It’s a different set of emotions when your ex tells you they are seeing someone new, or when you find out from Facebook, a mutual friend or accidental run-in that your ex is in a new relationship or has gone back to an old ex.
Most normal people react to the upsetting news in some form or the other. Believe it or not, your attachment style plays a huge role in how you internally process the upsetting news and how you respond or react:
Securely attached (low-anxiety, low-avoidance) – Although hurt, they accept it as another obstacle they have to overcome to attract back their ex.
Dismissive avoidant (low-anxiety, high-avoidance) – Feel hurt, upset but choose not to show it or react in anyway.
Anxious/preoccupied (high-anxiety, low-avoidance) – Feel hurt, distraught, and worried that they may never get their ex back.
Fearful-avoidant (high-anxiety, high-avoidance) – Feel hurt, upset and angry, and want distance or nothing to do with their ex.
Depending on your previous relationship experiences, general coping style, overall mental health (i.e. struggle with depression) and other stress factors in your life, you may react immediately to hearing your ex is in a new relationship, or it may take a while for you to react and your reactions may not happen in any particular order. For example:
Someone with a secure attachment style become anxious and ask too many questions about the new relationship and even say they need to move on, but later after they process their emotions and feelings, they choose to keep trying to attract back their ex and set boundaries that protect their chances of attracting back their ex and also protect them.
Someone with attachment anxiety for example, may initially act calm and collected and tell their ex they understand that their ex is single and can date whoever they want, then after a few hours or days, they begin to feel become more distraught, worried and panic-stricken than they were when they first heard the news. They desperately try anything and everything because this is what they always when they are anxious. They just can’t keep it together emotionally.
Someone with attachment avoidance may not immediately want distance or pull away as expected. A fearful avoidant in these moments may express more anxiety than avoidance (e.g. plead, reason, bargain and act needy). After they think more about it (more like overthink it), they become more upset, fearful and even angry and begin the process of distancing. The desire to “get even” is often stronger in people with attachment avoidance.
A dismissive avoidant may initially show some emotion and may even express anger (depending on how an ex started the new relationship and/or if they had some emotional investment in wanting to try things again), then emotionally shut down, and move on.
No reaction (or detachment) where one is expected to feel or show some emotion may look like a show of emotional strength because you look like you are unbothered by the news of your ex in a new relationship, and for some people this helps them move on. But in interpersonal relationships, and especially when you still want your ex back, acting like you are not bothered (detached) or pretending like your ex is not in a new relationship can hurt your chances.
But what hurts your chances more than anything else is when you become ‘too bothered” by the fact that your ex is in a new relationship. Like I said, some kind of ‘reaction’ is normal and even expected, what is not normal is getting so distraught that you:
- Overthink things so much that your subjective perception distorts your reality.
- Are incapable of thinking about anything else. It’s all you think about, research about, talk about.
- Seriously “lose it” and act full-on crazy.
These reaction do not protect your best interest, respect and dignity – and they certainly are not in the best interest of a future relationship with your ex.
Some people even react without knowing the facts about what is really going on. Not only do they make complete fools of themselves and earn the title of “the crazy ex”, they keep making things worse and worse because they can’t bring themselves to keep it together.
There are times when I have had to beg my client not to do something stupid and ruin all the progress we’ve made, and they are like, “I don’t care if it ruins my chances.”
It’s easy to say “I don’t care” when your emotions are talking, but months later (forget months, days later) when you calm down, you are going to feel “stupid” (if you have some sense of shame) for the way you overreacted.
In my experience, many of the things that prevent someone from attracting back their ex are clearly their own fault, a result of their own intended or unintended actions. How you react to certain situations can take you from hope to no hope in a millisecond, and can mean the difference getting back together and not.
Your emotions should not run the show. Your emotions should not get in the way of what you want. Your emotions are supposed to be your ally, not your foe.