Just when you think you’ve finally made contact and he or she’s responding to your emails and phone calls, your ex suddenly starts screening your calls and then answering them later or text messaging instead of calling back. Next thing you know, he or she isn’t even answering your emails or text messages. But when you call him your ex, he or she seems very happy and the conversation is very friendly. But you never hear from him or her again. No text message, no emails, no phone calls, no nothing.
You call and he or she never picks up the phone, you leave messages and you never get a call back. After several calls and left messages, you finally get through. And surprise! He or she is very happy to hear from you and the conversation is again very friendly and even flirtatious. But deep inside you are going completely nuts because of your ex’s game playing!
Men and women who actively or passively play these kinds of games do it for a (false) sense of power that thrives on exploiting people’s fear of being deprived of something they need badly. By creating an artificial “scarcity” the person controls the one who fears being deprived.
If your ex still has residues of resentment and anger related to things that happened in the relationship or during and after the break-up he or she may not want to feel powerless and helpless again. By playing these games your ex is trying to see how much power/control he or she can have over you. The more high emotions followed by low emotions he or she can provoke in you — regardless of which emotions are provoked — the more power/control your ex feels he or she has over you.
You have three ways of dealing with your ex’s game playing:
1. You can say to your ex “I am not going to waste my time on someone who doesn’t reply my emails/text messages and doesn’t bother to call me once in a while. Good-bye.”
This stops the power-play by cutting it off right at the source. The downside of this is that you risk losing your ex once again.
2. You can say to your ex “I really enjoy your emails/ text messages/talking to you/spending time with you but it seems that you have more important things to do. Let me know when you have time for me”.
If the message is communicated convincingly, it will neutralize the power playing strategy because what you are doing is taking away your ex’s source of control. By giving up whatever your ex is trying to deprive you of — attention (time and effort). The message you’re sending is “I enjoy your attention but I don’t NEED it that much.”
But sometimes even this may not work if you can’t follow through on giving up your fear of being deprived. At best your attempts will be seen as a bluff and at worst a counter-power play.
3. You can say to your ex “Look, I really enjoy your emails/ text messages/talking to you/spending time with you but I also realize that you need your own space and alone time. But can you at least…
… send me email/text message every three days to let me know how you are doing. It’ll give me peace of mind to know you are okay.”
… let me call you once a week. It’d be nice to catch up on the week’s happenings.
… spend every other Saturday night with m. It’d be nice to get re-acquainted and do some fun things together — again.
This shifts the interaction from a control mode to a cooperative mode. It’s neither a defensive nor provocative maneuver because what you are offering in a win-win situation.
For this to work you need a creative mind, lots of patience and a willingness to make positive influence one small step at a time. But of course if your ex is so determined to play you on and doesn’t really care about you, or even doesn’t want to get back together with you, not even this will work.
Bottom line, do not allow yourself to be pulled into power-play games. I know — easy said than done. Sometimes it’s hard to stop yourself from the urge to turn the tables and play a player. The problem with this is that playing mind games only leads to more game playing and things usually end badly — plus it keeps you off-balance and perpetually insecure.
By refusing to play “Gotcha, You S.O.B.” or “”Gotcha, You B***H” and instead choosing a new and different way of interacting, you set a tone that changes the dynamics of how you relate to each other.
If you respond in a disciplined, consistent and positively engaging manner, your ex’s attitude towards you will slowly start to change.
If you are interested in learning how deal with your ex’s sometimes angry, indifferent or hostile behaviour towards you, you might want to check out my e-Book: Dating Your Ex – What You Can Do Tonight, Tomorrow And The Next Day To Get Your Ex Back