5 Signs Your Ex Is Emotionally Challenged

Some of us get into relationships where we’re pretty much destroying our self esteem because we ignored initial warning signs that the person we’re attracted to is an emotional train wreck or ticking time bomb.

Very often we are swept off our feet by the physical, mental or sexual attraction only to end up heartbroken, angry, bitter, revengeful or caught up in an emotional roller coaster.

These five warning signs will help you tell if someone is an emotional train wreck or ticking time bomb.

1. Has shallow emotions – He/she is quick to share too much early in the relationship or say “I Love You” or want to marry or commit to you. Typically, in less than a few weeks of dating you’ll hear that you’re the love of his/her life, he/she wants to be with you forever, and he/she wants to marry you. You’ll be showered with all the benefits of instant attraction, endearing names and overwhelmed with attention and promises.

Remember the old saying “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is (too good to be true)!” The rapid warm-up is always a sign of shallow emotions which later cause him/her to detach from you as quickly as he/she “fell in love” or “committed”.

2. Cannot handle unpleasant emotions – In the first few dates you will frequently hear stories of what others do or did to him/her and how “evil” the world is etc. But these stories quickly turn to what you are doing or not doing that is hurting him/her emotionally. The relationship becomes one of blaming, accusing, arguing, explaining yourself, defending yourself, trying to talk him/her into feeling differently about this or that etc. You feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells because you are.

People who can’t handle unpleasant emotions are easily emotionally overwhelmed . Most hold grudges, cling to bitterness, cannot handle frustration, criticism or rejection. They also “punish” you and try to make you “pay” for how they feel (as far as they are concerned, it’s your fault they feel this or that!).

3. Shows no emotions – From the very first date, he/she will toy with your emotions -e.g. shows up late, promises to call you but doesn’t, agrees to meet and “forgets” to call you to cancel, “forgets” things that are important to you etc. Most of the time you feel uncertain where he/she stands with regard to his/her feelings for you. When confronted, he/she may admit that he/she really has no feeling towards you – and does so very coldly.

Most of these people speak with a boring almost zombie-like monotone, which is their emotional give away. It says they find it hard to get excited about anything — including you. Coldly put, they are emotionally cold.

4. Prone to emotional outburst (short fuse) – The signs are there in how he/she treats a waiter/waitress, customer service people, others drivers and even perfect strangers. He/she is clearly letting you know that he/she has that ability and capability – and that it might come your way. There will come a time when he/she has no one to let out his/her temper on and you are the obvious soft and easy target. And it is not just men. Women may not necessarily be physical with their temper, but every sentence she speaks and the many lies she can invent are just as hurtful as physical abuse — if not more hurtful.

5. Uses emotions to manipulate – He/she creates situations in which he/she becomes the center of attention, even if it’s negative attention. He/she constantly exaggerates or distorts things to dramatic proportions. Some people even go as far as playing the persecuted victim, feigning or exaggerating illness or causing or inviting injury (e.g. shows up with bruises and cuts and expects you to feel bad for him/her and even take care of the injury) etc.

You find yourself spending all your time trying to make him/her feel good about him or herself. The more attention you give, the more schemes he/she comes up with. It’s like trying to fill up a bottomless pit!

Take some words of wisdom from someone who’s been there… if it doesn’t fit, don’t force it.

Even if you are the most kind, loving and emotionally solid person in the world, being around someone who is emotionally challenged for a period of time eventually gets to you. The worst part of it all… they think it’s your fault that they are the way they are!

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  • I’ve been trying to get my ex to open up to me emotionally and all she tells me is that I will never know how she feels because I don’t care about her. I care about this woman with all my heart and will do anything for her, and I don’t know why she doesn’t believe me or see what she means to me.

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    • I believe that you love her and care about her. But if someone says she doesn’t feel that you connect with her emotionally, it doesn’t matter how you feel, how much you care or what you will do for her.

      There is a reason why she feels the way she feels. You need to genuinely try to understand what that reason is. It’s different for everyone and for every relationship, so I can’t give you a random reason without a good understanding of your relationship. What I do know however is that, until you “get” why she feels that she needs to respond a certain way, you can not get through to her on an emotional level.

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  • I’m definitely emotional, and I fully acknowledge that I tend to over-react. But being upset over not being listened to or standing up for yourself is not illogical and I will never apologize for being a bit sensitive. Pointing out that such behavior will not be tolerated or that what they are doing is wrong is not a crime.

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    • At least you are honest that you over react… sometimes… (:

      There is nothing wrong with being an “emotional” person. Emotions is what makes us human. And I agree with you that not being listened to can be upsetting. But it’s not that we get “emotional” that can be problematic not just for us but those we relate to, it’s how we handle our emotions or choose to respond.

      Does how we handle our emotions make things better or worse? Does how we respond draw us closer to the people we love or make them pull away?

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  • I discovered your blog/website awhile back and I adore it. My ex blamed me for all of his problems and when I would point out how he contributed to the problems in our relationships, he’d become very defensive and have an outburst shutting down any meaningful communication. We tried counselling because we have a 4-year old together, but when he didn’t like what was said, he’d sulk and refuse to talk for the entire session. I didn’t want my son to grow up absorbing such immaturity and ended the relationship a month ago. I’m however consumed with the guilt of taking my son from his father. Any advice, please.

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    • I can only imagine what your relationship must have been like. My personal opinion is you did what was best for your son. You tried counselling and it didn’t work, what else were you supposed to do?

      Your ex is most likely not going to change, and when your son is old enough, he’ll have first hand experience of what his father is really like, and will be grateful you did what you had to do.

      For now, focus on giving your son all the tools he needs to grow into an emotionally mature adult.

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  • I recently broke up with my ex who is 28 but acted like she was 18. Besides being too unpredictable and a drama queen, she could also be very cold and mean. One minute she loves me and the next she’s yelling and cursing me out. Then she promises to change and not do the same thing again, but its just for a day or two and again she starts doing the same thing. The only reason I put up with it for 2 years is because I sincerely loved her and hoped that she would change. The one good thing about this experience is that it made me realize it was easy for her to mess with my head because I was probably immature myself. I still think about her but I believe it is the best decision for me and have cut all contact with her.

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    • Love your honesty… so refreshing… (:

      I’m SO VERY AGAINST “no contact” when used to try to get someone to miss you or feel ignored and as a result initiate contact. But when used to cut ties with a (verbally, mentally, emotionally or physically) abusive or toxic person in your life, I am ALL for it.

      Now, get to the business of “growing up” because if you don’t, you will most likely attract another toxic and even immature partner.

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  • My biggest challenge seems to be impulsively sending emotionally charged e-mails when there is an absence of face to face or phone communication.

    Electronic communication is great as far as convenience and speed but it makes it much too easy for me to say things I later regret whereas if the conversation had been a normal face to face one, I just know I would not have made such mistakes.

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  • Great article and timely. Keeps one from beating up on themselves. And place the responsibility back in the other person’s court, where it belongs. Great job.

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