By Chris Seiter

Published on March 9th, 2022

Today we’re going to talk about exactly why your ex is running away from you.

There’s a lot of reasons for why an ex would run away from you after a breakup. Usually we see this type of behavior from exes because of seeing you triggers their avoidant side.

That’s really what I’m going to focus the rest of this article on. You can expect to learn about

  • The Avoidant Nature Of Exes
  • Exactly What Goes Through Their Mind When They See You And Run Away
  • The Trigger Points Of An Avoidant
  • Re-living trauma

Let’s begin!

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The Avoidant Nature Of Exes

I’ve spent the past few months really diving into avoidant attachment styles so it’s definitely top of mind.

In my opinion if you are encountering an ex who is running away from you it’s probably due to their avoidant side being triggered.

So, what exactly does that mean?

Well generally speaking there are four core attachment styles we see in relationships.

  1. Secure
  2. Anxious
  3. Avoidant
  4. Fearful

If you want an in-depth explanation of what each of those attachment styles look like then I suggest you read this article or watch this video interview I did with Coach Tyler.

Specifically though I’d like to focus on avoidant attachment styles since we’re finding that the vast majority of the clients we are taking on are dealing with exes who have one.

So, you are considered as having an avoidant attachment style if you meet the following criteria,

Value your own independence more than anything else

  • Become uncomfortable with intimacy
  • Often refuses to put “labels” on relationships
  • Won’t share their feelings with their partner
  • Refuses to let their partner close enough so they can’t be hurt.

The really interesting thing about the avoidant attachment style to me personally is that their entire existence is about balancing this paradox.

They want love but they won’t let anyone close enough to give them that love.

So, how does this relate to them running away from you when they run into you?

Believe it or not but simply being around you so soon after the breakup can cause their avoidant side to trigger. The mere act of seeing you can bring them back to that time in the relationship where they became overwhelmed by you (even if that overwhelm is a making of their own design.)

I’ve been garnering a lot of attention lately on YouTube for this video,

In it I make the case that often times many of our clients get caught in the anxious/avoidant self fulfilling cycle.

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Of which there are eight core stages,

  1. They start out wanting someone to love them
  2. They date you and things are great at first
  3. Eventually your need for open communication and intimacy triggers their avoidant side
  4. They begin to consider leaving the relationship
  5. They actually leave the relationship
  6. They are ecstatic that they left the relationship
  7. They begin to feel lonely and need to find a distraction for the loss
  8. They enter victim mentality and wonder why this is always happening to them

Now, the important thing to pay attention to here is that everything starts to go downhill in this cycle right around that third stage.

What happens then?

Basically as you push for the relationship to have more open communication or emotional intimacy this triggers their avoidant side.

You obviously sense something is wrong so what do you do?

Well, by golly… you try to fix things which in turn triggers their avoidant side anymore.

We have literally seen this happen in so many situations in so many different ways that we are extremely confident in saying that when an ex is running from you in any type of scenario it’s because of this phenomenon.

But what’s actually going through their mind when they are running away from you?

Exactly What’s Going Through An Exes Mind When They Are Running Away From You

Truly any number of thoughts can be going through their head but it’s important to understand it’s all triggered by their avoidant side.

But if you want me to get specific, as a dismissive avoidant myself,

Yes, all the attachment style tests show me as a dismissive avoidant…

Anyways, there are typically three things that I think after I’m “triggered.”

  1. No more drama
  2. I’m better by myself anyways
  3. See, I knew I was right about them.

Let’s take a moment to expand.

No More Drama (Sigh of Relief)

Sometimes after we’ve literally run away from you, whether that’s from seeing you in person or just in general this thought can typically run through our heads.


I think it’s connected to a point I’m about to make a little bit later so I don’t want to give too much away here but generally it has to do with our preconceived notion we have about you.

Generally speaking “drama actions” in relationships occur from highly anxious individuals and it just so happens that the anxious and avoidant pairing is the most common we see in our coaching practice.

Sometimes just getting away from the source of the anxious behaviors which we label as drama is enough to warrant salvation.

Also look above at the graphic I created on self fulfilling cycles.

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Do you see that relief portion where they feel good after they leave the relationship.

That’s a definite thought that goes through our head but it’s important to remember that it is fleeting.

I’m Better By Myself Anyways

Avoidant individuals are individualistic by nature. They like doing things themselves.

This actually harkens back to their childhood. Their primary caregivers gave them enough of the basic necessities needed to survive,

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Etc.

But they weren’t great at providing emotional support. As a result, from childhood the avoidant had to learn to self soothe. This is a practice that they carry all the way to adulthood.

So, after a breakup they might literally think,

I’m better by myself anyways.

It’s a way to cope. To soothe themselves so they don’t have to deal with the grief and trauma of a breakup.

Ultimately though in life you need others. A life lived alone is no life at all.

See, I Knew I Was Right About Them

Throughout your time together your ex 100% developed a preconceived notion about you.

If you were overly anxious in the relationship then that’s the notion that gets stuck in their head.

So, running away from you usually means their avoidant side got triggered and they get stuck into this thought loop.

I knew I was right about them. They are always looking to go too fast too soon. Why can’t they just be normal.

And this really reminds me of an article I recently partnered with our very own Coach Anna with.

The Trauma Of Re-Living The Breakup

Yesterday, Coach Anna and I wrote an article, filmed a video and recorded a podcast together on writing a letter to your ex and why we haven’t seen it work for our clients.

Coach Anna brought up a super interesting point,

For adults, especially if there are unresolved past traumas and negative experiences, receiving apologies or accountability letters in the incorrect form and with the incorrect timing has the effect of reliving an emotionally damaging experience

Now, she was talking about writing an apology within a letter but I actually think it extends to “running into an ex.” Albeit on a much smaller scale.

Let’s say you’re walking down the street minding your own business post breakup and you suddenly run into your ex.

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You wave, not wanting to seem too awkward but they do one of two things.

Walk by you like you don’t even exist. Gracefully try to avoid you.


Well, one theory is that seeing you can give them some form of PTSD. I think this is exceptionally more likely to happen if you aren’t very far from the breakup.

Generally speaking the old adage of time healing all wounds rings true to a certain extent but if your ex just broke up with you a few days ago and then suddenly sees you and runs away it’s more likely that their fight or flight response gets triggered and they’re happy to high tail it out of there.

Which leads me to my final point.

The Avoidant Trigger System

My hypothesis throughout this entire article has posited the following formula,

Your ex runs away from you = Their avoidant side getting triggered.

In other words, by studying how an avoidant operates it’ll give you greater insight into understanding why they’re pulling away from you because at its core an avoidant running away is just a form of pulling away.

And therein lies my fascination with what triggers them. Lately I’ve been playing with this idea of avoidant exes having a trigger system.

Trigger System: Different circumstances that trigger an exes avoidant side.

We can apply this trigger system to two distinct points of relationships.

  1. During Relationships
  2. After Relationships

Let’s tackle the “during phase.”

During Relationship Trigger System

We all like to assume that exes are black and white but the reality is that many operate in that grey area.

For instance, I noticed when studying breakups that often times each ex who was classified as an avoidant got triggered at different points during the relationship.

It’s almost like each avoidant has a certain threshold that they can withstand but pass that threshold and that’s when things start to go downhill.

But the most interesting part is that the triggers almost always have to do with taking a relationship to a perceived “next level” and usually that correlates with a loss of independence.

Here are the triggers I’ve identified during relationships,

  • 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

Of course, the trigger system can also apply to the after relationship phase.

After The Relationship Trigger System

This is where it comes into the realm of what we’re talking about in this article.

Yet where it differs from its counterpart has more to do with a perceived threat of another relationship forming as opposed to a direct assault on their independence.

Basically it’s the transition points as you move up the value ladder,

  • Getting back in touch after no contact
  • Keeping a conversation going too long
  • Transitioning from texting to phone calls
  • Transitioning to the dating phase
  • Becoming too emotionally intimate on dates
  • Actually asking to be in a relationship again

Now, it’s important to realize that just because an ex is running away at these tipping points doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a chance of having a healthy and happy relationship with them again.

Usually it indicates to me that you’re going too fast too soon.

Like all things, it’s best to let things unfold organically.

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2 thoughts on “Why Is My Ex Running Away From Me?”

  1. Mark

    April 21, 2023 at 1:42 am

    Thank you for publishing this, it shed lights on many underlying troubles I’ve encountered as of late. <3

  2. Jenny

    March 19, 2022 at 2:21 am

    Do avoidant guys tend to be avoidant triggered more by a person they still care for? My ex is an avoidant but has been soo rude and shut me out for a year. I struggled to give space as I’m the opposite in not good with unresolved unnecessary tension. But he turned mean, cold / walls up and cannot even handle seeing me in public… Yet recently I heard that he told someone that he still cares about me / for me.
    This makes no sense to me.