It's heartbreaking to hear your ex say that they can do better than you, even if that's what most exes believe when they initiate breakups.
I recently talked about the dark twin of this when an ex says you can do better than them so you might want to check that out for the opposite perspective too.
Today we're going to unpack three things about an ex who says they can do better than you:
- Do they mean it?
- The context in which it was said.
- What you should do going forward
Does Your Ex Mean It When They Say They Can Do Better Than You?
Yes, they mean it… in the moment.
This is a controversial take but I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat stuff for you.
When your ex says this, they do mean it because they truly think there's someone better out there for them.
However, that “in the moment” caveat at the end is really important here because some people incorrectly assume that when an ex says they can do better than you it means something like they never loved you or never had feelings for you or will never come back to you.
That's not necessarily the case because it depends on the context and timing of when they say it.
The Context In Which An Ex Says This Is Important
An ex will usually say this during a really emotional moment.
Remember the old adage “when emotions run high, logic runs low”?
Well, that's probably what's happening here too.
Most times exes say such statements during an argument and in the context of an argument, they'll say whatever they can to hurt you as much as possible, even if it's not entirely true.
What To Do If Your Ex Thinks They Can Do Better Than You?
Now that you know your ex probably meant what they said because of high emotions, what do you do about it?
Well, the general consensus for the solution revolves around the idea of making them regret their decision.
Now this might sound simple, but a lot of people are unable to create these feelings of regret in their ex's mind because they don't fully understand the psychology behind regret.
The first part of dealing with regret is understanding where emotions are derived from.
“Emotions arise in response to events that are important to the individual's goals, motives or concerns”
Generally speaking, if something happens with a person's goals, motives, or concerns, both negative and positive, an emotion is bound to get created. For example, if you've been working hard for a promotion at work you will feel excited and fulfilled when you finally get it.
Regret is the antagonist to this idea because regret is an emotion that arises when an event DOES NOT OCCUR. An event that might have been… It's a fantasy.
Regret is an emotion that you feel when you know you made the wrong decision and in retrospect, you wish you could have made a different one.
An example could be getting passed up for a promotion.
The event/promotion did not occur so you feel regret, wondering what you could have done better to improve your chances.
Another interesting thing about regret is that it requires a lot of introspection – deep thinking about lost opportunities and what could have been. People don't usually like to think about their mistakes though so you can't assume your ex will automatically regret thinking they can do better than you.
Ultimately if you want to understand how to create regret, we need to look at the three pillars of regret.
Regret Pillar #1: Time Must Pass
So, it doesn't take a genius to realize that time has to pass for someone to regret their decisions. What's really interesting is the distinction between the length of time and what kind of decisions or actions people regret.
According to psychology today,
“Over short time periods, people are more likely to regret actions taken and mistakes made—whereas over long time periods, they are more likely to regret actions not taken, such as missed opportunities for love or working too hard and not spending enough time with family.”
This research totally backs up what we're finding out from our success stories.
The best success stories had significantly longer periods of time between their breakup and getting back together.
There's a reason why our process does take longer but is also arguably more successful than everyone else's – that's because we take enough time to create that kind of regret where they're looking or fantasizing about a future that could have been instead of just trying to immediately get fast results.
Regret Pillar #2: You Must Become A Catalyst For Regret
The easier it is to envision a different outcome, the more likely we are to regret a lost opportunity.
This roughly translates to the “show them what they're missing” mentality during a no-contact rule where you live your best life and share it on social media etc. to create the catalyst that makes your ex wish they could have been there sharing those experiences with you.
A great example of creating a catalyst for regret is Coach Anna's story about the rose bowl text.
We talk about this example often on our podcasts together because it was such a simple, but an effective text to create feelings of regret.
When coach Anna was at the beginning of our program, she used a text on her ex-boyfriend while she was at the rose bowl. The rose bowl is basically this huge college football game at the end of the year when the two best teams battle it out. Coach Anna went to the rose bowl with another guy and sent her ex a picture of them enjoying the rose bowl together.
This worked because it created regret that made her ex wish he was the one next to her at the game.
So ultimately, if you want to create regret in your ex, you need to say or post something exciting online that makes your ex wish they were there with you.
It's even better if you can personalize the catalyst to your ex or past relationship to pull at their heartstrings more.
Had your first date at a specific restaurant? Go to that restaurant with friends (or a new date) and post pictures that send your ex on a trip down memory lane. Always talked about going to Hawaii with your ex? Go alone or with whoever you want and be sure to post all about it so your ex regrets missing out.
Pillar #3: The Importance of Momentum
While pillar number two was talking about the importance of becoming a catalyst, pillar three helps you actually become it over the long term. A lot of people go through breakups and start feeling sorry for themselves. They become anxious and obsess over their ex to the point that everything else in their life takes a backseat.
These people are easily distracted and unable to focus on anything except the negative emotions of their breakup.
One of my first ever coaching clients had this problem.
We would get on a coaching call and I would sit there and say exactly what actions she needed to take and what goals she needed to set for herself. She'd respond enthusiastically and be super excited to achieve those goals. But then when I checked in with her two weeks later, she hadn't actually accomplished anything.
Now, this wasn't entirely her fault because I have an ongoing war with goal setting and how it can be unrealistic/unsustainable.
Goals Vs. Habits
I believe goal setting is not as effective as creating healthy habits. Healthy habits ultimately get you into the groove and momentum of achieving your goals.
What I should have done with that coaching client isn't setting specific goals, it should be getting her to take an action to create some type of a healthy habit that would eventually lead to hitting that goal.
You should do the same thing.
Think of a goal such as running a marathon and then start diligently training for it each day.
That way, you're building up a sustainable habit of exercising every day and you can continue that even after your marathon. If your ex always wanted to run a marathon with you, seeing you complete a marathon would spark regret, but seeing you train for it every day would be even better as they'll regret each time they are unable to train with you.
Sure, Coach Anna's rose bowl text was an amazing example of instant regret, but it was also a stroke of luck. But you don't need to attend a big event to create or become a catalyst for regret. Sometimes it's as simple as being strategic and smart about what you post on social media.
You might not always feel like posting on social media because you haven't done anything particularly “noteworthy”, but if you start creating healthy habits for yourself, you'll notice it becomes a lot easier!
If your ex says they can do better than you, they mean it in that moment. Usually, though, an ex says this during an emotional argument, so they'd say anything to hurt you.
Don't take this as a dead-end in your ex recovery process, instead try to instill the feeling of regret in your ex for saying this and breaking up with you.
Here are the three pillars of regret that can help you understand how to create regret:
- Time must pass
- You must become a catalyst for regret
- The importance of momentum