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]

3. You’re missing out

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/

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  • Kairii
    Posted Apr 5, 2013 at 3:03 am 0Likes

    Stay with this guys, you’re helping a lot of poeple.

    • The Unknown
      Posted Apr 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm 0Likes

      Thank you Kairii!

    • Sockie
      Posted May 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm 0Likes

      My ex and i broke up. After the breakup my ex turned extremely mean to me and blocked off all contact. (Blocked my number, Facebook,Twitter, everything really.). I bugged her the day of and showed up at her house the next day and she went off. So i went into no contact. She’s completely cold after 3weeks. No rebound, nothing new….nothing in general that she knows would eventually reach me. After three week s i asked to come get my things. She seemed extremely happy and ok with everything. But mixed signals showed up when she’s complimenting me,smiling and laughing, delaying me leaving. Them before i left i told her i a genuine apology for going off on her a week before the break up. I told her i know she thinks of me and i think of you too constantly but its for the best we break up. And added on that eventually i have a feeling we’ll be back together so I’m not really worried. She agreed completely and hugged me and then kissed me. But now I’m feeling as if telling her that only allows her to keep me in her back pocket. Yeah she might come back….But is it because she loves me or because she didn’t find anyone better or don’t want to be alone.???? (We dated 3years). And I don’t post nothing that she would ever see to get to her.nor do i go out of my way to make her jealous. I’ve been talking to other girls but miss her all the time

  • Lydia
    Posted Sep 25, 2013 at 5:58 am 0Likes

    Hi there,

    Thankyou for articles they have really helped me alot and i wish id found your site alot earlier!

    I was wondering if you might have any insight into weather or not my ex is playing games with me?

    He has deleted me on twitter but not on facebook. He publishes status updates now and posts videos when he never used to. He has also become alot more extroverted and i see photos of him out and about now when i never used to. He also asked a mutual friend about me but when ive seen him in public we ignore each other.

    Is he sending mixed signals or does he just not care anymore and is moving on?


    • The Unknown
      Posted Sep 25, 2013 at 10:38 am 0Likes

      Hi Lydia, thanks for stopping by!

      I can confirm that these kinds of behavioral u-turns are a sign he is emotionally unsettled and may be attempting to bait a reaction (though whether it is from you, or life in general is anyone’s guess — probably you though).

      The reason I’m going with this is that he sounds like me, I tend to go from a cemented introvert to an overnight extrovert when I’m heartbroken :)

  • Lydia
    Posted Sep 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm 0Likes

    Thanks so much unknown :) Good to have a male’s perspective.

    He’s always been insecure but his really brash behaviour just makes it stand out more again. He broke up with me though. Even though he was very apologetic and emotional he’s really tried to stay away from me -which I am greatful for. I feel alot more myself again but I am just curious by these things because they seemed out of character. What would you make of the blocking and and asking of mutual friend? We dont have many that either of us see often so perhaps it was his only chance to fish about my life? And is the ignoring me due to guilt/awkwardness?

    • The Unknown
      Posted Sep 26, 2013 at 10:31 am 0Likes

      If he couldn’t care less about you, he probably wouldn’t have blocked you (it would then have been easier to keep all his options open). I surmise the reason behind the blocking was because having a detailed, graphic highlight reel of someone that you care about moving on is a surefire promise of perpetual pain. He may not wish to reconcile, but I highly doubt he wants to see you strut around happily with a new flame. So no, I doubt it is guilt — I would hedge that prideful insecurity is the unfortunate ticket.

  • Amber
    Posted Feb 16, 2014 at 7:22 pm 0Likes

    Nice, insightful article. You should take your insight beyond the Internet and publish a book. On other, similar websites I’ve noticed that the information might be comprehensive, but the responses given to viewers are abrupt. Your articles provide an in-depth analysis, but you also take out the time to interact with posters. Your responses reflect patience, understanding and empathy…..and not everyone can manage that consistently. So, you should publish a book or maybe go into counseling.

    • James Nelmondo
      Posted Feb 19, 2014 at 1:01 pm 0Likes

      Thank you for your kind words Amber, people like you keep me going! I’ve tried counselling (I used to on here), and while I do enjoy it, I tend to delve a little too deply and become too intertwined. On the plus side, I’ve loved every person I’ve worked with. It takes a certain strength to admit there is a problem and to want to talk openly about it, I just can’t bring myself to monetize and thus it is unsustainable.

  • Yisus
    Posted May 5, 2014 at 8:45 pm 0Likes

    Hi! My ex and I were together for about 4 yrs, and we broke up (well, she broke me up) on 31 Dec. I deleted my ex from facebook, and twitter, and tumblr and that’s it because she does not have any other social media. Anyway, I don’t use facebook that much, but from time to time, some wild status from mutual friends appear: those that say something about love, relationship, break up and stuff, and my ex always likes them. I don’t want to care anymore about her, because for real, it’s no sane. Maybe it’s my mind and she’s not playing mind games, but It’s kinda funny that she always appears somehow on my news feed. She didn’t use facebook when we where together, and now she all over the place, she didn’t erase any of her pictures with me, from time to time she calls one of my best pals, out of the blue. My friend didn’t answer and when he called back she didn’t either, so I’m just guessing what the hell was that about?? and yesterday, oh yesterday, she changed her profile pic, to a very, absolutely very old photo that i took her. that’s just weird because it was a special occasion, the day I introduce her to my whole family, the same day I played my first gig in front of a 6000 crowd. maybe she does not remember it was from that day, but… I didn’t remember that photo existed (i took it from a friend’s camera, he’s the one who upload it) until she put it in her profile. Mr. Unknown, do you think this is a classic mind game?

    Greeting from Spain Yizuz.

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