One day she’s your girlfriend.
The next day she’s a stranger whom you share memories with.
One of the most common questions I get asked is “Jack, how do I treat her after a breakup?”
It’s incredibly difficult to make the mental transition from seeing her as your girlfriend to seeing her as a stranger, and I know many of you guys have been struggling with this recently.
To answer the question, you should make every effort to treat her with respect without bending over backward for her. She doesn’t deserve any special treatment just because she used to be your girlfriend.
I know it’s hard to stop seeing her as your girlfriend, even when she isn’t, which is what most of you are really struggling with. So to help you with that, after I show you how to treat her, I’ll give you a foolproof method to stop thinking of her as your girlfriend, which will make treating her just like any other girl that much easier
Of course, this is easier said than done, so we’ll also cover the best way to help you stop seeing her as the girlfriend you lost, and start seeing her as just another girl.
First Things First, Have You Addressed The Logistics?
When I get asked about how to treat an ex-girlfriend, about 60% of the time it’s because the post-breakup logistics haven’t been handled yet, or haven’t been handled effectively.
When I say breakup logistics, for most of you guys that just means giving her back anything that belongs to her while getting back anything that belongs to you. However, breakup logistics also includes:
- Having a plan in place for custody as well as any joint parenting arrangement if you have kids.
- Figuring out what will happen with any jointly owned pets (which you should never do in the first place, but that’s an argument for another time).
- Moving out if you live with her, or arranging for her to move out.
- Choosing how you’ll handle any joint financial commitments like property, businesses, or any other co-owned items.
- Deciding what you’re going to do if you two work together
If you’ve already handled all of this fun stuff, you can skip to the next section.
When Handling The Logistics, Be Direct And Respectful
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort & convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge & controversy.”Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
For many of you, the conversation you have about handling the logistics will be one of the first times you’ve spoken to her since you split.
On both ends there will still be some raw emotions that will compell you to say and do things that aren’t in your best interest. Whether that’s begging for her back or shouting at her angrily for something she did, it really depends on the type of guy you are.
But no matter how you feel about her, or how she feels about you, it’s up to you to keep your cool when you’re handling the logistics no matter what she does.
That means not getting emotional. It also means keeping the conversation focused on logistics only. It can be very helpful to have a list of topics you need to discuss prior to having the logistics discussion with her.
Think about any outstanding logistical concerns, including the things of yours you want back, if any.
Keeping a list will help you remain focused about what you’re
Don’t bring up anything about the former relationship or ask about her personal life.
Even though you might feel otherwise, it’s none of your business. Plus, knowing what she’s up to won’t make you feel any better. It can only make you feel worse.
If she tries to ask you about what you’re doing or tries to bring up something about the relationship, it’s your job to politely redirect the conversation to the logistics.
For example, if she asks you what you’ve been up to, you might give her a response like:
“I’ve been busy, so getting all of this arranged will really help me get back to work”.
Again, you want to address the logistics as quickly and efficiently as possible so we can get to the next step where you…
Establish An Effective Boundary With No Contact
Barring extreme circumstances, you should always treat your ex-girlfriend with respect and dignity. No matter what happened during your relationship, you chose to date her for a reason.
While there are many ways you might show someone the respect and dignity they are due, the right way to show your ex-girlfriend respect is to give her space and time to heal without your influence.
This is true whether she dumped you, or you broke it off with her.
After you’ve handled any logistical issues, that means going into indefinite no-contact.
If you’re not actively in contact with her, you don’t have to worry about any awkwardness from wondering how to treat her. You go your own way, and she goes hers.
It’s that simple.
Don’t get it twisted though, no-contact is not about her. It’s about you.
When you choose to commit to indefinite no-contact, you won’t have to worry about the post-breakup fireworks (PBF) that I see many of you suffering from on a daily basis.
That means no heated arguements where you say things you don’t mean, or 2AM texts begging her to take you back.
If you want to treat her right, commit to no-contact. No-contact is extremely effective at helping you feel like yourself again and when used correctly will completely eliminate any doubt about how you’re supposed to treat her.
And Don’t Worry, No Contact Isn’t Cruel (When Done Correctly)
Whenever I recommend no-contact, there’s always a few people (both men and women) who really don’t like it. I’ve been told many times that no-contact is cruel. You may or may not have heard the same thing.
We’ll start with the big one: no-contact is not immature or manipulative, contrary to what many have claimed. It’s completely the opposite.
If she broke up with you, you have every right to go no-contact. She might think it’s cruel, but she made the choice to end your relationship, so she has no right to complain.
On the other hand, if you broke up with her, it’s not cruel either. While it may seem so at first, if you really have no intention of getting back together with her, going no-contact may cause her more pain in the short term, but in the long term it gives her the space to learn to be single without your damaging influence.
There are 6 different types of breakups, and there’s a strong argument for why each isn’t cruel. The table below will show you each of those reasons. You can read the article I’ve linked above for more information on each.
|Type Of Breakup||Why No Contact Isn’t Cruel|
|Angry Breakup||Going no-contact prevents further painful emotional outbursts that candamage self-esteem.|
|Long Distance Nightmare||Going no-contact prevents you from “caving in” to getting back together for a relationship type that fails between 50–82% of the time within 6 months. Plus, most women get over long distance breakups easier than we do.|
|Cheating Breakup||Women tend to cheat because of lonliness – which means you have already driven her past the point of no return. Trying to salavage a relationship after this happens isn’t worth it – as cheating almost always happens more than once. Going no-contact allows the relationship to dissipate naturally, and allow both parties to move on without further pain.|
|The “Surprise” Breakup||The “surprise” breakup is never a surprise. Read this. Going no-contact prevents a painful back and forth, or you ending up as her friend after she dumps you.|
|When She Drifts Away||I don’t think I need to explain this one. If she drifts away from you, she has no interest in talking. You’re better off going no-contact and working on dating other women.|
|The Mutual Breakup||If you both agree to break it off, it’s best to give each other space to heal. No contact accomplishes this nicely.|
As Long As You’re Using No Contact As A Chance To Focus On Yourself, It’s Not Cruel
There are guys that use no-contact for themselves, and guys that use no-contact for the women in their life.
You don’t want to be one of those guys trying to use no-contact to get an ex back. In my opinion, that’s manipulative (even though I would argue there’s nothing cruel abut it).
Using no-contact to try to manipulate your ex-girlfriend into talking to you isn’t an effective strategy for getting her back.
No contact CAN help create the space needed for reconciliation, but without putting in work to fix the problems that caused your breakup, if you get back together it’s only a matter of time until the same problems come back up.
On the other hand, when you use no-contact as an opportunity to work on yourself, it puts you into a growth mindset which is crucially important to your development as a man.
And I think we can all agree, there’s nothing cruel or manipulative about wanting to better yourself.
With that said, there’s just one last thing we need to cover…
On The Off Chance You Run Into Her, Treat Her The Same Way You’d Treat Anyone Else
The second your relationship ends, you should strive to treat your ex-girlfriend the same way you would treat anyone else.
Be kind, courteous and respectful, but that’s it. You don’t owe her anything, and you’re owed nothing in return.
Say hello, and move on with your day. When you commit to indefinite no-contact that includes in-person contact as well.
A lot of you make this more complicated than it has to be, because you still see her as your girlfriend. You haven’t made the mental transition where you see her like just another woman.
Luckily, there’s a really simple way to do that…
You Can Train Your Brain To See Her As Just Another Girl By Changing Who You Are
When you were together with your girlfriend, you built a shared identity, and that shared identity doesn’t just go away when you break up.
All around you are little reminders of her, from the things you say and do, to the gifts she left you with. All these reminders when taken together reinforce how you’ve come to see her, which is as your girlfriend.
Even though your rational brain knows you’ve broken up, your deeper emotional processes are still attatched to her.
To start thinking of her as just another girl, you need to do two things. First, you need to read this article about why she’s not special. For many of you, I this is the wakeup call you need. You brain needs to be on board for step 2 even though the second step is even simpler.
That’s because all you have to do is change who you are.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
“That sounds great Jack, but how?”
The good news is there are a number of ways you can change who you are, because who you is not as simple as you think.
However, the most powerful way to change who you are is to change your habits. Habits are the context for identity. They inform who you are, and what you do.
Change them, and you’ll change yourself. Some of the most powerful identity changing habits include:
- Developing a love of reading.
- Building the habit of exercise.
- Developing the habit of looking inwards
- Practicing the habit of outcome independence (which may be the most powerful habit on this list)
- Cultivating a growth mindset through working on yourself
- Learning to embody the stoic principles of warrior king Marcus Aurelius.
While these habits will not pay dividends overnight, with time and repetition you’ll begin to build a better life for yourself, one where your ex-girlfriend will seem like a distant memory.
So get to it.
You know what you need to do.