Pride, regret, resentment and lack of control can all lead to a breakdown of honest communication in a post-breakup environment. Piercing the smokescreen and deciphering their intentions is never an easy task, and frankly, it may occasionally be impossible because your ex may not know the long and short of their own emotional turbulence.
In this article I’m going to go ahead and share my personal short-list of quintessential signs your is playing games with you. As always, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to matters of the heart, so it is imperative to confront your own knowledge and experience of your ex when making a decision on where to go from here. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to analyse the long-and-short of it!
1. On The Fence
Uncharacteristic hot and cold behavior such as telling you they miss you, but backing out of a follow-up, could be a sign your ex is attempting to dishonestly keep their options open.
Giving you just enough to keep you from drifting off in a new direction, but not committing to action, is perhaps the most common sign of a game being played. It gives them the luxury of both worlds. You remain an option, but they are also free to seek out “greener” pastures.
Opting out of the game is as simple as demanding action. Detaching oneself from words and over-analysis, and insisting on black and white communication is a surefire way to uncover what lies behind the fragile smoke-screen of their apparent masquerade.
2. Hook, line and sinker
False hope and sweet nothings aren’t the only signs your ex is hedging their bets. Shutting the door on reconciliation can lead a resentful ex to attempt to get your attention by any means necessary. If they can’t appeal to your rosier side, they can attempt to keep you in their lives by acting like they can’t stand you.
If they seem hell-bent on attempting to bring you down, see the charade for what it is. A desperate attempt to keep you planted in their lives, and a last-ditch cry for attention. Anger stems from hurt, and hurt from caring. If they genuinely wanted to have nothing to do with you — they wouldn’t.
[alert-note]Fighting fire with fire means playing a game of their choosing. If you refuse to take the bait the game will cease to reap its desired rewards.[/alert-note]
If your ex’s life after your breakup is presented as a highlight reel of fun, liberation and joy, they may be attempting to make you feel like you’re missing out. While it is possible that they may genuinely be better off, an ex who attempts to shove their newfound success down your throat is, more often than not, out to prove.
There are many subtle (and not so subtle) ways these games take shape. From the ex who suddenly lands that dream job three days after a breakup, to the once complacent ex who is now a regular at the gym. The difference between an ex who used the breakup as a large red reset button to focus on their own well-being, and the ex who attempts to juggle with loss and wavering self-esteem at your expense is the way in which they attempt to communicate with you.
The bottom-line is this; if you feel they are attempting to make you lament the breakup, they probably are. Breakups, even if they were the one to do the dumping, are never inherently pleasant. If they act is as if the breakup was an amazing idea, there’s probably an undercurrent of grief stirring beneath their glittering new surface of change. As the saying goes:
Change doesn’t happen overnight
4. The one that got away
The most crass example of a mind-game in a post-breakup scenario is that of your ex conspicuously dangling their new rebound relationship in front of your face.
Needless to say, this kind of behaviour is pitifully transparent. The objective? An attempt at bringing you down by flaunting their new upgrade. The result? Burning whatever bridges they had left and compromising memories of the past.
In a breakup borne out of respect, even if it is not mutual, the unwritten rule is that of keeping future romantic conquests out of the communication picture. An ex who makes sure you know that they’ve moved onto greener pastures is only attempting to cement their wavering insecurity.
[alert-note]Exs will eventually move on. I am absolutely not referring to exs who are genuinely and naturally moving on to a new relationship. I am referring to flagrant and manipulative attempts at showing off.[/alert-note]
If you know your ex is attempting to bait a reaction do what it takes to protect yourself, if that means blocking your ex on Facebook in order to safeguard your own healing — do so without remorse.
5. Mutual acquaintances
An ex who either can’t override their own pride or shame may have difficulty contacting you directly, and might instead seek to reach out via mutual acquaintances. This can be a confusing process which may lead you to second guess their intentions, and whether or not your ex is behind these sporadic attempts at indirect communication.
You only really have two options; either you choose to humour the questions and talk openly about your thoughts. Or you let it be known that talking about your ex is something you are not willing to do. The only suggestion I would add is always to take the contact, however indirect, at face value. And to refuse to be drawn into a cycle of over-analysis. After-all, there may be a chance your ex has nothing to do with it at all. And for once, the game being played is yours, with the complicity of your own mind!
Images courtesy of chanpipat/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net