By Chris Seiter

Updated on March 16th, 2021

Today we’re going to talk about some of the signs that your ex is hurting after a breakup.

But first, there’s one important thing I need you to understand about how men handle breakups versus how women handle breakups.

Men are more likely to AVOID the situation and push away from you

They will push away from you, and away from the situation of the breakup itself. They don’t want to face all the bad memories and negative emotions. They would rather distract themselves, stay busy and pretend everything is fine.

Women are more likely to OBSESS about a breakup.

They will ruminate – endlessly going over every word and glance to see where it all went wrong. They would prefer to talk, discuss the breakup and get all those emotions out.

So as we go through the five signs that your ex is really hurting through this breakup, you may find a common pattern emerging, that of avoidance. He’s going to do everything he can to avoid the pain associated with the breakup.

Let’s talk about those signs.

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Signs That Your Ex Is Hurting After A Breakup

Below you’ll find what I consider to be the most prevalent signs that your ex is having a hard time after the breakup.

  1. Your Ex Unfollows Or Unfriends You On Social Media
  2. Your Ex Deletes All Of Your Pictures Together On Social Media
  3. Your ex is quick to anger
  4. Your Ex Purposely Shows Up To Places You Frequent
  5. Obsessive Thoughts and Cravings

Let’s take some time and talk about what each one of these signs means.

Sign Number One: Your Ex Unfollows Or Unfriends You On Social Media

He unfriends you on Facebook, and you can only see his public posts. He unfollows you on Instagram. He stops sharing his location on Snapchat. He leaves mutual chat groups, or deletes you from them. He might even block or delete your phone number. There are multiple ways he can do this, and all of them are hurtful to you.

So why is he doing it?

Remember, men are much more likely to avoid, and this definitely fits that theme.

What is actually going on in his head at this time? Is he doing this to actually try to hurt you, or to make you angry? While with some men it might be that, it’s usually much less about YOU than it is about HIM.

It’s about how he’s feeling.

It hurts to see your updates on social media. He doesn’t want to be tempted to watch your stories or check your location. Instead, he wants to avoid, and this is an easy way of pushing you away.

But rest assured, our research shows that at least 90% of exs will snoop on their ex’s social media feed anyway. He can still search your name and see your Facebook or Instagram profiles (as long as you keep them public), and he is very likely to do so.

Sign Number Two: Your Ex Deletes All Of Your Pictures Together On Social Media

Here again you are seeing avoidance. It hurts him to see pictures of the two of you together pop up in his feed and his Facebook memories. The easiest way for him to avoid that pain is to delete the photos altogether.

Women might look at this and think that their ex is trying to forget or erase the entire relationship, but this isn’t the case. Your ex just doesn’t want to see pictures of you two being happy together – it is quite simply hurtful. He’s doing this for his own wellbeing, and again it has much less to do with you than you might think.

If this all makes sense so far, and you are sitting there thinking, this is all very well, but I want to get him back – I have put together the ideal resource for you. All you have to do if you want to figure out if you even have a chance of getting your ex back is take the simple quiz here. It will give you a percentage likelihood of getting your ex back, based on such factors as the length of the relationship and the way you broke up. It’s the first (and easy) step to getting him (or her) back.

Sign Number Three: Your Ex Is Quick To Anger

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You can’t talk to him without him getting angry and maybe starting a full-on argument. You can’t seem to discuss simple things like who gets to keep the stereo without him slamming doors and storming off. You’re trying to placate him, be nice, be kind and as calm as possible, but he’s still angry.

Again we see the theme of avoidance.

He is trying to avoid you, but you are talking to him. You are right there in front of him, in person or on his phone. He can’t get away from that which hurts him, and he will often lash out at you because you are the source of his anger. You might have heard the phrase:

When emotions run high, logic runs low

But during a breakup, your emotions are on steroids. There’s so much going on for both of you, but you’re most likely dealing with it in very different ways – obsessing, or avoiding.

You’re trying to talk and make yourself feel better. You want to understand the breakup, how he’s feeling, what he wants.

Your ex, however, wants to avoid you – avoid all talk or thought about the breakup, and distract himself from thoughts of you or the relationship. If you are talking to him, he may well lash out because you are preventing him from doing what he wants to do.

Sign Number Four: Your Ex Purposely Shows Up To Places You Frequent

There will always be a segment of men who, after failing to distract and avoid, will have to confront their feelings about the breakup. This is when some men will switch gears and start obsessing about the breakup, and about you. When this happens they will start to want to put themselves in a place that you are.

Once again the important thing to understand is that it’s all about themselves and not about you.

We make decisions about relationships based on what’s best for ourselves and will often find it hard to take the other person’s feelings into consideration.

This sign is a bit more positive – he isn’t pushing you away so much any more, he’s not avoiding you, he’s ‘bumping’ into you or creating friendly interactions when you didn’t expect it.

How can you get to this place? Have you heard of the No Contact rule? If you’re doing No Contact right, you can help nudge him towards thinking about you, wondering what you’re up to, wanting to see you even if just ‘by accident’. If you’re not bugging him, not contacting him at all, but instead are seemingly getting on with life just fine, he will start to think, hey, what’s going on? You can read more about the No Contact Rule here.

Sign Number Five: Obsessive Thoughts and Cravings

Here we have come full circle. Your ex has maybe started out by distracting himself and avoiding the whole situation, then suddenly started to obsess and ruminate about the breakup.

This is where he gets obsessive thoughts and cravings. He might blow up your phone, ask you questions, initiate conversations that last longer than usual and try to make conversations interesting to keep you talking.

Think of it like having a food craving. Often when you get hungry for something, only that thing will do. You can try another food, something that should be ‘better for you’, but you won’t be satisfied until you get what you really want.

This may seem like a strange analogy, but food cravings and love emotions are both due to ‘pleasure’ chemicals released by your brain. Your ex is craving your company; he can’t help himself.

You will note that this step is often what women start with, but it typically takes a man longer. He starts by avoiding, distracting, getting angry…but then starts to wonder, and worry. This shows that they are processing their feelings, and hurting after the breakup.

Now you have some clues as to whether your ex is hurting after your breakup – what can you do about it? Remember to check out the simple two minute quiz which will tell you if you have a chance of getting your ex back.

What’s next?

You can see that the two strategies of avoidance (men after a breakup) and obsessing (women after a breakup) don’t exactly make for positive interactions. The push-pull just creates even more pain and anger. If you want to know what to do next, check out some of my articles about the No Contact rule, the first step in getting your ex back:

And if you want a comprehensive, step-by-step plan for getting your ex back, consider Ex Boyfriend Pro, which goes through how to win your ex back in every situation you can think of (cheating, other woman/man, long distance relationship…and so much more).

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18 thoughts on “Signs He Is Hurting After A Breakup”

  1. RC

    February 10, 2022 at 8:59 pm

    Love this page. Very helpful articles. Currently been a month out an 8 year relationship where I as engaged. He ran off with someone 18 years older after 4 days after finishing with me. Yesterday, they’re Facebook official and I’m blocked . The results on the quiz keep changing, one minute below average to good? What would you recommend next?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      February 11, 2022 at 9:07 pm

      Hey RC, so your first step is the 45 day minimum NC and then work on yourself during that time. If the OW felt the need to block you already shows that she thinks you are threat to their relationship, and that he also carries guilt for his action.

  2. Nessa

    October 19, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    Hi, my ex boyfriend and I started dating in college but there was onset of covid and we separated, we did long distance for 7months and he was so consistent everyday keeping me upto date and even introduced me to his sister through video call, at some point he invited me to his home but due to the outbreak I could not go, but on the end of September he went silent for 6days whenever I tried to reach him on whatsapp he ignored the messages and even blocked me from calling him, after I asked him if he was still in love with me, he finally replied saying he had moved on and he lost his interest, saying he has a new girl, abused me and blamed for the breakup and he blocked me everywhere

  3. Lily

    April 13, 2020 at 5:44 am

    Hi, thank you for your site. It’s really helped! I did a 30 day NC on my ex. Nothing. But then he started talking to my sister about me. Full on opening up and even angry at times. Apparently, there were misunderstandings that caused the rift. I honestly don’t know what to do, because he isn’t talking to me, do I continue to give him more space and let them talk? She tells him what I’m up to, and how I’m doing. He seems receptive. There’s not an article for this! Lol

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      April 14, 2020 at 8:58 am

      Hi Lily, if you want your ex back then I would reach out after 45 days NC and start a conversation about something generic, not asking how he is etc, not speaking about the past or the break up. Don’t mention your sister either. As for why he want to your sister to talk as he KNEW she would tell you at some point what was said. So it could be a positive that he has done this, but again do not bring it up. Your first conversation should be texting, short, positive, and something you know he would be interested in talking about, and you need to end that conversation first not him

  4. Rebecca

    March 13, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Hi again shaunna! Thanks for your response. What do you think may be going on in his head? I feel this may be the pendulum effect. I also initiated a meet up in the near future he mentioned maybe this weekend but he has midterms as well. I just have anxiety around the uncertainty and not being in control of this as I truly don’t know when he will reach out. I feel like I gave my power away a bit and not sure the best direction to go from here especially if he doesn’t reach out this weekend in particular. Thank you!

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      March 18, 2020 at 1:06 am

      Hi Rebecca, so you need to stop giving him the power… you get anxious with the unknown. You tell him, I am free on Saturday around 2pm for coffee if you’re free? Yes or No response and then you make sure that you have plans to leave early and go do something with someone else. If you do meet up down outstay your welcome leave him wanting more. If you agree to meet and he lets you down, you make sure that you check in else where so he gets the impression you were not waiting for him

  5. Rebecca

    March 12, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    My ex recently deleted all of our photos on Instagram the same day we chatted via text and had a good conversation. Later that day we talked on the phone a little further about the future of our relationship and what we both want. We both want the same thing but it is going to take some time to get there. He said he archived all of the photos because he’s angry with me and can’t look at them. What does this all really mean? Thanks!

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      March 12, 2020 at 11:20 pm

      Hi Rebecca it sounds like hes been honest it is an emotional reaction to removing photos so that he does not see them anymore.

  6. Claire

    December 30, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    We dated for 6 months and things were getting more serious. I then discovered he was on a dating site and confronting til. He said he was unsure, and i said i was done. No begging. No contact after that.
    2 months later he contacted me while he was drunk saying that he made a mistake and missed me. Then 2 days after that he deleted me from all social media.
    What is going on?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      December 30, 2019 at 10:14 pm

      Hi Claire so it sounds like you were on his mind when he had a drink and reached out, then when he sobered up he got embarrassed and removed you from social media. If you want to reconcile with him then you could reach out to him in 21 days as a friend and attempt to have a short positive conversation with him

  7. Sarah J

    October 2, 2019 at 3:18 pm


    My ex and I have been broken up for 6 months and went out for over a year. We had a very good relationship, and a lot of amazing memories. He broke up with my out of the blue (we were doing distance) and I’ve always thought it was a rash decision on his part/potentially thought the grass was greener. Anyways, I immediately implemented no contact. No begging, no texting, nothing. 3 months later he sends me a text checking in, I didn’t respond. A month after that he asked me to go for a drink when he is in my state next, and I very politely declined. Last week, about 3 months after the last time he messaged he sent me a random text out of the blue. It was at 11:30pm and he said “I saw ….. the other day and thought of you. Wish you the best this year”. I waited until the next day to respond after work and replied “thank you!”. Do you think I will hear from him again? I feel like deep down I want reconciliation but part of me also thinks it needs to completely come from him. Do you think the chances of him feeling so desperate soon he will finally open up are high?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      October 2, 2019 at 5:38 pm

      Hi Sarah, if you want the reconciliation you need to make some efforts to speak to him and reach out to build that conversation to a point where he will feel that there is an option to ask you back.

  8. Izz

    September 2, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    I started dating this one guy at the end of May. We have what seemed like a nice relationship. We have a lot in common and we respect each other. He told his parents a lot about me and I even met them. When I went to Germany to see my family, he told me how much he misses me and can’t wait to see me again. Then out of the blue, I got this text a couple of days ago that he’s not ready to be in a relationship because he has a lot in life at the moment. He had a wreak and is waiting for his car, his anxiety, and issues with money. I am deeply upset and I want him back because it really was a nice relationship. He said he would like to be friends. The breakup just didn’t make sense to me. What are my odds of getting him back?

  9. Maddison Davis

    August 30, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    Hello! Please help!

    My boyfriend and I broke up little over 2 weeks ago, and I started no contact pretty quick and have been doing this. He texted me a bit over a week ago and told me that he started seeing someone else. I didn’t respond.
    Today he texted asking me to get some things from my house, and he told me that he lied, that he didn’t actually start seeing anyone else! I responded to the part about getting his things but not to the other. I don’t want to be rude.
    I don’t know what to do. Knowing him I think he said the seeing someone else thing to force himself to move on, he knew that if he starts seeing other people he has lost me forever. And I think he is telling me that he was lying now because he doesn’t want to loose me that he wants me back as an option or something. I’m not for sure.
    But I don’t know what to do how to respond.
    Please help me!!!!
    Thank you Maddison!

  10. Alyssa

    August 30, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    What if he hasn’t done any of these things? He is still friends with me on FB. His profile picture is still of us and it still says he’s in a relationship with me. He seems happy. He hasn’t reached out to me or texted me. I haven’t seen him anywhere. And he left in anger after a big fight but said he needed to move on and get his life back together before he puts it on someone else. Have I truly lost him?

  11. Fran

    August 29, 2019 at 3:33 am

    Trust the process and stay strong whatever is meant to be will be.

  12. Mrsa

    August 28, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    So my husband and I have been separated for almost two weeks. Long story short, we moved away from home so I could take a job I ended up hating and he ended up getting depressed/overwhelmed and wanting out. We separated and both moved back to our home town with our respective parents (our daughter lives with me). I have been practicing limited contact (we still interact when it comes to selling the house and our daughter). We drove together last weekend to meet with our realtor and make some finishing touches for our house to be photographed. I was fully prepared to just look attractive, keep things positive, and leave a good impression at the end of the day but on the way home he just started gushing about how much he missed me and many nights thought about calling and asking me to come back and that he’s still very much in love with me and still wants everything we talked about in our future but that he doesn’t feel like he is mentally healed yet (he said when he left that he was so depressed he felt empty and like he was being fake with everyone even his daughter and couldn’t handle the emotional responsibility of a relationship right now) and that its only been a week and he needs more time but doesnt know how much time so he thinks its unfair to make me wait bc i could be happy with someone else even though he hates the idea of me with anyone else and hes afraid that if we get back together now hell end up doing it again down the road (he left once before our daughter was born and came back but never worked through it) and he doesnt want that. Our daughter stayed with him that night and when he brought her back the next day he just said to tell him if I need anything, left, then didn’t reach out for three days until this morning when he texted me to ask about seeing our daughter. What does this mean? What am I supposed to do now?