By Chris Seiter

Published on November 18th, 2023

Breaking up is often just the beginning of a new chapter, especially when ex-partners continue to be a part of each other’s lives in some capacity. One common post-breakup phenomenon is when an ex-girlfriend starts picking fights.

If you are looking to get straight to the point, here is the core reason why your ex may behave like this: An ex-girlfriend may pick fights due to unresolved emotions, a desire for attention, power dynamics, jealousy, or insecurity. These conflicts can stem from her struggling to cope with the breakup, seeking to test boundaries, or attempting to maintain a connection, even if negatively, with her past relationship.

Understanding why all of this happens and how to handle it is crucial for your emotional well-being and moving forward.  Let’s explore more of the reasons that may motivate your ex to be combative, wanting to fight.

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Understanding Your Ex Girlfriend’s Fighting Ways

  1. Unresolved Emotional Issues: The end of a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the emotions associated with it. Your ex might still be processing feelings of anger, betrayal, sadness, or disappointment. Picking fights could be her way of dealing with these unresolved emotions.
  2. Desire for Attention: Post-breakup, your ex might be missing the attention she used to get from you. Engaging in arguments can be a misguided way of seeking this attention, even if it’s negative.
  3. Control and Power Dynamics: Sometimes, engaging in conflicts is a method of exerting control or power. This can be especially true if she felt less in control during the relationship. She might be using conflicts to regain a sense of power or to influence your actions and feelings.
  4. Jealousy or Insecurity: If you’ve moved on or are leading a seemingly happier life post-breakup, jealousy can trigger your ex to pick fights. This can be her way of trying to disrupt your peace or balance.
  5. Testing Boundaries: She might be picking fights to test your reactions and boundaries. It can be a way to gauge how much you care or to see if there’s still a chance of reconciliation.
  6. Communication Breakdown: Sometimes, what starts as a genuine attempt at communication can devolve into a fight due to misunderstandings or the emotional baggage of the past.

The Impact of Such Fights

  1. Emotional Drain: Constantly being pulled into arguments can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. It can take a toll on your peace of mind and overall well-being.
  2. Hindrance to Moving On: These fights can keep you tied to the past, making it difficult to move on and heal.
  3. Effect on New Relationships: If you’re in a new relationship, constant fights with your ex can strain this new bond, creating unnecessary complications.
  4. Personal Growth Stagnation: Engaging in these fights can hinder your personal growth and journey towards emotional maturity.

Dealing with the Situation

  1. Understanding Your Ex’s Perspective: Try to understand why your ex might be behaving this way. This doesn’t mean condoning her behavior, but understanding it can help you respond more effectively. Just remember – don’t take the bait.  If you understand that this is an emotional reaction from your ex, your less likely to get caught up in an unwinnable fight.
  2. Set Clear Boundaries: It’s important to establish clear boundaries. Let her know that while you’re open to constructive communication, you won’t engage in pointless arguments.
  3. Avoid Escalation: Don’t respond to provocations. Keeping your cool and not engaging in the fight can often defuse the situation.
  4. Focus on Your Well-being: Engage in activities that promote your mental and emotional health. This includes hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or even seeking therapy.
  5. Seek External Support: Sometimes, turning to friends, family, or professionals can provide the support and perspective needed to handle the conflict situation. Even if it just involves words of support.  You need not succumb to your ex’s desire to create hostility. Sometimes it is helpful to reach out to a Relationship Coach.  We can help you with that as my team is trained to keep you on Plan.
  6. Consider the No-Contact Rule: If the situation doesn’t improve, it might be necessary to cut off contact entirely, at least temporarily, to give both parties space to heal.  It is hard for your ex to engage in battle if you are not on the battlefield.
  7. Reflect on Your Role: Reflect on whether your actions might inadvertently be contributing to these fights. Sometimes, without realizing it, we can perpetuate a cycle of conflict.

When to Seek Professional Help

If the situation is taking a serious toll on your mental health, or if you find yourself unable to cope, it might be time to seek help from a therapist or counselor. Professional guidance can provide strategies for dealing with your ex-girlfriend’s behavior and help you work through your feelings.


In conclusion, when an ex picks fights, it often signals emotions spiraling out of control, with old resentments resurfacing. Such conflicts are fueled by unresolved feelings and unhealed wounds.

To diffuse these fights, it’s essential to maintain calm and avoid being provoked. Setting clear boundaries and communicating them assertively can prevent escalation. Practicing empathy can also help understand the underlying emotions, though it’s crucial to prioritize your emotional well-being.

If necessary, disengaging and seeking external support, like counseling, can provide a healthier perspective and coping mechanisms.

The Expert’s Corner: 10 FAQs on Dealing with an Ex-Girlfriend Picking Fights

  1. Why does my ex-girlfriend keep picking fights with me after our breakup?
    • Your ex-girlfriend might be picking fights due to unresolved emotions, a need for attention, feelings of jealousy, or a desire to assert control. These conflicts can stem from her struggling to cope with the breakup.
  2. How can I tell if my ex is picking fights just to get my attention?
    • If the fights are about trivial matters, or if she seems to be creating issues out of nothing, it’s likely she’s seeking your attention. Also, notice if the fights occur more frequently when you’re less responsive.
  3. What’s the best way to respond to these fights?
    • The best response is to remain calm and avoid being provoked. Set clear boundaries and communicate them assertively. If the fights are baseless or repetitive, it might be best to disengage and not respond.
  4. Can these fights be a sign she wants to get back together?
    • Sometimes, picking fights can be a misguided way of staying connected or testing if there’s a chance of reconciliation. However, this isn’t a healthy basis for rekindling a relationship.
  5. How do I set boundaries with an ex who picks fights?
    • Communicate clearly what you will and won’t tolerate. Be firm and consistent in your responses. If necessary, limit or cease contact to enforce these boundaries.
  6. Should I just ignore her when she tries to start a fight?
    • Ignoring can be effective if engaging leads to more conflict. However, it’s important to initially communicate your intention to disengage to avoid misunderstandings.
  7. What if her behavior is affecting my current relationship or personal life?
    • Openly discuss the situation with your current partner or those affected. Consider seeking professional advice to manage the impact on your personal life and relationships.
  8. Why do old resentments resurface after a breakup?
    • Old resentments often resurface due to unresolved issues or unhealed emotional wounds. The breakup can act as a trigger, bringing these feelings back to the surface.
  9. Is it okay to completely cut off communication with an ex who is constantly fighting?
    • If the fights are detrimental to your well-being and you’ve tried other ways to resolve the situation, cutting off communication may be necessary for your mental health as well as improving your chances of getting the relationship back on track.
  10. How can I emotionally detach from these conflicts and move on?
    • Focus on your well-being and personal growth. Engage in activities you enjoy and seek support from friends or professionals. Acknowledge your emotions but don’t let them dictate your actions. Time and self-care are key in emotionally detaching and moving forward	

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