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

A client asked me, “What would you do if your ex is 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. You control your responses and control 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

Mind games work when the someone is not 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 will feel bad and stop the mind games. Someone who is immature and emotionally dysfunctional 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). 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 and exploit to advance their own 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 motivation and that is to advance their own agenda. Thy don’t care if it is 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.

RELATED: 7 Things To Do When Your Ex Cuts Off All Contact And Won’t Respond

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75 Comments

  1. says: schung

    You are right. This is a continuation of his games. I’ll wait for the next time he initiates contact and tell him I’m fed up with his games, and not respond anymore. Thank you very much.

    1. The attitude with which you approach the situation will make all the difference. If you want nothing to do with him ever, then telling him you’re fed up with his games and not respond anymore will do it. But if you want a relationship with him, approaching things like it’s all his fault isn’t going to make him want to step up to the plate, even if he is still genuinely interested in you.

      1) Own up to your role in all this
      2) SUGGEST (not ask, demand or threaten) how things can be different
      3) Tell him what you are doing to make it different.

      These steps will not get the two of you back together, but they will help you find out if it’s even worth the time and effort to try to get him back — or just move on.

  2. says: schung

    My ex sends me mixed signals. He initiates contact but after a week of regular contact he says he doesn’t have feelings for me. I confronted him and he said if I don’t want him to contact me, then he will not. But after a couple of days I get a text from him as if nothing happened. It’s so hard for me to continue having contact with him. Am I being played?

    1. It’s not just that it’s hard to continue contact with someone who’s acting the way your ex is, it’s hard to have a relationship with the kind of dynamic the two of you have. Looks like this was the pattern in your relationship, and this is just a continuation of it. He does what he wants to do, you complain, he threatens to leave, may be even disappears for a while so it looks like he’s following up on his threat, and you, not wanting to lose him, gives in or lets him off the hook.

      In my opinion, you are as responsible for the toxic dynamic as he is. To change the toxic pattern you’ll have to tell him things can’t go on like this, and refuse to play the game the two of you are playing. Two things will happen, if he is sincerely interested in being with you, he’ll step up to the plate; if he is not, you’ll lose him. Are you ready to take that risk or would you rather just continue playing the game?

  3. says: Paul

    Ever since we broke up over 2mos ago, my ex has been posting love quotes on her Facebook status updates. Most of them are about moving on and loving again. I’ve remained unresponsive so far. So yesterday she posts something about never being more in love this time around. Could she really have met someone that quick and deeply fallen in love? Btw, we were together for 4 years on and off.

  4. says: Katie

    Wanted to stress the if it feels like a mind game, it probably is. Have an ex who did the silent treatment, withdrawing/barely speaking etc. Currently in “conspicuous absence” mode.

    Give someone the benefit of the doubt once or twice but if in your heart you suspect they’re playing mind games, THEY PROBABLY ARE. Ebook was GREAT!!

  5. says: freemaster

    Yangki, you have to admit sometimes no contact even if it’s used as a mind game does work. I’ve seen people ignore their ex for a period of time and then their ex contacts them. I’ve done it a few times myself with success. One ex contacted me after 4 weeks of no contact. The one before that contacted me after 3 months, the last one, I contacted her, we spoke for 2 weeks then she decided she wanted to move on. The point is that they did contact me. Isn’t that they whole point of no contact, to get them to contact you?

    1. I’ll admit to this… If all you want is to get your ex to “contact you”, then yes, you can call that “success”… 😉

      But if you want YOUR EX BACK, that’s not success because from your own admission, none of these exs are with you now. You can’t say I got my ex back… where is she?

      I’ve said in many of my articles that sometimes mind games do work, but most of the time they backfire. The issue is not do they work or not, the issue is, is it the best way to create and maintain a lasting relationship?

      Relationships run on mind games are conflict-ridden, drama-full and are off-and-on-again. I know some people call that “a relationship”… at the risk of sounding heartless… that’s none of my business. That’s what they want, that’s what they get.

      My focus is on those that want a different kind of relationship dynamic. And facts back me up on this (and you are a good example…lol), if someone plays mind game on you and it works, chances are they’ll play it again and again. It’s just human nature to repeat what brought “success” before, even if it hurts the relationship….

      That’s unless one wants to change that dynamic.

  6. says: perroveijo

    so glad i found this. My ex is playing this game of NC on me. I am older than she is and told her games will no be tolerated since we started a serious relationship. She never got the message and kept paying games. At the beginning it was like a challenge for me, but after a while I got all stressed out. No games people, it is not worth it!

  7. says: Sam

    I agree with this article. If you take your ex back after they ignored you for weeks, it will most likely make her think its ok to do that. My ex walked off and returned to say sorry, I took her back. We were together 1 month and things were not good again so she started ignoring me making me feel rejected again. I told her I don’t like how she is treating me and she continued ignoring me and no contact etc. I was out with friends one night and met someone else. My ex heard I was seeing this other woman and came back very sweet, texting me constantly and calling me saying she misses me and cares about me. But I know how that would end with her ignoring me again. I told her I was with someone I care about and lately she has been saying all kinds of bad things about me and even called the other woman and telling her all kind of things. I’ve done everything I can to not respond but at what point does one say enough is enough and fire back?

    1. You are at that point… 🙂

      That said, it depends on what you mean by fire back. You are dealing with a woman cornered by her own mind games. She knows she’s not going to get you back, and it’s driving her crazy that she can’t get you to respond — even an angry response. She’d rather have the two of you fighting and insulting each other than be ignored.

      Don’t give her what she wants. It will only make her do even crazier things to keep herself somehow connected to you. If she gets no “reaction” from you, after a while, she’ll come to terms with the fact that it’s not paying off and give up.

  8. says: trueseductress

    Yangki, I agree with many of the things you say on your blog but I think that sometimes girls want their ex to treasure them and what you are calling mind games is just to reverse him being in control and make him run in circles so that when the two of you finally get back together he will value you because he will fear to lose you again.

    1. You are right. Some girls think like that and that’s the difference between “girls” and “women”. When you reach a certain emotional age, you know that value and worth is not something others give you but something YOU find within yourself. Making others run around in circles to feel treasured or valued is chasing one’s own tail. I’m not talking about chronological age here, but emotional age. There are some “women” who are old enough to be “women” but emotionally are still “girls”. Same thing with “men” who are still “boys”.

      So while you are right about your observation, it does not change the fact that such strategies undermine the very thing these girls want– a happy, loving, fulfilling lasting relationship.

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