If your ex seems unaffected by your breakup and you are confused as to why they are so cold towards you then you came to the right place.
In my opinion, there are three core reasons for why exes will seem unaffected by the breakup.
- They broke up with you before they actually broke up with you
- They are caught up in the separation elation part of the death wheel
- Loud Vs. Quiet
There’s a lot to cover here so let’s just jump right in.
Core Reason #1: Your Ex Already Broke Up With You Before The Actual Breakup
How can this happen.
Well, it’s best to think of it as a mental breakup before the actual breakup.
Once again I’d like to refer to my relationship death wheel.
Relationship Death Wheel: A special graphic I put together that shows the lifecycle of a relationship from pre coupling to post coupling.
There are eight main stages to it as you can see here,
- Stage one: they want someone to love them
- Stage two: they find you and think their troubles are over
- Stage three: they start to notice some worrying things
- Stage four: they start thinking of leaving
- Stage five: they actually leave
- Stage six: they’re so happy that they left
- Stage seven: they start to feel kind of lonely
- Stage eight: why is this always happening to them?
What is particularly of interest to us for this discussion is stage four.
Literally that entire stage is about your ex getting the idea to leave you and then mentally preparing to leave you.
- What they are going to say
- How they are going to say it
- When they are going to do it
And in a weird way this can literally begin the stages of grief for them.
This might be the reason we hear so many stories of what an ex was like before the breakup.
- They were overly affectionate (denial)
- Would fly off the handle for no reason (anger)
- Try to make some big show of commitment like talking about moving in together or going ring shopping (bargaining)
- Grow sad for no apparent reason (depression)
- Grow cold or disinterested (acceptance)
They are literally preparing themselves for the breakup so that by the time the actual breakup occurs they have already gone through the stages of grief that are typically associated with this kind of a loss.
You start yours up.
They’ve already done theirs.
They seem like they don’t care.
But we both know it’s far more complicated than that.
So, that’s one possible explanation for why they seem unaffected by the breakup. The next explanation requires us once again to use the death wheel but for an entirely different reason.
Core Reason #2: The Separation Elation Explanation
I literally just talked about this concept yesterday in the article I wrote but I’d figure I’d go a bit deeper since it’s really relevant here.
And I’ll start first with a random reddit comment I stumbled across while researching this article.
When asked why an ex may seem unaffected by their recent breakup this comment summed it up best,
As a guy let me tell you this; Your ex has not forgotten about you or moved on. It may appear like it but it will eventually hit him.
What is it they say?
From the mouths of babes…
There is perhaps no better explanation of the separation elation period than that.
That would be this part of the wheel,
Stage five and six.
They leave you and then immediately after they are having the time of their lives because they left.
They go through an initial separation elation.
If you want the technical speak then look no further than Free To Attach,
After a relationship ends, people with an avoidant attachment style tend not to show much anxiety or distress, often feeling an initial sense of relief at the relinquishing of obligations and the sense that they are regaining their self-identity, and not tending to initially miss their partner – this is “separation elation” as the pressure to connect is gone.
But just like that person above said the separation elation period is temporary. Eventually the breakup will hit them. At first it may appear like your ex will forget you but eventually the toll will be collected.
And yes, our death wheel graphic includes that as well.
Look no further than stages seven and eight which follow immediately after the separation elation stage.
- Stage seven: I’m feeling kind of lonely
- Stage eight: Why can’t I ever find the right person
Now, the unfortunate trick with this one is that there’s no way to tell if this is the core reason for why they feel unaffected by the breakup other than to wait and see how things play out.
With the first core reason you could pay attention to their whacky behavior in the weeks leading up to the breakup.
With this one you just need to wait and see if that separation elation wears off.
Pay attention to if they reach out to you in the future wanting to re-live a trip down memory lane.
Core Reason #3: Loud Vs Quiet
Yesterday I talked about how the revenge motive can play into post breakup behavior.
How there are two extremes to it.
- The loud extreme
- The quiet extreme
Well, it turns out that putting up a front works the same type of way. There are literally two things to pay attention to with your ex putting up a front that they are ok.
There is quite literally no in between.
They are either loud or they are either quiet.
Each is pretty simple to identify as well.
- Posting things on social media to make you jealous
- Directly telling you how good they are doing without you
- Blocking you (and then unblocking you)
- Ignoring you (then blowing up) then ignoring you again
The only prerequisite is that your ex is acting in ways that aren’t normal for them. It’s sort of like the idea of overcorrecting.
I think How I Met Your Mother did a pretty hilarious skit on this,
The point is that your ex is overcorrecting due to the breakup via loud and quiet behaviors.
What’s even more interesting is that the loud and quiet behaviors all have one thing in common. They are there to prove to you how little you meant to them.
But the mere fact tat they are engaging in those behaviors prove that you meant a great deal to them.
As my colleague Tyler Ramsey is known for saying,
The opposite of love isn’t hate it’s indifference.
The one final thing I’d like to say today is that from my perspective, because I’m not close to your situation, it’s easy for me to be impartial.
I can point to an ex and easily say that they aren’t unaffected.
But because you are so close to the situation it’s probably going to be harder for you especially if you have an anxious attachment style.
I say this not as a derogatory thing but as a way of helping you understand that in my experience individuals with anxious attachment styles tend to have an inclination of expecting the worst case scenario.
So, when an ex seems unaffected by the breakup they’ll take that to mean that they meant nothing to their ex at all.
The first thing you should always do after a breakup though isn’t to focus on an ex. It’s to focus on creating healthy habits to help you gain a more secure understanding of yourself.
Besides, it’s extremely rare to deal with an ex that is completely unaffected.
I doubt yours is the exception to the rule.