Once in a while someone asks me, “How do I make my ex jealous?”
I always answer them with “Why do you want to make your ex jealous?”
“Because it’ll make them think I have moved on, and happy without them.”
“Are you sure that’s what you want your ex to think?” I press on.
“Do you then suggest I act miserable and beg him to come back. Will that not push him away?”
“No. that’s not what I am suggesting.”
I understand that “making your ex jealous” is popular advice and some people claim it ‘worked’ for them, and maybe it did.
Some people feel more attracted to someone when they think they are losing him or her. This is their attachment imprint.
Because they have mixed emotions about what’s like to be loved and made to feel safe and protected, losing someone especially to another man or woman triggers a physical reaction that often mimics attraction and/or sexual arousal – such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, dilation of pupils, butterflies in the stomach etc, and in some people euphoria.
Most people with this attachment imprint have intense/passionate relationships where when it’s good it’s really good, and when it’s bad, it’s really bad. They are also the same people (on most part) who take their partners and exes for granted when they have them. They “don’t care” about you until they think they are losing you, then all of a sudden, they “love you” so much and don’t want to lose you.
People with a secure attachment style, which is the majority of people, respond to an ex trying to make them jealous with a “… And what do you think you are doing?” attitude. They see right through it because they are not ‘triggered’ or reacting to the fear of losing you.
If they think your antics are over the top, they will tell you they know what you are trying to do or cut you off because they don’t want to deal with the ‘drama’. Of course, if you are broken up, you can flirt and even sleep with whoever you want. But flirting and sleeping with someone else because you are broken up is different from posting pictures of yourself with other men or women, or having sex with another man or woman as a tactic for getting back an ex.
From a relationship safety and security standpoint, what you are saying in trying to make your ex jealous is, “You can’t trust me not to hurt you because I can, and I will”.
When someone plays on our emotions, vulnerability, insecurities or weaknesses, it’s not just a betrayal of trust, they’re also taking away our sense of safety.
A sense of safety is one of the first needs we have when we are born right there next to food. You could even say it’s a primal need because we’re born vulnerable and unable to protect ourselves from danger. We rely on our parents and care givers to keep us safe and when we don’t feel safe, we develop all kinds of complex ways to make ourselves feel emotionally safe.
If you know anything about attachment styles, you know that it is basically another way of talking about a sense of safety (in Psychology terms).
Our attachment style is a blue print of our sense of safety, internally within ourselves and externally in the way we interact with others, especially the people we love and care about.
When we meet someone new, we consciously or sub-consciously try to get a feel of how ‘safe’ we are with them. Intuitively we know that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is a risk, and we may get hurt when we put our emotional safety into their hands.
When they hurt us, it’s no longer a question of if they will hurt us, they already have. Our sense of safety is shaken and sometimes completely destroyed.