Hating Your Ex Isn’t Immature, Despite What People Might Say—Here’s My Take

Relationships are strange. One moment, you’re strangers, then somewhere along the line, you get to know each other’s interests, passions, and fears. You find ways to weave their life into your own. Then, one day, things end.

There are a wide variety of reasons why a relationship will end, and some are worse than others. Sometimes, you really just hate the other person after the dust settles.

When You’re Young, You’re Allowed To Feel All Your Negative Feelings

teen girl sitting on bed holding vinyl record
Photo Credit: Pexels / Sofia Alejandra
Photo Credit: Pexels / Sofia Alejandra

In the formative years of your romantic life—high school romances and post-secondary dating—you almost get a hall pass to feel whatever you want to feel.

Egging your ex’s house, while dramatic, is still acceptable. You really can live out your Carrie Underwood “Before He Cheats” fantasy and key his car, and people will agree that he probably did something to deserve it.

As You Get Older, There’s A Weird Emphasis On Maturity

woman looking out window
Photo Credit: Pexels / Felipe Cespedes
Photo Credit: Pexels / Felipe Cespedes

I don’t know at what point people start to expect you to handle the end of a relationship with quiet grace. You’re supposed to be the bigger person, forgive, and move on.

Once I reached my mid-20s, I noticed that people expected you to say that your relationship ended on amicable terms—that there are no hard feelings in the way.

Where Are All The Hurt Feelings Supposed To Go?

I guess people expect us to tuck away the feelings of hurt and damage after things end like an inconvenient mess you shove into the closet, just hoping no one opens it.

When asked about what happened, you’re treated like you’re a child if you say that things were anything worse than neutral. People act like your rage following the matter is immature.

But I Do Hate My Ex

cake is decorated to say
Photo Credit: Pexels / Julias Torten
Photo Credit: Pexels / Julias Torten

I HATE him. That all caps, italicized type of hate. The kind of hate that I feel in my chest every time I think about our relationship in hindsight over a glass of wine.

Oddly enough, our breakup occurred in a pretty amicable way. I shoved all of my things at his place into an oversized tote bag and walked out.

The Feelings Didn’t Sink In Until After

woman standing alone in the rain
Photo Credit: Pexels / Khoa Võ
Photo Credit: Pexels / Khoa Võ

There are things that I only saw in retrospect: the emotional manipulation, the ways he worked to take my confidence and joy away, the damage that was always sitting under the surface in the relationship.

I didn’t realize how so much of what my ex did to me was wrong and exploitative until I had to unpack it later in therapy. There are still lingering effects of the cruel way he treated me that affect the way I view relationships and love to this day.

I Just Think There Are Times That Warrant Hate

couple arguing in the kitchen
Photo Credit: Pexels / Alex Green
Photo Credit: Pexels / Alex Green

I think that people who are treated cruelly by a partner deserve to hate the person for their actions. I think people who were cheated on should be allowed to openly hate their ex for betraying their trust.

I think it’s fine to hope, at least in the short term, for an ex who treated you poorly to not have good things come to them in life—for karma to come to them.

Demanding A “Mature” Response Is Dismissive Of People’s Experiences

photo of woman with area over her eyes blurred out
Photo Credit: Pexels / Thiago Matos
Photo Credit: Pexels / Thiago Matos

When we ask people to only speak neutrally or well of their exes, or we shame people for still having intense negative feelings toward an ex because we believe forgiveness is more advanced than harboring those feelings, we dismiss their experience. Additionally, it gives power to the ex who was in the wrong because their actions are never properly scrutinized.

I think it is perfectly fine to say that you cannot forgive an ex for the way they mistreated you.

So How Do I Define Mature?

I mean, perhaps I am past my teenage days where my friends would want to key my exes’ cars after we broke up and other immature revenge tactics. However, I will say there are ways to be mature about your hatred.

For example, it’s not wrong to critically analyze and discuss the ways in which your ex behaved that were wrong and manipulative, and say that you hate them for what they did to you.

It’s Okay To Put Boundaries Up Between You Two

wooden fence
Photo Credit: Pexels / Snapwire
Photo Credit: Pexels / Snapwire

I think it’s unfair to expect exes to be able to communicate amicably following a breakup, especially if one party was cruel to the other.

Let’s say, for example, your manipulative, narcissistic ex and you shared mutual friends prior to the breakup. Rather than silently enduring painful group activities with your ex there, I think it’s fair to ask for events to be split so you don’t have to see them again.

You Don’t Let The Hate Control Your Life

woman sitting on cliff looking out over water
Photo Credit: Pexels / Gaspar Zaldo
Photo Credit: Pexels / Gaspar Zaldo

Following a breakup, you definitely should be able to harbor feelings of hate toward your ex, but I think the line from maturely handling it to getting immature about it is how you let it affect your judgment. Is it stopping you from making rational decisions? Has your hatred of your ex become one of the most constant things on your mind? Are you weaponizing your hatred of them against them?

The line, I think, comes when your hatred becomes your obsession. If you don’t hit that point, though, allow yourself to feel those hateful feelings.