Signs Your Ex Is Testing You & What To Do About It

When you end a romantic relationship but still stay in touch with your former partner, whether by choice or necessity, things can get messy. Boundaries need to be in place and respect must be given. But, when your ex starts acting weird or behaving inappropriately, you have to wonder what their deal is. Here are some signs your ex is testing you, why, and what to do about it.

Signs your ex is testing you

  1. They say things to deliberately provoke a reaction. Whether insulting your new partner or telling you a blatant lie, they’re trying to get you to react. They might be doing this out of revenge if they blame you for the breakup. Or, they might be trying to figure out where you stand on the breakup and if you still feel anything for them.
  2. They ask for a favor or for your help. You’re no longer with them, so you don’t really owe them anything. However, that doesn’t stop them from asking to borrow your car or some cash. Or, they might ask if you can run an errand for them or do something else outside your purview. What’s their game?
  3. They purposely cross your boundaries. They know your deal-breakers and expectations. They’ve been the same all along! However, they still step over the line and push your buttons. Are they doing it to purposely upset you? It certainly feels that way sometimes.
  4. They ask about your romantic life. This is one of the biggest signs your ex is testing you. They act like they’re totally cool with you moving on and seeing new people, but are they? Your ex could be testing you by trying to find out if you’re dating again. Not only that, but they play it cool to make it seem like they’re totally over you.
  5. They bring up happier memories from your relationship. You might reminisce privately about your past relationship, but do you really want to do it with them? By bringing up the good times you shared, they’re trying to determine where your head is at. Are you happy to wax nostalgic with them? Or, does walking down memory lane make you uncomfortable?
  6. They go no-contact without a trace. If they’re a regular presence in your life but then go AWOL without explanation, this is one of the biggest signs they’re testing you. Barring an emergency, disappearing without explanation is a deliberate move. What their purpose is remains to be seen.
  7. They dump their problems on you. You’re no longer their partner, so it’s not your job to fix things for them. Meanwhile, they’re acting like you’re their personal psychiatrist. Something is seriously amiss here, and it’s not cool.

Why they’re doing this

  1. They hate losing. If you’re the one who ended the relationship, it could be that your ex is testing you because they hate being on the “losing” side. Love isn’t a competition, but some people view it that way. When they’re not on the winning side, they’ll do anything to play with your emotions and feel powerful again.
  2. They want you back. While not always the reason for their mind games, it is pretty common. By testing you, your ex is looking for signs that you’d be keen for a reunion as well. If they get the feeling that you’d be open to it, they will try to reinitiate the relationship. Whether or not that’s a good thing is for you to decide.
  3. They’re playing games for the fun of it. Some people just have nothing better going on in their lives and think toying with people’s feelings is fun. Maybe they just haven’t moved on and still hold some bitterness from the breakup. In that case, messing with you provides them with a distraction and at least a small amount of satisfaction.
  4. They want to know where you stand. If you haven’t been vocal about your feelings for them or about the end of your relationship, this is possible. By testing you, your ex can get more of an insight into where you stand and what you’re thinking. Of course, they could just come out and ask you, but for many people, it’s easier said than done.

How to respond

  1. Don’t. You’re under no obligation to respond to your ex in any way. You’re a mature adult who has no interest in underhanded tactics. If there’s something your partner wants to know or say, they need to speak up. Testing you is not the way forward. In fact, it’s entirely unacceptable.
  2. Call them out on their behavior. If you’re sick of your ex’s behavior and no longer want to deal with it, tell them that. Point out the fact that you notice they seem to be testing you for some reason and that you don’t appreciate it. It may not make them stop, but they will be aware that you’re onto them, which should knock some sense into them.
  3. Disengage entirely. If your ex is someone who has no problem being vindictive or manipulative, you shouldn’t keep them in your life. No matter how much you’ve shared in the past and how much you still care for them, enough is enough. It may be time to cut them off completely.
Jennifer has been the managing editor of Bolde since its launch in 2014. Before that, she was the founding editor of HelloGiggles and also worked as an entertainment writer for Bustle and Digital Spy. Her work has been published in Bon Appetit, Decider, Vanity Fair, The New York TImes, and many more.