Healing after a breakup with a fearful-avoidant ex can be especially trying and confusing. There’s a reason why it feels so difficult and luckily there’s also a way to start the healing process.
Let’s discuss how to heal and move on from a relationship with a fearful-avoidant ex.
Close the door on the relationship
The most essential step to move on from your partner is to close the door on the relationship. In an Anxious-Avoidant dynamic there is this push-pull, back and forth, hot-cold, often on and off type relationship.
Sometimes these relationships can span for years and they can be emotionally draining and taxing. In order to heal from this relationship, you will have to stop the cycle. And since likely if you’re the AP and your ex is the FA then you will be the one who needs to interrupt that cycle.
Yes, there is the possibility that your fearful-avoidant ex might come back and maybe that’s something that you are secretly hoping for. By now, hoping and wishing is probably something you’re pretty used to. The romantic reunion, only to be burst by the volatile ending or surprise deactivation that blindsides you.
But can you continue to live the rest of your life with the hope that they will come back or take you back? Because it’s not exactly fair to you that your relationship is dependent on whether someone else chooses you or not.
Consider this: Does your relationship depend on whether your avoidant ex chooses you or not? And is that the kind of relationship that you want to have moving forward?
Remember you are the one that is in control of your life and who comes into it.
Why you’re not healing from fearful-avoidant ex
Now, I want you to imagine that you break your arm. If you want your arm to heal you would need to wear a cast and leave it on. You wouldn’t rip the cast off every few days to see if your arm is healed. You wouldn’t test it out by playing volleyball or going rock climbing.
No, you would wait, even if it was challenging, until it was fully mended. If you truly want your broken heart to heal you will need to do the same; protect your heart and continue to protect it until it has fully mended.
Now, I understand that closing the door to a relationship might not happen automatically, and it might not feel like waving a magic wand. It might be something that you have to remind yourself from moment to moment and a day to day basis.
That said, I promise that if you take this step into this uncertain territory it will open you up to something that isn’t possible until this door is closed.
There’s the saying “every time a door shuts, another one opens”. In this case, it doesn’t mean you jump into a new relationship or a new person comes waltzing into your life.
But a different kind of opportunity becomes available. One where you get to process the relationship; the emotions that you have experienced, and the memories that crop up after the fact that need to be integrated. It’s difficult to do this if you’re still only half-way out the door.
Unpack the confusion
The next step in the healing process is to unpack the confusion that a hot and cold relationship and a fearful partner can leave you with.
One minute they’re hot expressing their undying love to you. The next minute, they’re telling you all the things that they don’t like about you and about the relationship or threatening to leave or speaking in ultimatum terms.
Go through this a few times and questions start to float through your mind. Had this person ever really loved me? Did they care about me at all? Or were they just using me for their comfort or passing the time?
These questions can be really painful to ask yourself. Ultimately they take away from you connecting to your own experience and your own truth about the connection.
This can be incredibly confusing to deal with when you’re navigating a breakup where typically all the memories from the past are getting brought up to the surface and you’re trying to seek answers, clarity, and truth.
No one can tell you “the truth”
Here’s the reality. No one can tell you the truth, not even your ex. The truth is how you felt in the relationship; the love you felt, or the lack of love. The only thing that you can ultimately count on is your experience of the connection.
No one can tell you if something that you had was not real, that is their experience and not yours, and it can actually rob you of your experience of life and of a relationship that was meaningful to you.
Rely on your own experience
I went through a breakup years ago with an avoidant partner and I loved him dearly and he could not truly commit to me at the time. And so I had to leave the relationship.
I had a friend at the time who was in my ear all of the time saying how this person didn’t really care about me at all. I didn’t want to believe them at the time, but after that relationship ended, I started to kind of buy that story that he never really loved me at all.
Years later, my avoidant ex and I were able to reconnect and talk about the relationship and about what happened. He expressed to me that he really did love me, but he didn’t have the emotional bandwidth for me at the time, because he was still grieving and healing from a previous relationship that was incredibly toxic.
It was really nice and kind of a relief to hear that because it made me feel like I wasn’t crazy about the way that had I felt for him, and felt about what we shared.
I think it’s important to rely on your own experience of the relationship because that’s the only way that you’re going to learn from it and to heal from it. Even if the relationship is over and you are now moving on, when you can break through the confusion and connect to your experience of the relationship, it will give you a lot of clarity and a lot of freedom. And no one can take that away from you!
Projecting keeps you from feeling
One of the things that anxious preoccupied partners typically struggle with the most over other attachment styles during a breakup is their projections. Instead of feeling their own feelings, they project onto their ex. They wonder what their ex is feeling.
They wonder what their ex is doing. They wonder what their ex is thinking. They wonder what they could have done differently to prevent this situation from happening.
This is a response to a childhood pattern. If you’re an anxious preoccupied partner, then typically as a child, you had to do in order to get your needs met. You didn’t just get your needs met. You had to take some kind of action, get the attention of your parent or your caretaker over time. This turns into a survival strategy that anxious preoccupied partners typically carry into adulthood.
As adults, these partners typically worry about others, instead of worrying about themselves.
Feel your feelings
In order to heal as an anxious preoccupied, you will have to connect with your own feelings. Common emotions that want to surface during a breakup are very uncomfortable. Emotions such as; betrayal, anger, resentment, sadness, and loss.
These are all things that can be challenging to feel for an anxious preoccupied partner, who is typically disconnected from their own experience and worried about what someone else’s doing, thinking, or feeling.
That said, connecting with your own experience and connecting with your own feelings is the path to healing. This will ultimately put you in the driver’s seat of your life and your relationship instead of being at the effect of your fearful-avoidant ex.
You are worth more
Finally, I want to remind you that you are worth more. Maybe you have friends in your life that are telling you this very same thing. Maybe they’ve been telling you this all along. Ideally, they have been gentle with you about your relationship.
If they felt that your partner was not a good fit for you, you want to listen to the voices of reason right now, you want to let in the support, let in the voices that tell you that you are worth more than this.
Know that you’re worthy of love and of a partner who will be there consistently.
P.S. If you’d like some deeper support to help you move through your grief, to help you arrive at clarity about your situation, and to support you and reconnecting with your experience, then one-on-one coaching may be a great fit for you. You can sign up on my services page by clicking here.
I’m going through a terribly difficult time and was wondering if we could chat privately regarding coaching.
Hi Valerie, thanks for commenting. I emailed you about your coaching inquiry.
Don’t all relationships depend on the other party choosing to continue forward with you?
Aren’t all relationships contingent upon ones partner choosing them? Am I missing something?
hello Katya. I wonder if I could talk to you regarding a private therapy?
Hey Nadia, sure! You can email me at [email protected] or book a session here https://www.katyamorozova.me/services-2/
If after an FA has moved on, would they be open to a conversation to get closure/end on a positive note? My FA ex was so volatile at the end that he was mean and hurtful and accused me of being disrespectful (which I wasn’t, but I was very honest about my boundaries and frustrations). Part of me would like to at least leave things on a better note. Mainly, I just hate disharmony. I believe he’s seeing someone new and I’m fine with that, so I wonder if this would be an OK to try and get closure or do I just need to let it be and move on without the more peaceful ending I would have liked. It was 4 months ago that it officially ended, and was an 8 month relationship if that’s helpful to know.
If after an FA has moved on, would they be open to a conversation to get closure/end on a positive note? My FA ex was so volatile at the end that he was mean and hurtful and accused me of being disrespectful (which I wasn’t, but I was very honest about my boundaries and frustrations). Part of me would like to at least leave things on a better note. Mainly, I just hate disharmony. I believe he’s seeing someone new and I’m fine with that, so I wonder if this would be an OK to try and get closure or do I just need to let it be and move on without the more peaceful ending I would have liked.
Just write him off. He is so self absorbed that he could care less about your needs/feelings. You know in your heart that he never really did cuz he is so afraid of intimacy and closeness. You wanted to move closer to him and that terrified him. He wants someone new who does not threaten him at least for now. Forget about him and go on with your life. I know how you feel only too well. I’m sorry.