By Chris Seiter

Published on July 20th, 2021

Today we’re going to be talking about why your ex is trying to hurt you. And we’re going to be using a real life scenario. Someone from our private Facebook support group was kind enough to allow me to use their situation to basically talk about why exes are mean, why they say disrespectful things, why they do things to specifically to try to hurt your feelings.

And what we’re going to do is not only are we going to understand why, but we’re actually going to also talk about how you should approach, how you should react to someone who’s being incredibly hurtful, saying incredibly disrespectful things, doing hurtful things, going on dates with other people, shoving it in your face, things like that.

How do you handle that?

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Learning Exactly Why Your Ex Is Doing Hurtful Things

So let’s just jump right into it. I basically went to my private Facebook support group and told them that today I was going to be recording a podcast episode and I really didn’t have a good topic to cover.

And I asked people to ask me their most burning questions, the questions they want answered more than anything. And we got multiple different responses, so many in fact that I’m going to have to go back and actually add more or record more podcasts.

But I chose someone’s situation that I was briefly familiar with. And to protect her identity I am not going to be saying her name or talking about super big specifics, but I do need to give you a low down so that you can understand the situation.

  • So the person I am talking about here actually went through a breakup.
  • Her ex broke up with her, but the irony is that he blames her for letting him walk away.
  • After this breakup her ex went into this self-destructing spiral where he began drinking, smoking constantly, posting and sharing all sorts of hurtful things on social media.
  • And ultimately when she came to our program and used the no contact rule he had a birthday.
  • And the no contact rule basically says you cannot break it for the birthday. And she did not wish him a happy birthday on his birthday and this caused him to blow up.
  • So he sends her this really incredibly disrespectful text about how rude she is for not wishing him a happy birthday, how much better off he is without her, and how basically he’s going to disrespect her.
  • And since then he’s been going on dates and rubbing it in her face.

And then you can actually go back and see some of the posts if you’re in the private Facebook group that he’s been posting on social media, like social media updates about how he spent so many years with this person and how he fell in love with her and now the true colors are shown, things like that.

Basically she’s incredibly hurt and reeling and trying to understand this anger is coming from because the paradox here is that he was the one to break up with her.

So why is it that he is so angry at her?

Why is he trying to hurt her?

Understanding The Truth Of Anger

Well, in order to understand that we need to understand the truth of anger. Now, there’s a lot of different types of anger throughout the human experience.

You have anger when you are completely justified and there’s a 100% reason that you’re angry. And then you have anger like this, the paradoxical angers, and trying to understand, reconcile that, is difficult.

So what’s the difference between the two types of angers, the justified angers and the paradox type angers?

Well, justified anger is for example, let’s say you’re in a situation where someone robs you and takes your purse or money from you and they’re a thief and they run away. You’re angry at that person who did those things to you and you’re justified because ultimately that person’s not cool for doing that. And then you have the paradoxical anger and that’s the kind of anger that her ex is exhibiting here. And that’s the sort of anger where you’re angry at someone that you broke up with because they didn’t fight for you.

They let you walk way.

What’s going on here?

Well, Coach Anna and I couple of months ago did this really amazing podcast and I think it might be my favorite podcast that we’ve ever done. We’ve done some really great ones, but it was basically a podcast where we talked specifically about anger and why exes get mad and what to do if you think your ex is mad and even what to do if you’re worried that they’re mad. And what was interesting about that podcast is Coach Anna said something that I thought was really insightful.

And that’s the fact that situations where someone else is wrong or situations like this where there’s this paradox involved, where you have no right to be angry at this person that really didn’t do anything wrong… Well, it’s a weird coping mechanism.

So if we look at situations where someone else is wrong… So imagine you’re this person.

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You are the one exhibiting this paradoxical anger, this anger where you broke up with the person, but you’re angry because they let you walk away. Well, if you look at a situation like that, in order to fall asleep at night, becoming the hero of your own story so to speak, it makes a lot more sense if you look at the situation as they’re wrong.

And we feel correct and we’re distracting ourselves from feeling the true pain, pain of regret and guilt and looking back over situations where you are feeling guilty and you don’t want face the harsh light of day.

And that’s why so many exes feel angry and judgmental. It’s essentially this defense mechanism that they put up and it’s more about them than you.

But what’s interesting is they’re not even consciously aware that this is what they’re doing most of the time. I think they’re consciously aware that it’s ridiculous for them to be angry at you when they’re the ones who ended the relationship. But they’re not consciously thinking, “Well, I’m the one who broke up with her so I’m the bad guy.” It’s important to remember that everyone is always the hero of their own story.

Oftentimes this is why we love antagonists in literature.

I mean, if you really think about it, a great antagonist in literature is actually not going to be the mustache twirling villain you would expect. It’s always someone with a legitimate reason for being angry.

I think this is actually why the Marvel movies are so beloved.

You have Thanos, right?

This really guy who basically wants to wipe out half of all population, but the reasons for why he wants to wipe it out are kind of noble in this weird way. He’s the hero of his own story. He is worried that overpopulation is going to cause people to suffer. And so it’s easier to wipe half of all people out… But let’s not forget the fact that with those infinity stones he could have just made double the resources so no one would have had to die, but that’s besides the point.

The point I’m trying to make here is your ex is going to be the hero of his own story. And that’s an important thing to understand when you’re looking at why they’re angry, because they will specifically craft situations in their head where they’ll make it to where you’re at fault for things you’re not really at fault for, because this is their coping mechanism.

This is what makes them feel like they don’t have to feel guilty.

A Personal Story To Illustrate This Point

I’m trying to think of a personal story to maybe illustrate this point and the only thing I can really think of is very first relationship I ever had, which was fraught with toxicity and fights, immaturity on my part, immaturity on her part.

And I was the one who initiated the breakup, but I was the one who was angry at her because in my mind she was the one that made me do it.

She put me in this position where our love was supposed to last. And that’s not what happened at all.

And I was angry about that fact, but the fact is when I look back on it with clearer eyes, there was a lot that I was at fault for. I was extremely immature. I was extremely insecure. And this is something that after the emotions died down I looked at it and said, “I need to improve so this doesn’t happen again on my next relationship.”

But not all people look at relationships that way.

How Do You Handle An Ex Who Hurt You?

So how do you handle someone like this? Someone who is trying to hurt you and it’s almost like their coping mechanism. It’s something that they are telling themselves and a belief. Well, I think the embedded question in this is looking at what they want more than anything. And this is kind of the tricky thing.

So the client that I’m talking about here, she is trying to learn how to handle this situation.

Her ex is saying hurtful things. Her ex is doing hurtful things. How does she handle that situation?

Well, I think the first way to handle that is by looking at what your ex wants more than anything. And her ex more than anything wants for her to beg for him back because he wants to win the breakup. Yet the irony is if she gives him what he wants, he will go, “Cool.” And then discard her like she’s nothing.

And the only reason I know this is because I’ve been doing this for a very long time and I’ve actually seen this play out time and time again. Oftentimes this is why super anxious behaviors like begging for your ex back doesn’t work. You give your ex that validation that they were seeking, like, “Yeah, I won. And now I’m bored.” It’s like a child getting a new toy.

You give this child this new toy and they play with it and they’re really excited. But then they look over and they see their brother and sister with an even newer toy and they discard it and want to go to that new toy.

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So how do you handle someone like this?

How do you survive the onslaught of disrespect and hurtful types of behaviors? Well, I think understanding attachment styles can really help in this way. So I was trying to ask the person whose question I featured here and the question I’m answering here on this podcast what her ex’s attachment style was, what she thought it was. And I never received a response… At least at the time of this recording. And that’s okay because I’m going to make a few guesses based on the specific information available to me.

So the first thing I thought was maybe this ex is a fearful avoidant.

So one thing we know about avoidants is they value their independence more than anything else, but when you add that fearful aspect in there, they’ll disappear and then they’ll act really anxious and crazy and then they’ll disappear. And it’s this weird understanding of what is going on.

Yet the more I looked at the situation, the more I’m not quite sure that’s what this is, because they have a pretty storied history. I was looking through her specific questions in the Facebook group and it seems to me like they were on and off again for years. They were engaged at one point. They had been together for over seven or eight years. And my guess is it’s probably her ex that is the one that’s initiating a lot of these breakups and a lot of the on again, off again type behaviors.

So I want to say that her ex is exhibiting more anxious type of behaviors than fearful type of behaviors or avoidant type of behaviors. So I want to say her ex is acting in this anxious type of a way where he’s getting angered, but I’m not sure. That’s the challenge with working on not perfect information. And ultimately her ex is the only one that could truly tell us what their attachment style is.

But I want to say a lot of the blaming her for letting him walk away, a lot of the self-destructing spiral like drinking, smoking, posting and sharing hurtful things, is anxious behavior in this weird way that he’s trying to seek validation that she still loves him. That’s why I said what he wants more than anything is to win this breakup.

But how does she handle someone like this?

What Would A Secure Person Do?

Well, I think that the ultimate key to handling someone like this is to always ask yourself, “What would a secure person do?” So how do you first define what a secure attachment style is?

Well, I think ultimately someone with a secure attachment style is going to be able to regulate their emotions and feelings really well. They’re going to also have a really strong goal-oriented behavior when they’re on their own. They’ll be great at bonding and opening up and trusting others.

They’ll be great at knowing what they’re about in life and what purpose they ultimately want to fulfill, which is actually something I think a lot of people miss out on. They don’t really know what that is. Secure people can communicate their needs really effectively. They feel like they have an impact on the world around them.

They feel very fulfilled. They’re comfortable with closeness and mutual dependencies. They actively seek emotional support from their partner when things are tough.

They give their emotional support to their partner when things are tough. They’re comfortable being alone and use that time to explore and innovate. They also have a really strong capacity to reflect on how they are being in a relationship, whether this relationship is something they want to continue with going forward.

So I think always the best way to handle people who are being hurtful towards you and disrespectful towards you, we can always go with the Frank Sinatra quote of best revenge in life is a massive success, but I think more than anything, I view… I grew up in Texas. So this is going to be a weird analogy, but in Texas… I grew up in Galveston County. And Galveston is… Their one claim to fame is that they got hit in like the 1900s by this massive category four, category five hurricane and it wrecked the town.

It was before they had any kind of weather instruments that could dictate, “Hey, there’s a hurricane coming. Flee.” So it just hit, devastated the town. And when they rebuilt the town, they built this ocean wall almost like the wall in Game of Thrones, but this is a wall to keep the storm surge back.

And I view this situation in that way. I view an ex trying to hurt you or doing disrespectful things as trying to get a rise out of you, trying to get you to break your wall, so to speak. So imagine the waves crashing here. Someone who’s really anxious, someone who’s really disrespectful, hurtful. They’re like a crazy storm. And the best way to handle them is by not giving them validation, not rewarding them for their crazy behavior. It’s by holding the wall. And you want to hold the wall by being secure. If your ex is acting like a crazy storm then you need to act like the exact opposite. You need to act like a stone, stalwart, really confident with yourself person.

And it’s going to be hard too, because generally speaking with exes like this, eventually they will feel nostalgia. Eventually they will feel guilt for all of the things they’re saying and all of the things they’re doing. And usually I think the biggest mistake a lot of people make is reaching out to their ex when they’re in still the stormy state. And I think the key is trying to time your reach out in a way that you’re not reaching out when they’re in the stormy state. You’re reaching out when they’re in this guilty state, where they’re thinking back on, “My gosh, I acted like a fool. How could I treat her that way? She’ll never want to talk to me again.” And then you reach out.

So the person who asked this question also asked other question. She was saying, “My ex is acting very hurtful and mean to me, what do I do?” Things like that. But she also basically asked a few other questions and that was she’s doing everything right. She’s being ungettable, keeping herself lowkey. Right now she’s doing things to make him wonder, being mysterious on her part. She just got accepted to grad school. Things are going really well, but she just wants to know, “Is he going to reach out again?” Since she ignored his message about the birthday when he blew up on her.

My answer is, “I don’t know, but probably yes.” I’m not a fool. I’m not going to guarantee anything, but my guess is he probably will reach out. But what you’re going to want to do is it doesn’t really matter when or even if he reaches out. What matters is you need to reach out at the right type of time. And so one of the quotes that I love best is, “Always find the advantage in the disadvantage.”

As weird as it sounds, when you’re at a disadvantage, everyone always obsesses about, “Wow, my situation sucks. I’m horrible. This is horrible.” What they fail to realize is there is always an advantage in the disadvantage. And the advantage I see here is your ex is so… I don’t want to say toxic, but chaotic, that when things are probably going well, you will see that probably reflected in their social media. When they’ve calmed down and they start feeling guilt, they’re going to stop the crazy posts and things like that.

So if you want my advice, it’s not to reach out until you feel your ex is in that feeling guilty stage.

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2 thoughts on “Why Is My Ex Trying To Hurt Me?”

  1. Nick

    November 22, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    My Ex fiancee keeps have her ex boyfriend and is girlfriend, before me around my daughter, she knows we don’t get along. How do I react if I’m trying to get her back. We split up 4 mth ago now. But we keep hooking up I’ve bought your program

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      November 25, 2021 at 10:41 pm

      Hi Nick, I would suggest that you go to the Facebook group for support and be sure that you read the materials. I will see you in group 🙂