I’m going to show you my very best tips to make your ex miserable without you.
Now, each of these things I will be discussing has specific success stories, research, or other evidence that supports their effectiveness.
- Implement A No Contact Rule
- If You Have Kids (Have Your Ex Watch Them Solo)
- The Frank Sinatra Effect
- Travelling To A Place They’ve Always Wanted To Visit
- Going On Dates With Other People
- Having A Global Goal
- Utilize The Zeigarnik Effect
Enough chit chat, let’s get right to it.
Way #1: Implement A No Contact Rule (Obviously)
Without a doubt, this is probably the most popular and universal answer you’ll come across when researching this topic.
A few years ago I had this graphic put together that explains the psychological underpinnings of the no-contact rule.
It demonstrates how three psychological strategies come into play when you implement the no-contact rule.
- Information Gap
- The Zeigarnik Effect
Essentially, the no-contact rule utilizes these strategies to make it more likely that an ex will think about you during the post-breakup period. Not that they need much help in that department, but it exacerbates the issue a little.
However, I’m only going to discuss two of these three psychological underpinnings here because I’ll dedicate an entire section to one of them much later on.
The two psychological underpinnings that I believe are particularly relevant to the no-contact rule are:
- The theory of reactance
- The information gap theory
Let’s talk reactance!
Reactance is a psychological concept that states that human beings believe they have behavioral freedoms. When those freedoms are taken away, people react in ways to try to regain them.
The no-contact rule obviously denies the freedom of communication with your ex after a breakup, and by association, it can make an ex more likely to try to regain that freedom during the post-breakup period.
As seen here:
(And yes, this was taken directly from our community.)
Here’s the truth though, I have actually come across conflicting research on this.
We have found that most of our clients’ exes tend to be avoidant,
And, as a result, don’t reach out much during the no-contact rule,
So while reactance exists, and we do see situations where exes bombard you with messages in the middle of the no-contact rule, it is actually not the norm.
Instead, the no-contact rule usually implements something called the information gap theory.
Information Gap Theory
In essence, the no-contact rule acts as a buffer, preventing your ex from knowing what you’re up to, or perhaps it’s better to say they can see what you’re up to, but only from a distance, such as through social media updates.
There’s an information gap, things they don’t know, and this can sometimes make them feel remorse and regret.
I actually think the information gap theory provides a more accurate explanation for why the no-contact rule can be effective.
We’ve found that the effectiveness of the no-contact rule depends on the effort you put into it.
People who implement it solely with the intention of manipulating their ex or making them miss them often end up being surprised because that’s not really how the no-contact rule works, based on what we’ve seen.
Instead, it’s what you do during the no-contact rule and the information gap about you and your activities that piques their curiosity. They become curious enough to want to close that information gap.
Way #2: If You Have Kids (Have Your Ex Watch Them Solo)
This is a bit of personal flair, but one of our first success stories that came through this program was Coach Shaunna.
Shaunna has been with us since around early 2015 or 2016. Her situation was interesting because her ex broke up with her shortly after she had their second child, which was incredibly challenging, as you can imagine.
One of the recommendations my wife made for her was to have her ex take care of the kids without any assistance. I believe this is important. Anyone who has children understands the significant time commitment involved.
You become wholly responsible for this little human being.
However, the self-centered nature of human beings makes watching children difficult because it’s a 24/7 job.
- You don’t get to do what you want
- You need to be present
- The kids cry a lot.
- They’re still learning to communicate
- You have the responsibility of feeding and taking care of their lives.
It becomes all-encompassing.
Throughout my life I’ve noticed that in a relationship, especially when there are children involved, there is usually a primary caretaker of that child.
It’s not always a 50-50 split, especially in the beginning.
Often, the mother is the one who takes care of the child more.
Sometimes, men can take that for granted.
However, when roles are reversed, they start to gain a newfound appreciation for what their ex had to do, realizing how challenging it was. It allows for a greater understanding of the difficulties women face.
I believe that’s what happened in Shaunna’s situation. She eventually got her ex back and is now married to him. What’s intriguing is that her ex gained a deeper understanding of her daily life, and that understanding created a bridge for them to reconcile.
So, if you have kids with your ex, consider having your ex watch them alone.
Way #3: The Frank Sinatra Effect
Frank Sinatra is famously known for saying,
“The best revenge in life is massive success.”
The ultimate way to make your ex miserable is for them to witness your tremendous success without their presence. It truly serves as the best form of revenge.
I’m personally a big fan of the KISS method,
(Though I like the first one better. 😉 )
In the self-help niche, many experts tend to overcomplicate things unnecessarily.
However, the truth is that almost all of self-help can be distilled into one central idea: improve yourself.
If you dedicate each day to self-improvement and enhancing your circumstances in some way, positive things will naturally occur.
This idea aligns well with the Frank Sinatra effect.
The pursuit of massive success requires improving your circumstances. Perhaps your circumstances are already favorable, but if they’re not, remember to apply the KISS method.
Keep it super simple.
Way #4: Travelling To A Place They’ve Always Wanted To Visit
The fourth way you can make your ex miserable without you is by traveling to a destination they’ve always wanted to visit.
However, it’s important to exercise caution with this approach as it can be perceived as passive-aggressive, especially if communication was problematic in the past.
That being said, I have observed this strategy work for our clients.
Let’s say during your relationship, your ex frequently expressed their desire to visit New Zealand, a lifelong dream for them.
If, after the breakup, you have the opportunity to travel to New Zealand with a friend, should you take it? Absolutely. Seeing you live out their dreams without them can evoke feelings of jealousy and, potentially, anger.
Yet, it’s that very aspect that tends to unsettle people about this.
It’s crucial to remember that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference.
If your ex is angry with you, it indicates that, on some level, they still care.
And honestly they are likely miserable without you because you are fulfilling their dream of going to a place they’ve always wanted to visit.
However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a deliberate action targeting your ex.
Simply traveling to an amazing destination can have the same effect, making them envious of not being by your side.
The key concept here is the notion of opportunity cost.
You invest your time, money, or energy in one place, sacrificing the opportunity for something else.
This concept works in your favor if the choice you made turns out successful. However, it becomes more impactful if the investment you chose does not yield results, while the overlooked alternative thrives.
AKA: Your ex thinking they are better off without you only to see you living it up at a place they want to visit without them.
This is essentially what you aim to achieve.
If your ex, after the breakup, sees you traveling to a fantastic location and wishes they were there with you, it is likely one of the most effective ways to make them miserable without you.
Way #5: Going On Dates With Other People
A few years ago I interviewed a woman named Jamie Cantrell who had a fascinating story,
She participated in the program, successfully got her ex to ask for her back, but chose not to reunite with him.
I decided to quote a specific part of this interview as it effectively illustrates the importance of her somewhat controversial philosophy of dating other people.
Here’s what Jamie had to say:
“The one thing that worked for me, which attracted some criticism when I posted about it in the community, was deciding to dive back into the dating scene immediately for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I felt I didn’t have time. At 53 years old and being goal-oriented, I wanted a loving, committed relationship, so I decided to pursue it. However, I’m very selective, so it had to be with the right guy. I knew I was in for a long search. Secondly, and seemingly contradictory, I did not want to start dating again. So I did the one thing that I personally didn’t want to do. I cried on the way to the date and felt even sadder on the way home. My heart was still broken, but like a job, I forced myself to go out and meet people. I discovered that it did several things. First, it allowed me to practice being ungettable, to practice being flirty yet confident, and to regain the person I knew I should be. Second, I met some great guys. Initially, I thought I’d never fall in love again, my ex was it. But after many dates, around the tenth one, I met a guy that I kind of liked, and that helped immensely. It made me realize that even if it doesn’t work out with this guy, I found him once, I can find someone again. This may be a little controversial, but I believe you should incorporate this into your program because it’s effective to go on dates with other people.”
Jamie indeed jumped to an extreme by immediately plunging into the dating scene, but ironically, it worked.
Some research even supports this. If you quickly move onto a rebound after a breakup, it can aid you in dealing with the breakup.
However, there’s conflicting research suggesting that moving on to a rebound too quickly can have an adverse effect in the long term.
It might be a helpful short-term remedy for getting over an ex, but it’s not a great long-term coping mechanism.
Otherwise you get caught in this cycle:
What stood out about Jamie’s experience was her second point, meeting great guys.
Initially, she went on these dates, not feeling a connection and believing her ex was her one true love. However, she eventually met a guy she somewhat liked. That realization was a significant step in understanding there are other people who can evoke similar feelings, not just her ex.
This is why going on dates with other people can be extremely valuable if you can overcome the initial apprehension.
But it’s crucial not to force yourself to date when you’re not ready.
Understand there will be some discomfort if you decide to take this route. There’s also the added benefit, which I haven’t extensively discussed, of making your ex jealous if they see you on a date.
However, I prefer focusing on the internal aspects.
As Jamie rightly pointed out, it allows you to put your time with your ex in perspective and realize there are other options out there for you.
Way #6: Setting Global Goals
You would be surprised how often we encounter individuals who haven’t considered this. To illustrate, I’m going to reference a success story I came across today.
“About two and a half years ago, my ex, who is now my boyfriend and I broke up, and then I started this program. One of the reasons for our breakup was his concern about my financial future and my career direction, or lack thereof. He wasn’t wrong about my lack of a plan, so I applied the principles of this program and stepped out of my comfort zone to focus solely on myself and see what I could improve in my life within a few months. I filled my social media with positive, interesting, non-emotional content only, focused on physical health and appearance, connected with old and new friends, and earned a professional certification. Even after getting my ex back, I continued to invest in myself. I earned another professional certification, started an MBA program, refined my style, accepted a challenging job I was intimidated by, secured another job despite imposter syndrome, strategically expanded my network, consistently practiced soothing my anxiety, and shifted my focus from pleasing others to caring for myself.”
The point here is that having a global goal is important.
But going even beyond that it’s important to have a global goal for each pillar of the trinity:
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, I explain to my clients that it’s crucial to divide their life into three distinct areas:
It’s vital to have a global goal for each of these areas.
Most people who engage with my work already have a global goal for the relationship pillar, like wanting to get their ex back or even marry them.
However, it’s surprising how few have set substantial goals in the areas of health or wealth.
A health-related global goal could be as straightforward as completing a marathon.
Ideally, the goal should be achievable and clear, with a pass or fail outcome.
What I found intriguing about this success story was her emphasis on the wealth-related global goal.
She aimed to advance in her career and increase her income, a common aspiration. Her success in this area carried over into the other aspects of her trinity, enhancing her overall appeal not just to her ex, but also to others.
Way #7: The Zeigarnik Effect
Let’s circle back to what we discussed at the very beginning.
If you’ll recall, when explaining the ‘no contact rule,’ I mentioned that there were three specific psychological strategies at play.
- Information Gap
There was one, however, I chose not to talk about: the Zeigarnik effect.
This concept, founded by Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, suggests that people tend to remember interrupted or incomplete tasks better than completed or uninterrupted ones.
So, if you abruptly implement a ‘no contact rule’ with your ex, the Zeigarnik effect can create a cliffhanger scenario where you feel a natural inclination to ‘close the loop.’
An analogy I often use is that of a visitor walking into your house and leaving the door open. While they’re wandering around and asking for a tour, all you can think about is the open door and the potential issues it could cause: theft, insects, etc. The nagging desire to close that door is the Zeigarnik effect in action.
We’ve discovered that this effect can be applied in your post-breakup interactions with your ex.
One way to maintain momentum in your conversations is to strategically use the Zeigarnik effect. Imagine for a moment the flow of a conversation, which can have highs and lows.
The goal of triggering a Zeigarnik effect like response is to identify the peak of a conversation and end it abruptly, albeit politely.
Doing so can make your ex more likely to want to resume the conversation.
Over time, this technique can create an intriguing effect.
I can confirm this method’s potential to induce misery because it’s exactly what my wife did to me during our talking phase before we got married.
We had a long-distance relationship, and she would frequently “let her phone die” without immediately charging it to call me back.
Sometimes I wouldn’t hear from her until the next day or even several hours later.
The interruption in our conversation triggered me profoundly. It wasn’t anger but doubt that grew within me, making me question if she was as invested as I was.
In my mind, if it had been me, I would have immediately called her back.
Her seeming indifference made me think she might not like me as much as I liked her. Such doubt not only generates more interest and value but can also lead to a pretty miserable experience. And, we often find that misery precedes regret.