard to get” but I don’t think that’s why Natalie’s ex really came back.

Here’s what I think happened.

Her ex was an avoidant and enough time went by for him to feel comfortable without her. Once that occurred he started “remembering the good times” so to speak. Add in the fact that Natalie had made all these improvements to her life (including dating other people) and her ex has to challenge these preconceived notions of her being available all the time.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Your Ex Boyfriend Back?

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A big part of what we try to do on this website and in our coaching practice is helping you find something that you care about more than your ex for this very reason. I call this my magnum opus concept,

Your life’s work isn’t about getting an ex back or getting over a breakup. It’s so much greater than that. Perhaps the greatest irony is that by finding something you care about more than your ex you become more attractive to other men AND your ex simultaneously.

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