Whether or not you want your ex back, it can be very hard to deal with the thought that they now dislike or even hate you. And while this does happen after some breakups, the good news is that it’s rarely the case that your ex actually HATES you, even if they tell you that they do. 

But if they don’t hate you then why are they acting this way? Why are they being cold? Why are they being rude or even cruel? And why might they say that they hate you if it’s not true?

First, let’s talk about why your ex is being mean or rude to you.  This is actually something that happens quite frequently, so don’t think you’re alone if this is a scenario you’re facing right now… I hear this question all the time.

In some cases, it can seem like your ex is flip-flopping between being nice to you — or even downright affectionate and flirtatious — while the next minute they’re being a jerk or ignoring you altogether. Or, maybe your ex just seems to be trying to pick a fight every time you interact with them.  

Regardless of what your ex is doing, if they’re being cold, distant, rude, or confrontational, it’s almost always for one of four reasons.


Reason #1:  They Still Have Feelings For You

This may sound bizarre, but often when your ex is acting like an asshole towards you or being cold and distant, it means they still care about you or have feelings for you.

Their cruelty or confrontational behaviour is their way of dealing with these emotions, and typically it’s actually a subconscious thing rather than an intentional strategy.  

For any number of reasons, your ex has decided that breaking up is the best, most logical way forward… and yet, they’re still in love with you, or at least still have lingering romantic feelings for you and care about you.

These are feelings they no longer WANT to have, really, because they make getting over the breakup more difficult…. And as a result, they can become cold and rude or try to pick fights whenever you talk to them. They think, on some level, that if they can push you away or make you treat them badly in return, this will make it easier for them to move on.

It might sound bizarre, but being mean or rude is a common way many people try to suppress these feelings and emotions after a breakup so it’s definitely more common in people who struggle to deal with their feelings…which is a pretty big slice of the population.  

If your ex is being very ‘hot and cold’ towards you, where they’re sometimes being nice and affectionate one minute and then suddenly acting mean or indifferent the next, that’s a good indication that they’re doing this because they still care for you and have an internal struggling going on within themselves over the breakup.  

Reason #2:  They Feel You’re Just Not Getting The Message

The second reason your ex could be acting mean, rude, or confrontational is, unfortunately, because they feel this type of behaviour is necessary in order for you to leave them alone and accept the breakup.

By treating you poorly or being a downright asshole towards you, they may be hoping you’ll give them the space they’re looking for and stop trying to win them back.  

If you’ve been pleading or begging your ex since breaking up, asking for another chance, or promising to change if they’ll take you back…. Then your ex could very well be feeling like you’re just not accepting the breakup, and being cold and rude to you in order to try and break through your denial and get the message across.

Reason #3:  They Hate The Idea of Hurting You

Lastly, it’s also possible your ex is being rude or trying to pick fights with you because they subconsciously feel like this could give them a “reason” to hurt you by breaking up.  This might sound totally bizarre, but it’s actually relatively common.  

Essentially, your ex has decided to break up with you, but because they still have feelings for you and know you’re a good person… they hate the idea of having to hurt you or cause you emotional pain by breaking up.

As a result, they’ll sometimes pick fights or be cruel towards you in hopes that you’ll take the bait and react angrily or be equally mean and confrontational in response.  This will give them a reason–some sort of justification–that will make the breakup feel less one-sided.

Again, I know this sounds like a strange thought process on the surface, but human psychology is often complicated and things like this can happen subconsciously without your ex really thinking about it.  


Reason #4: You Did or Said Something That Upset Them

Breakups can make us do a lot of crazy things. Often if your ex is angry at you then this is a sign that something you did crossed the line and upset them. It’s not always obvious what this is because almost anything can cause friction when people are in this heightened state.

So look back at your breakup. It might be something obvious or something more subtle. Did you get angry? Did you raise your voice? Did you say something that could be considered insulting? 

In this case then it’s possible that your ex’s anger towards you is justified. They probably don’t actually HATE you but they are angry and they want you to know it.

Now, the question that remains is how do you react or handle this type of behaviour from your ex?  What should you do to ensure they stop being so mean, cold, or angry towards you… and go back to being the kind, considerate, and loving partner you remember from the time you were together?

Well, there are 3 things that are almost always guaranteed to help in this type of situation: 

First, you need to avoid ‘taking the bait’ and not allow yourself to be drawn into any kind of conflict or arguments with your ex.  If they’re being mean or rude, then you want to react in a way they won’t expect… by not falling into their trap and by being kind, polite, and maturely defusing any potential confrontation. 

Now, it’s important not to be too nice to your ex, but you also need to take the moral high road and not let yourself be dragged into arguments or lash back out at your ex in response to their rudeness or cruelty.  

Second, in many cases, you may need to re-engage in another period of No Contact.  Typically, there’s very little you can say or do to help change the way your ex is acting, and therefore ignoring them completely and giving them time and space is often the best strategy to change their behaviour and their opinion about the idea of ever getting back together.

I always advocate shutting down the lines of communication with your ex if you’re in doubt about what to do, because this is almost never going to hurt your chances of getting them back in the long run… but it will ensure you don’t fall into their traps or accidentally make matters worse by doing or saying the wrong thing.

And third, if you truly screwed up and hurt them–which is definitely possible–then you need to consider apologizing. But only apologize ONCE. If you overdo it you will make your ex feel awkward or show them that you lack self respect. Just let them know that you’re sorry and take some space to let them cool off. 

Dave Barker

Breakup Coach

About the Author

Dave Barker is a breakup and 'ex back' coach with over a decade of experience helping clients repair and improve romantic relationships.

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