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

A client asked me, “What would you do if your ex was playing mind games?”

1) Respond not react

Mind games are about ’emotional power”. They’re like a puppet and puppet master, and the string is your emotions. The more your ex can manipulate your emotions, the more they can play you. They literally “own” you!

Learning to respond rather than react to your ex’s words and actions gives you more control of not only your responses but control of your emotions as well. When they can no longer control your emotions, they can no longer manipulate you.

2) Tell them you know what they’re doing

The power of any mind game lies in the other person not being aware of how and when they’re being played. The person playing mind games assumes they’re smarter than the person they’re playing. If you know that your ex is playing mind games with you, the best antidote to mind games is to tell them that you know what they’re doing and do not like it or approve of it.

A person who truly values a relationship with you (and is mature/emotionally healthy enough to be in a relationship with you) will feel bad and stop the mind games. The other type will just try and find another mind game to play, or give up and move on to somebody else.

3) Don’t play them back

We all have the capacity to be manipulative. When tempted to “give them a taste of their own medicine”, remember that the only person whose time and emotions you waste playing mind games is you.

I know that now, but back then before I became a love coach, I played it back to the best of them. My thinking was “Play the Player!”, but the more “I played the player” the angrier I got (with myself) because not only was I wasting my time (and blocking love), but I was doing the very thing that I resented in the other person.

4) Work on improving your self-esteem and self-value

We’re all vulnerable to being manipulated, however, some people are more vulnerable than others. That is, they have something about them that mind game players are able to take advantage of/exploit to advance their needs, goals, interests or agenda. It could be fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of not finding someone else, feelings of inadequacy etc.

Since you can’t change someone else and can only change you, it’s up to you to assert your value by taking away whatever it is that makes you more vulnerable to mind games.

5) Walk away

Mind games players have one and only one motive, and that is to advance their needs, goals, interests or agenda at the expense of the person being played. Most people are intuitive enough to realize when and how they’re being played and walk away, but even where the mind games “succeed”, the relationship will become troubled over time.

Someone who takes advantage of you and exploits your greatest fears, weaknesses and vulnerabilities does not “value you” (even if they tell you over and over that they love you). Your decision to enter or continue a relationship with someone who is into mind games (the game playing can at times offer some kind of “excitement” and edge to the relationship) should be weighed against the long term effects of the mind game playing – especially if you give in to the “head games” and the other person learns that playing mind games with you works.

In other words, refuse to play the game and there will be no game to play.

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  1. says: Prince

    My ex came back after 2 months of no contact. We text msmed for two weeks then she disappeared. I sent her several texts she did not reply. She eventually she replied after 10 days saying she was in a relationship and did not want me to contact her again. So why did she come back if she was already in a relationship? Anyone explain this to me?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I don’t mean to add insult to your situation, but your ex didn’t “come back”.

      This is one of the problems I have with NC. Too many people hanging their hopes on an ex contacting them. At some point your ex may contact, but just because he or she contacts you doesn’t mean they want you back. Until you are back together, your ex has not ‘come back”.

      Please see this articles: 5 Reasons Your Ex Is Contacting You and Why Does My Ex Contact Me Then Disappears?

  2. says: Ben

    I know that my ex is using the No Contact rule on me. I happen to find this out reading comments she left on some blog. After several attempts at contacting her, I did some Google searches on an ex not responding and by pure luck happened to read a comment she had left which detailed our relationship and the breakup. She also mentioned that I had attempted to contact her but she deleted the texts and left my calls to go to the answer machine which she later deleted without playing. She wrote that she will not contact me until I beg her to contact me and then she’ll tell me I should take her back or forget the whole thing. I always knew she played mind games but was not aware she’s capable of being so mean and cruel. What do you think I should do?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      You can 1) give in and beg, 2) call her out on it, 3) play along and make her realize how immature her actions are, 4) ignore her and wait for her to contact you or 5) ignore her and move on with your life.

      Whatever you choose to do, keep in mind that if you give her the impression that her game playing worked, it’ll confirm to her that playing mind games with you works, and she’ll most likely do it again and again. That can mess you up big time — not to mention make it impossible to create a healthy relationship.

  3. says: heartsick

    My ex and I have been broken up for 5 months. I was going to propose to her but she broke up with me before I had the chance. I did the begging and all the other stuff you say in your book not to do. In my desperation I proposed to her but she was adamant that she needed to move on with her life. Mid August I get a text from her ” hey what’s up”. I waited 3 days and replied “life is good. what’s up”. No reply. About 10 days later I get another “you must have moved on”. I wait another 3 days and reply “I’m doing the best I can.” Never heard from her. Two weeks later and I get a text from her “if you have a new g/friend I don’t think we should talk anymore”. I replied “I don’t have a g/friend.” Not heard from her again since. It’s been 2 weeks. I am confused and don’t understand why she’s doing this.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I think either she’s trying to get you to chase her or she wants to know that she can still have you if she wants. Either way, it’s not the best place to re-start a healthy relationship. These kind of games if you allow them will continue in the relationship because she’ll have proven to herself that they work. Encouraging her current behaviour is courting another heart-break.

      If she contacts you again with some pointless text, be direct and tell her you don’t know why she’s sending you these texts and would appreciate if she could be more clear about what is it she expects or wants from you. If she does not step up, refuse to be drawn in her games!

  4. says: Ana

    Hi Love Doctor,

    I wanted to ask your opinion on the ‘rubber band’ theory?

    You know, the one that says: ‘if he pulls away, you pull away. And then when the rubber band snaps you come close again’…or something like that 🙂

    Thanks.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      Works in toxic and dysfunctional relationships… you know people who seek the adrenaline rush created by the anxiety of pulling away and enjoy the pain from the rubber band snapping back. They think its love because it hurts. Some keep pulling and snapping until the rubber band loses it’s elasticity, or breaks.

      Sick if you ask me.

  5. says: Arnie

    I know I’m fooling myself because she’s more than likely stringing me along but it gives me some satisfaction when she does respond.