If Your Ex Thinks You're The One Who Got Away, These 3 Signs Should Be Pretty Familiar

If you enjoy romantic comedies or listen to music that puts you in your feels, you have probably heard the phrase "the one who got away." You don't have to be a Katy Perry stan to be familiar with the concept, and maybe you've even been called the one who got away. If you have, you're probably aware of how uncomfortable it can feel. To understand signs that your ex thinks you're the one who got away, I chatted with Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the podcast breakup BOOST.

When it comes to this complicated saying, context is super important. Leckie explains that at the most basic level, the phrase refers to an ex-partner that someone deeply regrets losing. She explains that seeing someone as the one who got away, "shows that the person isn’t taking ownership or accountability for why the relationship didn’t [initially] work." The attitude becomes even more problematic when your former partner continuously makes an effort to rekindle your relationship even when you've expressed you want to leave it behind.

If an ex isn't listening to what you want or if they aren't respecting your boundaries, it's totally within your right to be very clear about what you want with them. According to Leckie, the following red flags are signs that your ex sees you as the one who got away.

1They stay in contact with you.

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Leckie explains that the most prominent red flag your ex sees you this way is continuous contact. Context is important, though, because plenty of ex-partners can amicably stay in touch. The kinds of contact that fall under Leckie's red flag include persistent attempts to talk about your breakup, wanting to hang out, effort to win you over, and more. Leckie's examples of this sort of persistent contact include the following kinds of communication:

  • They try to keep in contact with you and are persistent about seeing you.
  • They beg for more chances to "win" you back.
  • They frequently express their regret around things they've said or done.

Since this person meant a lot to you, you might feel as if you should give them what they're asking for. However, just keep in mind that you don't owe an ex anything after a breakup. If you feel uncomfortable, it's OK to ask them to stop or tell them you would prefer not to talk at all. It's healthy to set boundaries.

2They try to get in touch when they see how happy you are.

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"If 'the one who got away' is off living their best life and happy in a new relationship, that can cause a person to have more regret and literally wish they were the one that you are happy with now," explains Leckie. The wistfulness of the phrase "the one who got away" is hugely important to note. It romanticizes the past a lot, and your ex could be guilty of having a "grass is greener on the other side" mentality.

If you're finally happy with a new partner, and your ex slides into your DMs, this is a huge sign that they're thinking about you in the "got away" sense. "Jealousy can also make people feel as though you were the one who got away," Leckie said.

3They didn't listen when you were dating, & still don't.

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Leckie's final red flag is about how they acted both during your relationship and after. Part of the attitude behind viewing someone as the one who got away is about denying their role in the relationship ending. "Because if their ex 'got away' it is usually because they were taking their partner for granted or not putting in effort into the relationship," says Leckie. If your ex doesn't listen to what you want and consistently tries to get back together, they probably see you as the one that got away.

You deserve to be cared for, listened to, and respected by your partners. If these red flags feel familiar, you're not alone and it's helpful to remind yourself that your breakup happened for a reason. Boundary-setting with exes is really hard, but you deserve to feel respected by partners and exes alike. Seeing the signs of a problem is the first step to solving it, so you're already on the right path.