What to do when your ex lashes out?


Your heart sinks as the familiar ding of a new message lights up your phone. You know exactly who it’s from before even glancing at the screen. Your ex has decided to lash out again in a cruel tirade of insults and accusations.

At first, their angry outbursts left you shaken and upset, but now you’re simply exhausted by the ongoing abuse.

You’ve moved on to happier days while they remain stuck in the past, intent on making you just as miserable as they are. But you don’t have to engage with their manipulative behavior or let their words tear you down.

There are strategies you can employ to protect yourself from their harassment and maintain your own peace of mind. You have the power to cut off their access to you and put a stop to the messages once and for all. It’s time to take back control.

Understanding Why Your Ex Is Lashing Out

Your ex is on the warpath and their rage seems disproportionate and misdirected. But there are reasons behind their anger. Recognizing the underlying causes can help you stay calm in the face of their fury.

  • They feel hurt and rejected. The end of a relationship is painful. Their anger could be a defense mechanism to mask deeper feelings of hurt, betrayal or insecurity.
  • They feel a loss of control. Your ex is lashing out in an attempt to exert power over you and the situation. Do not give in to their manipulation or threats.
  • They want a reaction from you. Do not engage or provide the response they are seeking. Remain detached and indifferent to their outbursts.
  • They feel embarrassed. Breakups deal a blow to one’s pride and self-esteem. Anger is often easier to express than embarrassment or shame.
  • They have unrealistic expectations. Your ex may be having trouble accepting the end of the relationship and is angry you will not comply with their demands. Be firm yet compassionate.

You cannot control your ex’s actions but you can control your reactions. Do not retaliate or sink to their level. Respond with empathy, patience and understanding. Say something like “I understand you’re upset, and anger is a normal part of grief. I wish you the best moving forward.”

Then end the conversation. Over time, their anger should subside. If you continue to feel threatened, don’t hesitate to contact the authorities. You deserve to feel safe and at peace.

Don’t React or Respond Right Away

When that angry text from your ex pops up, it can be tempting to fire off an equally heated response. But that will only make the situation worse. The best approach is:

Don’t react or respond right away

Take a few deep breaths and count to 10. Allow yourself time to process the message and calm down before doing anything. Responding in anger will likely escalate tensions and cause lasting damage.

  • Put your phone away if possible. Out of sight, out of mind. The longer you can delay responding the better. Sleep on it if you’re able.
  • Ask yourself why their words are upsetting you. Is there any truth to what they said or are you just sensitive because it’s coming from them? Try to gain perspective.
  • Remember that you can’t control them, you can only control your reaction. Don’t give them power over you by allowing their insults and accusations to affect you deeply.

Stay calm and composed. Do not insult them back. Politely tell them their behavior is unacceptable if you do choose to respond. You might say something like:

“There’s no need for hostility. Let’s remain civil.”

Or simply don’t respond at all. Their anger is their problem, not yours. Maintain your boundaries and do not engage further. Block them if the messages continue and you feel threatened or unsafe.

Your ex is lashing out to get a reaction from you. Don’t give them what they want. Remain calm and detached instead. In time, their anger will subside, and you’ll be able to move on to happier, healthier relationships.

Set Healthy Boundaries Around Communication

When an ex continues to lash out at you through angry messages and phone calls, it’s important to establish clear boundaries. Their behavior is unacceptable, and you don’t deserve to be treated this way.

Make it clear their actions are unwanted

Politely but firmly tell your ex that their insulting and disruptive behavior needs to stop. Say something like, “I’m asking you to please refrain from contacting me if you’re going to speak to me that way.”

You may need to reiterate this request multiple times. Don’t engage or argue with them, remain calm and consistent.

Don’t respond right away

Wait before responding to their nasty texts or voicemails. Reacting in anger will likely only make the situation worse. Take time to process the message and your emotions before deciding if and how to respond. Often the healthiest choice is not to respond at all.

Set communication parameters

If contact needs to continue due to children or other shared responsibilities, establish very clear rules. For example, communicate only through email or text and limit responses to logistical matters. Don’t engage in emotional conversations. Make a plan for what is and isn’t acceptable and share that plan with your ex. Be prepared to follow through with consequences if boundaries are crossed.

Get help from authorities if needed

If your ex’s behavior becomes threatening or harassing, don’t hesitate to contact the authorities. Your safety should be the top priority here. Save any threatening messages as evidence and consider contacting a domestic abuse help line for additional support and next steps. You may need to pursue legal intervention in some situations.

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Focus on self-care

Dealing with an angry ex takes an emotional toll. Make sure to engage in self-care. Lean on your support network, stick to routines and remember that their behavior says more about them than it does about you. Don’t allow their words to define your self-worth. In time, as you establish stronger boundaries, their outbursts should decrease. Stay strong in the knowledge that you deserve to feel safe and at peace.

Focus on Your Own Healing and Growth

Now is the time to turn your attention inward and work on bettering yourself. Don’t dwell on your ex or waste time and energy trying to figure out their motives or next moves.

Instead, make a conscious effort to shift your mindset to focusing on your own healing and personal development.

Concentrate on the things you can control – your reactions, your routine, your relationships with supportive friends and family. Start new hobbies, pick up old ones you’ve neglected, make healthy lifestyle changes. Exercise is excellent for working through difficult emotions and boosting your mood and confidence. Take a yoga class, go for walks or jogs, join a sports league. Connecting with others who share your interests will help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.


Practice self-care. Be sure to maintain a regular sleep schedule, eat healthy and nutritious meals, limit alcohol and avoid recreational drugs. Engage in relaxing activities like meditation, deep breathing, journaling or bathing. Speak to a counselor or therapist. Talking to a professional can help you work through anger, hurt and resentment in a constructive way. They can also provide coping strategies tailored to your unique situation.


Don’t dwell on the past or ruminate about what went wrong in the relationship. While reflection is important for learning and growth, obsessive negative thoughts will only make you feel worse and stall your progress.

Notice when your mind starts to wander into unhealthy territory and gently redirect your focus to the present moment. Over time, maintaining this mindfulness will become second nature.

Your worth isn’t defined by your ex’s opinion or behavior. You are deserving of love – now is the time to build yourself up with compassion and nurturing. Choose to be happy and remember that this painful chapter will pass. With time and conscious effort, you will heal and find peace. Stay strong in yourself!


You’ve tried your best to move on from the breakup but their cruel messages shake your confidence and reopen old wounds. Don’t let your spiteful ex have that power over you.

Block them on all platforms and focus on surrounding yourself with people who love and support you. Their actions say everything about them and nothing about you. You are stronger and better than their petty insults.

Rise above their toxicity and channel your energy into living your best life. Let their bitterness and resentment be their problem to solve. You have so much wonderful life ahead of you, so keep walking forward and don’t look back.

Their loss will be someone else’s gain. You’ve got this!

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