Breakups are rarely mutual, and feelings are never easy to shelve. Whether you were broken up with, or did the breaking up, it is common to be on the receiving end of resentment and spite for no apparent reason.
But there is always a reason.
Often the vitriol stems from insecurity, and has nothing to do with you as an individual. It is merely a way for your ex to divert guilt and attempt to move on. Occasionally, the grudge may be entirely genuine. And due to the onrush of defensiveness and pride that accompany hatred, it can often be very difficult to tell the difference.
This article will focus on seven timeless reasons your ex hates you, what to make of it and how to respond should you wish to reconcile or tie loose ends.
Table of Contents
1. Their self-esteem demands it
In my article why is my ex being mean to me, I outline a few examples of why it is important to never unconditionally blame yourself for your ex’s hatred. This does not always mean you are entirely guiltless, but let’s face it; by searching for and reading this article, it is clear that your intention was never to intentionally hurt. Otherwise you’d know exactly what the deal was.
Don’t judge yourself too harshly, or let guilt eat away at your self-esteem (and consequently feed theirs). Moving on after a breakup is often a no-holds barred free-for-all. One way to make it easier in the short-term can be for exs to downplay your worth and value in order to make the breakup easier for them to digest. This is particularly true if the breakup is recent.
2. Anger and the five stages of grief
According to the well-known study of trauma known as the five stages of grief, the “anger” stage is an integral part of healing for many. If this particular ex has been more vocal than others, it is possible character traits, and not feelings, are coming into play.
Some of us internalize pain, others vent their stress outwards. It is simply our personal way of dealing with pain. A silent, indifferent ex may suffer equally to a vocal one. Also, it is important to remember that hatred stems from hurt, and hurt stems from caring.
Anger is usually a smoke-screen for love, if they truly didn’t care — and were “over it” — they would be indifferent.
3. They’re playing mind games
Strong feelings such as resentment are often used subconsciously as ways to bait out responses. Popular post-breakup ploys such as the no contact rule aim to manipulate exs into re-establishing contact by starving them of attention ( this isn’t what no contact is all about, however, I do feel that this is what people intend to use it for — rather than strictly a way to detox and move on).
Anger is one such tool, it often forces confrontation and attempts to keep you both tied together. If they become more and more vocal the more you become indifferent, you may have found a reason for the spite.
4. You screwed up
If the nature of the hatred stems not from the ex relationship itself, but rather from other factors that led to its abrupt demise such as:
The hatred may stem not from the breakup itself, but from a severe blow to the ego. What is the nature of the hatred, and what is the driving underlying message? If you feel that an apology is warranted, do so. It may (or may not) validate your ex’s concerns, but more importantly, it may help you move on as well.
Forgiveness is a prerequisite to healing. Unless you are able to forgive both yourself and your partner, moving on will take far longer than it ideally should.
5. High and dry
Long-term relationships often end with some degree of co-dependency. If your departure left your ex reeling and feeling stranded or lost, they may blame your for having abandoned them to dire straits. Unless other important variables that include custody are featured in the equation, my advice is usually pretty blunt.
It is our personal responsibility to always move forward as individuals in a relationship. We cannot come to depend on anyone. Relationships end, and we should always have our own devices and means to return to. While breaking up should never be an impulsive coin-toss, it is equally true that we should feel free, at any time, to seek to improve our lives elsewhere.
If your ex’s hatred stems from the perceived callousness of your abandonment, do not let sympathy and guilt bring you down. If you weren’t happy, you owe it to yourself to seek your fortune elsewhere.
When I speak of co-dependency, I am not talking about co-responsibility. As such there is a disclaimer I feel I must add to this point. If other complicated issues such as housing, children or work are involved, consider the above point moot, because these are conditions which cannot be ignored and dismissed.
6. You led them on
If you weren’t sure about the breakup decision and flirted with them about reconciliation (even indirectly), by throwing crumbs their way to keep them in the picture, you may have incurred their long-term wrath.
Sometimes, even when we have no desire to reconcile, an ex will over-analyse our communication and hold onto hope. When this doesn’t come to pass, they will often blame us for having led them on. As Robert Anton-Wilson wrote in his book, Prometheus Rising.
Whatever the Thinker thinks, the Prover will prove
There is only so much that can be done to prevent this. The only suggestion I would urge is to be consistent and transparent with communication. Even if ignoring inside jokes and your history can be awkward and painful, it is better to not have our body language and message misread.
7. The dumper’s stigma
If you were the one to do the dirty work of dumping, modern society has a lot of fingers to point your way and to stigmatize you with. I often find that modern culture and the media tend to view dumpers as remorseless, self-centered absolutists without a conscience, when in reality it can take a lot of strength and love to do the “right” thing.
If your intentions were transparent, then you have nothing to blame yourself for. However, you may nevertheless be judged — particularly by those who chose to needlessly take sides. As discussed earlier in the article, if you ex hates you, it may simply be a case of them attempting to uplift their own self-esteem. Rather than a genuine attempt to bring you down.