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5 Head Games Your Ex Might Be Playing

With a desire to help and inspire people around the world—Ashley currently blogs about life, psychology, purpose, spirituality, and more!

Are you the victim of head games?

Are you the victim of head games?

What Is a Head Game?

Self-pride, resentment, and jealousy are only a few of the many reasons why someone might play head games with you after a breakup. Some people do it on purpose, while others may do it unintentionally.

First, let's talk about what a head game is.

Head games are "deliberate" actions designed to create a psychological effect on another person, mostly for one's own amusement. In other words, people that play head games manipulate you to get what they want. Both men and women are guilty of such selfish behaviors, and head games can also happen in workplaces, families, and relationships. Most often, however, people do it to their ex-significant other.

In this article, I will explain five different head games, the warning signs, reasons, solutions for when your ex is playing these emotionally draining games with you.

Hot and Cold

Hot and Cold

Hot and Cold

One of the most common head games that someone will play is "hot and cold" behavior. For example, they will tell you "I miss you" then before you know it, they are backing out. Your ex does this is because they are dishonestly trying to keep their options open.

They give just enough to keep you from moving on. It gives them both options to keep you around while not committing, practically stringing you along while they decide what they want. Detaching yourself and moving on from this person will be your best bet because it will save you from false hopes.

Fighting Fire With Fire

False hope isn't the only warning sign that your ex is playing a head game. Rejecting your ex can lead to extreme resentment, and they will do anything in their power to grab your attention, even if it means indirectly. They will try anything they can to manipulate you into staying in their lives by acting as they resent you.

If they seem cruel or are bringing you down, look at the person for what they are. This is nothing but a desperate attempt to keep you in their lives. It is a final and last attempt to cry for attention. Anger stems from hurt, and the hurt stems from caring about you. If the person wanted absolutely nothing to do with you, they wouldn't play these games. They wouldn't try to contact you, they wouldn't be mentioning your name, they wouldn't be lashing out, and they would completely cut all ties if they truly didn't care about you.

As much as it hurts seeing or hearing your ex talk badly about you, fighting fire with fire is exactly what they want you to do. You need to put your foot down and refuse to fall for their game.

Mutual Friends

An ex that can't override their pride, guilt, or shame may have a difficult time contacting you directly, so they seek to reach out by other people such as mutual friends. It can be confusing and can lead you to second guess their intentions; it's still an indirect attempt to contact and communicate with you.

Theoretically, you have two different options; you can laugh about it and openly talk about your opinions, or let it be and don't talk about your ex because talking can lead to unnecessary complications. I personally would recommend ignoring any sort of topic that is brought up about your ex. It's better to let it be and move on. If you have to block or ignore your mutual friends until you are fully healed, it would be best to do so.

You're Missing Out

If your ex is presenting their life as joyful or exciting after the breakup, chances are they are doing it to make you feel like you are missing out. While they may be genuinely better off, an ex that remotely attempts to shove their new life without you down your throat, is more often than not, trying to prove something.

There are several different ways that this game is played whether it's starting a new hobby three days after the breakup or landing a new job. There are two huge differences between an ex that uses the breakup to focus on their own well-being, and the ex that attempts to balance the emotions with the loss and wavers their self-esteem which, in reality, is just another selfish way of trying to grab your attention.

If you feel that your ex is trying to make you feel hurt after the breakup, they more than likely are. Breakups are never easy. If they act as if the breakup is the best thing to ever happen to them, there is probably a deeper grief beneath the surface of a life change. As they always say, change doesn't happen overnight.

The One That Got Away

The most extreme and hurtful head game is when your ex flaunts their new rebound relationship in front of you.

I understand how pitiful and selfish this behavior is. It is just an attempt to bring you down and flaunt their new "upgrade." The results of this? Burning any sort of bridges they had left and trying to get over the memories that still haunt them.

Yes, exes will move on eventually. However, there is a major difference between moving on to new relationships gradually over time, and trying to "show off" in a manipulative way. Let's face it; the reason why they show off and seem to be moving on quickly is because of their own insecurities, so don't take offense towards this head game.

If you understand that your ex is attempting to retrieve a reaction from you, the best thing you can do is block them on everything. You need to avoid any form of contact with your ex in order to protect yourself, for your own healing.


Every relationship and every breakup is different. Head games are more common than you think, and if you are someone that has experienced head games before, you understand how emotionally draining they can be. If you haven't experienced head games previously but are experiencing them now, I want you to know that there is hope.

A good friend of mine gave me a piece of advice that really hit me: "Try this. Get a book and write down all the positive things that could come from you giving in." It worked for me, and I hope it works for you.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Ashley Marie Riley