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Do Avoidants eventually come back?

This is a common question for those who have been in a relationship with an avoidant partner. Avoidant attachment styles often lead to distancing behaviors and breaking off relationships when things get too close or intimate. This leaves their partners confused and wondering if they will ever return. Here is an in-depth look at whether avoidants do eventually come back.

What is an Avoidant Attachment Style?

Avoidant attachment is one of the three main attachment styles first defined by psychologist John Bowlby. Those with an avoidant attachment tend to be very independent, distrustful of others, and avoid intimacy in relationships. This often stems from early childhood experiences with caregivers who were emotionally unavailable or rejecting.

As adults, avoidants instinctively pull away when a relationship starts getting too close. They crave distance and can abruptly end relationships that are becoming more intimate. Avoidants don’t like feeling dependent on others and value their independence. They tend to suppress their feelings and aren’t comfortable expressing vulnerability or needing support from a partner.

Why Avoidants Distance Themselves

There are a few key reasons why avoidants tend to distance themselves and break things off when relationships progress:

  • Discomfort with intimacy – Too much closeness causes extreme discomfort for avoidants, triggering their defense mechanisms.
  • Fear of dependence – Avoidants equate dependence on others with weakness. They value their self-sufficiency.
  • Emotional unavailability – Expressing feelings openly makes avoidants feel vulnerable. They struggle showing emotions.
  • Loss of control – Relationships require reciprocation of care. But avoidants like to feel in control and self-contained.

These core avoidant characteristics make it very difficult for them to tolerate and thrive in close, interdependent relationships. They instinctively pull away to reestablish distance and freedom.

Do Avoidants Ever Come Back After Leaving?

Whether an avoidant partner returns after abruptly leaving a relationship depends on several factors:

How self-aware they are

Avoidants who understand their attachment style and its effects on relationships have a better chance of coming back. They can recognize when their defense mechanisms are pushing partners away.

How much work they’ve done

An avoidant who has been actively working on attachment issues in therapy is more equipped to fight the urge to flee relationships. They understand the roots of their reactions.

How strong their feelings are

If an avoidant has genuinely fallen for someone, they may be willing to withstand the discomfort of intimacy to come back. Strong feelings can override avoidant instincts.

Timing and circumstances

Avoidants may come back when the timing is better and life circumstances have changed to be less triggering. For example, after finishing a stressful period at work when they were hyper-avoidant.

An avoidant is more likely to come back if:

  • The partner gives them needed space and doesn’t chase them
  • Positive experiences shared in the relationship outweigh feelings of engulfment
  • They don’t take up with a new partner right away

And less likely to come back if:

  • The relationship was very enmeshed or moved too quickly
  • Negative feelings built up over time that were never addressed
  • They immediately enter a new more casual, less intimate relationship

How Can An Avoidant Be Persuaded to Return?

It’s difficult to convince an avoidant partner who has retreated to come back before they are ready. Some tips that may persuade them include:

  • Give them space to process their feelings without pressure
  • Send occasional thoughtful messages reminding them why the relationship is worthwhile, but don’t overwhelm them
  • Suggest taking things very slowly if they are willing to try again
  • Highlight positive experiences you shared that can be built upon
  • Share resources on attachment theory that may help them reflect

Ultimately, pushing an avoidant will likely just drive them further away. The most effective way to lure them back is to take off the pressure and remind them of the good times.

How Long Might an Avoidant Stay Away?

There is no set timeframe for how long an avoidant may withdraw for. It depends on the individual situation, such as:

  • Level of distress when leaving – The more overwhelmed they felt, the longer recovery
  • Availability of other options – Quickly starting something new delays return
  • Severity of deactivation – Mild vs extreme reaction to engulfment
  • Self-awareness – Capacity to override avoidant instincts

An avoidant may come back within weeks if they experienced a mild deactivate. Or it may take months-plus if they went straight into a new relationship or had a major freak out. Patience and keeping expectations low are key.

Can an Avoidant Change Their Patterns?

It takes tremendous self-awareness, effort, and motivation for an avoidant to change their ingrained patterns. Some ways include:

  • Therapy – With a therapist experienced in attachment theory
  • Reading – Books on attachment to understand their style
  • Mindfulness – To be present with emotions vs numb them
  • Vulnerability – Slowly opening up more with trusted partners
  • Communication – Expressing needs calmly before withdrawing

With consistent work, an avoidant can become more secure and responsive versus reactive in relationships. But change is gradual and ongoing effort is required.

Should Anxious Attachments Wait and Hope?

This depends on the individuals and circumstances. Some considerations:

  • How healthy is the relationship overall? Do the good times outweigh the hurt?
  • Is your self-worth overly tied into the avoidant’s treatment of you?
  • How long can you reasonably wait while staying true to your needs?
  • Are you willing to take it slowly and sensitively if they do return?

It may be worth waiting a reasonable time if you shared something truly special. But don’t put your whole life on hold endlessly for an avoidant. Balance hoping with living your best life.

Healthy Moving On If They Don’t Return

If an avoidant partner doesn’t come back, here are some healthy tips for moving on:

  • Feel your feelings – Cry, journal, talk to close friends, but don’t suppress emotions
  • Self-care – Eat well, exercise, and get plenty of rest
  • Stay busy – Throw yourself into work, hobbies, travel – things unrelated to the avoidant
  • Change it up – Get a new look, rearrange furniture, pick up new habits
  • Meet new people – Spend time with supportive friends, join groups to meet new friends
  • Seek closure – If needed, have a final conversation or write a goodbye letter

The pain won’t disappear overnight, but staying active and open can help you slowly move forward.

The Takeaway on Avoidants Coming Back

In summary, whether or not an avoidant partner returns after withdrawing from a relationship depends on many factors:

  • Their level of self-awareness and personal growth
  • The depth of feelings for their partner
  • Timing and life circumstances
  • Availability of other options
  • How extreme their deactivation reaction was

The more awareness and desire for change, the better the chances. Patience, managing expectations, and leading one’s own full life are keys to coping whether they come back or not.