How To Tell If Your Ex Wants You Back

Nothing ruins your day in such a weirdly gut-churning way like your ex trying to bounce back into your life. It makes you ask a thousand questions, which is annoying. You have no reason to be spending this much thought on him anymore and yet you can’t stop yourself. The main question, of course, is this: is he trying to get back together? If he is, he’s probably done some of the following.

  1. He reignites an inside joke out of nowhere. You haven’t heard from your ex in months, and suddenly you get a text message of a meme, a song, or a movie quote that you can’t quite place. When you see he sent it, you’re reminded of a random joke you two shared during your relationship. Aw, he was thinking of you – how sweet! Don’t be fooled, girl. That’s what he wants you to think.
  2. He goes through your social media. Only an idiot goes through an ex’s Facebook or Instagram and likes everything new that they post. Hopefully your ex is that obvious brand of idiot, otherwise, the “occasional” likes can progress into comments, and before you realize what’s happening he’s regularly engaging in your status updates and photos. He’s thinking about you and wants you to know it. It might seem romantic, but the fact that he won’t actually reach out just makes him a sneakier idiot.
  3. He only has negative opinions about your current relationship. Any comment he makes about the guy you’re with is drenched with negativity, which he will write off as “concern for you.” Just because you trusted him in the past doesn’t mean that you should now. He doesn’t have your interests at heart, he has his. He wants you to over-analyze every little iota of your current love life in the hopes that you’ll come crawling back to something familiar.
  4. He doesn’t like how you’ve changed. Change is a good thing, but your ex will frame it like it’s a bad thing in order to guilt you. Some examples: you didn’t work out so much when you were with him, so clearly you didn’t care as much about your appearance during your relationship; you wear less makeup now, you must have been trying to hide yourself from him back then. In your guilt, maybe you’ll try to be better this time.
  5. He likes how you’ve changed too much. Alternately, he might like the person you’ve become and want a taste of the new you. While it feels good to have an ex see how great you’re doing without them, it’s probably best to keep it that way: without him. After all, if it was meant to be, you would have improved during your relationship instead of afterward.
  6. He tries to take credit for your accomplishments. If you get a promotion and his first reaction is to remind you that it was his idea for you to apply for the job in the first place, don’t engage. Either he’s trying to share in your success so you’ll look to him for more, or he’s trying to remind you of how good he was for you. Your life is yours. Maybe he helped you in the past, but it doesn’t mean he will in the future.
  7. He overshares about his love life. Because relationships are such a huge part of life, it’s normal to mention finding someone new when catching up. But if he feels compelled to tell you about every sexual conquest he’s had, or if he gushes about how amazing his new woman is to the point where you doubt such a perfect woman could exist, he’s trying to make you jealous.
  8. He comes to you for help too much. Boundaries are important. Maybe he really does need someone to talk to, and if you’re comfortable helping out, fine. But if he reaches out again and again because “you’re the only one he can open up to,” you need to remind him that you are no longer dating, and he is not your responsibility. He’s a big boy. He can get a real therapist. Save your emotional strength for your future, not his.
Johanna is a proud longtime resident of the Finger Lakes in Western New York and a gaudy jewelry enthusiast. This ambitious early-thirty-something can often be found declining event invites on Facebook and looking at pictures of her niece while she drinks wine on her couch, accompanied by her beloved dog, Dorothy Barker.