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Dealing with Feelings of Anger about your Ex when a Relationship Ends

Breakups Often Lead to Anger


When a relationship comes to an end, we go through a cycle of feelings similar to those that people go through when dealing with the death of a loved one. One of the stages of grief that we go through is feeling anger. This is a natural response to the end of an important relationship on our lives. However, it can also be a very destructive and self-destructive phase if we don’t deal with it properly. That’s why it’s so important that we understand and deal with the feelings of anger that we have when a breakup occurs.

What is anger?

It is important to realize that anger is just a feeling, an emotion. When we talk about anger, many people think first about what anger looks like. We think of anger as slammed doors or violent outbursts. This can cause us to be afraid of anger, especially if we have had problems with expressions of anger in the past. When dealing with the emotions that we are feeling after a breakup, it is important to separate the feeling of anger with the actions that we take to express our anger. Anger is just a feeling. It is a valid feeling. It is a natural feeling to have at the end of a relationship. And it is important to have this feeling rather than repressing it.

Why do we experience anger when relationships end?

Anger is something that we feel when we perceive that we have somehow been wronged. Although we may know intellectually that the end of the relationship wasn’t anyone’s fault, we still feel like we were wronged because the relationship didn’t work out.

Some of the reasons that we experience anger when a relationship ends include:

·      It’s part of the disappointment. When we are in a relationship, we have a lot of hope for what that relationship is going to be like. Maybe we want to get married and have a family and stay together forever or maybe it’s as simple as wanting to still know each other for a long, long time. When a relationship ends, we are disappointed. And that feels like a wrong that was done against us so we get angry.

·      It may genuinely seem that the other person wronged us. There are things that people do that cause breakups. These things can cause a genuine feeling of being wronged by the other person. The biggest example is when the breakup is caused by cheating; you are angry that your significant other is having an affair. However, you may also be angry that the other person didn’t try harder or didn’t want the same things that you did.

·      Others may have done something that hurt us. We may feel that the relationship was hurt by other people. The person you’re spouse cheated on your with, the friends who weren’t supportive of the relationship and the family members who didn’t teach us to love properly when we were young can all be subjects of our anger. We feel angry because we are hurt.

·      We may feel that we have wronged ourselves. A breakup can often cause us to have feelings that are related to feeling like we have harmed ourselves. We may be mad at ourselves for falling in love with someone who turned out not to be right. We may be angry at ourselves for not being able to try harder to work things out. If we initiated the breakup, we may have feelings of doubt or regret and be angry at ourselves for making that decision. Any type of guilt can lead to anger with ourselves.

·      We want someone to blame. Sometimes anger just has to do with the fact that we are trying to make sense out of why this relationship doesn’t work. We get angry at ourselves, our ex, others and even God or the universe because we just want there to be a reason that the relationship ended.

·      Anger is a normal part of the grieving process. We get angry because it’s natural to go through a phase of anger when we are grieving.

How to deal with feelings of anger when a relationship ends

It is important to learn how to properly deal with feelings of anger when a relationship ends. Failure to do so can result in the anger lingering for a long time and causing you depression, health issues and problems in other relationships. It can also lead to you acting out on the anger in ways that harm others. You want to go through this part of the grieving process in as healthy a manner as possible. Some of the ways to deal with feelings of anger when a relationship ends include:

·      Acknowledge and accept the anger. Notice when you are angry. Accept that you are angry and have the right to be angry. Remind yourself that being angry is normal and that you won’t feel angry forever.

·      Express the anger in writing. Many people find it helpful to keep a journal or to write unsent letters to express their anger in an appropriate way.

·      Work with a therapist. You can work through all of your feelings of anger in a healthy way by seeing a psychologist.

·      Channel the angry energy into productive things. It’s healthy to acknowledge being angry but you shouldn’t sit and dwell on it each day. Use that energy to clean the house, go to a kickboxing class or start volunteering.

·      Choose behaviors based on beliefs, not feelings. Acting out your anger usually doesn’t make you feel better for long. (Really, keying his car is just going to make you feel bad!) Decide in a calm state of being how you want to behave towards your ex. Choose actions that are based on those beliefs and not on the feelings of anger that you have. This can take hard work but it’s better to act consciously than to react impulsively.

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·      Work on forgiveness. Ultimately, you will want to work on forgiveness in order to move past the anger that you are feeling. This can be done in any number of ways, ranging from taking concrete actions to framing the situation according to your religious beliefs. Find a path of forgiveness that works for you.

Dealing with your ex’s anger

It is important to realize that you are not the only one who is going through feelings of anger. Your ex is probably going through the same stages of grief that you are and feeling angry as well. This anger may or may not be directed at you and it may or may not be something that you see. If your ex does express anger towards you, keep the following things in mind:

·      It is a stage of the grieving process that everyone goes through. It really helps not to personalize the anger. It is normal for your ex to be angry even if you don’t think it’s justified. You don’t have to feel guilty as he or she goes through this stage.

·      Accept that you cannot force forgiveness. Your ex may be angry at you forever. You cannot make other people forgive you or stop being angry at you. You can apologize for things that you feel you’ve done wrong and you can make amends for those things. However, you can’t make someone stop being angry. Accepting this is the best way to move on.

·      Conversations should be productive. If you’re both angry about the end of the relationship then you can end up having endless fights that go nowhere. Make a rule that your conversations should be calm and productive. Take space from one another when you can’t stick to that rule.

·      Anger should never be abusive. You need to set appropriate boundaries when your ex is going through this stage. You shouldn’t let your ex mistreat you with verbal or physical abuse. You may need to cut off contact at least for awhile. If things get out of control, get assistance from the authorities. 


dashingscorpio from Chicago on March 04, 2019:

What is anger?

Anger is the Mask that Hurt wears.

maramerce from United States on April 17, 2014:

Yeah I can't be friends with someone who did me wrong. I will hate that person for the rest of my life and just avoid them. I will do my best not to harm them either, but I won't want them in my life. It will be as if they never even existed to me or as if I never even knew them at all. We will be total strangers. If I see them in the street I will pass them as if I didn't recognize them. I won't ever talk about it either. I'll just seal that aspect of my life up and squirrel it away somewhere deep down inside me drowning it on occasion with vodka or tequila if it tries to surface and rear its ugly emotional head. And I will be fine. Having a great time in life with someone new. That's the way I choose to handle that type of thing if it ends badly because I would rather not waste my energy or thoughts on a pointless situation or a terrible person.

Sarah Strutting on May 02, 2013:

My name is Sarah Strutting, I am here to testify to the good work of the Dr. Check. 2 years ago, my husband left home, he never returned, no phone calls, no letters, no emails, no sign of him anywhere. my daughter got sick with multiple sclerosis, things were so tough for me. I had lost hope, 2 years ago, i met a psychic, he said he would help me, i paid over $6800 and still nothing happened, i lost hope completely, my daughter's situation got worse each day.last month, i saw a posting concerning the good works of the wole professionals, i gave them a try...i paid about $2000, for all three spells (Bring Lover back, Healing spell and Career spells). In a matter of weeks, my husband called me and told me he was sorry and that he wants to come back to me and that he would explain everything when he comes back, three days later, i got a new job with an Oil company, right now, my daughter's condition is getting better each day and i trust she would be well in a matter of days.I want to thank TEMPLE OF LOVE you can contact them via email:( for their efforts and for bringing my life back to normal and so close to perfection.My name is Naomi Struttgard, i live in Australia.PLEASE HELP ME THANK HIM..

MNLady62 on October 26, 2012:

Bonny, I was also in an emotional abusive relationship. For four years. He broke up with me just over a month ago, three days before my birthday. Why? Because he said his NEEDED his male friend more than he needed me. His male friend was fooling around on his girlfriend and word got out and they both blamed ME when it was not my fault, either for fooling around in the first place or for gossiping about it. I am now thinking that was the BEST birthday present I ever received. I know I am better off without someone who constantly accused me of cheating, of never believing a word I said to him (he even told me that I didn't know where MY friend LIVED, even though I had been there several times and he hadn't), someone who does not know how to love because he does not love himself. I finally realized that I cannot FIX him and I no longer want to. I am still angry, however, and I really can't wait for these feelings of anger and sadness to go away. I know, realistically, that it's still early and I cannot push for the feelings to be gone and that I NEED to grieve. But the truth of the matter is that it was so UNFAIR of a reason for a break up, that it makes me mad. I do NOT want him back, but I still feel anger that I had put up with so much of his insecurities and yelling and accusations for YEARS and then HE BROKE UP WITH ME? That is what I am having a hard time with. In fact, statistics show that he will be contacting me again to try to fix things and I really am looking forward to that time so I can blast him out of the water. I know that's not right, but that's where my anger is leading me.

james on October 21, 2012:

I will love to share my testimony to all the people in the forum cos i never thought i will have my girlfriend back and she means so much to me..The girl i want to get marry to left me 4weeks to our weeding for another man..,When i called her she never picked my calls,She deleted me on her Facebook and she changed her Facebook status from married to Single...when i went to her place of work she told her boss she never want to see me..i lost my job as a result of this cos i cant get myself anymore,my life was upside down and everything did not go smooth with my life...I tried all i could do to have her back to all did not work out until i met a Man when i Travel to Africa to execute some business have been developing some years back..I told him my problem and all have passed through in getting her back and how i lost my job...he told me he gonna help me...i don't believe that in the first place.but he swore he will help me out and he told me the reason why my girlfriend live me and also told me some hidden secrets.i was amazed when i heard that from him..he said he will cast a spell for me and i will see the results in the next couple of days..then i travel back to US the following day and i called him when i got home and he said he's busy casting those spells and he has bought all the materials needed for the spells,he said am gonna see positive results in the next 2 days that is Thursday...My girlfriend called me at exactly 12:35pm on Thursday and apologies for all she had done ..she said,she never knew what she's doing and her sudden behavior was not intentional and she promised not to do that was like am dreaming when i from her and when we ended the call,i called the man and told him my wife called and he said i haven't seen anything yet... he said i will also get my job back in 3 days time..and when its Sunday,they called me at my place of work that i should resume working on Monday and they gonna compensate me for the time limit have spent at home without working..My life is back into shape,i have my girlfriend back and we are happily married now with kids and i have my job back too.This man is really powerful..if we have up to 20 people like him in the world,the world would have been a better place..he has also helped many of my friends to solve many problems and they are all happy now..Am posting this to the forum for anybody that is interested in meeting the man for can mail him on this e-mail i cant give out his number cos he told me he don't want to be disturbed by many people across the world..he said his email is okay and he' will replied to any emails asap..hope he helped u out

too..good luck

wendy on September 13, 2012:

Yes, I can also relate. I was used and abused by an alcoholic partner for number of years. I am continuing to work through my anger, hurt and confusion. He constantly blamed me for everything throughout our relationship while damaging my relationships with others, my peace of mind and my financial situation. He turned all those in our social circle against me making me feel like an outcast and greatly damaging my self esteem. A few weeks after our final breakup he became involved with another girl and moved in with her.

These things just don't happen. Some people treat others badly and make them suffer. It will take time and courage for me to regain all that I have lost because of being involved with this man.

blonde girl on May 05, 2012:

Dear Sabrina,

you are not alone, I too am experiencing what you have been feeling as I deal with the end my relationship. Thank you for posting because I feel like someone can understand the pain I have been going through.

Bonny on March 17, 2012:

Jillywilly: I can relate to your description. My ex was verbally abusive for 14 years, and I took it. I took the high road most of the time, and tried very hard to work things out with him. I remained calm and rational while he was blaming me, correcting me and yelling at me. Finally I realized he wasn't going to change (after trying therapy), so I left him. It was the most difficult thing I've ever done. Be that point I was depressed (had been for many years) and was like a zombie. Things seemed unreal. I think it was from the years of abuse. And he'd put a spin on reality and I was so confused. Anyway, He tried to get me to come back, using crying, manipulation and finally anger. I held firm and lived in a little apartment. He stole my cell phone, came to my apartment and got into my car a couple times and came to a place I'd been staying. He didn't know the meaning of boundaries - I had none. I was basically his property that he could treat however he wanted. Finally the divorce was final. That was 6 years ago. It's been a horrible process going through all these feelings. First I was shocked and numb and depressed and confused. This took a long time to get over. I was sad for a long time, as I had been with him since I was 17 (25 years), and he basically controlled everything I did. So there I was, kind of floating, not knowing who I was, really. I did well, keeping my job, and doing well there. I was trying to stuff my feelings and act like I was o.k. Well, as I've done a lot of reading on the subject of narcissists and abuse, I've learned that it WASN'T my fault at all! What a revelation. This has caused my grief and sadness to turn to ANGER. How dare he treat me like that and make me feel like it was my fault. What a deceiver and manipulator...and liar. This anger finally came and it's been 6 years. People don't understand why NOW I'm angry, and they think I should be over it by now. This is very difficult to explain to people. They just don't get it. To them, I'm just an angry person. I hate that. I used to be funny and like life. Now I'm just bitter. But this article really helped me see that I have a reason and right to be angry. Heck, he was angry at me just about the whole time we were married! So I think I'll be angry for just a little bit longer. One person told me that If I weren't angry THEN there would be something wrong with me!

Jillywilly on December 19, 2011:

I have gone through this in unhealthy ways. When I was with my husband, he told me every day everything was my fault and in the end I left because I was scared for my and my children's lives. He was to seek help and come to where we were but instead he took all my money, car, furniture, everything and ran. I was then with someone down the road who didn't even break up with me. He went on vacation and came home to moving in with my cousin who he up and down convinced we never "consummated" our relationship. My recent boyfriend was a 2 year relationship. We were both single parents and I thought we were great but when his daughter came, he would grow distant. I finally got the courage to ask him to tell me he loved me and wanted our relationship to grow and he ran away (literally). He then said we should xontinue to be "best friends without the sex and stuff". I tried this but after he came around I suffered so much pain I just wanted him back. I reacted with many angry actions and emails wanting him to smarten up and come back to us but he has now done everything he can to ensure I am out of his life forever and I am left carrying a bag of grief, regret, self loathing, sadness and depression. I don't know what else to say. It is a black hole that is impossible to escape

wanttoletmyfeelingsout on November 29, 2011:

I am 15 years old, Recently i have gotten out of my first long term relationship of 9 months. To many, this may not seem long, but to me, it was a very long time. Since my break up i have had many emotions and one of them is Anger. Because i have never delt with these feelings before i have handled them badly, i have taken my anger out on my ex by saying very harsh things which i now regret and i have appologise, but sadly enough haven't been forgiven, but really, forgiveness is not what i want. The relationship ended mainly because i was jealous of him talking about another girl constantly, (really this does show myself in immature shoes, but i was worried of losing him(of couse opposite effects happened.)) Really i did not feel the relationship ending was my fault because i kept trying to make it work and never properly menchined about the other girl, but my ex made it well known that he had 'fallen out of love' with me. Anger is something i now need to be able to control because i have been getting into a large arguments with him due to the fact i had the emotion of anger flooding through me. After these arguments i thought i was abnormal, he didn't seem to care about me at all, but i showed strong emotions of anger... Really my problem is i miss him and because of this i am angry. No-one can help that. But this site has helped me realise i am normal, and maybe he should concider forgiving me, i never did anything wrong during the relationship except being a hormonal teenager... Hopefully he will grow up for his next relationship or realise i was normal.

Jo Chaisson on November 29, 2011:

Exactly what I was thinking only this morning, it is exactly like grieving over the death of a lost one.

sugarash from Mumbai on October 19, 2011:

Dear Sabrina Derr:

you are so correct. I also had a 2nd serious relationship broken just 2 weeks back. The thing is i never entertain any kinds of flirts with guys, i am happy in my small world where my mom dad n bro is everything to me.. But then one day i find this guy n everything is great... We discuss everything about the future. N then on my birthday,he breaks up with me. It took me 3 years to come out of it. I promised myself not to let any boy around, i managed some how. But after 3 years another boy comes along, i tell my self not to trust him, but he sticks around giving me assurance he wont leave me... it took a hell alot of assurance to myself to believe him. n finally i said him yes. A year later after the relationship began, 1 week before the anniversary, when i had planned everything about the celebrations, he calls me up n say i don't understand him.. he feels empty begin with me.. he needs some one to understand him.. It broke me completely.. n now i have decided to live alone.. always...

Josephine on September 27, 2011:

Dear Sabrina Derr.

Sending you a great big hug, every day.

Take care .

Sabrina Derr on September 18, 2011:

I just ended a relationship of five years with a man I thought was committed to having a future with me. We discussed pipe-dreams, future plans, and I tried to take interests in his unusual hobbies. I did everything I could to make him happy: I cooked meals for him, drove him to and from work, paid for vacations, I mowed the lawn, gardened so that he would have a nice, relaxing yard to come home to, etc. I am now a twenty-one year old Grad student whose dreams have dissipated in a matter of two days. I feel that I have wasted what could have been some of the best years of my life on a person that could not reciprocate. His things are still here and he is playing the no communicado game with me. The relationship ending was kind of mutual, albeit I still love him, but his lack of communication is stirring an anger in me that is palpable. He told me the day before we ended things that he had feelings for his coworker. Devastated by this and by discovering that all those reassurances and my first initial premonitions were accurate has sparked me to become an emotional kamikaze. I have become non-functional. I go to bed at night wondering if he is with her, and why he can't have the courage and tact to communicate with me like an adult. I feel as if there is a hole inside me that is slowly growing, slowly enflaming my anger, and slowly taking over my life. This is my second long-term relationship break-up, and it is indescribably painful. I want to tell him, "Two can play this game, ass-hole. Four years of my committed self, serving and taking care of you and you can't even have the decency to talk to me?" What did I ever do to deserve this?

heartbreakkid101 on September 25, 2010:

i went through this stage about 2 weeks ago. And i usually don't show my anger, but this time i expressed it in unusual ways. I yelled a lot, i get irritated because of the simplest things,and i broke stuff. At class one day i pounded on my desk really loud and got everyone (including my ex's) attention. It faded away, but i hold this grudge. How do i get rid of it??

Vernon Bradley from Yucaipa, California on August 22, 2010:

Really good directions, here, Kathryn. Going through the end of a relationship myself, after 12 years, and I am determined not to become bitter and cynical. I let my anger out with close friends and when I am alone. I cry and I scream and I write hubs!!

I found a room to rent in a large house. The day I moved in, I bought a large Mum plant, very beautiful. As I was walking out of the store with the flowers, unfortunately, a very sweet "old" lady (old is a relative term these days, as I just turned 65!!)

said, "Those are such beautiful flowers. There's a lucky lady out there." I about burst into tears. I simply said, "No lucky lady, they are for me."

"Oh," she said. "Well good for you," or some such thing.

Yes, it is GRIEF.

Thanks so much for sharing some good stuff for us folks going through this at the moment!


ocbill from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice on August 18, 2010:

anger and denial play a role. It is definitely tough without a doubt when it was a long-term relationship.

Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on August 17, 2010:

Thank you for telling it how it is. Anger is a lot of things, I think my most anger comes from allowing myself to be used, or going over and beyond to help others when it is not taking care of me, or even causing me harm. Thanks for another beautiful Hub

Martie Coetser from South Africa on August 17, 2010:

This is a terrible stage of grief. Not at all easy to cope with. The anger stays (forever) in you, you just learn how to manage it. It is like a smoldering fire in you; only a drop of oil can turn it into flames again... but only to be acknowledged. Never respond to anger. You have said it all!

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