Going back to an ex is tricky business. People who are truly meant to be together always find a way back to each other, right? Sort of. There are also people who return to dysfunctional relationships time and time again, thinking their breakup-to-makeup business will someday work. (It’s happened to the best of us.) And then, there’s a special population of us who feel like whole new liberated humans once we exit a toxic relationship. Getting a "miss you" text from ex is like opening your eyes on a Monday morning and realizing you don't have to go to work.
But… what if you two broke up on relatively amicable, friendly terms and then, boom — out of nowhere — they unfollow you on Instagram, leaving you to ask yourself, “did he unfollow me for attention?” or “does she not want to be in my life anymore?” That situation can be confusing and even hurtful. But it also might be a sign your ex still isn’t over you.
Anecdotally, ages ago, my ex unfollowed me — after a relatively drama-free breakup — and I convinced myself that he hated me. Surely, he was covering a dartboard with pictures of my face at that very moment, right? Years later, I’d find out that he was just trying to launch a new, professional Instagram account and had automatically unfollowed everyone who wasn’t a car brand or dealership, including his closest pals. But again, past relationships are tricky, and the signs — be they social unfollows, drunk texts, or arguments with your new flame — can be hard to read.
If you’re getting mixed signals and wondering how to know if your ex is over you (or not), don’t worry: the experts are here to help. Elite Daily spoke with a series of love coaches, breakup coaches, and therapists to find out what your ex’s actions might mean. Here are five signs your ex may not be over you (plus some pro advice on what to do next).
Your Ex Unfollows You On Social Media
Now, there are a number of reasons an ex might choose to unfollow you. Maybe they really have moved on and feel ready to rip the bandage off. Maybe they’re feeling a little salty about how well you’re doing and they just can’t stand to see it. Or maybe (maybe!), they’re still harboring feelings for you.
No matter the reason, remember that this may not be the worst thing for either of you.
“There really is no advantage to staying connected on social media after a breakup.” Erica Gordon, millennial dating expert, founder of The Babe Report and author of Aren't You Glad You Read This?, previously told Elite Daily. "For the sake of your emotional well-being, you should always unfollow your ex from social media, especially if you’re not over [them]!”
Your Ex Is Still Commenting On Your Posts
Conversely, if and when a salty ex isn't deleting you from every platform imaginable, they may be doing the opposite: Totally obsessing over your posts. Which might have you thinking, “Um, why is my ex commenting on my social media?”
“[This is especially true] if previously they were quite reserved about making comments on IG feeds or liking your pics, but suddenly they're all over your channels, making positive comments or adding hearts or emojis,” she previously told Elite Daily. “This can be an indication that they want your attention.”
From your end, you can either block your ex or just keep posting those poppin’ selfies. Either way, they’ll probably scram eventually.
Your Ex Drunk-Texts You
I'm a firm believer that everything done while on the alcohol is exactly what a person would do if they released their inhibitions while sober. Breakup coach Chelsea Leigh Trescott agrees.
“When their defenses are down, (thank you, alcohol), any emotions they’ve been suppressing and actions they’ve resisted taking are likely to rise to the top and feel like priorities that must be engaged,” Trescott previously told Elite Daily. “Because people are more impulsive when they drink, any actions that are taken while under the influence are often pursued because the person is looking for emotional relief.”
If you’re not at all interested in maintaining contact, Trescott recommends drawing a line in the sand.
“Say that the relationship has run its course, and that if and when you are ready to connect, you will reach out," she says. "And ask them to respect that boundary."
(Off-the-record, if they were an especially terrible partner and you’re feeling really petty? Open the text and leave your ex on “Read.” Nothing says “never again” like an unanswered drunk text.)
Your Ex Insults Your New Partner
Let’s say your ex is picking fights with you and your new partner. It’s illogical, yes, but it’s surprisingly common (and definitely ego-driven). Chances are, your ex didn’t know how to treat you right, and now that you’re starting to move on, they’re directing these frustrations and regrets at your new S.O.
While this may be a sign your ex isn’t over you, it’s important that you don’t let this impact your budding relationship.
"The hallmark of a healthy relationship is one where the couple remains connected, despite external or internal stressors,” NYC-based relationship expert and love coach Susan Winter previously told Elite Daily. “No matter how great the challenge at hand, both individuals commit to working it out, together. They look at each other as their teammate, their partner, their confidant, and their support system.”
Your Ex Is Saying You Want Them Back (When You Don’t)
If your ex is spreading rumors and claiming you want them back (when you definitely do not, thank you very much), it’s probably because they want this to be true. When someone constantly brags about a past partner lusting after them, nine times out of 10, they’re the ones doing the lusting.
Is it infuriating? Absolutely. But remember: It’s more to their detriment than yours.
“There are certain relationships [that we hold] throughout our lives,” James Guay, LMFT previously told Elite Daily. “And that’s OK… As long as it’s not getting in the way of [you] being present and enjoying your life now.”
Telling lies and making false claims is definitely getting in the way of your ex’s capacity to enjoy their life; don’t let it get in the way of yours.
Your Ex’s New Partner Looks Just Like You
Sure, maybe your ex has a type, as many of us do. (Gentlemen with British accents and foppish hair, please form an orderly queue.) But when your ex’s new partner could literally steal your face? That’s an indicator that they’re trying to inject a little bit of you into their next relationship.
If you’re also finding yourself going for folks who look and act like your ex, maybe take some time to evaluate which characteristics you’re really after in a future partner.
"Take a step back and understand what characteristics you are drawn to and if those are healthy for creating a sustaining relationship," Tyler Turk, CEO and founder of Crated With Love, previously told Elite Daily.
Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach
Susan Winter, NYC-based relationship expert and love coach
James Guay, LMFT, content creator and licensed therapist
Tyler Turk, CEO and founder of Crated With Love
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