My ex is making me feel guilty for breaking up with him

“I recently left my partner of eight months. It was super tough, not helped by the fact that he took it really badly. Since we've split, he's lost weight, taken up smoking again and isn't acting normal. He says one thing, but does another. Honestly, just thinking about him makes my head spin and now I'm totally confused. People are saying he is mentally abusing me by blaming me for everything and that I was always too good for him. Will he be alright? Should I feel responsible for his behaviour?”

Going through a breakup with someone is always tough, regardless of who actually did the breaking up. If you’ve been on the receiving end of a break up, it’s normal to wonder if your ex thinks about you, or feels sorry for you, but what about if you initiated the split and they’ve taken it badly?

Speak up if your ex’s behaviour is hurting you

After a break up, it’s usually hard not to have lingering feelings for your ex from time to time, even if it was your choice to end it. You might even find yourself wondering ‘does my ex think about me?’ In your case, this person’s behaviour is clearly hurting and worrying you, which makes it that much harder. Try to take comfort in the fact that by speaking up you’ve taken an important step in healing from the relationship. If you’re concerned your ex is abusing you, learn about the signs of an abusive relationship here and get support if you need it.

Despite everything, you may still care for him, or even feel like it’s your fault that he’s in this position. Break-ups can be very tough, but that’s no excuse for the way he’s behaving. His choices are not on you, he is the only one in charge of his decisions. As difficult as it is, you need to forget about him. Instead, use that energy to focus on yourself for a while, your likes and dislikes as well as what you want for yourself going forward.

Getting over someone

Getting over someone takes a lot of willpower and strength, and can be pretty intense. The way you describe his attitude, your ex doesn’t seem to be willing to put in the effort to move on. He may even be going through a period of low self-esteem or depression. Either way, you need to find a way to get him out of your life because he’s doing nothing but causing you pain right now. Remember, you’re pretty heartbroken too.

Now is the time to practice self-love, which includes cutting ties with the ex. Maybe try directing him to this article on accepting it’s over as a starting point. 

If you are concerned about your ex’s mental health

It sounds like, more than anything, you are concerned about his mental health. If this is the case, we suggest talking to mental health helpline SANE, on 0300 304 7000. This would give you an opportunity to discuss your ex’s behaviour in more detail and get an advisor’s opinion on potential options. You could also try encouraging your ex to see his doctor (GP). Just make sure to be sensitive about the conversation, otherwise he might end up telling himself, ‘my ex feels sorry for me’.

Your ex will stop thinking about you eventually

Whatever is going on, no matter how many times he says it’s down to you, it’s not. His self-worth ultimately comes from within himself and he will eventually get it back. Soon, the answer to, ‘does my ex think about me?’ will be an instant no. But, in our (humble) opinion, you shouldn’t be a part of that process. The last thing either of you need is him thinking, ‘my ex feels sorry for me’. Ultimately, staying in each other’s lives will just cause infinitely more pain than if you had a clean break.

Breaking up is a huge learning experience. You learn about yourself, you learn about others and you learn to cope. Every single experience teaches you something and makes you stronger and wiser. As shitty as they are when they’re happening, breakups are often a blessing in disguise and they help you enter a new phase of your life. You’ll learn from the good times in your relationship as well as the bad. But there’s no way any of this is possible if you’re constantly on each other’s minds.

Reducing contact with your ex if you think, ‘my ex is making me feel guilty for breaking up with him’

It seems like you still have contact with him post-breakup which may not be the best idea. It’s easy to think that being there for each other after breaking up is what needs to happen, since you’ve been in each other’s lives for so long. But honestly it might be causing more bad than good, for both parties involved. As tough as it is, cutting of contact can provide the time and space you need to get a new perspective on the relationship to allow you both to move on.

A good way of helping your ex out whilst looking after yourself might be send a text message to some of his friends and cluing them in on the situation. That way you’ll know he’s being looked after without sacrificing your own mental health. Sometimes, even with cutting contact, you might struggle to get things clear in your own mind. In which case, you may benefit from counselling. It offers an opportunity to think through your feelings with someone who is external to your everyday life. Plus they’re professionally licensed, so you can really trust their advice.We have some helpful info on types of therapy and counselling available here.

If you ever feel overwhelmed about the way he has treated you and/or is treating you, do not hesitate to get in touch with an organisation like Relate. They provide relationship counselling both online and IRL. Or you could head over to our discussion boards to get support from our community. You might also want to consider exploring other options for counselling in your area via Youth Access.

Next Steps