You may not be able to fix it, but there’s certainly something you can do to help the situation.
It’s hard to believe your relationship has devolved to hatred, but there’s really no other way to explain your ex’s behavior.
They are waging war against you. Their battle plans include extending the divorce process by every means possible, yelling at you, calling you names, and, worst of all, they’re using your children as pawns.
Your ex’s intention is meant to make your life miserable. And they’re succeeding. You feel absolutely miserable each and every time you have to interact with them.
“My ex hates me!” is a really easy conclusion to reach given what you’re experiencing. And it’s a valid conclusion too, because they do hate you – at least enough to behave in such abhorrent ways.
The problem is that adding their loathing on top of all everything else you’re experiencing as you’re dealing with your own grief is overwhelming.
You’re at your wit’s end and are searching for any way possible to prevent them from hating you or prevent you from being bothered by it so much.
In order to figure out what you should do about it, you’ve got to understand why they’re behaving in a way that’s causing you to adamantly state: my ex hates me.
Some possibilities for why your ex hates you include:
- It’s easier to blame you than take any responsibility for the end or your marriage. Placing blame on someone else is one of the first defenses we learn as kids. It allows us to be good or right because it’s someone else’s fault. Punishment is exactly what that person who’s at fault deserves and exactly what they’re going to get.
So all the hurt your ex feels about the end of your marriage and how their life is changing comes out as hatred toward you.
- It’s just part of how they are dealing with grief. At its heart, divorce is a grief process. One of the stages of grief most people experience is anger.
Truthfully, the anger of divorce is closer to rage than anger. Most don’t know how to deal with such a strong emotion so it often erupts all over everyone – especially their ex.
- Some contact is better than none. We’ve all known someone who would do the most outlandish things to get attention – even if it was bad attention.
Some people lash out at their ex because it’s the only way they can have even a smidgeon of the connection they crave. And the craving is real because for many getting a divorce is as difficult for them to deal with as breaking a drug addiction.
- They’re trying to hurt you. Some people believe in an eye for an eye – even for emotional pain. They feel that if you hurt them, then they need to hurt you at least as badly. (Of course, some people who purposely hurt their ex are just mean people.)
- They feel betrayed. Hearing that your spouse wants a divorce and learning that your spouse has had an affair are just two ways in which your ex could be feeling betrayed. And when people feel betrayed, they tend to lash out as a protective mechanism so you can’t hurt them anymore.
Once you have a good idea of all the reasons they have for hating you, you can more easily figure out what to do about it.
Now you need to determine what part you are actively playing in promoting their belief that you’re despicable. Admit your culpability in this situation and do what you need to do to clear your conscience. If you need to apologize, do it and then let it go. If you need to stop acting out in ways that aggravate their hatred, stop immediately and don’t go back to those behaviors - ever.
Next, wish them well – especially if you have children together. It may sound funny, but once you can start seeing them as a hurt individual instead of someone just this side of insane you’ll be better able to let your ex be with their drama without getting sucked into it.
The last thing you should do when you’re dealing with a “my ex hates me” situation is to ask yourself “Is it my job to make sure s/he doesn’t hate me?”
And here’s where things get seriously real. If your answer is anything other than “Absolutely not!”, then you need to rethink your answer.
Believing that you need to help your ex work through their process of dealing with grief is inappropriate. You’re no longer together and if you’re saying “my ex hates me!”, then you’re no longer friends either. You can’t make a person stop hating you, it’s something they have to do on their own.
However, there is a caveat to letting your ex work through their grief about the end of your marriage without interference from you:
If your ex is endangering you, your children, your relationship with your children, or themselves because of their hatred, then you need to get help – IMMEDIATELY.
Although it’s not the norm, some people have no limits when they try to exact revenge on an enemy. If this is your ex, then you should reach out to law enforcement, a parental alienation group, a suicide hotline, or some other group or individual who can help your ex and provide any protection you and your children require.
So as uncomfortable as it is to realize “my ex hates me!”, after you’ve done what you need to do to remove any immediate reason for their hatred, you just need to go on with your life. And by going on with your life, you’ll actually be giving them the space your ex needs to get on with theirs too (if they choose to).
I want you to know you don't have to continue dealing with this on your own. I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are struggling with their ex and don’t know how to stop the pain so they can move forward with their lives. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.