How To Make Your Ex Jealous (The Right Way)

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.

19 Comments How To Make Your Ex Jealous (The Right Way)

  1. Sang

    Hi Unknown,

    It’s been almost 2 months since my breakup with Ex “J”. Tried everything to win him back on the first 3 weeks. After that, been switching between LC and NC for healing. I initiated contact twice, he only did so once (during first week of NC).

    Last week, I felt that i couldn’t handle the pain and loneliness anymore. He never seemed to miss me. Had been so depressed that I even contemplated on doing something stupid (hurt?) myself. At that point, I decided i should seek professional help.

    Knowing that my ex “N” is very active in Christian activities, I messaged him to ask for a referral. He was my ex from high school (12yrs ago) and my last ex before ex “J”. We all went to the same school and are friends somehow.

    Anyway, ex “N” suggested that i join a social gathering event which he attends every Sunday. There I’ll be able to meet new people. I got pretty excited, because I really need to make myself busy and move on.

    I’m sure that ex “J” would see photos of me and my other ex at the event. I’m worried that he’ll see this as me trying to play mind games. My gut feeling tells me that ex “J” is already with another woman (never confirmed). Also, Me and my other ex no longer share any romantic or special feelings with each other. Despite this, do you think it would be a good idea to update ex “J” about what is going on in my life out of courtesy? I feel that if I were in his shoes, I would get hurt seeing my ex with an old flame shortly after BU. Is this a possibility even if he’s already seeing someone before I did? Even so, even if he no longer cares for me, I just don’t want him to feel bad by any chance..

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Hey Sang,

      I don’t think you should tell him, after-all you’re doing this for you — it isn’t a game. If he is offended or shaken by seeing you rolling around with someone else, that’s his own doing, and if he is curious he can always ask you directly.

      You broke up, and he resisted reconciliation, there’s a price attached to that, and this is a part of that. Don’t let guilt or fear (of him misinterpreting) slow you down. The way he feels about this is the way he feels about this, and you have the duty to look after your own feelings without babysitting his.

      Sooner or later you had to get moving and do other things. It is inevitable. He may not like it, but he will expect it.

      P.S By telling him that the old ex means nothing romantically to you, it will look more, not less of a mind-game because you are artificially drawing attention to the situation (in my opinion).

  2. Missie

    So the last time my EX was actually nice to me was Jan after his grandmother died. This is not a recent EX, mind you…it’s been about 2 years. We were friends for years before we dated. Anyhow, lately he’s at the antics again. I was on Instagram and someone mentioned him in the picture. I was being nice and wrote ” awe so nice of JJ, I once met Calvin Harris b/c of him”……my EX writes back…” No you didn’t Missie, stop lying about everything ( side note, I don’t lie, he invents things in his head) And stop following MY FRIENDS

    1. Missie

      sorry, I hit enter:

      It said “STOP FOLLOWING MY FIRENDS THAT YOU HAVE NEVER EVEN MET”. I texted him today and said…” I’m sorry I made you mad. I was trying to pay you a compliment not start any sh*t. I’m not a liar we did meet Calvin on 4-21-11, also I follow a lot of DJ’s and they follow me. I had no idea he was your friend. You’re a good person, when can you just stop all this and be at peace with the past? Because I am. God Bless” He wrote back simply “go fuxk yourself”…which I did not respond to at all. I don’t get it. they says the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Is he still so passionate b/c he has feelings left there? I am t the indiffernce stage,in fact I don’t contact him, or talk to him, until he starts this BS. It’s just so confusing. I try to cut him off compeltely, block him on FB ect…but he still finds a way to get to me. Any ideas. Thanks

    2. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Hey Missie,

      You are right about indifference, but I do think that his anger is primarily directed at himself, rather than you. His reasoning is quite palatable ego-centric, which just reinforces the point. Apparently he has unequivocal ownership (imaginary or otherwise) on other people.

      Your last couple of sentences really sum it up. I don’t really think he has anything cooking except his own inner hurt. And your presence is the spice that inflames it. Which is obviously not your fault. We see what we want to see, and if he remains jaded and bitter (for whatever reason) he may well have read into your message and thought it was sarcastic or patronizing. He would then use this to justify his anger to himself.

      The fact that you have moved forwards makes it even worse, and he will probably resent himself in the long-run. Again, not your problem.

      Does he still have feelings? Quite obviously. I would personally drop the niceties at this point and elevate the no contact for your own sake. Love or not love, it doesn’t warrant his projected fragility.


  3. Missie

    Thank You, Like I said for the most part I do no contact. I don’t even know what possessed me to write the comment in the 1st place, except maybe I was being nostalgic. Remembering the good times. He def thinks he owns people. He has tried to pit some of “our” friends against me several times. Most recently when I ran into him randomly at a night club opening. I was with my friend Chrystal. He slept with Chrystal before we dated, I knew this b/c him and I were just friends at the time….but now she is one of my best friends, she is married and has a baby. Anyhow, at the club he went up to her and said “ Is that who I think it is, with you?” ( which was me, just diff hair cut) and when he realized it was he told her “You’re cut off”….which we still don’t know what that meant. LOL. And yes, he has some inner issues. He’s a major alcoholic and doesn’t see it. It’s sad really b/c at 33 he would rather sleep around than ever settle down. He hates to get emotional or form emotional bonds, such as the one he did with me. And he was living with a girl for awhile, but I don’t blame her for leaving him. If my BF talked about the ex as much as he still talks about me ( good or bad) I would leave too. One of my friends texted him for tickets to a concert, and he wrote back “ not since your friends with the whacko bitch”…. So he is bitter. Thanks for helping me see it’s not just me. All I can do at this point is honestly pray for him. He isn’t a bad person.

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      You’re right on counts. That it isn’t your fault, and that breakup shenanigans are usually an illusory reflection of a person. Pain does twist people. There will usually be a reckoning of sorts, I have actually received apologetic and well-wishing messages from exes years after the breakup took place.

      Ultimately it’s in our own interest to perceive and not judge, or we might carry needless resentment. I’d rather be at peace — frankly.

  4. Missie

    Awesome! It’s good I found this blog several months ago or I’d still be lost. It’s good you’re here to listen & give your opinion because I know my girlfriends are tired of hearing about it & all they say is the typical girl responses “he still loves you, you’re too good for him, he knows he lost you ect..” But that doesn’t help enough. I like to pick your brain!!! I know you only get one side to work with too, but it helps. I’m gonna be ok. I have to give myself closure because he may never do it!!! No contact, no social media (the best I can control) things will get better. Thanks!!!!!

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Yea, those kinds of responses only serve to assuage the ego, but they don’t address the underlying feelings with have for others which are not bound by right and wrong. Which is precisely why we can’t depend on anyone but ourselves for closure — because it doesn’t exist!

      We can trick ourselves into becoming numb, being right and shelving the pain. But there will always be a pang of remorse over the sunnier side of the person we fell in love with.

      Thanks for the compliments and stopping by Missie!

  5. Missie

    Hey there, it’s me again. LOL… I have been in complete no contact w/my ex now, and completely ignoring him for about a month, since the last time I wrote. Well, there’s been more social media drama and I am to the point, that I just want it all to stop. I’m just trying to move on, and be done. I have grown a lot, and I no longer respond to it at all. However, last night on Instagram, there was a post by a mutual friend about “ how ghetto girls from my town are from”…..I commented back joking about how thankful I am to be from there, but no longer live there. The original poster, my friend joked back with me. Then, several hours later my EX, just couldn’t keep his mouth or um keyboard shut, and he typed in all capital letters “Only F*cking whacko bitches come out of that town”. Obviously aimed at me, because well I’m the only one he knows from there. I’m assuming it didn’t help that my new profile picture is of me and the guy I’m very happy with right now. Instagram unlike other social media sites has a major flaw, in that when you block someone on the popular site, it only blocks them from seeing your page. They can still see ALL of your comments, and “likes” and they can still respond just as he did. At this point, I just want it all to stop, and well obviously he doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. I realize it is only making him look like the fool, but when I am trying to MOVE ON, it does hurt me in a way. So I had an idea, I wanted to ask what you as a male thought? I was thinking about contacting his mother, and sending her examples of what her son has been doing. I have screen shots of everything, including when I asked him to stop. I know she raised him better than that. He is a momma’s boy and even at 30 you’re never too old to listen to your mom. I wasn’t going to be mad or angry in the e-mail, I was just going to tell her it needs to stop, and that I think he needs help. Whether it be AA for his drinking or anger management, after two years this is not normal behavior. I figure what do I have to lose? He already thinks I’m crazy? Just wondering what you thought? PPL tell me I have a good heart, and that I am one of the nicest PPL ever, as I even said if he ever got help and apologized I’d consider being his friend again. We were friends for so long, but now I just want to get past it. – Thanks

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Hey Missie,

      Don’t let his antics bait you into responding. Personally, I think that it is your silence that he fears most of all and this is all simply a way of reaching out (bad press is better than no press).

      Contacting his mother will only serve in reinforcing whatever self-righteous self-justification he has (imo). Obviously, there comes a point where bitterness and spite become harassment, and then you should respond — but never on a personal level.

      The thing is, he is aware that his attitude is borderline, which is why he is trying to be as indirect as possible. He will use this to defend himself before others and attempt to make you look paranoid in the process. It isn’t worth it, and will only serve his underlying purpose (dragging himself back into the picture). If he continues to pile on the pressure, I would involve a third party. At no point would I advise confronting him directly — it’s what he wants.

  6. Missie

    Ahh that makes so much sense. Ok I just didn’t know what else to do. I did kind of get a 3rd person invovled since writing you. I told one of his co-workers. She works directly above him. I only told her, because she could tell something was wrong, by one of my posts on Twitter. I don’t think people understand just how mean he can be. It’s not harassment because he’s not texting or calling, per se but still. I’m sure she told him by now? She hasn’t said anything to me. But yes, I am done dealing with him or trying to rationalize because it just doesn’t work. I don’t even care to argue back anymore. I do care to move on and in an indirect way it gets to me, when I,m just trying to do that. Funny thing is he tells people/his friends ( she never meant anything to me) If I didn’t mean anything, than I wish he would leave me alone. Thanks!
    I’ll keep you posted.

  7. Missie

    Ok so this is probably not the best place to post this, but it was the last thread I could find. I’m wondering why men will do anything to avoid “ Closure”….That might make a good post if you haven’t written about it before. You see my EX, who was sooo mean before (see all of the above LOL) finally came around. We were getting along fairly well. I want to believe because of my faith in God, it’s because I prayed about it, but whatever the reason, it is what it is. He was fired from his job a few weeks ago, and his job is one that causes him to travel around the country, to find new employment. So once he was fired of course, I got a multitude of texts from PPL asking if I had heard. I texted my EX, that I was sorry, blah blah and that I better get a hug before he left Texas for good. He finally wrote back two –days later, that he was actually happy to get fired, it’s a good thing, and that if I’m in town give him a “shout and maybe we can get together”.
    Fast forward to this weekend. I was in his town, which is a few hours south of me, for a wedding. I sent him a Snap Chat picture of me getting ready for the ready. (I really don’t know why I have trouble letting go, a normal person surely would, after all he has done to me, but I forgive and I know in my heart, that even at my age, he was my first real love. I thought we were soul mates)….anyway, Snap Chat app tells you when someone screen shots your pictures. He did. And then simple and short he texted me “Look Good BTW”. I only responded with “I do?? Thank You ?) About 20 mins later I got a text from him that said “I’d really appreciate if you don’t text me anymore or send me anymore pics, I’m trying to date someone new. Time to let go of you.” I said Ok, but you promised me a hug before you go, and I hope I still get it. He never responded…so Sunday night I texted him “I promise I’m not trying to put you in an awkward position, but are you free for a drink or something later? Put yourself in my shoes, I just want a hug before you leave.” – He responded, which I was shocked. I was prepared for him to ignore me. He said “Possible, but not probable, I’ve had a long day and I need a nap first.” I didn’t text back all night. The next morning before I left his town for good, I decided to try one more time. I texted “Can you have lunch today? Are you free at all? About 30 mins later he responded “ Have you checked out of your hotel yet?” I said no, no I haven’t. He said quote (this guy..uggh what did I see in him. Mind you he’s 34) “ I just woke up, I gotta wack off. I’ll get back to you later. LOL” I was like “nice visual”. I texted him when I was leaving my hotel. He then said “I’m still in bed, not feeling well sorry.” I said “Ok so, I don’t get to say good bye then? I hate doing it over text it seems so impersonal.” He was like “ Yeah not feeling well. Guess not”…………Of course to which I just proceeded to text him all my thoughts and my good bye, in a not so emotional way. And deleted his number for now. I never got a response to what I had to say, but it felt good. It felt like I was the one dumping him this time. My question is why do men avoid this mythical “Closure”. I mean if he didn’t wanna meet with me, why can’t he just say so? I’m not an idiot. I know he wasn’t feeling bad. He just had second thoughts for whatever reason about seeing me again. Maybe it’s because he thought he’d regret it, and he has feelings for me still? Or maybe it’s just because he didn’t want to hurt me anymore?? I don’t know. But I wish he could have just told me the truth. “ I don’t think it’s a good idea to see you again sorry”. And if he really was serious about not wanting me to text him, he never should have responded. I don’t know? I know, I’m trying so hard to move on. It’s been like 2 years. But sometimes everything still reminds me of him. I have the biggest heart to forgive him. I feel like Carrie and Mr. Big in Sex and the City. My Mr. Big is named J.J. and has a big ego. LOL

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Well, I guess — being a male — I fall into the same category, as I don’t believe in closure either. Although I do believe in trying to make peace with the past if possible.

      I think there’s a difference here. Closure, to me, means that there is something you can do to attempt to make everything fall into place in a satisfactory way, or at least tie as many loose ends as possible. I don’t think it’s possible, personally. Because it creates a false expectation that something can, and will, make moving on easier. If anything, I find it makes things more complex.

      Now attempting to make peace with the past is something I can agree with, however, in this case “one last hug” is a notably romantic gesture, and I’m sure a last hug would evoke more romantic confusion that just leaving it as is.

      The point is, and excuse my brutality (this is a guess afterall), it isn’t closure we’re talking about here, it is a chance at escalating this pseudo friendship. And he may be torn, much you like, between his past and future.

  8. Missie

    No, makes perfect sense. Thanks!! I should have left it alone a long time ago. Something in his mind games & brutality kept pulling me back in. I prayed & prayed and finally around Christmas he said he was sorry, and we became “friends”. At this point, I finally got what I wanted. Him saying I looked good, is the nicest thing he’s said in years. I’m all for ending on a high note……if it really is the end??? Only time will tell. But I’m dating too & not waiting around for him!!!!! I’m also respecting that and not going to contact him, text, tweet, Facebook, snapchat ect…….

  9. Missie

    So just a funny quick note to my other posts. About a month ago, I wrote to you saying how my ex refused to meet up with me for “closure” if you will, a hug. That’s really all I wanted, a hug to know everything in the past was in the past. I don’t really think, I have feelings for him any more, but I do care. I will always care. Anyway, he wanted me to stop texting him so he could date someone else. So I had said my goodbyes, and took his number out of my phone. Then all of a sudden, I get a text from him…..only this text wasn’t meant for me. You see, it was a somewhat dirty snapchat pic I had sent him some months back. It was blatantly clear that he was sending my pics out to his buddies. I’m not mad about that, I took the pictures, and I know the consequences, that with screen shots, even on an app like Snapchat nothing is “safe”. I get it; I’m old enough to know that. And I’ve hit the gym so I look pretty amazing. So I’m not mad. I’m just as confused as to why, if he’s trying to date someone new, does he keep such pictures? I mean if he’s using them for “material” isn’t that wrong? If he’s sooo trying to move on, that he can’t even be my friend, why keep such photos? Anyway, the whole thing to me was hilarious. The fact that he was thinking about me so much he sent the text to ME, not his buddy!!!! I tried talking to him about it, explaining to him I was confused because a month ago I said goodbye blah blah. But typical guy he avoids awkward conversations. He texted me two word replies then ignored me the rest of the night. Is it common for guys to keep pictures like that of an ex? He’s making it hard for me to forget him, that’s for sure. LOL.

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