Breakups are hard. Whether it was an amicable split or it went down in screaming, there are many feelings to process. The best-case scenario in any breakup is leaving on good terms, but let’s be real here, are we all walking away from relationships feeling like we could be best buds with our exes? God no.
Negative emotions and hatred are unbelievably common feelings when romantic and sexual relationships end.
The room for mistakes and problems to materialize is so much bigger than it is with the best friend you meet up with for coffee every week or the family member you visit a couple of times a month.
Spending so much time with another person and sharing a part of yourself that you show to no one else is a real vulnerability. When that bond comes to an end (especially if it’s one person's fault), it’s not all that surprising that your perspective on them might shift from adoration to resentment or hateful feelings.
The first step in processing any negative feelings toward your ex is to determine why you’re harboring such hatred toward them. Once you’ve done that, we can move on to changing your perspective around your emotions and hopefully setting you free from the prison that is ex-hating!
These are the circumstances that will affect your next steps:
- You Have Regrets
- They Cheated
- The Breakup Is Defining The Relationship
- You Still Have Feelings For Them
- The Takeaway
Only you have the ability to change your perspective and let yourself live freely.
So if professional help is too expensive and self-help books are just too long, do keep reading.
You Have Regrets
It’s so easy to leave a relationship with things left unsaid or feeling like you never got closure. Especially if things were left on bad terms.
Maybe they hurt you, or you hurt them, and before anything even had the chance to get resolved, it all just fell apart. Hard and fast with no time to talk, like those stupid "misunderstanding" rom-com plot lines.
We always think there will be more time for apologies or even standing up for ourselves; it’s a chronic human condition with no cure, unfortunately. The consequence of that means that all that guilt or regret can pretty easily transform into feelings of resentment or hatred.
You could be reeling over the awful things you said and projecting your guilt onto them, hating them for leaving and not giving you the chance to right your wrongs.
Maybe they were the bad guy, and you’re angry at yourself for not embodying that idealized version of yourself who sets boundaries and stands their ground. Once they’re out of the picture, it’s so easy to internalize that anger and hate them from a distance.
So, what should you do?
If we base closure on other people, then we’re always going to be disappointed. Accepting that our ex might never hear our apology is just a part of the breakup experience.
You can’t always fix your wrongs, and the only way to make amends within yourself is to grow and change in the long term.
On the other hand, if you regret being somewhat of a pushover, then do you really believe that hating them from afar is going to make up for those lost opportunities of standing up for yourself?
I know it’s harsh, but the reality is they're not affected by your hatred at all. You’re backing yourself into a corner of anger and negativity whilst they're out there living their life.
The best thing you can do in either of these situations is to seek closure from yourself by taking lessons from the relationship and growing from it. Figure out why you hurt your partner and what those actions really meant.
Or, work out why you find it so difficult to set boundaries or stand your ground and make internal changes to become more self-assured in the future.
Every person we meet offers a lesson in life if we choose to look deeper than the surface, and every relationship can expose our innermost flaws. Instead of projecting your regret onto someone who probably doesn't care, you can work on bettering yourself with the lessons learned from them and your relationship.
Cheating. One of the worst things about dating and one of the leading reasons for divorce in the US.
Usually, your partner cheating on you will lead to some pretty heavy feelings of hatred. It’s a complete violation of trust and respect and shows how little they cared about you or the relationship. It’s an earth-shattering mix of pain and realization.
If they cheated on you, you might be tempted to pull up on their doorstep and leave powdered mashed potatoes all over their yard, so they wake up to a muddy Christmas dinner when it rains.
Or maybe you’re just lying under a blanket, angrily scrolling their Instagram and seething with rage. It’s natural, really - we’re a vengeful and angry species.
What to do about it:
Being cheated on is one of the most painful and heartbreaking experiences any one of us will face. It can mess with your self-esteem and trust in other people. You'll probably be considering blocking your ex at the very least. However horrible cheating is, there is a silver lining.
Yes, I know, it’s kind of a cliche saying. But a partner or ex cheating on you does highlight their true colors. The betrayal feels raw and fresh at the beginning of a breakup, but by seeing who they really are and how little they respect the relationship, they have set you free from their horrible clutches.
What you need to do next is see the situation for what it really is; a dodged bullet. Their morals and character are now on display - so there should be no more second-guessing or trying to convince yourself that they could be loyal and faithful.
You know the truth, and now you can mourn the relationship and the person you thought they were and eventually move on. Harboring hatred for longer than you need to will only impact your ability to trust and love another person later because you never let go of what that one person did to you.
On a side note, negative feelings toward a cheating ex can have a massive fallout on families. If you’re now a single parent due to a cheating partner, healing from those wounds and moving past those strong emotions with therapy and reflection is essential for your kids' mental health.
They can sense any brewing hatred and anger between parents, so if you’re struggling to do it for yourself, then do it for them!
The Breakup Is Defining The Relationship
When I was younger, it felt normal to hate your ex immediately after the breakup. Your friends would clown them on social media, you’d tell their embarrassing stories, and just generally talk shit about them on the 5 am party wind-down.
From experience, it seems pretty standard to have a reasonably good relationship end and slip straight into blindly hating them simply because they’re an ‘ex.’ Maybe they did nothing wrong; you just weren’t compatible or in love anymore, and it’s easy to see their annoying flaws now.
The problem here is your perspective. You’re drawing a black-and-white line between loving and respecting someone and hating them based on your relationship status with them.
If I’m being straight with you, it’s an immature and pretty off-putting way to view relationships and people in general.
What can you do about this?
In this instance, I like to think of a quote from ‘How I Met Your Mother’ on the divorce between two of the main characters; “This isn’t a failed marriage, it’s a very successful marriage that only lasted three years.”
The reason I love this quote so much is that it so beautifully points out that the end of relationships are not failures, nor are the two parties doomed to despise each other forever. It means the relationship ran its course, and there was no more to gain from it.
Even if you don't want to get your ex back, it doesn't mean there has to be hatred.
This lesson from HIMYM applies to young people so driven by the idea that an ex automatically equates to a wrong person, or a past relationship equals failure and embarrassment. This mindset can so quickly transition into unfounded hatred and contempt for the person when in reality, the relationship itself might’ve been a pretty good one.
We all need different things at different times, and we have gained something from every relationship. Instead of letting the breakup completely define your time together, try and remember the fun experiences and fondly remember the bond you once shared.
Looking at life as a series of varied experiences is much, much better for your overall mindset and mental health than seeing it as a trail of mistakes and sadness.
You Still Have Feelings For Them
We’ve all heard the phrase that the line between love and hate is so fine that it can blur. It’s like anxiety and excitement. It’s the same physical sensation in your chest, but the context of why you’re feeling it determines which one it is.
So maybe you love them, and they broke it off. That love suddenly doesn’t feel appropriate to have; you feel like they don’t deserve it. All that energy and emotion is still there; it’s still inside you.
What do you do with it now that the context has changed? It becomes a fiery hatred instead of a burning love. It’s pretty simple once you break it down and all too common.
What to do about your feelings:
If this applies to you, you’re probably in denial about it. I can practically hear you shouting, “What?! I don’t love them; you’re crazy!”. But really, sit down and think about it.
Is it such a crazy suggestion that you might still have feelings for someone you had such a close relationship with? Those intense emotions don’t just disappear because your ex-wife entered into a new relationship or your ex-husband up and left for a new job in another city?
It’s easier to think you hate someone you once loved because of a breakup or because they hurt you in some way. Jealousy, resentment, anger, and hate are all valid emotions we feel during a split.
But a burning hatred, stalking their social media just to get ourselves all riled up, and feeling our blood pressure jump through the roof at the mere mention of their name can be a way of your brain letting you know you’re still into them.
All it did was move the passion from the ‘love’ category into the ‘hate’ one.
You don’t have many choices on what to do here. If you think this could be you, it may well be worth a shot to be honest about your feelings and open up to an ex. If you’ve been acting particularly hostile toward them, it could serve you to set the record straight, and you may even get what you want and win them back!
On the other hand, if there’s no real chance of reconciliation, then it’s still worth accepting your feelings and grieving the relationship healthily so you can move on, unburdened by both unrequited love and hate.
Seek out some therapy to lay your emotions on the table, talk to a family member, take a dip in the world of online dating and get back out there. These are all the standard ways to get over an ex and leave those hateful feelings behind.
Whether you’re a teen going through a breakup, your ex ghosted you, a single mother or father navigating your emotions with kids involved, or just another member of the human race trying to figure out the complicated nature of post-split feelings, you’re not alone in it.
It’s a messy place to be in, but hating your ex is very literally only trapping yourself in a weird cage of anger and negativity. They’re not feeling your hatred; they’re not scared or upset by it. If they were abusive or generally just not a great person, they might even be relishing in their infamy to you.
I don’t have to explain how that continues to have adverse effects on you long after the breakup, right? In the long term, it’s only hurting you.
Process your negative feelings, understand them, and then let them go. Move into your new life without the baggage and burdens of your exes; only you can change your perspective and let yourself live freely!