So, this morning I learned two lessons.
Don’t take your vitamins after you’ve been eating almonds, and don’t open those stupid LinkedIn emails.
You know the ones.
“Ashley, people have been checking out your profile.”
I keep my LinkedIn updated, but I rarely use it as a networking tool and I almost always drag and drop those right into the trash, but today… oh today… today I had to decide to open that stupid email and only to find my ex’s face staring up at me from the screen.
There it was.
I had gone out of my way to avoid looking at any of his profiles since we split and I had been doing a damn good job of it, if I do say so myself.
Suddenly, hundreds of what-ifs and questions started swimming around my head. You know those silly thoughts that cross every girl’s mind when any reason rears its head after a breakup. We don’t just jump to small conclusions either. We follow them like rabbit trails to extremes.
I know he’s been acting like a complete jerk, but clearly this means he misses me, right?
Maybe he wants to get back together?
Would I even take him back if he did?
Thankfully, saner heads prevailed. I came to the conclusion that either he did it by mistake or he just saw that I got a new job and was just satiating his curiosity.
Either way, I had the option to delude myself into thinking it was something it wasn’t. I chose not to lie to myself. I am so much better off because of it.
I was trying to figure out a way to lead into this article when this happened, and I cannot think of a better illustration of the things men do after a breakup that just leave us going, “Huh?”
Allow me to elaborate.
After a break up, even if we’re the ones that did the breaking up, we will always be left wondering what’s going on in the other person’s head.
I mean, no one wants to hear that their ex got over them without any problems what-so-ever. Pride’s a funny thing like that. It is the driving force behind so many of the situations I want to talk about today.
Hope is another major player in this case. In fact, if we were the dumpee, this curiosity is inflamed by some sort of hope that he will see reason and come running back, like being lost in the dessert and seeing mirages everywhere you turn.
So, here’s what I have decided to do.
I have put together a list of… let’s call them “behaviors” that men engage in after a breakup that make you wonder,
“Does he still care about me?”
There are a total of nine of them,
- Drunk Texting
- Liking Your Pics And Then Removing You From Social Media
- Double Standards
- Completely Ignoring You
- Being A Complete Jerk
- Jumping Into A New Relationship
- Staying Friends (Hoping For Benefits)
- Contacting You After You Asked For Space
And I am going to dissect these behaviors for you so we can actually answer that eternal question of,
“Does he care?”
#1: He Drunk Texts You
It’s two o’clock in the morning. Your phone dings that familiar “ding”.
You sleepily reach under your pillow and bring the blinding screen to your face.
They’re rapid fire and, for a grammar nazi like him, they’re a wreck.
You consider responding.
It’d be nice to sleep next to him again or even just be friends.
But then you think about last week when you got a similar stream of texts from him early in the morning, you answered trying to make sure he got home okay. Only for him to pass out mid text, leaving those annoying three little dots dancing on your screen.
You saw him at school the next day and dammit if he didn’t treat you worse than he did before.
He and some of his guy friends went out to grab some beers and catch a game. His friend, Sam brought his girlfriend. They spent the entire time playing grab-ass and being sickeningly sweet.
His other friends picked up some girls from the bar before they left. He went to pay his tab and realized that he was going home alone.
He had been out of the dating game for a while now. Suddenly, he started thinking about those times when he didn’t have to feel this way. Walking out of the bar, his drunk brain said,
“We should tell her we miss her. That’s a nice thing to do. Maybe she’ll be nice back. We could maybe hook up this once.”
So he texted you.
And whether you answer, or you don’t, he will always wake up in the morning and remember the reasons the two of you split in the first place.
He’ll spend the next few days scolding himself for ever texting you and heaven forbid if you see him or try to reach out to him. In an effort to keep himself from doing it again, he’ll try to push you away by being mean.
Let me show you something.
I asked my bestie (also an ex) what kind of weird things he’d do after a break up.
Here’s a screenshot of that conversation,
Yes, I asked if I could share it with you guys.
What kind of monster do you think I am?
How to Deal
Remind yourself when you get those texts, that if he can’t say it sober and during business hours (you know, when you’re awake), then it’s probably not worth hanging your hat on.
Men are impulsive and reactive. They will do whatever they can to make themselves feel better when they feel bad. That’s why there are so many middle aged men driving sports cars out there.
#2: Liking Your Posts or Pics And Then Removing You From Social Media
You posted some pictures of your fun weekend spent with and family.
And there it is again his name, among your notifications, like a beacon in the vast ocean that is birthday notifications and the 200 pictures of your cousin’s baby bump that all look almost friends identical. (We get it! You’re pregnant! We’re excited for you! Quit it already!)
Now you’re just sitting there staring at the screen.
“What does this even mean?”
A few days later you notice, by mere coincidence, (You weren’t stalking his page or anything.) that he’s not only unfriended you, but he’s blocked you!
“Seriously, what does this even mean?”
This falls along the same lines as the drunk text. So, as he was scrolling down his feed he saw your picture. It was in all likeliness an impulse. You two were together and he probably liked a LOT of your pictures during that time.
Men assume everything means way more to us than it might. So assuming you will read into it, he did the only thing he knows will keep him from doing it again.
Now you’ll read into that too.
No matter what he does now he’s sure to feel guilty or attacked somehow.
How to Deal
Girl, come on.
It’s just a picture or a post online.
It’s not like he sent a gold crested eagle (Do those even exist? I think I made that up) delivering a message telling you he’s happy you had a good time last weekend.
He literally clicked one button out of habit.
Don’t get your panties in a bunch.
#3: Double Standards
He started seeing someone right out of the gate. It took you a little longer to get your footing, so-to-speak. Now you’ve started talking to someone new.
You and your new guy see your ex at a party. He is casting glares and throwing a tantrum like it’s a personal affront to his very existence that you’d even consider moving on. Clearly he wants you back. Right? Why else wouldn’t he want you to move on?
Your break up was inevitable. If he was dating someone new so soon, he was already scouting talent before he ever even considered breaking up with you.
But now, he sees you with guy number two and he finds himself having competitive thoughts.
“I’m taller than he is.”
“Does he have better calves than me?”
And yes he’s definitely thinking
“I bet I’m bigger.”
It’s not that he wants you to be his again. He just feels a little replaced. That’s okay. He was.
Everyone wants to feel special, and right now he’s just baffled that you could move on after him at all.
Is he not all that is man?
*Cue beating on chest and territorial tribal dance*
How to Deal
Don’t. There’s nothing to deal with. He’s looking to get a response from you, some reassurance. In my opinion, he’s not necessarily deserving of it.
Dang it, now I’m going to be singing Sarah Bareilles’ “Love Song” for the rest of the day.
But it’s like she says, you should have to tell someone you love them just to make them feel better.
Imagine how your date, who actually likes you and chose to come to the party with you will feel when you are suddenly trying to downplay your relationship to make your ex who was a butthead feel better. Isn’t that a little backwards?
But don’t go to the other extreme either. Don’t try to play up your relationship with your date to make your ex feel worse. Yes, we get it.
He was a jerk, but your new date doesn’t deserve to be a pawn either. If you can’t enjoy your date without reacting to your ex’s presence, perhaps you should relocate to an area away from him or perhaps simply suggest that you and your date go elsewhere, so you can actually enjoy your evening together.
#4: Completely Ignoring You
He completely cut you out after you split. He doesn’t respond to texts, phone calls, or anything. It’s like he disappeared of the face of the planet.
Didn’t the connection you forged mean anything at all? Did you just waste the last 3,4 5 months or years of your life?
It’s easier for him to get over the relationship without you around. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It is almost just as difficult to cut someone out of your life as it is to be cut out.
How to Deal
Perhaps one day the two of you will be in each other’s orbit again, but for now, take the space to let yourself get over it.
#5: Tries to Make You Jealous
He dumped you, and now he’s acting like he was wronged, parading his exploits around in front of you.
“Is he really so heartless? Did I do something to deserve being treated this way?”
You think to yourself.
“Man, I’ve been with the same woman for X amount of time, I’m just glad to know that other women still exist and are interested in me.”
Seriously though, even if he dumped you, it still hurts.
He’s numbing the pain with one of the three things that preside over anything else for a man, Sex. (The other two are food and survival.)
How to Deal
Okay, here’s what you’re going to do.
Be happy for him. He’s found a way to satiate the pain of the split.
It may not be a very healthy way to go about it, but hey, at least he’s not doing anything too crazy, like quitting his job and going to live among the tribes in Africa.
#6: Starts Being a Compete Jerk to You
You two run in the same circles. You actually see each other quite a bit, except something has changed. Not just that you two aren’t a couple any more. He’s different.
He’s cold and mean. He throws shade at you every chance he gets. He even calls you names, not just to you but to his friends.
Even after you two split up, you’ve been completely civil and nice to him. What could have prompted this kind of treatment?
He probably doesn’t even realize he’s doing this. It’s part of that territorial thing we were talking about before. It’s like having a hair hanging down tickling your arm that you can’t quite see, except YOU are the irritant.
His happy little circle hasn’t changed at all other than you are no longer a comfort you are a reminder that he feels guilty or hurt. His angry little jabs are his way of swiping at the hair trying to remove it.
His brain recognizes you as what is keeping him from being happy, so It is simply trying to remove you from his environment the only way it knows how, aggression.
How to Deal
Ignore it if you can and address it if you must. If you ignore it and remain in his environment, you will find that you will reestablish yourself as a new type of comfortable as opposed to the relationship kind of comfortable.
He’ll just get over it and settle in over time.
If you must address it.
Simply ask him to talk and point out that he’s been kind of rude to you since your split and you’d appreciate it if he’d dial it back a notch. He doesn’t have to be nice, he just doesn’t need to be so aggressive.
#7: Jumps Head First into a New Relationship
You’ve only been broken up for what feels like five minutes and he’s already got some new girl on his arm. I cannot even begin to explain to you how easy it is to understand what you’re going through.
Oh wait, yes I can.
I just got through dealing with this and it SUCKS!
Right now, all you want to know is how this reflects on you. What about you made him dive into another girl’s… arms so quickly? What’s wrong with you?
He saw something he wanted and went after it.
That’s what dating is!
Yeah sure he could have waited a week or two, but let’s face it, it would have hurt just as much.
How to Deal
The thing is, he didn’t take your feelings into consideration. Why? Opportunity cost.
Had he waited just to keep you from hurting, then he may have missed his opportunity.
Yeah this makes him a jerk.
He may not have intended to hurt you, but I realize that that is EXACTLY what he did. How do you get over something like that?
Take solace in the fact that you now know how big of a jerk he can be, and that you are no longer with a guy like that.
#8: Staying Friends (Hoping for Benefits)
You go out with a group of friends. He’s there.
But somehow, almost like magic, things aren’t weird. Somehow things feel just like they used to. You reach out and touch his arm, you laugh. He puts his arm around you as you scoot closer.
You decide to leave the party together. It wasn’t really discussed. It just kind of happened.
And then again a few weeks later.
And then again.
The two of you agreed to stay friends, but somehow you keep finding yourselves in each other’s beds. You don’t mean to. It just keeps happening.
Could he be considering getting back together?
I mean you don’t really do anything other than sleep together that makes you think this. You really are friends; you just happen to be knocking boots.
You can’t help but hope that maybe things will come back together.
Dude, I have this great deal with my ex. We aren’t dating anymore, but we still hookup when we’re together. Which is nice because I don’t’ have to train anyone new to do that thing I like just yet.
Doesn’t mean I have to stop looking though.
How to Deal
I realize that you are probably hoping that this will lead to something more, like a rekindling of love lost.
Things rarely works out that way.
My suggestion: cut out the sex and find someone who’ll date you AND sleep with you.
Get you a man that can do both!
#9: Keeps Contacting You After You Asked for Space
You are trying your best to move on. Heck maybe you read “How to Get Over an Ex When You’re Still in Love With Him” and you have asked him to give you some space.
Good for you!
That is a tough call to make and I am proud of you for making it.
However, for some reason your ex keeps on reaching out to you as if you two never even broke up. He calls and asks for favors.
“Could you take Fido out while he’s at work tomorrow?”
His sister can totally do that.
“Could you email him a copy of his resume? He seems to have misplaced it.”
Deleted it after we split. Sorry buddy.
“Hey what is that creamer you always get that he likes?”
Hazelnut, always Hazelnut.
“Where did he leave his sunglasses? He can’t seem to find them. Maybe he left them in your car.”
You dropped them in the lake the week we went to visit your Aunt. C’mon.
He’s being needier than he ever seemed to be when you were together. And you keep fielding them as best as you can.
Or if your luck better favors my own, he keeps reaching out to you right as you start to consider talking to someone new.
How did he know?
I always start to wonder if I need to check my apartment for bugs. He HAS to have some sort of ESP or something. It’s always RIGHT when I start to like a guy.
When I was younger, this would have sent me running back into his arms only to find us splitting up again shortly after.
Now I find that I can look at his reasoning for doing this and not let it screw up whatever possible romance could be budding with the interesting new prospect.
Just like us women, men tend to go through phases of being fine with the split and missing us. However, while we go through LOOOOONG periods of time right after a split where we miss him like crazy, he’s fine right after the relationship then gets side blinded by the fact that he almost text you about a show you watched together out of habit. Then suddenly the need to talk to you starts cropping up more and more. Eventually he will give in.
However, as soon as the two of you get comfortable and start talking again. Poof! He realizes he didn’t want the relationship back he just wanted to know you were still there.
Like a child reaching out in his sleep to remind himself that his mother is still there.
How to deal with it.
I find that their “missing us” phase, lines up with our “over it” phase far too often in my opinion.
I suggest you weigh you’re risk and reward in this situation.
How long did it take you to get to a place where you were almost over it?
Would it behoove you to make friends with your ex?
I find that in my life it almost always makes sense to be friends with an ex simply because you share a friend-base, but that’s not really the case for everyone, but you should definitely not throw any new relationships to the side simply because he texted. It’s not worth it, and in most cases.
Okay let’s wrap it up
You know what, that’s what you should take away from this I suppose.
I’m going to be straight with you; you’re never going to really know what is going on in your ex’s mind for sure. Even if you flat out asked them, you’ll probably never get the truth, because of pride, or selfishness, or just plain stupidity.
As a matter of fact, you’ll never truly know why ANYONE does the things they do. It’s human nature.
So my advice to you, don’t dwell on the things you don’t have control over.
If you’re spending your time over-analyzing every little thing that he does, you’re going to miss the important things going on around you. Don’t miss out on wonderful friends, or good relationships because of a relationship that is already over.
I assure you, most of the time after a relationship, he is doing everything he can’t not to think about you or the relationship. He’ll cut himself off from you and surround himself with women and distractions if that’s the only way he sees. Sure there are moments when he misses what you had, but they are just that fleeting moments. It’s up to you whether you want to get over the relationship and move on or try your hand at getting him back.
If you are having to ask if he cares though, then that’s just it, he probably doesn’t. People show you, not just in tiny gestures, that they care.
Would you believe that even Oprah dealt with this exact problem?
Many, many years ago, she was discussing a lost relationship with Dr. Maya Anjelou. She spoke about waiting for that phone call that never came. “When a person says to you, ‘I’m selfish,’ or ‘I’m mean’ or ‘I am unkind,’ believe them,” She said. “They know themselves much better than you do.”
She eluded to how this man had let her down, and the pain that she was going through. Dr. Anjelou replied to this by asking, “Why are you blaming the other person? He showed you who he was.”
“When you look back on bad relationships… For myself, [it was] sitting in a window waiting for him to show up, not even getting on the phone because I was afraid that if it was busy for one second that he would call and I would miss the call, not taking out the garbage on the weekends because I might be out the moment that he called, not running the bath water because he might call while I’m running the bath water…When you look at that process of waiting on somebody who has told you they were… going to be there for you and they were not, they are showing you in that moment exactly who they are.”
So when you look back at your break up and you think of anything he’s done that is outright vicious or mean, know that, yes, he was probably just doing that to push you away, but there are many other ways to go about that.
Believe it or not, his actions reflect upon his very character. He’s showing you who he is.
I know it’s tempting to make excuses for him.
“He’s just trying to save me from even more heartache.”
But that’s like cutting off your hand to save yourself the pain of a papercut.
The papercut will heal in time, just like you will eventually get over a break up.
But by pushing you away in a harsh manner, saying horrible things or doing things that will deliberately hurt you, well that’s really a much deeper cut that will take much longer, if ever, to heal.
So I implore you not to delude the situation in front of you. If you had a daughter and she was in any of these situations, what would you tell her?