Coming to the realization that your ex has a brand new relationship—especially when you’re the last one to find out—can really sting. Whether your breakup was amicable or otherwise, you might be surprised or even a little hurt to find out your ex has been seeing someone else without you knowing. It’s not crazy to wonder “why is my ex hiding his new relationship,” but there’s likely a good reason behind their actions.
Why is my ex hiding his new relationship?
Keep in mind each relationship has its own personality and history, and that history could be impacting how your ex is acting toward you now.
“Some people are really open with their exes and maintain long-lasting friendships with them, but other people don’t want their ex in their life at all and to ever see them again,” said Katie Ziskind, a holistic marriage and family therapist in Niantic, Connecticut. “Someone who never wants to see their ex again will not have an interest in showing their ex their new romantic partner.”
You may never know why your ex decided to keep their new relationship private, but there are a handful of common reasons that might help you understand their mindset and offer some peace of mind.
They might feel guilty
If your ex is a nice person, they are probably hiding the relationship from you to avoid conflict or reopen the wound of the breakup. It might even be coming from a place of guilt.
“Whether or not the new relationship would actually hurt you, take peace in the fact that this secrecy is actually coming from a genuinely good place,” said Carmel Jones, a Philadelphia-based dating expert and founder of The Big Fling. “While I always think honesty and transparency are the best ways to handle relationships, the intention is important to keep in mind.”
They just aren’t ready to “go public”
Hiding a relationship also might not be personal. He might be hiding the relationship because he’s not clear about his actual feelings for this new person in his life, said Jones. He might be fearful of making a full public commitment to that person because he’s not ready yet in this new relationship. There’s no way of knowing how serious the relationship is or whether he thinks it’ll last long enough to merit telling acquaintances just yet.
The relationship is a rebound
There’s also the scenario in which your ex wants to keep their options open.
“They don’t want you to know about the new relationship,” Jones said, “because there’s hope you’ll get back together or that your physical relationship isn’t completely over or they’re still licking emotional wounds from the breakup.”
They aren’t “hiding” anything
You might feel they’re hiding something, but if you’ve broken up they don’t owe you an explanation. Rather than actively withholding information from you, you’re simply no longer in their loop.
“Your ex might not feel responsible for you anymore,” Jones said. “They figure that they are now single and don’t have to report to you for any reason. Unfortunately, when a relationship ends, the responsibility to the other person ends. It’s not wrong for him to want to guard information from you now that you aren’t committed to each other.”
They don’t want any type of relationship with you
Kevin Darné, a relationship expert and bestselling author, said there is a chance your ex feels their new relationship “is absolutely none of your business” after the breakup.
“This is especially true,” Darné said, “if they have enacted the ‘no contact rule.’”
If they blocked your number, unfriended you on social media and went out of the way to avoid the places you frequent, there’s a good chance they don’t want to maintain any type of relationship with you. This might not have anything to do with you—in order to move on, cutting contact might be the best way to move forward.
You know the person they’re dating
If your ex is dating a casual acquaintance of yours, a former coworker or anyone floating around your orbit, they might be avoiding telling you in order to save you the sting.
“Even when there was no skullduggery, some people consider it a betrayal for an ex to date anyone whom they know,” said Darné.
They might be embarrassed of the new relationship
Although your ex is happy in their new relationship, the person they are dating is different from you and they don’t want others to draw comparisons.
“When exes cross paths, most people want to be the one who appeared to have done “better” after the breakup,” said Darné. “Your ex may not have fully adjusted to running in a different social circle and might feel a little embarrassed.”
They’re worried you’ll be petty
Rarely is a breakup a mutual decision. One person initiates the discussion and the other person gives in or accepts it’s over. Another reason for hiding their new relationship is if you have demonstrated a history of being jealous, volatile, spiteful, petty or obsessed with wanting them to suffer.
“The very thought of one’s ex traveling, smiling and enjoying life with their new partner might drive them crazy, even when they have a new mate of their own,” Darné said. “Some people can’t be happy unless they feel like their ex is miserable without them.”
It’s just in their nature to be secretive or closed off
Think back to when the two of you were together: Were there any quirks or mannerisms that could explain their behavior today?
“You can weigh the probability of these reasons looking back at your relationship,” said Sophie Mona Pagès, the founder of LVRSNFRNDS, a friendship app. “Was there a lot of drama? How did they feel about it? Were they secretive?”
If your ex was generally less social or more closed off than you were, you could feel like they’re hiding their new relationship when they haven’t even considered making an announcement or contacting you to offer the news.
They don’t want you to get angry
Do you have a quick temper? It’s possible your ex knows you’re quick to get angry or jump to conclusions and hasn’t said anything to avoid your wrath. If this is the case, your ex simply does not want to tell you about the new relationship to avoid leaking any potential conflict and drama in their new relationship, said Stephvanie Wynn, a relationship coach and licensed professional counselor in Surprise, Arizona.
They’re not totally over you
Maybe they are trying to rekindle something with you.
“They could be weighing out their options with the new person and measuring their feelings for you compared to that new person,” Wynn said. “Depending on how you parted ways, there could still be some feelings for you.”
They want to be independent
Your ex might just want to keep certain parts of their life to themselves for a little while.
“An ex may keep the new relationship hidden to assert themselves as independent of the person,” said Rashad Skinner, a social worker for Sapphire Therapeutic Services in Houston. “Your ex has shared some of their most intimate moments with you already, and keeping this new relationship hidden is a form of having something that they don’t share with you.”
They want you to move on, too
Another reason why an ex might hide their new relationship is they want you to move on just like they have.
“This person might have realized that they did not see a future with their ex and emotionally moved on sooner,” Ziskind said. “This can be very painful for an ex to see, so keeping it secret can help to prevent the ex from having a painful, hurt and sad reaction and rather encourage them to work toward their future rather than lingering in the past.”
What to do about an ex keeping their new relationship secret
It’s important to remember that you don’t lay claim to your ex. There’s a reason you broke up even if you haven’t fully accepted it just yet. You don’t have to do anything at all and likely cannot influence your ex’s actions, but here’s what you should and shouldn’t do for your own peace of mind and wellbeing.
Do: Get offline for a while
Taking a break from social media and endless Google searches will do you some good. Making the time to disconnect will hopefully make it easier to stop the gears from turning, at least for a little bit.
Don’t: Stalk either of them on social media
This is not going to do you any good. Even under the guise of finding out the truth, you are just going to drive yourself crazy playing detective.
“There is no good that comes from social media stalking or comparing yourself to the new partner or comparing the relationships,” said Jones.
Do: Give them space
Your ex is avoiding telling you about their new relationship for a reason, whether they simply didn’t think it was important for you to know or they are genuinely trying to keep it from you. It’s no longer your business and it’s best to give them space. They may volunteer the information when they’re ready.
Don’t: Reach out to the new partner
Your ex is a free agent now and it’s not your place to reach out to the new partner.
“Sometimes, exes will want to ‘warn’ the new partner,” Jones said. “But unless the new partner is in actual danger, don’t do this. It causes unnecessary drama in your life and usually ends up strengthening their new relationship anyhow.”
Do: Make time for yourself
Find time to do something you enjoy.
While it might be hard to stop obsessing, try redirecting that energy to yourself. “Focus on your well-being and take some space,” said Pagés “Is there a hobby you’ve been thinking of trying recently? Now is the time.”
Don’t: Allow yourself to overthink
Stop overthinking about the reasons your ex might be hiding their relationship.
“If it’s too much of a problem for you, and if your relationship allows it, ask them about it in a friendly manner,” Pagés said, “but prepare for potential backlash.”
Do: Prepare to hear information you may not want to hear
Your ex is hiding their relationship for a reason that may involve something you didn’t provide them. They could be dating someone you know, or the reason could be much more serious than you might have thought.
“Do set a boundary of what information you do and don’t want to discuss, even after the breakup,” Skinner said. “Keep in mind that when you start your next relationship, there may be some things your new partner may also not want to share with your ex.”
Don’t: Make an issue about the relationship when you find out
This will validate any fears your ex had in the first place, Skinner said.
“Don’t ask for more information than the ex is willing to provide,” Skinner said. “Like coaxing a deer, let the ex come to you if and when he wants to.”