If there was such a thing as a hierarchy of skills, I suspect making fire and cooking edible food would rank top 10.
‘Understanding why your ex hates you – and learning not to care’ might not rank so high, but it’s a skill I’ve been working on this past year. A lot.
So, I have this ex.
Well, strictly speaking, my exes are like regrets – I have a few. But this particular ex? He hates me.
I know. It’s weird because I’m basically adorable.
But there it is.
He cheated, we broke up, I was pretty miffed, but after some time, and a bit more Internet stalking than I should confess to in public, I moved on.
I’m a big believer that at some point after even the worst break-up, you realise that it wasn’t meant to be, and where you are NOW is better than when you were in an unhealthy relationship.
Holding on to anger at someone who’s no longer in your life just stops you enjoying The Happy today. Oh, and it also takes up valuable mental energy you could be using on something that – you know – actually makes life better.
But the ex doesn’t share those feelings.
He hates what I write, he hates where I go, he hates this blog, he hates my friends. He hates me for things that only happened in his imagination, and for things I might possibly do in the future. Maybe. His life is ruined, and I’m the one who did it. As post break-up rage goes, it’s pretty bad.
I’ll be honest. It hurts when someone hates you. Especially when you know that you don’t deserve it. Nobody likes to think that someone is bad-mouthing them to people, telling lies, calling you names. It sucks.
If you’ve ever suffered with the ex who can’t quite let it go, here’s what I’ve figured out over the past year or so:
Understand that his hate is nothing to do with you. I think staying angry lets someone feel connected to you. If they’re still raging about you, obsessing about where you go, how much fun you’re having, who you’re dating, then maybe you still feel like a part of their life. Especially if it wasn’t their choice to break up.
Also, if your ex is the manipulative sort, hate is a nice way of controlling you. “Look how angry and hurt I am because of what YOU did to me,” they say. If you’re anything like me, you can’t help the urge to keep trying to prove them wrong, to keep going out of your way to make them not angry with you.
Some exes love to badmouth you by venting to mutual friends and acquaintances. It’s an attempt to rally them to their cause, perhaps in hopes those people will be angry with you too, and then you’ll be sorry, or learn your lesson, or some crap like that. That doesn’t happen, BTW. Listening to people rage about their ex for too long is just… uncomfortable.
So what do you do when an ex hates you this way?
First, remember it’s not your problem. Unless you’re actually an axe-murderer, you probably don’t deserve to be subjected to a hate-fest for years on end. The issue is his (or hers).
Once I stopped feeling responsible for my ex’s anger, I lost that nagging feeling that I needed to “prove” to him that I wasn’t the terrible person he thought I was.
Next, cut all ties. Unfollow your ex on social media, block them on Facebook, change your mobile number, divert their emails to spam. DO NOT PICK UP THE PHONE.
Do whatever it takes not to let your ex find a route into your life/head. My friend Rachael describes it perfectly – imagine your ex is toxic slime. The slightest crack is all it takes for them to ooze their way in and poison the good stuff you’ve got going on.
Don’t fall into the trap of defending yourself, or telling everyone the “truth” about what went down. That’s letting the slime in, remember? Your ex can only hurt you if you’re paying attention.
It’s hard to begin with, but after a couple of months I realised I was so much happier having zero contact with my ex, that it seemed crazy I’d wasted so much time doing anything different.
Lastly, be happy.
A big part of your ex’s anger is probably because you’re happy. You’ve moved on, maybe you’re dating someone new, or have a great new job. Meanwhile he’s being tied down by bitterness and anger. He doesn’t like himself very much.
The best thing you can do is keep living your life. Keep thriving. Keep being happy. Do your thing and like me, keep hoping that one day your ex will follow suit and find happiness for himself. Just don’t put your life on hold waiting for it to happen.
Have you ever dealt with an angry ex? How did you cope? I’d love to hear your tips!