Do You Feel Like Your Ex Doesn’t Care About How You Feel?

In a good, healthy and loving relationship, each party tries to make sure that their words and actions are sensitive and loving, and the other person knows how much they care about them. When the relationship ends, you’d expect that this continues to be the case, but it usually isn’t. It’s like the contract is over, each to their own.

But this does not stop some of us from expecting our ex to care about how we feel and to blame them for making us feel a certain way. In fact, our first reaction to a break-up is to tell our ex how we feel.

We tell them how much we love them (and how they make us feel), or tell them how much they hurt us (and make us feel) hoping that they’ll care about how we feel. Some exes understand and try to help you through your grief, but most of the time, they don’t feel that they are responsible for how you feel. They probably think you’re just being hurting, unable to accept the break-up, being dramatic, needy or just being “you”.

Painful as it may be to accept it, no one is responsible for how you feel, except you. This is something that I try to help my clients understand time and time again.

Many struggle with this because we believe that someone else makes us feel happy, angry, upset, sad etc. We think in terms of “she made me the happiest man on earth”, and when we’re not happy anymore, it’s her fault we’re unhappy; or we say he said XYZ and “hurt my feelings”, not realizing that our feelings are hurt not because of what someone else said, but because of how we choose to react to what someone else said. A reaction is subjective. Someone else could have a different reaction to the very same thing the other person did or said.

Placing the responsibility for how we feel on someone else makes us feel so much better about ourselves, but it can also make us puppets at the end of someone else’s strings. They do something and we feel happy. They do something else and we feel upset or sad. In the case of your ex, they respond and your day is made! They don’t respond and…

In your mind, it’s your ex making you feel all these roller coaster emotions, but in reality, you are choosing to feel the way you feel. You are 100% responsible for how you feel.

It doesn’t mean the other person’s words or actions are acceptable or justified, it just means people will do what people do, it’s up to you to choose how you respond to their words or actions.

What I’m trying to say is that your ex will say and do things which will “make you angry” or “hurt your feelings”. Some exes even intentionally press your buttons because they know exactly how you will react. It’s not fair or even healthy that they do this, but people do what people do.

You are not responsible for what they do, you are responsible for how you choose to react.

Once you start taking responsibility for how you feel, you’ll be able to change your response and make different choices that give you full control of the situation.

When your ex says or does something that would have “made you angry” or “hurt your feelings” instead of reacting with anger or hurt feelings, you choose to respond with understanding sensitivity and assertive confidence. You find that instead of the old fights, you more ably stir the conversation to something constructive.

Try it. It’s a good place to be — emotionally.

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15 Comments

  • This hits very close to home for me, literally. I grew up with a mother who yelled “you make me angry” and “you make me crazy” at all of us children. It took me many years of therapy to understand that I do not have the power to make others angry or crazy. My mother s generally an angry person and all who know her know this about her. My two siblings don’t have any contact with her, I’m the only one who tolerates her. At 45 she still yells “you make me angry” at me, but now I’m able to respond with, “you make yourself angry.” In the beginning it made her even angrier, but lately I notice her calm down. I think she’s finally starting to realize she’s an angry person.

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  • I’m sorry you had to grow up under such circumstances. I can only imagine the effect that had on you, including all your relationships… trying too hard, walking on egg shells, apologizing unnecessarily, trying to make others responsible for how you feel, and sometimes angrily lashing back etc.

    What’s great about this is that you finally managed to place the responsibility for your mother’s anger where it rightfully belongs – with your mother.

    It seems cold and caring, but taking responsibility for something that belongs to someone else is not love, and does not do that person any good. If you are not helping, you’re enabling.

    Their stuff, they own it.

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  • “If you are not helping, you’re enabling”, what a powerful statement.

    There are too many of us who are wounded that way, unfortunately.

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  • I mean, so many “enablers” who encourage not taking responsibility for our own actions and how we feel. My therapist always used to say, “Trent, they are not your feelings. They are not you”, and I always wondered whose feelings they were then since they came from me. Isn’t that funny?

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  • I’ve heard of that “not your feelings too” and wondered the same. But hey, not my place to criticize your therapist…(:

    As for enablers… I know what you mean. Weeks ago, I read a comment on a certain website where someone was blaming a certain president for him (the commenter) not being able to get an erection. Said he’s been so depressed by the state of affairs that he can’t get “rude boy” to wake up. I said to myself… this has to be the dizzy limit!

    Apparently not. There were so many “enablers” cheering the poor chap on.

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