What to do when an ex won’t let go


When a relationship ends it is usually because one person has made that decision and very often the other person doesn’t agree. In an ideal world, even though they may not like it, an ex will accept and respect your feelings but occasionally you might get someone who is so strongly attached that they won’t let go. They may try to convince you that whatever was wrong with the relationship can be corrected or simply that your feelings are mistaken and that it can work out if only you would give it a chance.

Without even realising it you may be doing, or saying, things that are encouraging their belief that there is still hope. Here are some tips for giving a clear message that they cannot mistake.

Say what you mean and mean what you say

Ending a relationship is never easy and you could be left feeling guilty as well as lonely if you don’t meet a new partner for some time. The combination of these two things can lead you to doubt whether you made the right decision in breaking up with your ex. If they are still around and pick up on your uncertainty then this may be just the sign they need to up their game and try and win you back.

You need to be absolutely sure in your own heart and mind that it is over before you break up with someone. Play the tape forward a few weeks or months – are you sure you won’t regret your decision – perhaps you want to break up because you are very angry or hurt by something they said or did? If so these feelings will die down and you need to look forward to that point and be sure you are doing the right thing. Be wary of making permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.

Once you have told someone ‘it is over’ you do not need to justify your decision to your ex or anyone else. To avoid feeling too guilty about it make sure you talk everything through before you end it and never say it is over as a ploy to move the relationship on or to punish them – if you say it, mean it and stick to it.


Have a clean break

This can be particularly difficult if you have been together for a considerable amount of time and your social lives intersect. It is important, for both of you, that you begin to establish new social links away from your ex. Although you might have to let go of some friends and activities to do this a clean break really is the best thing for both of you.

If your ex knows your routine they may be tempted to be in the places where you are so they can ‘run’ into you so it is important to change your routine. Social media sites are another way an ex may stay involved in your life so even though it may seem harsh ‘defriend’ them. Finally if you have mutual friends who can’t resist keeping you both up to date on each others lives it might be best to cut contact with them too at least for a while until things have calmed down. These changes don’t have to be forever – just long enough for broken hearts to mend and to send a very clear message that it really is over.

Exes as friends

Although in an ideal world it might be nice to stay friends with people you have been intimate with it is usually impractical and can be giving your ex false hope especially if the reason you gave for ending it was because you didn’t feel ready for a relationship – they might be happy to be friends until you are ready.

Having exes as friends can make it difficult for either of you to move on and date other people as their presence in your life could be perceived as a threat by a new partner. When you say it is over you need to be prepared for the fact that this will mean you lose that person from your life forever.

Warring exes

If your ex partner is very angry or hurt by your decision they may do all they can to try and hurt you back. This can be unsettling and frightening but the important thing to remember is that their behaviour is more a reflection on them than it is on you. Whatever you do don’t retaliate and sink to their low level. They will eventually let go if you don’t buy into it.

If you ever feel threatened or scared by the behaviour of an ex do seek help and support immediately and put in place whatever measures you need to in order to feel safe.

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