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Relationships

What Happens when you Stop Chasing an Avoidant?


“They don’t want to be chased. They want to be loved. Above that, they want to be understood.”

Avoidants are often misunderstood as being selfish, conceited, and uncaring. Quite frankly, their behavioral pattern doesn’t leave much space to contradict otherwise. The unadjustable arrogance and distant narcissism make it difficult for partners to love them. 

As extreme and dismissive as their exterior may look like— deep down, they want everything a normal person desires from relationships. At the base level, they are only humans, longing for love, embracement, care, intimacy, and emotional acceptance. 

Unfortunately, avoidants can rarely accept this regular human intimacy because they have never been taught love as a child. They are asked to live life alone with no compassion, endearment, emotional gravity, or intimacy. Psychologists refer to this childhood environment as an ’emotional desert.’

So, it’s inevitable for avoidants to develop a defense mechanism to protect themselves and survive the emotional desert. This defense mechanism may come with an exterior image of conceit, inflated self-esteem, superiority complex, aloofness, dismissive personality, selfishness, and arrogance. 

If you do try to uncover that defensive exterior, you will see a child afraid of losing you, 

  • Afraid of losing your love, 
  • Afraid of trying to love, 
  • Afraid of getting close. 
  • Afraid of experiencing the same ’emotional desert’ they have endured all their childhood. 

So, they are more at a loss when you stop chasing them. They are miserable, sad, and broken. The worst part is that some avoidants may never differentiate their own emotions. 

They think ‘being aloof’ is the only way they can be safe and away from the emotional desert. 

“Their safe space is actually having personal space all the time.” 

It’s difficult to love an avoidant, and it’s exhausting to empathize with them all the time while being at the losing end every time. I know, I understand. However, being in a healthy relationship with an avoidant is also very much possible. 

In this article, we’ll gradually learn just how to bring that to reality. 

Of course, you will have to let go of all the prejudice you hold against avoidants to truly love them and to have them reciprocate it! 

This article will cover the following dynamics: 

  1. Understanding an avoidant partner.
  2. What happens when you stop chasing an avoidant— the seven-stage cycle.
  3. Do avoidants miss you?
  4. Do dismissive avoidants feel guilty?
  5. Do avoidants miss you?
  6. Signs an avoidant ex misses you

Understanding an avoidant partner

To make your relationship work with an avoidant, you must understand them. Understanding them is the only way you can empathize with them. This empathy will help them grow into a secure person who isn’t scared of commitment. 

With empathy and support, you can convert their dismissive avoidant attachment style into a secure attachment style. I can guarantee you that it’s a feasible possibility. 

Avoidant individuals aren’t avoidant by choice; they become avoidant because of their emotionally degrading childhood. 

  • They learn to live alone in order to survive because how else would they endure their childhood if not this? This behavior makes people call avoidants aloof, dismissive, and selfish. 
  • They never were understood as a child, so they spent the majority of their time with themselves trying to comprehend alone. As a result, adult avoidants often try to escape arguments and conflicts to process the situation internally.

This behavior makes people believe that avoidants only care about themselves. While in reality, they simply escape because that’s their habitual reality. 

  • Avoidants may showcase inflated self-esteem to actually cover and hide their fragile self. This behavior camouflages them as being narcissists and arrogant. In reality, they are most at risk of lower self-esteem. 
  • Emotional unavailability forces avoidants to acquire a higher level of toxic independence. Later in time, this independence makes them a ‘proud loner’ or an individual with an ‘I’m okay without everyone’ kind of personality.

Types of avoidants

Avoidants are either dismissive or fearful. They come across a similar childhood pattern but adapt differing coping/defense mechanisms. 

What is a dismissive avoidant attachment style?

Someone who has adapted toxic independence as a defense mechanism often becomes a dismissive-avoidant. At an early age, avoidants accept solitude to be their only peaceful space. 

  • They would comfort themselves. 
  • They will choose to cry alone or not cry at all in order to not seem weak. 
  • They will hide away from everything that triggers their emotional complex. 
  • Such individuals erase their childhood memories. 
  • They pull away from extreme emotional environments to not register the scenarios in their memories. For instance, they may look away or try to escape someone’s death to not feel the emotions it brings along. 
  • They create a superior self-image and dismiss others to protect their shadowed low self-esteem. 

Dismissive avoidants grow up to become distant, unapologetic, and selfish

  • They might never come back to you if you stopped chasing them. 
  • They choose to have countless flings/one-night stands/casual dating because they think it’s impossible to fall in love and commit to the person. 
  • Dismissive avoidants act disdainfully and annoyedly when their partner expresses personal needs and emotions. They find it difficult to give others a piece of themselves. 

This behavior makes them come out as a fuckboy/fuckgirl. While in reality, the truth remains far away from prejudice. 

Dismissive avoidant traits in a relationship

  • Suffocated or crowded: Avoidants would often feel suffocated or crowded when they think they are at risk of losing their independence. So to protect themselves from being robbed, they take control of the relationship.
  • Being controlled/controlling others: So while avoidants despise being controlled, they don’t mind controlling their partners to protect themselves. They decide the pace of the relationship, have strict self-convenient boundaries, and always have a pre-planned way out of the relationship. 
  • Pre-planned exit from the relationship: Dismissive avoidants can get very calculative when it comes to relationships and protecting themselves from being hurt. They never get attached or express emotions. They quit the relationship without any responsibility towards their partner. 
  • Not emotionally expressive: You’d literally exhaust yourself in the process of understanding an avoidant. They would completely shut you out and never let you in. 
  • They don’t rely on you: They find themselves self-sufficient because they have been taught to be self-sufficient all their life. 

What is a fearful avoidant attachment style?

Fearful avoidants are the opposite of dismissive avoidants, yet so much similar. Unlike dismissive avoidants, fearful avoidants were never successfully able to create a defense mechanism for their emotional desert. 

So, they grew up with toxic/insufficient/inadequate/neglectable parents/caregivers whilst never being able to protect themselves from the harsh world (in this case, their own parents) 

Fearful avoidants long for intimacy but are scared of abandonment. So, they will pull away when anxiety and distrust settle in their head. However, such individuals will also return to you once the fear of abandonment haunts them day and night. 

  • They are insecure inside out and don’t hide their distrust in people, especially partners. 
  • They will follow a routine of pushing their partner away and pulling them back countlessly. They can neither let you go nor accept you completely— constantly struggling in the middle. 

What happens when you stop chasing an avoidant?

“Their emotions are complex and contradicting.” 

Once you stop chasing an avoidant partner, they will breathe a sigh of relief. However, don’t let their exterior emotions fool you. This feeling is only the beginning of a never-ending cycle avoidants go through continuously. 

The third stage of the chase game

Their avoidant behavior starts at the third stage “why are they expecting so much from me?” This stage is what an avoidant’s partner would call “the beginning of the chase game.” 

When avoidants notice intense emotions or needs in a relationship, they start to cut off. There can be ‘n’ number of tipping points (all rooting back to their childhood) for an avoidant that leads them to the third and fourth stages. 

Since they are popularly called ‘commitment-phobes,’ one of the major tipping points for an avoidant can be commitment. 

They would try to ignore you or escape the relationship for a short period of span. Eventually, when avoidants do return— they would often pretend that nothing really happened and would start the relationship without ever discussing their ghosting episode,’ ‘their strange behavior,’ or ‘the distant attitude.’ 

Fourth & fifth stage— breaking up with their partner.

Of course, this ghosting behavior isn’t acceptable or normal. So, an avoidant’s partner would consult them and might as well bombard them with questions and expectations. 

  • “How can you leave without informing me anything?”
  • “Do you not care for me at all?”
  • “I was so worried about you. Are you even aware of my feelings?”
  • “I kept calling day and night, and you didn’t reply back a single time.”
  • “Why aren’t you saying anything? Is silent treatment the only thing you have in store for me?”

Welcome to another tipping point for an avoidant— confrontation and expectations. The more you chase for answers, the farther away an avoidant would deviate from you. 

Avoidants consider this behavior as ‘nagging.’ So, they forget every beauty of the relationship and replace those memories with one single dialogue: ‘This relationship has become a pain in the a**.’

The continuous questioning may convince an avoidant that the relationship isn’t worth the chase, and it’s demanding too much of my core. 

“I should break up.” 

The more you nag/chase, the more they would want to break up. Eventually, they would break up because there was no bridge of understanding in the relationship to hold onto it. 

Sixth stage— A small bliss

Whatever reason may be that you finally pull away, avoidants would be at peace (initially) because they’d be finally free from all your questioning, expectations, and emotions. 

“These emotions suffocate them, the confrontation piles up anxiety inside their core, and questioning leaves them bewildered.”

They would be happy because they finally have no tipping points to be scared of and no responsibility to adhere to. Once you stop chasing an avoidant, they will have endless hours of personal space; something their anxiety desires more than love, more than anything. 

Seventh stage— back to square one.

This bliss after you stop chasing them is short-lived. Once the anxiety subsides and avoidants feel entirely secure in their personal space— other emotions greet them with full force— fear of abandonment and the thought of losing you. 

These thoughts would continue to haunt them until they reach your door and ask for forgiveness. Deep down, fear of abandonment is far greater than the fear of confrontation for any avoidant, whether dismissive or fearful. 

Do you forgive them every time? Do you pity them every time they return? You shouldn’t! Avoidants aren’t asking for your forgiveness; they are escaping their own misery through you. Relieving them from their misery without considering your mental health would never do you good. 

“An apology without change is just manipulation, intentional or not.”

You cannot and shouldn’t accept your avoidant partner every time they return after ghosting. It doesn’t necessarily mean you should end things for good! 

Suppose there’s still an urge within you to fight for this relationship regardless. In that case, there’s a right way to do it— a way that benefits you and your avoidant partner equally. 

“Give and take” No relationship can thrive without a ‘give and take’ agreement, no matter how giving of a person you are! 

F.A.Q.s regarding what happens when an avoidant ignores you?

Here’s to understanding more about your avoidant partner/ex when they are a walking mystery with unanswered questions and suppressed emotions. 

Do avoidants come back— Does a fearful avoidant chase you as well?

Yes, but there’s also a possibility that they might not return. A dismissive partner may or may not come back, depending on the relationship you both shared. It takes a lot for a dismissive partner to acknowledge their true feelings for you. 

Most of the time, these dismissive avoidants would follow a similar on-off relationship pattern. They might never break up but would continue to take breaks from the relationship without completely letting you go. 

Dismissive partners also tend to not get too emotionally attached to you, so their feelings may never seem sincere or genuine. Plus, they might not even put bare-minimum in the relationship.

On the other hand, fearful avoidants have a greater chance of returning to you once you stop chasing them. Just like dismissive avoidants, they would also follow a similar on-and-off relationship pattern but with greater intensity, coming off as someone with mixed feelings. 

Do dismissive avoidants feel guilty?

“I know because I’m an avoidant 

who’s guilty of making others suffer because of me, 

but I’m also an avoidant who’s trying to change. 

It’s going to be a long journey 

before I can readily accept you and let you in, 

and I understand if you cannot accompany me 

for your own sake. 

I’ll try to change nonetheless. 

Thank you for bearing with me all the time and for loving me.”

It’s complex to speak for all avoidants out there. It’s complex to speak about one avoidant as well because they go through so many different sets of emotions. More or less, avoidants are messily entangled in their emotions to properly separate their feelings for others.

Generally speaking, guilt is a normal human emotion. So, of course, avoidants will go through a similar guilt trip just like any other human. However, how they process that guilt differs for every avoidant out there. 

The worst of all possibilities is that avoidants (mostly dismissive avoidants) have a superior self-image and a toxic amount of selfishness. Some would often keep themselves above others; the same goes for mistakes. 

Dismissive avoidants consider themselves to be right all the time. While they might be honorable to themselves, they don’t value their actions’ effects on others. For them, their emotions, their feelings, and their boundaries come before anyone or everyone. 

For a dismissive avoidant, guilt only knocks on their door when they truly treasured or loved you. Once they are done self-pitying themselves— avoidants would think about you. They might not keep you above them, but they will keep you close somewhere along the lines. 

It’s normal to put yourself first. However, the case is extreme and toxic for avoidants because their self-priority doesn’t respect or value others. 

Do avoidants miss you?

Yes, they do once their sixth stage blurs out. The initial bliss of getting rid of you and your emotions would provide them relief. However, their suppressed emotions and forlorn love will return to full force once the fog clears. 

At the end of the day, they are humans seeking the same things everyone does. However, their avoidant personality and involved anxiety blur their vision and mindset to separate their genuine emotions and what they actually feel for you. 

Signs an avoidant ex misses you.

“Was it really love? Even if they were avoidants, did they really love or care about me? Now that I’m gone, do they miss me? Do they think about me and the love we shared?”

It’s nerve-wracking to contemplate the relationship you shared with your avoidant partner. You want to know if they loved you or want to work on the relationship again, but avoidants are ever so fluent about their feelings. Never.

Whether you want to evaluate your value in the past relationship or want your avoidant ex back— these subtle signs might help you understand your partner and if the relationship is going to work again. 

The big question is— do you really want to get back to your avoidant ex even after going through a turmoil of empty emotions and loneliness? And an even bigger question is, “if they want you back at all?” 

For one, stop romanticizing your ex.

Avoidants missing you doesn’t guarantee their love for you. Even if they still love you, it doesn’t guarantee a healthy relationship.

“Love is love.” It’s blinding, frightening, threatening, crazy, intense, hypnotic, and chaotic. Yet… yet we continue to love, continue to give, continue to get hurt. I guess that’s the price we pay to experience love in its purest and most sincere form. 

I cannot judge you for wanting someone back, for we all are humans in the end. However, wanting and loving someone back shouldn’t degrade you in the process. It shouldn’t make you love yourself less. In our next episode, we’ll talk about how to make a relationship work with an avoidant and how to have them love you back. 

For now, let’s look at these seven signs an avoidant ex misses you. 

They will approach you nonchalantly.

After the tipping point or the breakup, every avoidant has a pre-decided period to recover from the sixth phase. When you were in a relationship with an avoidant, how long did they usually take to return after ghosting you? 

Suppose they used to return within five days every time after ghosting you. In that case, chances are that they would return within a similar time period after the breakup. However, this may vary from person to person, especially if the breakup was intense and hurtful.

It’s rare for an avoidant to hit you with a heartfelt apology. They would instead dilute that apology into praises or small talk to sound more normal, composed, and unhurt. 

  • “Hey, I was thinking about you last day— we were the hottest talk of the town. Reminiscing about the good old days. I hope you are doing great, too.” 
  • “I heard about you from Kevin and thought I should ask about your whereabouts.”
  • “Remember when we first went to that hill together last year? I went there again, but the place lost its value, or were you the one who added value to that place for me? I might be tripping; please ignore me.” 

Avoidants aren’t great at confronting, so they might never acknowledge the breakup when talking to you or texting you. 

They connect on social media or try to reach you online. 

They may unfollow you on social media following the breakup. However, an avoidant who misses you would return to your social media account with a follow, likes, and even comments. Social media seems to be one of the easiest ways to reach out to a person. 

An avoidant ex who misses you would often like and comment on your photos with sweet nostalgia. 

“You are still just as mesmerizing as you were back in the time.”

“Remember that campaign we joined; they are holding a similar one this year. Be sure to come.” 

Nostalgia and reminiscing about the past are the two weapons avoidants use to break the ice.

Apologizing constantly

An apology from an avoidant is exclusive because if they apologize, they have thought about you a lot and enough day and night. Dismissive avoidants move on quickly yet remain single, given their ‘lone wolf’ personality. 

However, a fearful avoidant may get stuck in a brand new rebound cycle. They detest the fear of abandonment. After a breakup, fearful avoidants may continue to casually rebound with new people to not feel lonely. They may change partners after partners to feel proximity but end up being single again. 

Once they get bored or annoyed by the constant rebounds— they unknowingly initiate a rebound comparison game; where they would compare you with the most recent partners they had. 

Suppose you both shared a loving relationship before the breakup. In that case, they would inevitably return to you with a storm of apologies. 

Once they understand your values through the toxic comparison game, their apologies would double themselves in numbers. 

They would be at a loss for leaving such a valuable person. 

They would be guilty of dating new people. 

They would be guilty of leaving you. 

Eventually, an avoidant who returns to you after a breakup with countless apologies is an avoidant who missed you. 

  • “You are simply great. I don’t think I would ever meet someone like you again. Sorry for ruining a great relationship. I know you cannot forgive me for all the things I have done, and I understand.” 
  • “Sorry for texting you so promptly. I just couldn’t help it. How are you?”

If you do reply to their text— be ready for a lot more thank you(s) and sorry(s). 

Replying to you with a different enthusiasm. 

“I’m so glad you texted. Let’s meet up tomorrow evening. I would love to catch up with your life.”

Does your ex-partner sound different now that you both have broken up? Avoidants are far more glad to skip the awkward phase and directly jump to a happening conversation instead of sulking over the breakup. 

If they have missed you, they will consider your text to be a brand new start for something pristine between the two of you. If they appear more excited than usual, consider them missing you like hell. 

Usually, an avoidant who wasn’t serious in the relationship wouldn’t care if you texted them or not. They would rather ignore the text entirely and have already moved on in their life. However, if they make a reply and that too with tripled enthusiasm, consider it to be a clear sign that your avoidant ex misses you. 

It depends on the relationship you both shared

  • Were you both in a serious relationship, or did it always come across as a fling? 
  • Did you both share moments of intimacy where you noticed your avoidant partner opening up gradually? 
  • Did the graph of your relationship improve with time? 
  • Did your partner talk about having future goals in the relationship?
  • What changes can you trace back in your partner’s personality before and after you both started dating? 
  • Was there growth in your partner’s behavior and emotions? 

These questions play a more significant role in determining the past and current status of your relationship/breakup. 

If yes, you broke up with an avoidant who was improving or in the process of understanding their own persona. 

  • “You make me want to love, trust, and rely on you… I’m sorry, I just feel so much and can express so little.” 
  • “Please, it’s difficult for me to make you understand. Half of the time, I cannot understand myself.” 
  • “I don’t know much; I just know I love you. That’s all I know; that’s all I can tell you.” 
  • “I wanted to call… I just couldn’t.” It’s not always about ‘if he wanted to, he would.’ Humans are more complex than that. 
  • “I want to love you, and at the same time, I cannot.” 

With an avoidant partner, it’s crucial to read between the lines and find the hidden subtexts. They are subtle when expressing themselves, but if they have found a partner they are willing to trust, they will slip their feelings in between every now and then. 

It’s not just words; it’s how they made you feel or how they were around you. Did you get butterflies with how they looked you in the eyes— with so many unsaid emotions?

If they were trying to open up, although, with difficulty, they were willing to trust you and open up (painfully and gradually), they were willing to let go of the boundaries. 

They miss you, and chances are that they still love you. It’s most difficult for avoidants to put down their barrier. They simply don’t do it casually. If they have done it for you, they miss you and love you. 

Do they want to be friends with you after a breakup?

Yes, your avoidant ex misses you if they want to stay friends with you after the breakup. I know it sounds horrible to even come across such a phrase after the breakup, but with avoidants, it’s genuine. 

They know your importance and value as a person in their life. You were close to the love they have always desired. You are also the person they lost while contemplating or fighting their own avoidant anxiety. 

They don’t want to lose you, but they also don’t want to get affected by the relationship and the chaos it brings along. So, they choose to stay friends to avoid losing you and themselves. 

They act weird around you.

Ever ran into your ex and instantly found their behavior to be weirder than usual? It’s normal human behavior to act all weird when coming across someone you profoundly like. 

The behavior is even more intense for avoidants who carry so many unsaid emotions for an ex-partner they didn’t want to lose (A.K.A., you). 

  • They might shy away or smile uncontrollably. 
  • They might look away or run away from you, especially if they feel sad/guilty about breaking up with you. 
  • They may try to avoid conversations related to the breakup because who likes an unexpected reality check— a reality check they may want to undo. 

For humans, it’s pretty easy to act normal or authentic around someone you don’t like— we simply don’t care about leaving an impression on someone we have no feelings for. However, the dynamics of one’s persona instantly change when you encounter someone you like. 

Avoidants are just as human as anyone else— they aren’t prone to such emotions either. They simply are good at hiding them from a very young age. 

All the unsaid words, the loss of a lover, the pain of losing someone they wanted to rely on clashes with an avoidant like a drowning wave— it may make them lose words and aid their weirdness. 

So, if an avoidant acts weird, know they have missed you. 

avoidant getting hugged

Loving someone with avoidant attachment 

Before concluding what and what not to do with an avoidant, you must first be aware of your own attachment style. 

“Do you feel secure in your relationships?” If not, you may have one of these three attachment styles:

  • Anxious attachment
  • Avoidant attachment
  • Disorganized attachment

Someone with a secure attachment style doesn’t usually mind a person with an anxious/avoidant/disorganized attachment style. They understand humans, emotions, and traumas and empathize with their partner’s actions. 

Secure attachment styles believe in their partner’s growth, understanding, and individuality. They are rarely jealous, envious, or doubtful in the relationship. 

Regardlessly, individuals with a secure attachment style also aren’t afraid of ending a relationship that’s draining and not worth the effort. 

It becomes a traumatic issue when an avoidant and an anxious/disorganized person come together in a relationship. It’s even more chaotic if neither of them is aware of their own attachment style and what’s the cause behind these attachment styles. 

Anxious partners would often feel betrayed and used. On the other hand, avoidant partners may feel misunderstood and suffocated. Anxious people want to cling to their partner and not face the fear of abandonment. Avoidants don’t want to feel emotions and closeness. So, it’s deemed to be chaotic. 

 In our next episodes on attachment style theories, we will discuss the following: 

  • Loving someone with avoidant attachment
  • How to make an avoidant feel safe?
  • How to get an avoidant to chase you?
  • When is walking away from an avoidant the right choice? 

Wrapping up

Deep down, avoidants are just as human as anybody else out there— just as miserably vulnerable, broken, hurt, and unloved. 

Avoidants are constantly at the disposal of harsh judgment. For everyone out there, please know that no relationship is a compilation of good memories only. No matter how secure, every relationship will have its own moment of misery, downfall, and severe episodes. 

Relationships thrive on continuous effort and gradual growth. So, it’s pretty inhumane to say—

“Avoidants shouldn’t be loved.” 

“Don’t get into a relationship with an avoidant. Period.”

“Avoidants simply are horrible people with awful personalities.” 

There should be compassion in the way you love— compassion to love unconditionally, to grow together, and shield each other. Of course, it should always be from both sides, and in our next series, we’ll learn just that.

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by Genesis Gutierrez

Genesis is the founder of Harness Magazine, a digital media company that celebrates and elevates the voices of women around the world. A first-generation college graduate, Genesis holds a degree in from UCLA with hopes of going back for a Masters in Social Work.

Through her work as an editor-in-chief of Harness, Genesis has dedicated herself to amplifying the stories of women specifically marginalized communities. She is committed to creating space for those who are often left out of mainstream conversations, and believes that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have for building community and sparking social change.


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