By Chris Seiter

Updated on February 2nd, 2021

What do you think it means when an ex plays games with you?

Heck, what does “playing games” even refer to?

Well, today we are going to find out as I’m going to be diving into one of the more layered topics when it comes to exes, mixed signals.

The best part?

By the end of this article you are going to understand exactly why your ex is supposedly playing games and I’m not talking about just coming away from this with a list of reasons.

I’m talking about actually understanding the mental processes that took place in your exes mind to make them want to play games.

You ready?

Why Your Ex Is Playing Games With You

There are three things that I’d like to talk to you about today.

I know…

I know…

You’re sitting there thinking,

Three things? That’s it?

But these three things are essentially going to answer the million dollar question of why your ex is supposedly playing games with you.

Here’s what they are.

  1. Understanding The Anatomy Of Playing Games
  2. Grasping The Fact That In Your Exes Mind They Aren’t Playing Games
  3. The Internal Narrative In Their Own Mind Causes Them To Play Games


Don’t be, I’m going to take care of everything for you.

All I ask is that you read this article from start to finish because if you skip around you are going to leave just as confused as when you started.

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Part #1: Understanding The Anatomy Of Playing Games

Are you familiar with how plot twists work in stories?

Plot Twist: An unexpected development in a book, film, television program, etc.

But perhaps the thing people don’t quite grasp about plot twists is the fact that you generally need knowledge of how stories typically work.

Let’s look at the definition again.

An unexpected development in a book, film, television program, etc.

Unexpected implies that you have knowledge of what’s expected.

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In other words, a plot twist is something that manages to subvert the expected causation of what is about to occur.

Think of it like this,

By now, we’ve seen a lot of romantic comedy movies.

Enough to know that something will keep the main couple apart only for them to come together in the end.

That’s the expected outcome based on our historical database of watching romantic comedy movies.

A plot twist can only occur when when we already have knowledge of what we think will happen only it doesn’t happen, something else does.

It’s kind of like the story comes to a crossroads and creates it’s own path,

This leads me to my ultimate point. Having an ex play games with you is nothing more than a plot twist.

The Anatomy Of Playing Games

What do you think we mean when we talk about “playing games?”

Well, it’s when your ex engages in a set of behaviors that lead you to believe one thing is going to happen when in fact the opposite does.

There are many ways to phrase this type of behavior.

You get the picture.

It’s essentially where your ex will tell you they love you and then treat you like someone they don’t love.

In other words, “playing games” is nothing more than a plot twist.

The unexpected occurs.

Now, the weird part is that the correlation doesn’t stop there.

In a story, a plot twist is designed to engage the reader/viewer.

It’s a way to take a story to cause us to invest more.

After all, it’s thrilling to be drawn in to a unique story.

In real life, we hate these kind of plot twists but as weird as it sounds it can actually cause us to invest more into the person giving them.

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Look at your situation right now.

Do you think about your ex any less now that they are playing games?

Probably not.

Think about that.

Part #2: In Your Exes Mind They Aren’t Playing Games

This is where things get really wild.

Your ex is playing games with you and it’s killing you.

However, until this point of the article we’ve only talked about things from your perspective.

What if I were to tell you that from your exes perspective they aren’t playing games.

Every action they’ve taken makes perfect sense to them even if it doesn’t to you.

Now, since I’ve already started the story comparisons I’m going to continue by talking about villains.

Everyone always writes villains as these very evil people.

I don’t like that.

In fact, I think it’s a lot more effective for the story if the villain views themselves as the good guy because that is how real life works.

Probably the best example I’ve ever seen of this in a story is a Japanese manga story called Berserk.

The Villain Viewing Themselves As The Good Guy And Your Ex

I’m about to spoil a good portion of Berserk for you so if you don’t want to get spoiled skip to the next section.

Berserk is a medieval dark fantasy about one mans quest for revenge over someone named Griffith,

Now, the interesting thing about Griffith is he doesn’t look like a bad guy.

On the contrary, everything about him looks angelic and he has a lot of likable qualities.

To add another layer of complexity our protagonist looks kind of evil,

So, on the one hand you have Griffith who looks like the good guy but is actually the bad guy. On the other hand you have the protagonist who looks like the bad guy but is really the good guy.

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Throughout the first part of the story these two form a deep friendship with each other and then something happens to where our protagonist decides that he has to leave and do his own thing for a while.

This act causes Griffith to do some risky things which ultimate leads to his demise where he is imprisoned, tortured and crippled for life.

Of course, when our hero hears about this he decides to come back and save Griffith.

He rounds up his old mercenary band (remember it’s the medieval times) and save Griffith where he ultimately succeeds.

Unfortunately, Griffith is crippled for life and it causes some emotional problems for a while until something strange happens.

Earlier in the story Griffith was marked by something called the “Crimson Behelit” or the “Egg of The King.”

It’s this really messed up looking red egg,

Now, this egg is only given to people who will ascend to eventually become a demon king.

Fate decrees that somehow, some way this egg will end up in Griffiths possession.

It does and triggers an eclipse,

Now, I’m not going to talk about this eclipse because I’m trying to keep things PG-13 but essentially in order to ascend and become a demon king Griffith willingly sacrifices all of his comrades and condemns his best friend, our hero, to a life of being hunted by demons.

It’s a despicable act but makes perfect sense for Griffith seeing as how he basically has no choice.

He’s crippled for life and will most likely die.

In other words, in his own mind he is the good guy.

What This Has To Do With Exes?

A lot of exes I encounter are like this.

In their own minds they don’t view themselves as tricking you or playing games.

Rather, they view themselves as improving their position.

Human beings are often defined by self interest.

We tend to do what we think is best for ourselves and no one else.

The sooner you wrap your head around that the better you’ll understand not just your ex but everyone else’s actions.

Of course, this still doesn’t explain why your ex is giving you all these mixed signals.

Part #3: The Internal Narrative In Their Minds Causes The Mixed Signals

You’ve probably heard me say this before but I’ll say it again,

The battle for getting your ex back doesn’t happen in what you say or do. Rather, it happens as your ex is left alone and has time to contemplate.

That internal narrative that debates whether or not they want to be with you is essential.

Most people struggle because the internal narrative in their exes head is actively winning the battle.

I’ll give you an example.

Let’s say that you and your ex go on a date and it’s amazing.

  • You get them to open up to you.
  • You hold hands
  • You kiss

Things seem great.

Almost as if you are “this close” to getting back together.

And then your date ends and your ex is left alone and has time to contemplate.

Throughout this contemplation this internal narrative starts feeding doubts to them,

Eventually these doubts win out and you start to get the cold shoulder.

One minute things seem to be going so well and the next you can’t get ahold of them.

“Why are they playing these games?” you think to yourself.

Because of the internal narrative.

Why Wouldn’t Your Ex Just Tell You About The Internal Narrative?

This begs an interesting question.

Why wouldn’t your ex just tell you about what they are thinking.

You see my graphic up there, right?

What if I were to tell you that, that was the dumbed down version of internal narrative that I’ve had about an ex.

What if I were to tell you that the full narrative I was telling myself during a breakup was very crude.

Essentially what I am trying to say is that your ex probably thinks you can’t handle the truth so they will go to their grave with some of the thoughts they’ve had.

Of course, the next question you are probably sitting there and wondering is,

Can you overcome a negative internal narrative?

The answer is yes!

That’s why I’ve written an entire book on the subject.

Oh, and one of the things I talk about in that book is to always leave your ex wanting more.

😉 .

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15 thoughts on “Why Is My Ex Playing Games With Me?”

  1. Clarissa

    February 27, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Hello. I’m not sure what to do. My ex is playing games with me. We have this good conversation and then he either takes hours to respond or ends up leaving me on seen. The conversation isn’t dry and just when I feel we’re building rapport, he leaves me on seen or doesn’t answer until like 6hours later. This is what I am supposed to do to him. Build up rapport in text and then end it abruptly so he’s wanting more but it seems he’s doing it. And I can tell because when I post something on my story, he immediately responds even though he left me on seen. I’m not sure what to do. It’s irritating.

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      March 1, 2022 at 10:46 pm

      Hey Clarissa, it sounds similar to what we suggest clients do when trying to get their ex back. Spend time reading these articles specifically the texting ones to help you.

  2. Emily Long

    December 14, 2019 at 12:00 am

    my fwb/thing and I were together for 9 months, never officially dated with the title but still did everything a couple would. he does social media and has millions of followers so it’s complicated to say the least. he recently started FaceTiming me again after a few months no contact and wants to hangout again but won’t make the effort to follow through. he sends flirty responses to my stories and posts but won’t say he misses me or that he still has feelings or why he’s starting to talk to me again. idk what to do or how to get him to really talk about how he feels, any advice?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      December 15, 2019 at 9:04 pm

      Hi Emily, so you need to stop answering the FaceTime calls, making him wonder where you are. Let it ring and a few minutes later tell him “sorry I’m out” and then leave him wait to hear from you for a while again. Answering some calls looking good as if you are going out somewhere or just got in. Make him worry there there might be someone else in your life and he has competition.

  3. Alexa

    June 12, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    We broke up 3 years ago and he somehow he always finds a way to come back to me he went from loving me to turning cold hearted .and now he’s gonna have a kid with a girl he doesn’t even love and i know theres no us no more but i don’t understand why he still keeps lookin for me .i blocked him on everything and he somehow tries to get close to my friends to know about me .i just wished i knew what was really going inside his head and why he cant leave me alone .he cant even apologize for the hurt he caused i just wanna be happy again but no with him .is it even love what he feels ?

  4. Lucy

    April 16, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    We broke up 2 weeks ago … 11days has gone past since no contact . He is away with work now and all of a sudden his WhatsApp pictures is changed (after not changingonce I’m our relationship of over a year ) toa photo I took of him
    And his son on our first family
    Holiday 2 months ago …. not going to lie he doesn’t
    Look great in the photo but the photo has meaning between us …. why do it .

  5. Dennis

    April 8, 2019 at 2:40 am

    Me and my ex broke up because of some situations happened in his life. At first, I noticed he kind of text me less frequently and and passionately, I brought up this with him but it wasn’t like a fight. He told me he doesn’t feel different for me, I m very important to him but he’s under a lot of pressure at that point. He was sorry and feel bad he wasn’t being a good boyfriend. I told that I want to stay together and support him. Then he never actually said break up but kind of went silent. (But I understand for our situation it’s extra difficult as we were long distance)And I also decided to give him some space. I texted him again more than a month later. He wasn’t responsive. Judging from how very sudden the problem happened (the last time we met was just less than one month before his text pattern changed, and he was the one who was more sad to say goodbye at the airport) and also I trust him a lot, I had my gut feeling he has some good reason becoming like this. Then I flew to him, and called him told him I am there. So, he did respond and agreed to meet up. He took me to a dinner and tell me about the unfortunate things happened to his family and also something about his job. We both said miss each other. He said he want the chance to be with me again but just not now and need to talk things slow. He need sometime to deal with his situation. Then he still meet meet me in the following days while I was still in his country. He was just taking me to restaurant and talk to me, no hook up. So, I believed his words. He told me he still feel the same for me and want to hear from me, he said I can text him or call him anytime, he said lets don’t say goodbye but say we will meet again.
    After I left, he texted me and said thank you for me coming to talk to him, he said it means much. Then later days, we still have text each other a bit. Till later We said some blessings to each other during a festival time. Then we stop like a few weeks. Meanwhile, I received opportunity to go to his country and to stay there, I always wanted to do this even before we were together, but he was part of the motivation for sure. I really want to tell him about it. Then I shoot him “how are you?” He told me he wasn’t good again, things are out of his control. So I felt like not much I can do but wish him good luck and tell him he could talk to me whenever he want. Of course deep down I hope he could talk to me about what really happened but it’s ok that he didn’t tell. I Waited for half month so that he may feel more relax about his situation and I finally told him I am coming to stay in his country and ask if he still feel like hearing from me and to hang out. He responded quickly that he s happy that I will be there and he want to know everything, he kind of assured me by saying “please do know that I want to know” So I told him a bit detail and asked he if he know about the city I will be staying in. And now,it’s been 2 days he read the text but no reply, I feel kind of nervous and wonder if he really mean that he is happy that I am coming, but I also don’t see a point why he had to lie. Does he really still like me and care?

  6. Candy

    November 4, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    Hi again!

    So I’m completely flabbergasted today! My ex moved further away from work this weekend.. before we broke up we were looking for a house together closer to work.. I feel like my chances of ever getting him back are slimming more and more everyday!

    1. Chris Seiter

      November 4, 2018 at 10:29 pm

      Hi Candy!

      Well, perhaps. The future is always moving with possibilities. If you are executing an ex recovery plan, stick with your efforts and remember, most of your efforts centers around your healing and recovery.

  7. Emily

    November 2, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    I try no contact for three weeks and my ex reach out to me and I try to play it cold and he reach out to me again. The next day I reach out to him and he seem to be opening up more after that he reach out to me and I ask him something which he say he will reply tmr but he never did so I panic and ask him again the next day and then I got frustrated and told him I wanted to meet up for closure and I thought I was fine but the minute I got in his car I broke down and cried and ask if I mean anything to him to which he reply by saying he likes me but not enough to be with me and I shouldn’t force him into a relationship. So now I’m back to square one. But that night I ask him if we can hang out two weeks from now and he said we will see. If he does reach out about hanging out should I respond and say no or not respond at all since I’m trying no contact.

    1. Chris Seiter

      November 2, 2018 at 10:45 pm

      Hi Emily!

      Probably need to stick with a full course of NC and find your emotional balance and healing.

  8. Candy

    November 1, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    I think I blew it.. it’s been 2 months.. the last thing I told him was go to hell when I found out hes been talking to my friend and they hang out.. that was a week and 1 day ago.. he hasnt looked at me or even said hi.. it’s pointless to say sorry, cause he never responds.. and I was texting him once a week after we broke up. I was just so pissed cause he told me a few weeks ago hed never block me from his phone.. but hasnt responded cause hes been too busy.. I couldn’t bite my tongue.. that and the fact that I see where her loyalty lies… that hurt me more than the breakup itself.

    1. Chris Seiter

      November 1, 2018 at 11:55 pm

      Hi Candy!

      I don’t think you blew it. Everybody knows that when breakups happen, things happen that one or both partners regret. We are all imperfect. Probably best to roll into no contact to find the healing you need and all the other things NC can accomplish. Visit my home page to tap into my resources and tools!

  9. Missing him

    October 31, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Hi Chris,

    My ex boyfriend broke up with me in late February after a year and a half of wonderful dating saying that he needed to work on himself and couldn’t do that while being in a relationship. It was a sad breakup and we left saying ‘I love you’. I was devastated but also sort of agreed with him that he needed to get his life together and so I tried to move on, dated, did activities, focused on work, etc. it was especially tough because I moved to a new state for him.

    We talked a few times in May in person to get some closure and exchange items and he apologized for lots of things and he told me he still loves me. He texted me in July asking if I was doing ok and I didn’t respond so I guess I initiated NC (before I even knew what it was) in July. I noticed he unfollowed me on Instagram recently and I reached out in October because I felt it had been long enough to see how he’s doing and after some laughing and catching up he told me he thinks about me every day, misses me, keeps a list of things he wants to tell me (stupid stuff like he saw a food I might like), and still loves me, and unfollowed me because he can’t stand to see me out with other people, but doesn’t think a relationship is right for him right now. But ‘doesn’t want this chapter of us to close’. There is a slight age difference – I’m about to turn 29 and he’s about to turn 25.

    I want to be with him and miss him so much. But he apparently just can’t commit. Is there anything I can do or is it time to officially move on? We haven’t seen each other in person since maybe May and I wondered about grabbing coffee. I recently found a few things of his and could give them to him then.

    Any advice would be wonderful!

    1. Chris Seiter

      November 1, 2018 at 3:00 am

      Hi there!

      So I don’t think that is much of age difference. Some guys will shy away from commitment. If communications are flowing well, then, yes, a casual coffee works.