I’ve been with my ex for two years. He has always been the flirty type but has always said that they’re just “friends”. Well true enough he never got with any of those girls but last week he actually broke up with me and is now living with someone new. The thing though is he remains in contact a few days ago and won’t leave me alone and still flirts with me most of the time. What’s going on? Help?
Janice, North Carolina
I’ve been asked this sort of question more times than I can remember: “My ex dumped me for someone else, but now he keeps flirting with me. What is going on?”
It’s normal to be confused and upset and unhappy after getting dumped. Sometimes these difficult feelings persist for a long time, even for years after the breakup. There’s nothing unusual about feeling confused, about wondering why your ex dumped you. It’s quite common to wrack your brain trying to understand what, if anything, you may have done wrong in the relationship that led to its end, and whether it’s possible to resurrect it.
You may feel worthless, or furious, or deeply depressed, or all of those emotions at the same time. Or you may switch from sad to angry and back again in just a few minutes.
So if, during this confused period when your emotions are jumping all over the place and you can’t even figure out how you feel from moment to moment, it’s very easy to be confused about how another person – particularly your ex – is feeling. You’re using all your brain power to try and make sense of your own confusing feelings, so there are no little gray cells left to puzzle out what signals your ex is sending you.
You can’t trust yourself at this point. You are in no condition to analyse and understand the clues your ex is sending. Sure, maybe he’s flirting with you, or maybe he’s not. Either way, you won’t be able to figure it out in the state you’re in. Your own powerful, messy emotions are likely to overwhelm any logical processes in your brain right now. So you can’t trust the answers you are getting from your mind.
So if you are sitting there thinking he dumped you for somebody else, breaking your heart and ruining your life, but now he’s changed his mind and is hoping to hook up with you again, you’re probably just plain wrong. You’re probably just seeing what you wish to see, rather than what’s really going on. As I said, you can’t trust yourself in the state you’re in.
The truth is, it’s none of your business whether your ex is flirting with you. Whatever your ex thinks of you is absolutely none of your business. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to figure it out.
Let’s be frank. He dumped you for somebody else. The relationship is over. You shouldn’t be in contact with him at all. Having absolutely no contact with him will make sure he isn’t flirting with you because he can’t flirt with you.
When someone dumps you, it’s important to protect yourself from this sort of confusing, exhausting emotional storm where anger and depression, remorse and rage swirl together. So you need to immediately break off contact with your ex. Even if you still cherish the dream of getting back together with him someday, you need a period of silence and no communication between the two of you. This is to protect you from further emotional damage, to let you heal, and to allow your feelings to settle down so that you have a better chance of interpreting the signals you’re getting from other people.
I recommend at least thirty days – a full month – of no contact. That really means no contact – no texting, no emails, no letters (does anyone even write letters anymore?), no visits, no phone calls, nothing at all. If your ex contacts you, you delete the texts or emails, don’t answer your phone, and absolutely do not reply to any messages from your ex.
Remember – he dumped you. That means he was ready for your relationship to end. He found someone else to be with. That’s the truth. Keep that idea foremost in your mind. Time to take care of yourself for a while. So during your minimum of a month of zero contact, you get your own house in order. You let your feelings settle down. You express your understandable anger and frustration in healthy ways, by going to the gym or by throwing a temper tantrum alone in your room, punching pillows, whatever it takes, so long as you don’t injure yourself or someone else.
And you focus on moving forward. You take a trip or sign up for a class, or go out to eat or to the movies with your friends, all to remind yourself that you’re able to be happy even as a single person. You go on living your life and leave the wreckage of your relationship behind you. Whatever you do during this time, you do for yourself, not for your ex.
At the end of this quiet period, you can begin, tentatively, to evaluate the situation. What kind of relationship do you want to have with your ex, going forward?
The best thing is to have no further relationship at all. That will eliminate all chances of confusion and will minimize the risk that you’ll get hurt all over again by this woman who dumped you once already. But a clean break, although it’s the best option, isn’t something everyone is prepared to do. Remember – he dumped you for someone else, so you don’t owe him anything.
If you decide to try and continue some sort of friendship with this person who dumped you, be very careful. It’s all too easy to get hurt again. Set good boundaries around your friendship and keep them clear.
In the unlikely event that you seriously want to get back together with him, then it is still vital to have that long period of no contact. You can’t control the situation and force him to return to a relationship with you. He dumped you and has all the power to choose whether he wants to get involved with you again. All you have power over is your own choice. If you’re convinced you want to get together with him again, all you can do is get your act together and wait. Brad Browning’s Ex Factor Guide offers a step-by-step insight as to how to go about it, you might want to check it out — once you’re decided.
So, let me sum up. If you wonder whether your ex, who dumped you for somebody else, is flirting with you, stop wondering. Ask him what he wants. Tell him what you want. If he doesn’t give you a straight answer, let him go for good.