What Your Behavior Post Break-Up Really Means
We’ve all had break-up moments that we aren’t particularly proud of. You know, those scenes where we left the house, but forgot to take our dignity with us, those cringe-worthy moments where our behavior was, well….less than stellar.
Getting dumped hurts and if you’ve been unceremoniously tossed out on your backside, without a how do you do, and the person that ripped your heart out, trots off with someone else, it can stir up a lot of emotions.
You’re dealing with heartbreak, fear, abandonment, jealousy, betrayal, anger, outrage, indignation and all of these feelings are causing the ‘I’m not good enough monster’ to tear up your town in a Godzilla like fashion.
When my relationship ended with my long-term Narcissist I was devastated. My mom had just been killed, I was recovering my health from the car accident, I had lost my job, my car and my house and my little Narcissist waltzes up and says, “I’m not happy, I think we should break-up.” I started crying. I was in a state of shock, which turned into a state of denial and I was thinking everything would go back to normal eventually.
I had no idea what was really going on and he spent that time telling everyone that he just wasn’t happy and everyone seemed to accept that. I remember hearing, “Well if a person isn’t happy, what are you going to do?” And it sounded so insane to me. I remember thinking, “Why is this the first time I’m hearing of this unhappiness?” “How do you make a commitment to build a life with someone, buy a house together, merge your lives together for years and then just out of the blue, “Yeah you know what I’m not happy I’m just gonna go.” There was no discussion about it, no chance of trying to work it out. I was just tossed out like yesterday’s newspaper. How was this ok –just because he was feeling a little unhappiness?
I found out the whole story a few months later, that he had been sleeping with his married boss at work and he was trying to keep it a secret and once enough time had passed and she had split from her husband and the optics looked a lot better he would introduce her to everyone as his new girlfriend. Well that didn’t exactly happen.
Before I knew there was another woman and thought that he was just unhappy, I tried for months to get him to change his mind. I begged, I pleaded, I cried, I tried to reason, I tried to please him. I called his brother and his mom, I called his friends, I wrapped myself in his clothes, just so I could smell him, I wallowed and could barely function in my everyday life and I fell into a deep depression, because nothing I did worked.
When I found out about his affair – well let’s just say it wasn’t one of my best moments. I told his family all about it. I told his friends. I emailed their boss and told him all about what his employees were up to. I threw out everything he owned – everything. He had a studio full of musical and recording equipment – and well let’s just say, he didn’t have one after that.
I was hurting. I felt utterly betrayed and abandoned. I was furious and I felt completely justified in everything that I had done and I’m sure that many people would agree with me but, and it’s a big but, my behavior was all he needed to vindicate himself. My behavior said, “Look how nuts she is, she’s a psycho, totally unhealthy, no wonder he left her.”
Sure he abused me. He slowly and methodically eroded my self-esteem, until I was a shell of a person. He isolated me from my family and friends, so I had no one. Everything was always all about him and he treated me like I didn’t matter. He left me when I needed him the most and tossed me aside like I was nothing. Sure he was guilty of all of it. But what was more disconcerting than his abandoning me, was me abandoning myself.
I was never a drama queen. That kind of behavior was so foreign to me and I didn’t even recognize myself. My emotions had completely taken over. All I wanted to do was stand on the top of a mountain and scream and point down at him and say, “Look what he has done. Look at what kind of person he is. He is evil. He’s a bad, bad man and he should be punished and branded as such, forever.”
But the truth is no one really cares. His family and close friends might care a little for a while, but they will get over it and it will pass, but while the memory of his misdeeds fade, the memory of my crazy episodes won’t.
The bottom line is that no matter how someone behaves or mistreats us, it doesn’t justify and it will never justify our bad behavior. You can’t control how someone else behaves. The only thing that you can control is how you behave and you owe it to yourself to walk out holding your head high and with dignity.
When you are in a lot of pain and overcome with rage or fear, you aren’t thinking clearly and your behavior will reflect that if you don’t get a grip on it. I have compiled a list of common post break-up behaviors and what we think they mean and what they actually mean.
Post Break-Up Behaviors
Begging and pleading for them to come back.
What we think it says: I really love you. I’m sorry. Let’s fix this. I’m in so much pain. I care about you so much. Come back.
What a Narcissist or a highly insensitive person perceives: You are desperate. You clearly don’t respect yourself at all to be throwing yourself at someone that doesn’t want you. This behavior makes me feel important and gives me Narcissistic supply.
What it really says: I am overcome with pain and fear. I don’t love myself enough to know that I should walk away from someone that doesn’t treat me with love and respect.
If someone cared so little about hurting you in the first place, no amount of tears is going to change that. Respect yourself enough, to not give them the satisfaction of knowing they hurt you.
Accidentally-on-purpose running into them at their usual hangouts.
What we think it says: Oh look I’m out on the town looking fine, not thinking about you. I’m having a good time and I’m ready to go out and move on. Yeah look how good I look. I wonder if I’m going to get a number tonight.
What a Narcissist or a highly insensitive person perceives: Look at you still trying to get my attention. That’s just sad. But it’s good to know I can have you whenever I want. This behavior makes me feel important and gives me Narcissistic supply.
What it really says: I want you to see me and realize that you still want me and that you miss me. I’m trying to make you jealous.
There are lots of other places to hang out. If you were really just looking to go out and have fun, do it somewhere where you know they won’t be.
When you decide to return everything they ever gave you, weeks after not hearing from them.
What we think it says: This relationship is over and I want nothing from you. Take all this back and see how little I care about you.
What a Narcissist or a highly insensitive person perceives: Look at you still trying to get my attention. That’s just sad. But it’s good to know I can have you whenever I want. I wonder if I can give this to the girl I’m seeing now. This behavior makes me feel important and gives me Narcissistic supply.
What it really says: I still want you back. I’m looking for any reason to stay invested in this relationship. I’m hoping that you will see me and want me back.
There’s no need to re-engage with a person that has mistreated you. If you don’t want their gifts give them away, donate them or throw them out, but do not contact them to return presents they gave you that says the exact opposite of what you’re trying to convey.
Someone in their family has died/gotten married/had a baby and you were somewhat friendly with that person and you want to show up at the event.
What we think it says: I’m paying my respects, or congratulating someone I care about.
What a Narcissist or a highly insensitive person perceives: You still want me or else you wouldn’t have shown up – this is my family. This behavior makes me feel important and gives me Narcissistic supply.
What it really says: I’m looking for any reason to stay invested in this. I’m testing the waters wondering if I made a mistake or if you’ve changed. But bottom line I miss you, I want to see you, but more importantly I want you to see me.
If you had to go no contact with someone, it’s because they were highly abusive and it was the only way out. Re-engaging for any reason – no matter how well you can justify it, is not a good idea. You are reaching now for any reason to be in contact. You can pay your respects, or congratulate someone, in other ways – send flowers, a gift…..
Telling someone you’re pregnant after they break up with you, even though you aren’t.
What you think it says: I am having your baby and you need to rethink this break up situation, because I’m going to be in your life forever. I’ll magically tell him I lost it once we’re back together, but in the meantime he’ll start thinking of me as wife material, or at least I will freak him out a little.
What a Narcissist or a highly insensitive person perceives: Damn that girl is trying to trap me. Oh she better not be pregnant. Please God don’t let her be pregnant. I’ll make her get rid of it. Oh man how far is it to Mexico?
What it really says: I am unstable and will go to great lengths to hang on to a man.
Telling everyone about what they have done, how abusive they’ve been and what a monster they are.
What you think it says: Look at what a horrible person they are. I’m right and everything I’m doing is justified. I’ve been massively wronged and you should all be on my side. Everyone needs to be warned what an evil person they are.
What a Narcissist or a highly insensitive person perceives: You need to stop, because I’ll get you back ten times worse. You’re nuts, that’s why I left you and I’m going to tell everyone about you. Look how you’re acting. I am completely justified in everything I do.
What it really says: I’m out of control. I can’t get past my feelings. I have to be right. I need to show everyone that I am the victim here.
You know the truth and if you were thinking with a healthy mind you would realize that the break-up is the best thing that could ever have happened to you. You don’t need to have everyone be on your side. You know the truth and that’s enough. If this is a major problem for you, you should consider talking to a therapist or a counselor.
You are physically or cyber stalking them.
What you think it says: I’m just curious about what they are up to. I need to prove that I was right.
What a Narcissist or a highly insensitive person perceives: You still want me and you are nuts following me around like that, you need to get some help. This behavior makes me feel important and gives me Narcissistic supply.
What it really says: I’m not over this by a long shot. I like to keep torturing myself.
Social media is not a depiction of reality. Sure people post pictures of themselves looking so happy and being so successful. It’s not the truth. I repeat it’s not the truth. It’s an image that that person wants to portray and image is everything to a Narcissist.
Destroying their property.
What you think it says: I am so angry and you are such an a**hole, that I am completely justified in everything I do.
What a Narcissist or a highly insensitive person perceives: You are crazy and I’m going to do worse to you.
What it really says: Your emotions are way out of control and you need to talk to a therapist, or a counselor. Destroying someone’s property can get you in a whole lot of trouble, especially when you are dealing with vengeful types.
This is never the answer, don’t do things when you are in a fit of rage. Calm down and think things through. Get a message to them that they need to pick up their things by Thursday and if they don’t then their things will be on the front porch by Friday and if they are still there by Saturday you will assume that they don’t want them and you will throw them away.
I had a lot of these issues come up in emails I received this week. The bottom line is that anytime someone says to us, or shows us that they don’t care about us, or our feelings, we need to respect ourselves enough to know that this is not somewhere we should be putting our focus, or our attention. If someone truly doesn’t want to be with you, there is really nothing you can do, but accept it.
It’s ok to feel sad and hurt and it will take time to grieve the relationship, but do not spend your energy trying to convince someone they should want you. Instead show them no emotion, that’s what your friends are for. Remember that all you do is feed their attention monster, either by positive or negative emotions – so give them nothing, do nothing , don’t give them the satisfaction of letting them know they hurt you.
If you really want to rock their boat, then agree with them. Tell them that you aren’t happy either. Thank them for bringing it up and that you’ve been looking for the right time to mention it. As improbable as it may seem, it’s the best way to retain your dignity and it will mess with their head. If I could do my break-up scene over again – that’s exactly what I would do.
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