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Signs Your Ex Is Hurting

Sometimes, after a breakup, it can feel like your ex is totally fine and you’re going through hell.

But usually this is just a front and they’re actually hurting inside.

Here’s how to tell that your ex is in pain over the breakup.

Some of these signs you’d never see unless you knew what you were looking for. Luckily I’m here to help.

Now… why does it matter if your ex is hurting or not? After all, it’s over, so it’s not really your problem anymore.

Well I don’t have to tell you that it’s never that simple. You don’t just stop caring about someone immediately after a breakup. And if you want your ex back, this information is vital to making that happen.

8 Ways To Tell That Your Ex Is Hurting

You need to understand your ex’s mental state above all else if you want to win them back. Winning back an ex that is completely crushed by the breakup is completely different than winning back one who is handling the breakup fine and is basically over it. Both are possible, but they require different approaches.

So is your ex locking themselves in their room and crying themselves to sleep? Or are they walking around without a care in the world?

Let’s dive into the signs that your ex is hurting to find out.

1. They’re dating again

Most people see their ex dating after the breakup and they take it as a sign that they’ve totally moved on and they don’t care anymore. But often the opposite is true.

Think about it. After a breakup most people take some time to themselves to process what happened…this is a natural response to a breakup, no matter how serious. This time is crucial because it helps you get back into your routine and get some sense of normalcy.

When people try to skip this step it’s not because they’re doing so great that they just want to get right back out there and meet someone new. It’s because they’re trying to distract themselves from the pain they’re feeling by getting that love, sex, and validation from someone new.

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All different kinds of people take this approach but it’s especially common among men because men are more prone to try to push down their feelings and keep moving forward.This is because many men lack a solid social support system and don’t know how to sit with these feelings and process them.

Instead they’ll run to the apps or to the club to try to sleep with as many people as possible. But at the end of the day, no matter how many people they get into bed with, they’ll still feel alone and lost without you.

2. They’re making big changes

For the most part, people who are happy and content stay in their lane and make changes gradually to improve their lives. So if your ex just shaved their head, quit their job, became a scientologist and opened an emu farm, this is a sign that they’re not happy and are, in fact, hurting quite badly.

This is an extreme example but I’ve honestly seen similar things in my time as a breakup coach. A breakup can feel like a massive hole in your chest. And what do we do with a hole? We try to fill it with whatever we can…maybe a new job, a new relationship, or a new hobby. But the more you try to fill that hole with external things, the more you realize that it’s impossible. Only time and work can really make you feel better.

So if your ex decides to go back to school a week after you breakup, it’s not because they’re “making moves” and living their best life…it’s because they’re in pain over the breakup and they miss you more than they care to admit.

3. They act stoic

The way someone treats you is bound to change after breaking up…of course. If they still acted the way they did when you were together, then you’d have to wonder if they understood what was happening.

So don’t be surprised if your ex is a little cold and distant when you speak to them after the breakup. But this isn’t what I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about a general flattening out–a graying out of their emotions–not just towards you but towards everyone and everything. So maybe they’re usually a happy and bubbly person and now they seem as though they don’t care at all, this is a pretty strong sign that they’re in pain.

When you’re overwhelmed with pain it’s common to curl up into a ball and cry, but many people don’t have that luxury. Life goes on and it interrupts the grieving process. In order to hide their feelings and get back to life, they’ll often adopt a sort of mask that they’ll use to navigate the world either consciously or unconsciously.

But if your ex is feeling this way it means that they don’t have the energy to fake happiness and positivity and they’re just doing all they can to numb the pain so they can get through the day.

A really extreme version of this is what’s called Flat Affect and it happens to people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Chances are your ex isn’t THAT messed up by your breakup but a more mild version of this is not uncommon and it’s a sign that your ex is in pain.

4. They’re trying to make you jealous

This is another one that many people misinterpret after a breakup. They see their ex talking with an attractive person and they think “oh, they’ve moved on” but really, if you’re SEEING your ex act this way, or they’re telling you about it, then there is usually an ulterior motive at work here. They’re actually doing this to make you jealous to get a rise out of you.

You see, even if your ex was the dumper, a breakup can make them feel unloved…unloveable. Obviously this feeling comes out of the pain of loss that comes from a breakup. Basically “I couldn’t make this work…there must be something wrong with me…no one wants me or cares about me.”

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This is ignoring the fact that you’d jump at a chance to have them back, but people rarely react in a logical way when strong feelings like these are involved.

So they’re basically looking for some evidence that they ARE valuable and that someone can want them still. They think, on some level, that if they can make you jealous then that means that they still have that value in your eyes and so they’re worthy of love, and valid as a human being.

This can be why your ex is posting photos with that hot friend of theirs or telling you all about the fun time they had hanging out with their coworker…it’s an attempt to deal with the intense pain they feel. And frankly, the way they’re going about it is actually quite disrespectful to you, in my opinion… but it is pretty common.

5. They’ve given up

One of the common responses to overwhelming pain is to just give up on life for a bit. So if your ex has stopped showing up to social gatherings, to work, or to school, this is a STRONG sign that they’re in pain.

They’re probably holed up in their room, hiding from the world. If you do see them they may look disheveled because they’re not taking care of themselves and their personal hygiene. This one can be hard to watch.

6. They’re angry at you

This is a weird one, and a lot of people are skeptical when I tell them that an angry ex is often actually not really angry at all…they’re in pain. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple: if your ex is still angry at you, they’re still emotionally invested in you and your time together.

Now, of course, there are some exceptions to this. If you did something truly terrible to your ex — whether you cheated on them or said some really horrible things to your ex — then their anger is probably genuine.

But if there wasn’t anything that bad that led to your breakup, and yet your ex continues to hang on to little arguments and disagreements long after breaking up… that’s usually an indication that they’re still thinking about you regularly because they’re hurting.

So I know this may be hard, but try not to take their anger personally. It’s actually a good sign if you want them back. If they were totally over you and feeling good, they wouldn’t bother reaching out to you with this negativity.

RELATED: Signs Your Ex Is Getting Over You

7. They’re asking about you

I think by now we’ve firmly established that, for the most part, pain comes from your ex not being truly over you. So if your ex is asking around, gathering evidence, trying to piece together your life now, they’re doing it for one of two reasons.

One, they want to see that you’re as miserable as they are. To them, this will confirm that they’re valuable, like we talked about, because you’re crying over losing them. This will also help them justify the breakup. “Oh they’re doing so bad, they’re in a worse place than I am so I must have made the right choice in dumping them.”

It doesn’t REALLY make sense if you drill down, but this is all a subconscious process. Many people during this time are really concerned about whether or not they made the right choice so they’ll take any evidence that confirms that their ex is lower on them on the totem pole, so to speak.

And TWO, they miss you and want to hear about you, to talk about you and generally obsess over you to anyone who will listen. They don’t want to reach out to you directly because they know that that leads to conversations that they don’t want to have. They know that if they talk to you they might end up caving and agreeing to get back together and they can’t admit that they want that.

So all that internal strife is causing them a lot of pain and heartache for that reason.

8. They don’t handle change well

Change can be really, really hard. It can throw you off completely and leave your head spinning. This can cause a lot of confusion and pain as you struggle to adapt to the new reality of your life. Or it can be invigorating. It can wake you up and put a spring in your step.

And it turns out that how you respond to this is less about the change itself and more about who you are as a person. So think about your ex in the past and how they’ve handled moments like this…when they had to move towns did it send them into a funk? Did they struggle to adapt to life after graduating high school or college?

This is an indirect one but if you know that your ex doesn’t adapt well to change then you can safely assume that this breakup has thrown them for a loop and they’re hurting quite badly over losing you.