10 Silly Mind Games Your Ex Is Playing To Get You Back

Before we get to the 10 silly mind games your ex is playing, it helps to understand what is a “silly mind game” and what is an attempt to manipulate you?

What is a mind game?

… a series of deliberate actions or responses planned for psychological effect on another, typically for amusement or competitive advantage. (Oxford dictionary)

… a psychological tactic used to manipulate or intimidate (Merriam Webster)

… an action or statement intended to undermine or mislead someone else, often to gain.(Collins Dictionary)

… Playing mind games (also power games or head games) is the largely conscious struggle for psychological one-upmanship, often employing passive–aggressive behavior to specifically demoralize or dis-empower the thinking subject, making the aggressor look superior. ((Wikipedia)

Silly mind games Vs. Manipulation

There are mind games exes play, and don’t even realize they’re playing mind games. For some, it is a habit; something they do because they’re emotional immature. For others it is a response to break-up distress and usually linked to attachment anxiety. These are what I call “silly mind games”.

The motivation is not necessarily to manipulate. The motivation is to make themselves feel like they are in control of a situation they have no control over. Sounds like an excuse. Maybe. But read the rest of the article before you make that conclusion.

Then there are mind games exes play exes play to manipulate you into doing what the manipulator wants the to do. The manipulator suspects or knows that you will not willingly do what they want you to do – and for good reason. Because they can’t get you to do something you would not do in you “right mind”, they mess with your mind to get you to do it.

This are not a “silly games”. They are deliberate, calculated and designed to advance the manipulator’s agenda. Narcissist play these mind games like they were born this way; and maybe they were.

I went all this length to explain what is “silly mind games” and what is straight up manipulation for a reason

And that reason is that you may think your ex is playing mind games to manipulate you, when what is happening is that they’re triggered and reacting sub-consciously.

Right or wrong, I strongly believe that attachment theory was meant to help us all understand each other, see beyond each other’s childhood trauma and wounding, and acknowledge that we are all wounded in some form or another; and with this knowledge help each other heal and learn to love again in a healthy way.

If these emotional wounds were physical and we could see the scars; we would probably show more understanding and empathy. But because they are deep wounds invisible to the eye, we are quick to pass judgement on someone’s behaviour.

Are the mind games your ex is playing “silly mind games” or an attempt to manipulate you for amusement or competitive advantage. You be the judge.

1. Your ex texts you and when you don’t respond, he/she texts again to say he/she “accidentally” texted you.

2. Your ex calls then hangs up. And when you call back, they say it was a drunk call or their butt dialed your number.

3. Your ex texts or calls asking you to do them a favour; something anyone else could have easily done.

4. Your ex sends you a sweet nice text asking about how you are but when you don’t reply as quickly as you are expected, you get the silent treatment or get deleted/blocked.

5. Your ex sends you texts saying how much they miss you but as soon as you respond in “I miss you too” way, they start ignoring you.

6. Your ex sends very flirtatious texts but when you ask personal questions or ask if you can call them; they become abrupt, vague or rude.

7. Your ex sends you some weird text or email with the intention of leaving you guessing… “I have some good news” or “”I’m watching this very funny video on You Tube” or something equally meaningless.

8. You are texting back and forth for a while but then they suddenly stops contact. After a few days/weeks of “No Contact” you get a surprise “I love you” text with a smiley.

9. Your ex flaunts his/her new man or woman in front of you, then acts surprised and/or offended when you do actually get jealous.

10. All seems to be going well, no arguments, no fights but suddenly they pulls the “I don’t love you anymore” stunt just so you beg and plead.

The more you know about the mind games your ex is playing, the better you can protect yourself from getting burned and feeling frustrated and bitter. And if you still care for your ex, you can stop feeding his or her need for drama or attention, or from emotionally abusing you.

But sometimes, you may think your ex is playing mind games when what is happening is that they have attachment anxiety or attachment avoidance.

RELATED: 5 Game-Changing Things To Do When Your Ex Is Playing Mind Games

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29 Comments

  1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Sally

    I also have an anxious attachment style and my ex’s style is attachment avoidance, where can I find the articles Marlene mentions. I think I will benefit from reading them. Thank you.

  2. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Marlene

    I am so so so happy I found this site. Every expert I consulted said my ex was unavailable, playing mind games or just not into me. We were together 8 wonderful months and out of no where he wanted space. I was confused because the day before he told me it is the happiest he is ever been. I am an anxious attacher and no contact was not an option, lol. I read your site every day and came upon your articles on understanding an avoidant ex and it was like a light bulb came on. My ex is a dismissive avoidant and fits perfectly to what you say. To cut the long story short, I bought your Dating Ex book and now my dismissive avoidant ex is opening up and emotionally engaged again. He has initiated a couple of texts and I know better not to get excited and let my own anxious attachment style get in the way. I love this guy so much and will be booking a couple of phone sessions for more advice. Thank you sooooo much.

  3. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Melssa

    How about this story? I spent 10 years with an abusive BF. I broke it off and he was obsessed with getting me back. He got married 2 years after I left and is still married. The entire time, including the day he got married, he texts me. He will ask what I’m doing etc… Then nothing for a week or so… It’s literally been 5 years of his mind games… I have decided to just stop talking to hm.. Nothing.. The mind games are tearing me apart…

    1. Love Doctor Yangki AkitengLove Doctor Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Sounds like mind games for sure. But you are complacent in this, may be even playing mind games yourself.

      The man is married… that should be an exit clue for you. What were you doing entertaining the attentions of a married man for 5 years; a man you say was abusive?!

      Next time you get into a relationship remember, “you teach people how thy treat you”. If you make it okay for someone to treat you a certain way, they will.

  4. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Kaili

    I’m ashamed to say, I’ve played quite a few of these silly games myself. But when you see being played out right in front of you, you realize how childish, immature, cruel and heartless it actually really is.

    1. Love Doctor, Yangki AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      Don’t be so hard on yourself. You know what they say…. “everybody plays a fool someday or another”.

  5. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Andy

    On NC. 4 days. Last one i send was hi and she responded an hour later with “?” I never responded back. What is that? Just to check up or acxident you guys think?

  6. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: lilpink

    I think it’s human nature to want what you can’t have. Turning the tables on your ex by telling him that breaking up was the right decision will make him feel rejection too. Doing so allows you to take control of the situation.

    1. Love Doctor, Yangki AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      Wanting what you can’t have is the ego’s nature… a struggle mentality.

      Turning the tables on your ex the way you describe is like applying for a bank loan and when rejected, sending a letter to the bank telling them you didn’t even want the loan (because that will make the bank feel rejected… Duh!?).

  7. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Moolice

    They text you saying “sorry about the missed call, my phone rang you in my pocket”. Yet there was no missed call on the phone.

  8. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: LiedTo

    After nearly 3 months of no contact, my ex created a fake profile on Facebook. It didn’t take long for me to figure out it was her. I was disappointed because I still had feelings for her and thought that may be things could work out for us in the future. Now I don’t even think I ever knew her at all.

  9. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Nicole

    I came to realize that my boyfriend at the time was emotionally unavailable. He broke up with me suddenly and I found out he had been talking to someone else for weeks. After 1.5 months of not speaking to him, he texted me that he knows he hasn’t treated me well but that he needs me to pray for his dad who was having a medical emergency. I’m so confused as so why he would reach out to me like that.

    1. Love Doctor, Yangki AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      I wasn’t going to answer your question because it’s under the wrong article. But then it started to bother me. Someone is asking for your prayers for his sick Dad and all you think about is yourself?

      He is NOT playing a silly mind game. The fact that he reached out to you with an “apology” for how he treated you means that he’s worried about his Dad. The least you can do is pray. It won’t cost you anything. You don’t even have to tell him you prayed. Do it because it’s a kind thing to do. Kindness is not weakness. Kindness shows you still have a heart. Maybe broken, but still there.

  10. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: greg

    I feel like no contact has backfired. I sent my ex a cam reconnection message “Hey how have you been? If you have sometime next week let’s get together on Skype, I just have to personally thank you for what you did.”. She immediately sent me a text “thank me for what?” I told her I’d like to explain it face to face via video chat. She sent back a text saying she knows what I’m trying to do and is not interested. Do you think I completely ruined my chances?

    1. This is one of the problems of using generic scripts. They are there on the internet and there is a chance your ex has seen it or is using the same “technique” on you. I know of exes who even play along and make you think whatever you’re doing is working then throw it in your face.

      It’s not clear whether she’s not interested in getting together on Skype or getting back together. I suggest you try one more time to reconnect with her, but be honest and do it from your heart. You may or may not get her back, but at least you’ll be respected.

  11. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Dombro

    She broke it off 8 months ago. After 3 months of no contact, I contacted her. We talked for a couple of weeks, and then she told me she was kinda seeing someone. I told her I understand and stopped contact for another two months. I contacted her when I found out she had ended it with the other guy. Her first reply was friendly but the others said she didn’t want anything to do with me. What is confusing me is that she says she wants me out of her life but still contacts me and asks me who else I’m dating. She is saying one thing and doing another like it is a game.

  12. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: CC

    My ex is currently playing some of those games. We currently live together but are in the process of getting our own places. The minute I start to feel resentment towards him he’s overly affectionate, he sends me “I love you” texts, he asks me to go out on the town, etc. After some careful thought and “soul-searching” I began to recognize a pattern and the next time he gets the notion to “work on the relationship”, I’ll just politely decline his offers and continue my plan to move on.

  13. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Kim R.

    It is very confusing when an ex is contacting you for sometime and then disappears for weeks. At first I thought he might be confused about his feelings for me but after a year of on and off again contact, I told him I still loved him and wanted him back. His response was”that’s never going to happen”. I asked him why he was contacting me if we were never going to get back together and his response was “you had no problem with it before.” I told him never to contact me again and he responded “your wish is my command”. I never hard from him again. I still think about him and miss him but I have to move on.

    1. This is probably not going to help, but I’ll say it anyway. Your ex is a real jerk. Given his responses, he had no intentions of getting back with you. His on and off contacts were just an ego boost.

      It’s hard now, but you will get past this.

  14. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: lilpink

    I don’t think you understand. When you agree with your ex’s decision to the breakup, you maintain your dignity and at the same time make your ex curious to know how you could so quickly move on. You will relive a lot of pressure and make them feel more comfortable around you because now you want the same thing instead of wanting something different.

    1. You are right, I don’t understand why anyone — especially someone who wants his/her ex back — would think that’s even a smart move.

      This could also be interpreted as you’ve thought about it and decided the relationship isn’t worth any more effort. This can make it a lot harder later to say to your ex that you want him/her back without seeming like you don’t know what you want. Even if your ex still has feelings for you, he or she will be afraid to take you back because they can’t trust you not to change your mind (again).

      There are better ways of relieving your ex of the pressure caused by your begging and pleading, and showing that you are “positive” about the break-up without hurting your own chances in the process.

  15. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: bamaboy

    My ex keeps showing up in places that I just so happen to be and then acts like she hasn’t seen me. I know what she’s doing so I also pretend I haven’t seen her. A couple of times she’s gone out of her way to run into me and pretend to be surprised. How silly is that?

  16. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Jayiya

    Ok, I contacted my ex after 90 days of nc. I needed to work on controlling my emotions because I missed him so much, He messaged me once and that was all. So now I contact him and he send me a link to this article about mind games. What does it mean? Is he playing a mind game?

    1. Yangki AkitengYangki Akitengsays: Yangki Akiteng

      I think so, but a different kind of mind game in which he does not directly tell you that he thinks you were playing a mind game by doing nc; but instead sends you a link about silly mind games written by a coach who thinks nc is a silly mind game.

  17. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Lyn

    There was an ex who broke up with me after only 4 months since he didn’t want a commitment, yet he had been the one who had pushed me into the relationship. When he broke up he said he wanted to continue as friends. But when I tried to call a little while later, he didn’t answer and didn’t respond to messages. Also, he’d keep showing up in places he knew I’d be, stare at me, sometimes hang around if I talked to other people, but if I tried to say “hi” or talk a bit, he’d not answer, ignore me and back away.

  18. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Phil

    An ex text me a “question mark” after ignoring me for 7 months. I stop contact after month 4 but after responding How are you. she started ignoring again.

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