How to Respond to An Angry and Hurt Ex (And Avoid A Fight)

Whether your ex is angry, hurt or hostile there are ways to respond and avoid getting into a fight. Whatever you do, don’t retaliate.

It’s normal to sometimes wonder why your ex is angry with you, especially if they broke up with you. It’s easier to understand why they are angry and hurt if you broke up with them. But if your ex broke up with you, the “shock” from the accusations and insults from ex can hurt to the core. Why is your ex being intentionally cruel and mean? This can cause your emotions to fluctuate from one moment loving your ex and the next hating them.

While it’s normal to wonder and even be frustrated, how you handle or deal with an angry ex can prolong an angry back and forth, or help your ex move past their anger and hurt.

How do you respond to an angry and hurt ex; and avoid prolonged back and forth angry texts, or a fight?

1) Deal with an angry ex with not getting angry yourself

It doesn’t matter if they dumped you or if you dumped them, be the bigger person. It’s tempting to take this opportunity to let out everything you’ve been keeping inside or try to force your ex to somehow admit that they’re wrong. It doesn’t work. When you’re dealing with a hurt or angry ex, you’re not dealing with reason or logic; you’re dealing with emotions – and emotion is a very powerful force.

The best thing to do is let it play out. If you have the emotional fortitude of the Dalai Lama or some other “enlightened soul” then just sit it out and let them talk, rave, cry and curse – whatever. Say nothing.

Alternatively just distance yourself from the “emotions” for a while or leave the room. Make sure to tell your ex you’re not in position to talk and would prefer to talk about it later, then excuse yourself.

Bottom line: don’t return hurt with hurt or anger with anger, it gets you nowhere really fast.

2) Handle whatever is making your ex angry directly

This is probably the hardest part especially if you love your ex and are hoping to get back together at some point. Pretending like “nothing happened” or cowardly hiding behind “no contact” is only postponing the problem; and may get to a point where things are “beyond repair”.

So again, be the bigger person and take the bull by the horns. This does not mean “confront” your ex, which is most people’s mindset. In fact get rid of the word “confront” from your vocabulary; “confrontation” only means one thing: “there is a winner and a loser”; and in this case, the “loser” is most likely going to be you. You may win the “confrontation” but lose your ex, forever.

  • Keep your response short: The more you say, the more you’re likely to say something that makes your ex even more angry; and prolong the angry back and forth.
  • Communicate assertively whether by text, email, phone call or face to face. Don’t say things on text and email that you would never say in person.
  • Acknowledge the problem (whatever it is) as a joint problem and take responsibility for your part in making it a problem (only your part).
  • Emphasize the positive and extend forgiveness whether an apology is offered or not.
  • Seek common ground and offer constructive resolutions that satisfy both of your concerns.

Bottom line: more effective communication, open and friendly attitude, a sense of mutuality and a willingness to see things from the other’s point of view (right or wrong) gets you far anytime.

3) Prioritize the relationship over being ‘right”

If you don’t care about getting back your ex or having a relationship with them; then by all means speak your truth and be done with it. But if the relationship and getting back together is more important to you than “being right”; then it’s vital that you change your attitude, words and behaviour from adversarial to cooperative.

In other words, don’t adopt your ex’s hurt, anger and hostility; instead try to understand their behaviour, and treat them like a partner and not an enemy or opponent to confront.

With a simple change in attitude and perspective, your experience with a difficult, hostile or angry or emotionally hurt ex can change from a situation that is happening to you to a possibly enriching learning experience.

But if you’re afraid that your ex will take advantage of your “good heart” or conciliatory attitude, then you have bigger problems than angry or hurt ex. It may just be that the two of you shouldn’t be together at all.

Sometimes you just “know” in your gut when something isn’t right but like most of us, we don’t want to accept it and just keep creating our own misery.


Why Your Ex Hates You So Much – And Is Mean To You?

Do Avoidants Apologize When They Hurt You?

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15 replies on “How to Respond to An Angry and Hurt Ex (And Avoid A Fight)”
  1. says: Michael

    My ex is very angry and honestly I have no idea why. She broke up with me over a small argument and accused me of emotionally abusing her which is not true. She is passive aggressive and only brings things up weeks or months after the fact. During the break-up she accused me to things that happened so long ago and some I don’t remember. I love her and want her back but wonder if it’s even worth trying.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki C. Akiteng

      I can’t tell you if it’s worth trying or not. You are the only one that can determine that.

      She may have good reason for being angry, or as you say, she may just be passive aggressive. May be instead of being defensive or dismissing it as her passive-aggressive nature, hear her out. Listen to what she’s angry about, ask questions and try to come to some form of genuine understanding, both ways. The more defensive you are, the angrier she gets.

  2. says: Patrick45

    I have gone through all sorts of emotions. While I can understand that people can “fall out of love”, I was always under the assumption that if two people wanted to make it work they could always do it. But if someone doesn’t WANT to put the effort into a relationship, then why on earth would she get into a relationship in the first place?

    1. May be it is indeed over, or may be it’s your attitude and the way you are approaching this that is creating more resistance.

      In my experience, most situations are not what many of us make them out to be. They are made worse by our constantly dwelling on what we think is “the problem”. Usually that “problem” is something we can’t change because we have no control over it.

      All you can change is what’s within your control. Get hold of your emotions, change the attitude, approach things differently, and see what happens.

  3. says: Walter

    We ended in a really bad way. I’m not even sure it’s possible to “be friends” yet but I’d like to reach out to her at some point.

    1. Allow yourself to really FEEL without trying to rationalize away, minimize, suppress, avoid or manipulate the emotions. It will feel like you are hurting more, and you may even feel so overwhelmed to a point that you think you are losing it. But you got to let the pain out to let it go. It’s really worth it in the end.

  4. says: Charles

    I just have never had someone be so mean to me for no reason at all, or much worse go from loving and caring to mean and hurtful. No one cheated on anyone and it wasn’t a dramatic breakup. I just don’t get it.

  5. says: Charles

    My ex was my best friend for a year before we became more than friends. We were together for almost 2 years. Since the breakup she’s has become very mean-spirited and rude. I know her too well, and this is not like her. She’s the most loving and kind person I know, that’s why I just don’t understand why she’s like this to me. She seems to get meanier and say very hurtful things when I tell her how much I still love her and care about her. I still love her Yangki, and want her back.

    1. If as you say she’s generally a loving and kind person, it is possible that she’s that way because to her, it’s the only way to get you to get over her. May be she thinks it’ll be easier for you to walk away if you think she’s a mean person.

      I don’t know much about your relationship to say this is for a fact. There could be other explanations for her behaviour.

  6. says: Ally

    Yangki, I can attest that this is by far the best relationship advice blog on the internet. When my ex and I broke up I wanted him back but he said because there was a lot of shouting and fighting in the relationship, we were bad for each other. I used your advice and did a lot of work on myself. When I did not respond with hostility as before then neither did he. Slowly he started to come around and yesterday we got back together. Just wanted to say thank you for your thoughtful and wise counsel.

  7. says: Leighsbeau

    My ex says she still loves me but every time we have a conversation all she talks about are my flaws. How can you say you love someone and list everything that’s wrong with that person at the same time?

    1. Unfortunately some people are “programmed” like that from childhood. I’ve found that with such people some of them “feel bad” about it when you point out what they’re doing and others just “don’t care”. I think that those who “feel bad” are not doing it intentionally and so look at their actions as opposed to their words. Are their actions of someone who “loves you?” If so, then “talking about your flaws” is something you have to live with if you want to be with this person – and if she’s willing to “change” then even better.

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