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 depth of their own emotional uncertainty.
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 compare your personal 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 get on with it.
On The Fence
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.
They Hate You
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
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 hate 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.
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.
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 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. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The failing rebound relationship
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 behavior 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 prop up their wavering insecurity.
Exes will eventually move on. I am absolutely not referring to exes who are genuinely and naturally moving on to a new relationship. I am referring to flagrant and manipulative attempts at showing off with the aim of destabilizing you.
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.
Enter the 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 humor 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!
They spend time on you
One way to make sense of chaos is simply to objectively look at how much time they are still investing in you.
An ex who is seeking greener pastures will need all that energy to build a new life. And trust me when I say that this is exactly what they will do, if they are oriented away from you.
The reason I like this sign is that it slices through the nonsense. It doesn’t matter what they say, do, or insinuate. If they are still emotionally invested it will be mirrored by their time investment in you.
This doesn’t mean reconciliation is imminent, but it does mean that getting over you is still very much a work in progress.
Attempts at contact are pointless
Often an ex will play games will with the objective of indirectly gleaning information about your feelings because doing so directly is too risky (and too painful).
If their stated objective and real objective are different you can expect communication to reflect this confusion.
Crumbs and mixed messages. Facebook pokes and tags. Random by-the-ways. These are all potential signs an ex is playing games. Exactly what that is will depend on the situation you’re in, but will usually boil down to an attempt to assuage insecurity.
They have a plan
The first thing we scramble for when we lose control of a situation is a sense of purpose. Something to fill that hole that has emerged in our soul.
Having a plan, even one that is doomed to fail, means prolonging denial and instilling us with a temporary hope.
Enter no contact and other breakup magic bullets. While no contact can be a powerful tool with regards to healing (if the silence is used as a way for us to get clarity), it is usually a sign your ex is playing a game of egotistic chicken.
If you are being pointedly ignored or made to feel worthless, I consider it likely that this is by design. The lower you feel, the comparatively higher they get.
This is assuming you decide to play along. If you don’t, if you take the silence as an answer, it is often amazing how quickly they cave to their own ultimatums.
As the saying goes, their egos are writing cheques their body can’t cash!