What To Do When You Want To Get Revenge On An Ex
Getting revenge on an ex is a common theme in literature, movies, and music, and there's a good reason for that. When someone breaks up with you, cheats on you, hurt you, or has otherwise wronged you, it isn't unusual to want to hurt them back for the pain they inflicted. But what do you do about your desire to get vengeance on an ex? Do you follow that thought with action, or is there a better choice for you? What tools and strategies are available to help you process your feelings of wanting revenge, and to help you move on after a painful event in your life?
Why Do People Seek Revenge?
That feeling of wanting to lash out and get back at someone who hurts us is a natural response. When we feel shamed, or when we feel that someone has been unjust to us, we feel that something has been taken from us. We want to restore balance to our world, and having vengeful feelings can be part of that process. But the desire to take revenge on someone is actually a more complex psychological phenomenon than one might think, because it depends in part both on cultural contexts and personal ideas about how society should work.
Situations that trigger a desire for revenge differ from one culture to the next. These differences depend on cultural beliefs about what is important in relationships and about what kinds of behavior are considered correct. One study showed, for example, that something that might make an American feel slighted and consider taking revenge was not necessarily the same kind of thing that would make a Korean feel angry and vengeful.
Another study found that a person’s feelings about authority and respect for traditions could predict whether a person felt that revenge was an acceptable path to take. Subjects who were more likely to defer to authority figures and who had a stronger need to uphold traditions also were more likely to think that retribution was warranted.
Consider The Consequences
It can be good to take a step back and consider what might happen if you succeed in your quest for retribution. Will your actions hurt yourself or your loved ones? Could your plans for revenge get you into trouble with the law? What other unintended consequences might there be to your actions?
Once you face the potential negative consequences honestly, you may decide that taking revenge on your ex isn't the right solution for your situation. Instead, you may wish to figure out healthier ways to deal with these feelings.
Healthy Alternatives To Revenge
It's normal to look for a way to end your pain, and at first glance revenge might seem like one way to do that. However, getting revenge may make you feel worse in the long run. Some studies have shown that getting revenge is more likely to fuel your anger than relieve it, because it puts you in a situation where you continue to think about the person who hurt you.
Since you've already left the relationship, it's in past. You may find that dwelling on your misery increases your depression, anxiety, and anger. Leaving past hurts and grievances in the past may help you to have a more peaceful life. When you choose to live life in the moment and concentrate on the positive aspects of today, your hurt feelings may eventually subside. You can also do things such as journaling about your experiences to help you process your negative feelings. Some studies have found that journaling can be an effective technique in this situation.
There's an old saying that success is the best revenge, and it's often true. Choosing a happier, more fulfilling life that focuses on you instead of putting your pain into action by hurting someone else can help you improve your life and your mood, and can help you feel more confident in yourself.
The human desire to seek revenge often is linked with feelings of having been shamed or having been treated unjustly, so doing things that can improve your sense of self-worth can help you manage your vengeful feelings in a more positive way. Some people find it helpful to take up a new activity, like dancing or baking. Others may find meditation or mindfulness practices helpful. Exercise is a good way to burn off excess energy, and it produces physiological changes that make us feel better.
Changing how we think about ourselves and our experiences can also be a tool in working to set aside vengeful feelings. One way to do this is to be compassionate toward ourselves by recognizing that relationships don’t always work out the way we want them to. Treating ourselves with kindness and patience can smooth the healing process and help you to let go of negative emotions towards yourself and others. Since part of wanting revenge is a desire to rid yourself of your own pain and suffering, self-compassion that acknowledges the reality of that suffering can turn your thoughts toward healing yourself instead of lashing out toward the person that hurt you.
Radical acceptance is another practice that can change how you perceive yourself and your ex. It’s important to remember that radical acceptance doesn’t mean that what happened to you was right, and it doesn’t mean that you somehow have to accept it as having been right or a good thing. If your partner cheated on you, for example, that was wrong, and it is reasonable for you to feel hurt by it. What radical acceptance means is that you acknowledge what happened as part of your reality, and you stop trying to fight against it so that you can move on with your life.
Although forgiveness may not be a path that works in every situation or for every person, deciding to forgive the person who wronged you can be a better alternative than seeking retribution. One study showed that people who decided to forgive rather than strike back felt that their actions better reflected their own sense of morality and helped them feel more connected to their own humanity.
It's important to note that all the suggestions given above are things that turn your attention onto your own self and away from the person that harmed you. Giving yourself the love and attention you deserve, especially after dealing with a painful event in your life, can be a nourishing, positive way to process your feelings and get on the path to healing.
Asking For Help With Vengeful Feelings
If you can't stop thinking about revenge even after you examine the situation carefully and understand the alternatives, you may need help to get past these negative feelings. A therapist can help you explore your feelings and offer tools that you can use to move on from your relationship and build a better life for yourself.
More and more people are turning to online resources in search of a convenient way to speak with a trusted therapist without having to leave the comforts of home. Recent studies show that electronically delivered therapy is as effective as traditional face-to-face counseling and offers additional perks.
BetterHelp therapists take your confidentiality seriously and are committed to upholding your privacy, no matter how you choose to connect. You can always feel safe talking with your counselor about topics you find challenging too. Every BetterHelp therapist is highly educated and licensed, and has experience helping people like you face life’s day-to-day challenges, relationship concerns, and issues with anger management. Some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people like you are available below to help you in making the decision whether to find counseling through BetterHelp.
Get The Best Therapy With BetterHelp
“Raelene Faught has helped me in just a short time with her to find ways to control my anger, and emotions and work through everyday life issues. She reminds me of my boundaries with others and encourages me a lot in our messages back and forth. She is supportive and is there when I need to talk. She is always there when I need someone to talk to quickly and responds as quickly as she can.”
“This man is amazing. He was the first counselor that wanted to talk to me instead of a few before him. He is a good guy with a Christian background. Which was very important for me to find. He had talked to me about my anger and I am much better now because of him. I recommend this guy. I believe Jason can help you with a lot of the problems you may have. Highly recommended!”
Commonly Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about getting your vengeance on an ex after a breakup. If you’re wondering how to get revenge on an ex, check out the questions below.
Is it okay to get revenge on your ex?
Getting revenge on your ex might feel super tempting when you have recently left a relationship with someone who causes you suffering and painful emotions. You may wish for them to feel hurt in the way they hurt you, or perhaps you’re angry at the world for all the wrong they did to you.
Many people have an urge to get revenge on their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend after a painful breakup. However, it’s important to look at the big picture. In many cases, those who do get revenge often end up feeling regret afterward. In some cases, they’ve done something illegal that caused harm to their ex’s life after the breakup. In other cases, the revenge may not have been the most healthy option for their mental health.
After a painful break or breakup in a relationship, you will likely be feeling a lot of emotions. You might feel hatred when seeing your ex’s face, or you may feel worse when you see that your ex has a new partner, or that your ex’s friends are supporting them in the breakup. It can feel like your ex is trying to destroy your well-being and stop you from feeling confident in yourself.
In all reality, these strong emotions can take control after a breakup. It can be the reason you’re holding yourself back from happiness. No matter what happened in the relationship, feeling hate towards your ex to the point of wanting to hurt them can only hurt you worse. Your ex is likely living their life and trying to move on. It’s important to focus on your own feelings and healing during this time. Therapy may be a good option for you if you constantly worry about your ex.
Why ignoring your ex is powerful?
If you want your ex to get the point and leave you alone, focus your energy and attention on ignoring them. Spend time with new people or friends and focus on your life. All the pain you feel may not go away immediately but getting revenge on your ex will only prolong it. You may feel confident if you decide to ignore messages from your ex-partner and pretend that you are fine, even if you’re feeling otherwise.
Ignore your ex’s most recent social media post, ignore their messages, and make a commitment to focus on you. You may also want to stop posting on social media for a while, just to get some space.
What shouldn’t you do after a breakup?
If you’ve been wanting to get revenge on your ex, here are some things you should try to avoid doing after your break with your partner.
- Sleep with your ex’s friends or best friend
- Send a flirty text to try to reel them in and hurt them
- Send a picture of blackmail
- Immediately get into a new relationship with a new partner to make your ex jealous
- Create a fake profile to look at your ex’s profile on social media
- Lie that your ex cheated or hurt you in some way to get them in legal or social trouble
- Post about your ex to try to get them cancelled, even if they didn’t do anything
Instead of doing the above things, here are some healthy ways to focus on healing after hurt.
- Write journal entries about what happened and how it hurt you
- Ask for advice from good friends, or a best friend
- Consider online or in-person therapy to get advice on how to move on in life and find success without your ex
- Spend money on things that make you happy, not things that could hurt someone else
- Spend time focusing on the things you like to do (for example, play video games)
- Create something that gets your emotions out. For example, you could create a collage or mosaic.
- Hang out with a friend when you want to contact your ex
- Don’t lie and say you’re fine when you need help. Realize that it is normal to need someone and contact a friend to watch TV with or go to therapy if you need it.
Here are some examples of healthy and non-healthy ways to spend your time after your breakup:
Unhealthy example: Spend the course of your time plotting out all the things you want to do to destroy your ex’s life and make sure they never get to date another person again. Post mean things on your ex’s social media page or ask others to stalk their page for you.
Healthy example: Wait to consider your actions with your ex and focus on your own life for a while. Consider therapy or advice from someone professional, play video games, distract yourself with a new project, work on ways to become a better person, and ask another person to help you when you need it.
Remember, it’s normal to want to get revenge, but it’s not always a good idea. Your life may feel completely ruined due to your ex’s actions, but there are many resources available. For example, therapy can help you get your life back on track and feel like you’re not alone.
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