Even if you have come to accept the breakup, seeing an ex move on can be disheartening. You’re left wondering why the healing is taking longer for you than it is for them, and whether or not what you meant to each other can be that easily forgotten.

The truth, however, is that often the act of moving on quickly is perceived by many exs as a way-out of insecurity and the hollowness that accompanies a breakup. A fear induced quick fix. Many exs will attempt to fill the absence of affection and attention by seeking new relationships. Unfortunately for all involved, healing takes time. And the grass is hardly ever greener .

The rebound relationship

Are they now with someone else? Next’ing your ex by getting with someone (usually anyone) new is a common mistake. While initially passionate and energetic, your quintessential rebound relationship usually ends in tears. The classic rebound usually ends when either your ex’s self-esteem begins to re-solidify, or  once they realize that next’ing doesn’t always curb past emotional pangs — it can actually catalyse them instead.

Just because your ex has found a new shoulder to lean on doesn’t mean they have moved on. The reality is usually the reverse. That finding someone new was done with the intention of getting over it.

This doesn’t mean rebound relationships never work their way out of their precarious initial intentions, and that your ex hasn’t found someone they can truly love. But most relationships that begin swiftly after an old one tend to run out of emotional steam quite quickly.

If you wish to reconcile in the future, don’t sit back and wait for the relationship to crumble. It may never happen. Take this new romance at face value and take a decisive step towards putting your own life first.

That severed connection

Once your personal connection with your ex has been lost, it becomes impossible to know every facet of their emotional existence. The best we can do is over-analyse whatever evidence we are presented, and draw rough guesses as to how they are really doing.

Just because their social network accounts are now full of happy, smiling poses does not mean that they are free of their feelings for you. Healing, it bears remembering, takes time. Even bad breakups lead to some measure of grief that needs to be taken care of.

However, due to the fact that we no longer have that connection, we simply don’t know how they are truly doing. Taking communication at face value is the only sane option we have. If you catch yourself over-analysing make a conscious effort to stop yourself — the erection of hopes and illusions, once they don’t come to pass, can reset the healing process in an infinite loop of grief. If you have questions you are better off asking your ex honestly and openly. But remember that closure comes from within, and most certainly does not require external validation.

Fake it till you make it

Breakup pain, while something the vast majority of human kind can relate to, is also something that you don’t necessarily want to socially advertise. Your ex will usually do their best to move on with their lives, and hope that the pain will diminish with time.

In the majority of cases (even when they have no wish to reconcile), the aftermath of a relationship breakup is an extended fake it till you make it routine. The pain, grief and loss are not something superficial and apparent . The effect to outsiders (including their exs — yes, that’s us) is that it can look like they are moving on swiftly. This synthetic compartmentalization of pain is particularly true of strong or prideful people. For whom the idea of self-victimization is simply not an option.

Manipulation and resentment

Many manipulative exs attempt vainly to bring their ex down in the hopes that revenge (appearing to move on fast is one way of attempting to do this) will buffer their own broken self-esteem.

  • If you were the dumper – they may want to make you rue dumping them by showing you and others that they deserved better, that they are now free and not prisoners of their own guilt or pride.
  • If you were the dumpee – Your ex may blame you internally for having ruined the relationship, leading to pent-up resentment and anger. In order to dig in what you have lost they may make a show of improving themselves and moving on swiftly.

While manipulation is common, with both parties playing an egotistical (yes, most of us do this) game of cat and mouse to see who got the better end of the bargain by breaking up. Once again bear in mind that we can’t know for certain how they feel.

The bottom line is to take all post-breakup shenanigans at face value by focusing on your own life and by not depending on anyone other than yourself for validation.

Images courtesy of Adamr and Digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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24 Comments

  • Christina
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm 0Likes

    Okay, so I dont expect you know the right answer, but I’ve been thinking about something. My ex broke it off 3 months ago. The reason was me being sad all the time. I know how unreasonable I can be when Im sad, so I really dont blame him, because I WAS sad all the time, and I didnt know why. (I think the main reason for my sadness was I moved to his city 4 hours away from family and friends. I didnt get any new friends and I was feeling very lonely)

    I understand his actions. But except for that only thing our relationship was very good. When Im talking with my friends, Im wondering why they’re fighting for stupid things with their boyfriends. All of my friends are talking about small things their boyfriends do as if its a big problem. Like he’s never cleaning, he’s playing playstation all the time, he’s flirting with other girls and I could go on.

    I am very thankful for the relationship we had. Compared to other relationship I’ve heard about, we were the perfect match. So it’s hard for me to move on, because I still see the good things in the relationship and I cannot find any flaw. I keep thinking that he’s the only one and I’m so afraid that I’ll never find anyone like him. We didn’t fight over stupid things and I was never annoyed by him.
    All “moving-on”-advices are mainly about realizing that the relationship wasnt that good anyway, but I really think it was? Then what can I do?

    I hope you understand my point. I am really bad at explaining myself especially in english :)

  • The Unknown
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 2:14 pm 0Likes

    Hello Christina. I do understand your point and your English is excellent!

    Does he know how you feel? Perhaps he misread your sadness as being unhappy regarding the relationship. Insecurity and poor communication (you still seem a little uncertain why you were sad) can generate needless amounts of stress. If you weren’t sure why you were unhappy, how could he?

    If the relationship was that idyllic, I am also confused as to why he would simply say enough and move on without a hitch. But then again, for whatever reason, his feelings were strong enough to lead to a breakup, and then maintain it (which is far harder). Either pride or confusion have propelled him forward, or he doesn’t share your view regarding the past.

    • Christina
      Posted May 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm 0Likes

      Thank you for your quick answer!

      Well, we have talked about it afterwards. He told me that was frustrated him the most was me being understanding about the problem, but never did anything about it. We both knew it was because of my situation with me moving from the capital to a little town without work and social network. He is very considerate so he ended up being with me everyday and night. He never saw any of his friends and he even began to hate the town aswell. When we had our conversation after the break up, he told me that he had a newfound energy to see his old friends and now he could study without bad conscience.

      Okay – when I’m writing it here I can see why he broke it off and why he’s not regretting it. But it still doesn’t change my feelings about him. We didn’t have all the small problems but we had that big one. Now when I’ve moved back and I’m feeling more positive and happy about my life, I don’t see why we couldn’t be together now. Maybe it’s just too late, but I’ve never understood that feeling when you stop loving someone you cared so much about. I know you can’t explain feelings and often there’s no reason.

      I really don’t know what to do now. I’m trying to move on, but it’s difficult when I still see him as a good person and remember the relationship as a good one.

    • The Unknown
      Posted May 29, 2013 at 9:34 pm 0Likes

      I know exactly what you mean.

      I’ve never understood that feeling when you stop loving someone you cared so much about

      Yes, I suppose that’s the hardest part to accept. However I feel that it’s rarely about lack of love or caring, and more to do with our understanding of what a relationship is “meant” to be. Some of us look for care, security and companionship, while others look for someone to help catalyze their drive and spur them on. At least, from my own experiences, that’s the impression I get. Otherwise it becomes impossible to make sense of situations such as yours (and mine).

  • Peter
    Posted Mar 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm 0Likes

    Hi,
    firstly let me thank you for the wonderful advice that you give on this blog. i truly believe its one of the best breakup support sites ive seen so far. thank you again and i hope you continue to inspire us…

    i have a question:
    my ex broke it off 3.5 months ago in a very bad way via text message and a bunch of flimsy reasons etc but no proper clarity and closure. we had been in a committed relationship together for 3.5 years and i am thankful for the time we shared and happy memories. i was and still am broken hearted over the way she dumped me (i believe she had started moving on gradually but i was in so much of my own problems that i did not notice this) i was upset and broken over why she did not have 1) the decency to tell me what was wrong so that i cud fix it and 2) have the decency to end things with class and closure…

    people that i know have suggested that she possibly found someone secretly and hence she moved on months ago before deciding to dump me

    what has been confusing though is while she threatened to block me off all social media (should i harass her) she hasnt though. however being mature enough i respected her wishes and have not contacted her for 3.5 months.i have not stalked her or her friends etc. i did block her on some social sites initially bcuz i was so hurt seeing her pics . however it was only until recently i logged into g-talk and seeing her online i was emotionally sad and so to help with the pain i blocked her there too…

    i have been slowly trying to heal and i think i am ready to return to social media (facebook), blogging, writing etc . my question is basically this 1) why did she not remove or block me uptil this point ? what cud be the reasons ? after all she had the courage to leave me damaged so why not delete me also?
    2) if i return to facebooking and i genuinely post stuff (not with the intention of getting her back or anything) how wud that not be interpreted by her as a fake it attempt or an attempt to show her im good etc when it is genuinely not? should i block her instead ?

    although the hurt she gave me was so bitter i am not bitter about it anymore. i have also been coming to terms with forgiveness instead of hate. i have made my peace and im moving on with my life

    your answers would be a great help

    thanks

    • James Nelmondo
      Posted Mar 27, 2014 at 1:40 pm 0Likes

      Peter,

      Sorry for the late reply, and thank you for your kind words.

      1) Unfortunately, from my perspective, not blocking you on the social media is not a surefire sign she wants to keep her options open. It is entirely possible that the sadness which afflicts you when you watch a slideshow of her life without you ticking away does not effect her the same way it does you.

      Of course, I could be wrong. And reconciliation will always require communication, and it may be a way of keeping an avenue open — but since it is anything but a certainty, I would assume the opposite. Unless she begins to iniate contact, I would assume that it simply may not be as painful for her as it is for you. I don’t relish saying this of course, because I know how terrifying and patently unfair this can seem (when we’re the ones who are dumped).

      2) You should do, and say, whatever you feel you want to, and begin to distance yourself from how she will “take” your words. The connection has been severed, and so too should the overanalysis. I would personally judge by my own intentions only, should she choose to misinterpret you, that’s her problem — and her insecurity. Should she have questions, you’ll be there to answer them. This is all assuming an indirect game for attention is being played, but judging by your words and tone, I highly doubt that’s the case.

      3) Regarding the gifts, when it has happened to me I initially wanted them back. But I realize retrospecively it was all a way of attempting to belatedly keep a connection that may not exist alive. Looking back now, I am objectively happy she got to keep something personal of mine, even if she did decide to throw it away (I have no way of knowing). Afterall, despite the battles and pain we meant something to each other and thus a tangible relic seems fitting now. P.S: It also provides a communicative avenue should she wish to reconcile, and a reason to meet up).

      I’m sorry if this all seems a little dire, however in cases such as these I find that it is better to focus on certainties than to indulge in games of wishful thinking. While the chances that you may — at least — talk about initiating some kind of relationship or friendship down the line, there’s never any guarantee this will happen. And for our sanity’s sake, it’s better to live in a binary world of 1’s or 0’s and accept our predicament as is, than to find a chain of emotional snake oil to latch on to.

  • Peter
    Posted Mar 25, 2014 at 10:05 pm 0Likes

    i forgot ask this too…

    1) after 3.5 months of time she has not made any contact etc.as i am the dumpee i have respected her wishes. i just want to confirm that its right that i do not try to contact her at all ? (if she wants she should make contact first)

    2)what are your thoughts on the dumper holding on to gifts?in my case she still wears a watch i had gifted her once. does this mean shes holding on ? or does it mean she wears that object without any feeling now? of the many things i have that she gave there are some personal family photos that she gave me? shud i return those? i feel terrible to have to throw them out shud they be of value to her

    pls advise

    thanks

  • Peter
    Posted Mar 25, 2014 at 10:13 pm 0Likes

    at the time of the break up i had asked her for an option that we be friends but she did not answer anything. what does this mean? ive read conflicting posts on this being a sign that she is not over or something ?

    what wud u think of the same…

    thnx

  • Maggie
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 11:06 pm 0Likes

    I have a question for you if you don’t mind
    My boyfriend and I broke it off mutually because we wanted different thing in a relationship. We both, however, still like each other. I wanted to want a serious relationship (which is what he wanted) in hope that I would want it at the end of summer. We made a deal to try to make it work then, but until then, having an open relationship. It’s been 4 days since we broke up and he has already started dating someone else. He says hes not over me but then his relationship is unloyal and dishonest? I still like him and I don’t want to get over him because he is a great guy I just feel like he always wants a girlfriend. This, however, makes me unsettled. What if I was just a girlfriend because I can be one? And, I accepted that he may date other people during the summer but its not even summer yet (our school schedule.) He still wants to be friends but its hard for me because I feel betrayed and weird because I still like him. What should I do? I don’t want him to get over me but I find it hard to talk to him.

  • João DIas
    Posted May 28, 2014 at 2:47 am 0Likes

    Hi guys, i’ve dated my ex for 6 years, two months ago, she broke it up and i am devastated because we were highschool sweethearts, she had a bit of a problem because she was never really into a Physical relashionship with me, but she always told me it wasn’t important, but lately she has struggled with that and broke it up, i tried to do what i could, when to the gyn and got thinner after we broke up to see if it would fix it, she told me that she still loved me but couldn’t really cope with what she felt, even after she told me lots of times during our relationship that i was perfect for her because she wasnt into a lot of physical stuff lige holding hands and hugging in public.
    a few days ago i found her with her new boyfriend, holding hands, something she never really liked to do with me because she felt embarassed.
    I have to admit that i struggled with no contact rule, and we talked alot even after because she kept telling me she was still in love but confused, and wanted to be friends, i couldt do it so now we are in total no contact, i also begged her a couple of times to come back witch she told me only got her further away, also when i saw her with her new boyfirend she noticed that i cried… and since i was hot headed i called her a ****… is there still hope? the guy is totally my oposite and shes doing thigs with him that she didnt like with me, also, something that didnt work in my favour was that her grandmother and her dog died a few weeks ago and he was there for her to confort her, i also tried but got shunned… also when she started out with him e told her he wasnt right for her, and i really think he’s not, but she keeps telling me he’s perfect and that she’s happy…

  • anynomous
    Posted Oct 2, 2014 at 5:51 pm 0Likes

    Hello. I was with my boyfriend for 3 years and we just broke up a 3 weeks ago. We for the most part had great memories and a great relationship, except I had a hard time opening up from time to time. We lived together for a year too. Not even 2 days after we broke up he’s dating someone else. He said that he wasn’t happy for the last 6 months of our relationship but couldn’t hurt me. BUT his actions didn’t change until the last month (which he was already interested in this other girl) He met this girl through a mutual friend. It has been known he has been talking to her via text back and forth for at least a month in the end of our relationship. I have also have not contacted him at all. I of course asked him and he denied it. I haven’t been in contact with him for a week now. I did some snooping because i was insecure, but he said that wasn’t the only reason. He said he needed time to be alone because he felt empty and dead inside because of his moms death which was 5 yrs ago. He said he felt guilty (she had ALS) so it wasn’t his fault. But some to find out by several of his best friends and others that was an excuse for a way out. His best friends are also on my side and keep bashing him telling him how stupid he is, and that I was the best for him. They also said the new girl is not welcome they don’t like her, because she knew he had a gf. I know it takes 2 to tango. I also don’t see how someone can dare use death as an excuse! I was wondering if this a rebound and will he be back? I love and miss him so much! Thank you!

  • Dan
    Posted Dec 14, 2014 at 8:23 pm 0Likes

    My Ex and i broke up in march he cheated last year and we try working it out but he kept seeing other people behind my back is sadden me because raise his child with him for 13 years the whole time i was with him i send him to college helped him with depression and he moved out this march by may he had someone new we’re still friends and he has never apologize. i should and part of me is happy for him, another part of me wonders if he knowns who much i put up with and did for him and is he even thankful.

  • L Risby
    Posted Mar 14, 2016 at 10:45 pm 0Likes

    I broke up w someone that I was with for 14 years. It will b a year on March 25th. I was the one that ended everything. To make a long story short she ended up dating someone who I trusted her w 2 months later. AND IT CRUSHED ME. I’m happy to say that I’m over it, but I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that someone who u treated like a queen could do u so wrong. I must b honest about my part in the relationship. My ex Is a narcissist. And because I was not use to her behavior I would curse her out pretty bad on a regular. Upon entering the relationship I knew something wasn’t right but because I have such a big heart and I loved her so much. I didn’t try to change her but I thought if she knew how much I loved her she would soften. Anyway despite everything we had a decent relationship. When I say that I had her back I had it! I helped raise her kids everything possible I did for her. It was honsestly the 1st time I really loved someone. I just don’t understand how someone could betray someone so good to them. Listen I get not being in love w someone anymore but the person that can i am could never ever betray someone that was so good to me. I’ts the only thing that bothers me.

    • James Nelmondo
      Posted Mar 15, 2016 at 1:43 am 0Likes

      Hey there L Risby,

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      The thing that gets me most about betrayal is that not only does it cause pain, anger and humiliation in the short-term, but that it can threaten future relationships because no matter how fulfilling and trusting, there’s always that thought of “what if this ends the same way”.

      It transforms someone else’s irresponsibility into our future insecurity (and beyond owning up to our real mistakes, we end up blaming ourselves for far more than is due).

  • L Risby
    Posted Mar 18, 2016 at 7:44 am 0Likes

    Thank you so much! I just want to go on with my life. I love being in a relationship but I know I’m not ready. I just hope when I do the next person loves them self as much as I do. I grew up in a family where as we always told each other that we loved one another but somehow I always meet people who grew up opposite of that and because I have a big heart I want to show them what unconditional love feels like.

  • Rexor
    Posted Mar 23, 2016 at 5:21 am 0Likes

    My situation differs some and I cant get past the anger and hatred I have now. Was with the girl i thought i was going to marry at some point for nearly 5 years. She was always attempting to cheat and she did when I caught her pof profile. Since the breakup she moved on so quick like all those years did not mean anything. She is a liar and abusive use to hit me and verbally attack me. She got with some online person weeks after and I as a man cant seem to even want a relationship after being damaged so bad. I hate her but a part of me still loves her. Its clear she moved on but Im sure she has some mental instability with being bi polar. In the end I was just a victim. Im part of her list of guys she been with over 30 to be near exact. I ignored all the red flags of her being with guy after guy being raped no daddy and she aborted on top of that. The list goes on and I cant seem to forget about it. I was sure the rebound would not last but its still going, I know I deserve better but it has not happened as of yet. In closing I just want to say to all don’t end up like me if there are red flags get out before more damage happens. Its been almost five months and I cant seem to get past it all. I live day to day just thinking about being betrayed. I am also messed up emotionally beyond repair it seems.

  • L Risby
    Posted Mar 25, 2016 at 11:49 am 0Likes

    Rexor! I’m so sorry and I understand ur pain. I can’t explain to you how devasted I was. But faith and talking to God everyday help me. I promise u that . And believe if u were the best u could possibly be God won’t over look that. U would not believe how many ppl looked up to our relationship because we truly had a bond but it’s hard to contend when mental illness shows it ugly face.I really had to realize that ppl who have mental issues as mush as we want to believe they can, can’t help it. If u think about it who in there right mind wouldn’t delight in having someone who truly truly loves them.

  • amir
    Posted Apr 14, 2016 at 8:38 am 0Likes

    Hi. I just broke up with my girlfriend 2 month ago after 4 years of relationship. I was so shocked when she called me last week & said she had met somebody else from work. I did not know what to do. Please explain what is going on? Will she regret her action. I am so deeply sad to overcome this.

    • James Nelmondo
      Posted Apr 14, 2016 at 4:16 pm 0Likes

      Hey there Amir,

      Unfortunately, beyond telling her that you don’t want her to end the relationship, there isn’t much you can realistically do. Attempting to manipulate and/or hound her for attention so that she doesn’t forget about you will likely make things worse, even though our natural impulse as dumpees is that of attempting to stay in the picture somehow.

      My advice would be to let her know that she is welcome to contact you, so that if she does have second thoughts she won’t fear that you hate her or don’t want to talk. The fewer communicative barriers there are for reconciliation, the better.

  • melissa
    Posted Apr 19, 2016 at 10:48 am 0Likes

    Hi I was in a relationship for 8half yrs with my boyfriend his mother died 3yrs ago so he inherited everyt he sold his house and moved up to pretoria I rented my flat out and stored my furniture I went up their to him hoping. Our relationship will work I was their for 8mnths we fought a lot he was dominiring his child doesn’t want her father to be with nobody she wants her father for herself she minuplates all the time causes us to fight all the time his sister also tried to help us and gave us advice he mentally abused me and I wasn’t perfect either I had my faults but I came to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore I realy loved him and he said he loved me it was the hardest decision I ever had to make he wasn’t happy when I said I’m leaving he was very hurt he took me to the bus station and waited their with me he payed for my extra luggage and gave me money he hugged me goodbye and cried so badly and I did as well I said to him I will always love him and he will always be in my heart and he said the same I got to cape town he spoke to me on whatsup and started downing me saying I couldn’t handle his child and I didn’t love him enough to sell my flat my love was not enough for him and that he still loves me I’ve been in cape town a month and found out his got someone else I saw a pic of her on whatsup I’m very hurt

    • James Nelmondo
      Posted Apr 19, 2016 at 11:54 am 0Likes

      Hi Melissa,

      The fact that you both continue to love each other despite the breakup means that emotions are bound to be high, and therefore the things you say (after the breakup) are bound to be coated in insecurity.

      Perhaps he was attempting to manipulate your grief (make it worse to salvage his own ego) by saying what he said, or perhaps the breakup made him doubt himself, either way, I’d not take his assertions too personally, it is up to you to decide whether you loved him enough or whether you could handle his child.

      You know yourself, and your intentions best.

      Usually, if an ex tries to bring you down they do so only to level the playing field, by bringing you down they are trying to no longer look up at you. I wouldn’t take the bait.

  • Someone
    Posted Apr 26, 2016 at 7:21 am 0Likes

    I was in a relationship for 1 and a half and then she broke up with me and then go with some else 1 week later and then went on 4 dates and then she started messaging me agian and saying she wants me back. However on the same night she got with him I was trying to get hold of her due to personal reasons. So ignored them and meet another guy.
    I don’t know what to do because I don’t want to throw away a good relationship but I don’t know if I can be with someone who can hurt me this much.
    Can someone please give me some advise on what to do.
    Thank you!

    • James Nelmondo
      Posted Apr 26, 2016 at 10:27 am 0Likes

      Hey there Someone,

      I suppose the question is what — in this case — constitutes a good relationship, because the way she acted isn’t in line with what I’d say marks a healthy relationship.

      There was little, if any, consideration for you, and that will naturally burn what little trust is left.

      I’m not saying that she was not entitled to break things off and date other people, she has every right to do that (and frankly, at least she had the residual decency to end things rather than cheat on you), but putting you on a shelf while she tests the waters does not bode well moving forward.

      Outside of this incident, if it is something you believe trust can recover from, was the relationship fulfilling enough for you to risk that happening again? Bear in mind that whatever led her to temporarily jump ship is still there. That issue, that insecurity, has not been resolved. What’s stopping her from doing it again?

      It’s up to you, knowing her and the relationship that you had/have, to decide whether the likelihood of this happening again outweighs the chance that it was all a little mistake. Personally, given the sheer weight of the testimony I receive on the website, these mistakes have a habit of reoccurring down the line. Especially because by taking her back without reserve she may think that she can get away with it in the future.

      At the very least then I’d let it stew for some time. Long enough to see what she does in the meantime. If she can’t bear the thought of being alone for a few weeks, you’ll have your answer.

  • ben
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 2:03 am 0Likes

    Hi

    My fiance left me 7 weeks ago. We were together for 11 years and due to get married in 5 months time. There was no warning. 6 days before she broke it off, she booked our honeymoon suit. Everything was normal up until 48 hours before. We had a dodgy spell 18 months ago. Mainly to do with money. It was my fault and we argued but we said we would work through it and be ok. She was also bullied at work for 3 months and it triggered depression and anxiety in her. At first we talked alot about it and it seemed to get better. Since last summer, we hardly argued and she seemed happier. As it turned out, she found spiritualiam last summer and that has taken her over. Her spirit and soul told her to leave me so she did. Apparently as i work alot if evenings, she got used to being on her own and fell out of love with me. It was all subconsious and she didnt realise. She now goes to lots of spiritual events where she fancys her spiritual leader who is 50. (She is 29) its such a shock and i refuse to throw 11 years away like this.

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