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  • Writer's pictureJulia Gillis

Why Does Your Ex Still Torture You? Is Your Ex Still in Love with You?

Now, I've been part of 10s of 1,000s of discussions between women, especially about their past relationships & the formidable "ex." As as woman increases the value of her vintage (gets older) she begins to find the many more complex aromas of life.

There's marriage & divorce.

There's kids & custody agreements.

There is court & finances.

There are new relationships & blended families.

And some women experience an extra special flare - the ex that just keeps on giving.

Let's start off with this: there are always as many sides to a story as there are people involved.

You & your friends think 'blah, blah, blah' about your ex-husband.

Wellll......his friends think you're a 'such-and-such.'

You're right - there are some scenarios where one member of the split party is very obviously a piece of sh*t. But then again, no one is a saint.

It doesn't matter who took the first swing. It doesn't matter who broke their word or got their heart broken. I'm telling you, it doesn't. The 2 people in the non-relationship are the only 2 people keeping tally & you can bet your both sneaking additional tallies while the other isn't looking.

What becomes extremely difficult is when you (the woman) are ready to play nice & move on - but your ex does something, or a bunch or things, or KEEPS doing things that make your life complicated &/or tortures you emotionally. What the hell!?

You were over here, minding your own business, just trying to live your life, move on, find your happiness & then BOOM. Your ex starts throwing pebbles. Then stones. Then he some how has a digger & is putting trenches around your life in weird places, making dirt piles in massively inconvenient places. Again, you ask - What the HELL?!

Well the first thing you're going to hear is "He's trying to keep control of you."


If there were signs of domestic abuse in the first place...yah, ok. I can hear that.

A lot of women are lead down a path of roses & it can take quite a while to pick up on the thorns starting to become larger than the flower buds...and by that time, you could be pretty deep in the thicket with very few ways out or next to nothing for an exit.

When someone is a physically - or more often emotionally abusive - partner, the more you grow, gain autonomy & get 'better' as you spend time away from them, their abusive nature can rear its ugly head; sometimes in ways you didn't expect. Especially because while you were with them, you were participating in behavior that kept them placated. You played the game to not get punished. But leaving & becoming confident & happy without them is the ultimate rule breaking in their game.

So this comment, "They just want to keep control of you," bears some weight. Abusers want to keep their claws dug into their victims. It's true. It's how they keep a sense of power; they evaluate themselves through their level of power & control over others.

But the other comment I hear is one I would like scratched from the earth:

"He's doing it because he's still in love with you."

Full Stop.

Stop. Right there.

Just stop.

First of all - this is the same toxic comment as "He's bugging you because he wants your attention." Sure. Kids who are not offered attention for positive behavior find more abrasive ways to get it. It often develops into negative attention seeking skills.

This suggestion is garbage. Why? Because it doesn't matter if someone is doing negative things to get your attention, or because they 'want' your attention.

This describes the idea that someone's hurtful actions can come from a place of love. They LOVE you & its painful for them that you don't want to be with them. They are in agony that you are moving on & living your life, better, without them. Their love for you is causing them to do hurtful things to you, because they want you back (or just don't want you to be with someone else, or don't want you to forget them, or whatever!)

We make the same argument for jealous behavior. We get jealous & act shitty or pick fights because we love someone. Some people are even aware enough to know that they just simply pick fights because they want attention from their partner.

But is that love?

No - actually it isn't. That is ego insecurity trying to get one of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs met. Belonging, validation, tribe, recognition, intimacy, status - these are needs every human tries to get met. "Love & Belonging" & "Esteem" are the 3rd & 4th sections of our survival needs.

Those behaviors that we've been talking about are the aggressor wanting to feel loved. Not them loving you.

Read that again. They are trying to feed their need. Not supply you with yours.

They are not trying to 'give' love. They are demanding it from someone. You.

And they are doing it in a very toxic way.

It's even possible that they hate you now. But they might wish you still loved them, or they don't understand why you don't anymore. It tortures them, so they act out. This is dysregulated attachment.

Second - this doesn't matter.

I'm not kidding. When I heard this reason for ex's still bugging, stalking, bullying, dragging their ex wives through court, picking fights with them, filling inboxes with crude messages, using the kids as pawns - I thought, "This can't be right. That's not what love does or should look like. There must be another reason."

So we go hunting for the reasons. We want to make sense of why someone would do such crazy things. Why would someone we are trying to forget, put so much time & effort into ruining our days, weeks, months, new relationships, vacations, jobs, parenting...? Why!?

But it doesn't matter.

Because you will never know.

Even if you get that magical moment, like in a Hollywood movie, where you say just the right thing & they break down and tell you their inner most, vulnerable feelings - they could be lying, fawning or making excuses. You will most likely never get a straight answer & most likely never be able to believe the answers that you are given.

Nothing they are doing is "because they are still in with love you."

And it still wont matter. Because there is no excuse for treating someone else poorly or wrecking parts of their life.

It is most likely that you will never know the REAL reason or the 'truth' behind why your ex is doing terrible, sh*tty things that have huge, negative impacts on your life & mental health.

That sucks. And you probably really don't like that explanation.

But I have a great suggestion for what you can busy yourself with instead.

Protecting yourself - and your children.

I want you to hear something loud & clear. If your ex-partner is good to the kids, but shitty to you - they are a bad person. This compromises them as a parent. One parent that is willing to hurt the other parent - even if they are being 'good' to the kids - is hurting the kids by proxy. They are unilaterally dangerous & stupid.

Do. The. Math.

They are unsafe.

Which means it is time for you to GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. Right now.

You better strap on your war boots & get in the ring.

Let me tell you - the legal system does not favor moms 'getting the kids' anymore. The justice system also still has the audacity to ask victims of domestic violence "and why did you not report these circumstances earlier...?"

So let go of the sad & confused cry of "why is he doing this!?"

You have a fortress to build.

  1. Adjust your custody agreement in every way possible to protect your guardianship rights & your custody time

  2. Have everything "police enforceable"

  3. Have consequences outlined for behavioral conduct, like using Our Family Wizard App for communication, time lines for replies, drop off & exchange locations for children & dispute resolution guidelines (courts frown hard on not following dispute resolution...)

  4. Put in clauses that protect the children & give them certainty in their schedules

  5. Join Facebook groups for parental rights & family law in your area, jurisdiction, province or country so you can ask questions & get ideas & see examples of what others are doing (and shouldn't be doing)

  6. Start looking for ideas & suggestions from other women who have bitten the dust hard & learned the hard way

  7. Start a nest egg for lawyers fees (unless you can qualify for legal aid, look at $10,000 minimum.)

  8. Go to your local law courts & ask the people behind the desk tons of questions about forms, how & when to use them & what judges care about (if the person working front desk doesn't know - ask for the expert in the office) There are a ton of documents you can file on your own & ways to find examples of 'how' to write or word an Affidavit, etc.

  9. Do not be afraid of giving copies of the custody agreement to your child's school & their after school care facility & anywhere else that other adults supervise your children. They need to be aware & they also need proof.

  10. Document everything - do not hesitate to make reports or request that charges be pressed for spousal abuse & domestic violence. Be fully informed about spousal abuse. It counts between people who are separated/divorced & coparents

  11. Connect with a Women's Transition house in your area & Victim Services. They are a wealth of information, validation & support. You would be shocked at what gets pointed out as domestic violence & we were just 'tolerating it' the entire time. They sometimes offer a limited series of therapy sessions for free to help women start recovery.

Best of luck my Femme Warriors.


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If you would like to start building your Core Resiliency Skills contact Coach Julia today. You will learn how to Thrive beyond your damage, become a Transitional Character, break abuse cycles in your family cycle & build the core resiliency skills most often missed when being raised in a low nurture environment.

Julia is a Holistic Health Consultant, holding a Double Diploma in Community Support & Addictions Work, is a Certified Transformation Specialist, Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach & a Lvl 2 Reiki Practitioner. She specializes in Trauma Informed Practice & Resiliency Coaching and Holistic Pregnancy & Postpartum Health Coaching. 

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