Attempting to manipulate our ex’s insecurity in an effort to get them back can seem like an alluring choice in the short-term. Unfortunately however, it will ultimately fail because — and let’s be honest here — the game is built on an emotional house of cards that is as fragile as it is transparent.
Sooner rather than later the fragility (that we attempted to manipulate) will re-solidify, and the reason they may have considered coming crawling back will vanish — leaving only resentment and disdain in its wake. And if you had any real chances at reconciliation before the mind-game debacle, you can now kiss them all goodbye.
Stuff That Won’t Work
I don’t mean for this article to be a morality play, and I’m certainly not here to judge intention. But what I do fervently believe is that using your customary list of weather-beaten mind-games will backfire. This includes:
- Using Facebook (or other mutual social media) as an opportunity to reach out and instill jealousy (romantically ambiguous profile pictures, empowering quotes about freedom and moving on, commenting joyously on every mutual friend’s status, e.t.c).
- Jumping into a rebound relationship or dating for the sake of provoking a reaction.
- Overdoing no contact in an attempt to starve them out of affection by manipulating their insecurity, rather than using it as a tool for healing and clarity.
- Making a show of being everything they ever wanted by selling the last vestiges of your dignity and individuality at an emotional garage sale.
- Using mutual acquaintances to subtly get your message across.
Why they won’t work
Firstly, by using insecurity as a weapon we are unwittingly causing our exes to process their pain more swiftly than they otherwise would. These types of mind-games are very effective at causing pangs of jealousy in the short-term (which is why they are so popular), but the kind of pain it causes is quickly processed and shelved. Sooner or later they will come to terms with the acute loss of separation (thanks in part to our attempts at shoving it down their throats), and once they do, any leverage we had is now gone.
Secondly, most of these strategies are pathetically transparent. If we over-indulge in the mind-game department, rather than instilling jealousy we succeed only in looking desperate. Think of it this way; while painful, if your ex did any of the above to you, would you not see it for what it was? Would it not serve as a reminder that they hadn’t moved on?
Doing It The Right Way
A little bit of jealousy in a relationship is healthy, it’s always nice to know that someone’s afraid of losing you
The good news is that a sprinkling of jealousy (minus the intentional torment) can be an effective tool for both dumper and dumpee — assuming it is used correctly.
As brutal as it sounds, getting jealousy right will involve being worthy of being missed. In the long-term, attempting to artificially inflate our value via a mind-game campaign will not work. By this, I absolutely do not mean that we should feel remorse for not being the mark of perfection (none of us are), but it does mean using positive traits, rather than negative ones, as tools to make us realistically missable.
Ironically, by not impulsively catering to the very same mind-games I outlined at the beginning of this article, we are inciting a healthy amount of natural jealousy because we:
- Are demonstrating the ability to put our needs, healing, lives and dignity first.
- Care enough not to inflict unnecessary pain onto the professed object of our “love”.
- Are being proactive in the face of adversity.
- Are refusing to let our fears, ego and pain do the talking.
- Are accepting responsibility for our roles in the relationship’s demise.
The bottom-line is that all of these behaviors are genuinely attractive and do not compromise trust, communication or romance — which are all much needed tools to successfully reconcile in the long-term. And best of all, they require no real investment on our part (other than biting the bullet), and will hasten our own emotional recovery (regardless of how our exes react).
The Real Value Of No Contact
Going no contact as a tool for self-empowerment does not mean burning our bridges. It usually does allow an outlet for conditional communication (usually in the form of, “contact me if you have something important to say”). It is imperative (if we wish for reconciliation) that an ex feels comfortable enough to reach out should they have a change of heart, and playing mind-games can, and will, terminally jeopardize trust.
Establishing no contact as a healing tool will usually mean making sure our ex knows why we are dropping off the radar. If we don’t, and simply shut them off in an attempt to bait a reaction, we risk losing them forever in a cloud of resentment, misinterpretation or pride.
The good news is that time apart will usually catalyze attraction and longing better than mind-games ever will. If we are truly missed, the enduring silence will provoke more questions than answers, and naturally catalyze jealousy (in the form of uncertainty) that they may feel comfortable enough to act on — without feeling caught in a game of egos and manipulation that might backfire.