By Chris Seiter

Published on August 29th, 2021

Today we’re going to be talking about what your ex is thinking after a breakup with you.

Specifically, we are going to be diving into the five most common thought processes that they are going to be going through.

Perhaps the best part of this is we based these thought processes on the five stages of grief.

  1. I’m Better Off Without Them (DENIAL)
  2. The Pendulum Swing Of Emotions (ANGER)
  3. The “Let’s Be Friends” Phase (BARGAINING)
  4. The “I Need A Distraction” Phase (DEPRESSION)
  5. The Fortitude Stage (ACCEPTANCE)

Let’s take some time and go through each of these thought processes.

First things first though, perhaps we should answer the elephant in the room.

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Is Your Ex Even Thinking About You After A Breakup?

The answer to that question is yes, and science backs that up.

A neuroscientist at Yeshiva University, Luci Brown, conducted an experiment to scan people’s brains and what went through them during a breakup. She was trying to understand what parts of the brain light up and understand the physical mechanisms accompanying heartbreak. What she found wasn’t necessarily a game-changer for us, but it may be a game-changer for you. She found that the brains of heartbroken people often looked like those of drug addicts, fiending for a fix.

So, no matter if you broke up with your ex, or if your ex broke up with you, the parts of your brain that light up are the same parts that are triggered when someone who is a drug addict begins looking for a fix.

To ultimately answer the main question, yes, your ex is absolutely thinking about you, but that does not necessarily mean that it will override your ex’s stubborn impulse to make it seem like they aren’t thinking about you.

While researching for this article and the related video, we thought a lot about the best way to tackle this subject. Often when this subject comes up, our clients want to know exactly what their ex is thinking about regarding them, but unfortunately, we cannot know that. We can only research to figure out the most likely answer.

However, we’re not going to let you down. We started thinking about this issue in particular in a very logical manner. When two people break up, a common misconception is that the people who get broken up with are the only ones that grieve.

This is not true, as the initiators of the breakup grieve too.

If you are still wondering what your ex is thinking, you will need to alert yourself to the 5 phases of post-breakup thoughts, which are directly influenced by the 5 stages of grief.

The 5 stages of grief –

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Are our source code for this theory.

Let’s take an analytical look at this theory.

Phase 1: I’m Better Off Without Them (Denial)

Directly linked with denial, this is the core reason where the term ‘winning the breakup’ comes from.

Your ex is the one who initiated the breakup with you and most likely does not want to be wrong.

What is a breakup, if not an admission from your ex that they think they can do better than you?

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Your ex needs to convince themselves that they made the right decision, and usually, they believe this with 100% resolve, and sometimes they might even be right. Sometimes, they do find a better match than you, but it will not happen right away.

There is a rollercoaster of emotions that they do need to go through before they eventually let go.

Phase 2: The Pendulum Swing Of Emotions (Anger)

Derived from the anger stage, this explains the hot and cold behavior of an ex after a breakup. One minute they seem really into you, and the next minute they want nothing to do with you. We refer to this as the pendulum swing of emotions which often manifests as anger.

After a breakup and while talking and flirting, your ex may get angry at themselves for not staying true to the breakup and proving themselves wrong.

This makes them go back to the denial stage, where they realize they are angry about the fact that maybe they are not better off without you.

So, from being really hot, they shift towards being really cold.

Anger can also be a trigger for avoidant behavior. They promised themselves that they would not engage with you, so after being hot (flirtatious, nice), they suddenly get cold (distant) with you.

This is all derived from anger. Another behavior they show is them getting angry at you because you made them break up with you. It might sound like paradoxical behavior but it does exist.

If you were the one who broke up with your ex, then it requires no explanation why they are angry with you.

Phase 3: Let’s Be ‘Friends’ Again (Bargaining)

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

We’ve all had that ex that suggests just being friends. After going through the anguish of the denial phase and then transitioning into the constant swing of emotions, your ex will decide they are tired of all the anger and volatility in their life, so they say, ‘Let’s just be friends.

They are very burnt out after all the friction in their emotions and seek some mental peace harmony.

However, initiating a no contact rule angers your ex and frustrates them as they no longer have access to you.

This is where it gets really fun, as your ex cannot really be a friend or vice versa when the no contact rule is truly in place.

Phase 4: I Need A Distraction Phase (Depression)

Distractions can come in many shapes or forms. We’ve neglected before that each ex can have a unique experience with these stages or phases.

This means that they do not necessarily need to have these stages in order; sometimes they can skip stages, sometimes they have only one stage, and sometimes they can have all stages in a very turbulent manner.

However, something that will always happen is they will try to distract themselves from how they are feeling.

This could range from a list of actions from throwing themselves into work, working out like a maniac, or even destructive habits like drinking.

Usually, they distract themselves by going on dates with new people.

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So, when your ex starts going on dates with new people, they are most likely in the distraction phase.

Phase 5: The Fortitude Stage (Acceptance)

Finally, the fortitude stage which is directly in line with the acceptance stage.

After your ex has gone through all of the phases, or sometimes skipped a phase, or even fallen off the wagon and gone back to the very first phase; eventually, phase number 5 will occur.

They will move past you.

Now the trick is that this is the worst stage for your ex to be in if you want them back. The ideal time to get them back is in the ‘I need a friend’ phase.

We structure our program the way we do because we always implement a no-contact rule immediately after a breakup to capitalize on these stages.

The no contact rule usually coincides with the denial and anger phase, so you don’t have to deal with your ex in that negative state of mind.

Instead, you let them calm down and get to that let’s be friends phase before you begin communicating with them.

Fair warning that it does not always work out exactly that way. Even if you follow all the rules 100% of the time, you can still mess up completely. What do we mean by this?

Quite simply, imagine you are in a situation where you go through a breakup. Your ex has broken up with you, and you immediately implement a no contact rule. However, your ex’s patterns are not normal.

They go through the denial phase, then the angry phase, but instead of going to the let’s be friends phase, they go back to the denial phase, and by the time you finish your no contact rule, they are either angry or in denial again.

Sometimes, time is the only medicine that can help you get your ex back.

No one can force your ex to respond to you. How and when they respond to you is completely up to them, but the only thing that is completely under your control is you exhibiting a more secure behavior or secure tendencies.

Weirdly enough, you will also go through the exact 5 stages of post-breakup thoughts.

The quicker you can get to that acceptance phase, the quicker you can get to that fortitude phase, the better. It will surprise your ex, and they will find it unbelievable, as it would be different from any other person they have ever dated before.

This, of course, is a very good sign.

Many of our clients come to us and tell us that they finally started getting over our ex, finally started outgrowing them, finally started feeling better, and their exes came back. This is because your ex subconsciously starts to recognize that there is something different about you.

This obviously happens when you start communicating with them, and when that happens in real life, they can sense the change through your confidence.

If properly executed, they can also see this change through social media and go like, ‘wow, something is different.”

So that is the 5 phases you go through after a breakup. Both the parties involved in a breakup will go through some shape or form of these phases. The real test is how you handle and overcome these stages to come out the other side with a secure attachment style.

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The key to coming out of a breakup strong is to understand how human psychology works.

  • As quoted in the research above, the aftereffects of a breakup are the same as drug withdrawal. The linkage made by Dr. Luci Brown exemplifies this perfectly.
  • A great way to understand your ex’s thought process after a breakup is through the five stages of grief model:
  • Better Off Without Them (Denial): When your ex is trying to ‘win’ the breakup and trying to come off as the better one after it all ends.
  • Swing Of Emotions (Anger): When they shift between hot and cold behaviors, which are mostly a product of underlying anger on either themselves or you.
  • Let’s be ‘friends'(Bargaining): they are tired of all the anger in their lives and try to seek harmony by suggesting being just friends, so they have some form of you in their life.
  • Distraction (Depression): As a coping mechanism to fight their sadness or depression, your ex (or you) will start finding distractions to get out of their despair.
  • Fortitude (Acceptance): The stage where your ex finally accepts what has happened and move towards a more tranquil state of mind. Anyone in this phase starts to become more secure and develop secure tendencies. If you are in this phase, this is the best time to talk to your ex. If your ex is in this phase, it is the worst time to try to get them back.

Not to sound like a broken record, but this is super important – everyone will go through these phases differently and will always not go through all stages. It is important how you deal with these phases and how you come out of them.

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