Your partner’s ex. Yes, her. Even though it’s been a while since they broke up, you can still feel her presence haunting you. She’s in your bed, on your couch when you cuddle up watching Netflix, and even at your brunch dates. No matter what you do, you can’t shake the suspicion that she’s the one he’s thinking about when he stares off at the ceiling late at night, that she’s become this unattainable paragon of perfection that you can’t possibly compete with.
You can never truly know what someone you’re dating is thinking or how he truly feels. There’s no point in being paranoid and reading immense meaning into every single word or action, and doing so can actually jeopardize an otherwise good relationship. That being said, there are some telltale sign that indicate a man isn’t over an ex, and if they’re present, you might want to proceed with caution to avoid getting hurt. And for more red flags you should watch out for, read The Real Reasons Why People Cheat.
He Mentions Her All the Time
It’s normal to talk about past experiences in a relationship, but if he willfully brings her up in every conversation, it’s a surefire sign that he hasn’t moved on and it’s on his mind all the time.
He Compares the Two of You
“One sign that your partner misses their ex is that they openly compare you to them,” therapist and relationship expert Sarah E. Clark told Bustle. “Even if they are complimenting you in the comparison, it is typically not a good thing. It’s natural to occasionally think about and compare or contrast things about the people we’ve dated, but if your partner voices those comparisons, it means that they are thinking about them more than what is healthy.”
He Says He’s Not Ready for a New Relationship
Sometimes, when people say this, it’s just because they’re scared of being vulnerable with someone new again. But if he says that the reason that he doesn’t want to be in a new relationship is because he was so damaged by his previous one, it might indicate that the breakup still feels fresh in his mind, no matter how long ago it was. And for more relationship advice, here are The Real Reasons Why People Cheat.
He’s Cagey about Discussing a Past Relationship
I dated a man once who clearly wasn’t over his ex, and the telltale sign was that while he was fairly open about everything else, when I asked him if he was over her, his response was, “Yea, totally…I mean, you always still have some feelings, right?” Not a promising answer.
He Refuses to Discuss Her at All
It’s not a good sign if a man talks about his ex all the time, but if he outright refuses to broach the topic, that’s not great either, as it indicates there’s still a lot of hurt feelings there that he hasn’t dealt with and can’t even bear to broach.
“You may be suspicious or insecure about your partner’s ex,” relationship psychotherapist Lena Derhally told Bustle “If you bring it up and they shut down or refuse to engage in a conversation about your concerns, it’s a red flag that something may be up.” And for more expert advice on love, read up on why This Regret-Filled Widower Has the Most Touching Relationship Advice Ever.
He’s Still Angry
There’s a great Sex and the City episode in which Carrie’s new boyfriend, Berger, flips off his answering machine when he gets a message from his ex-girlfriend, who cheated on him.
Carrie realizes that this amount of anger is a sign that while he may not still be in love with his ex, he’s also not over what happened between them. As they say, there’s a thin line between love and hate.
They Still Hang Out
It’s completely possible to be friends with an ex, but there’s a line. If they keep in touch on social media and get a drink every so often, that’s fine. But if they see each other all the time, go away for weekends, or even plan trips together, it’s a surefire sign he’s still holding on for dear life. And if you’re in a rocky marriage, here’s How to Tell if Your Marriage Is in a Rough Patch—Or Something Way Worse.
He Prioritizes Her Over You
On the most basic level, how serious someone is about you comes down to how much time they make for you, regardless of how busy they are. If a guy would rather see a movie with his ex on his one free night than hang out with you, it might be time to pull the plug.
Everything Reminds Him Of Her
If you’re discussing relationship dynamics, and he says, “Yea, my ex and I talked about that all the time,” that’s normal. Or if you propose a trip to Bora Bora, and he says, “Oh, yea, I went there once with my ex, it’s beautiful,” that’s also normal. But if you suggest getting a sandwich, and he says, “Oh, yea, my ex loved BLTs,” that means she’s still very much on his mind.
He Always Mentions the Same Ex
Some people are more comfortable talking about their love lives than others, and if someone brings up a variety of exes when discussing relationship dynamics, it’s probably just a way of illustrating their point with concrete examples. But if he always mentions the same ex, over and over again, she’s clearly got a special hold on his heart.
The Breakup Wasn’t His Choice
Some people have a hard time breaking things off, which means that by the time their partner suggests calling it quits, they are relieved more than anything. But, oftentimes, getting dumped leads to lingering feelings of longing, pain, and regret. So if there’s only one question that you can ask about the ex, it should be who was the one to initiate the breakup.
He’s Called You By Her Name
Unless you have the same name, this is a pretty glaring Freudian slip.
He Asks Mutual Friends About Her
Breakups aren’t just hard on the people involved, they also make things awkward for the people who are still in touch with both parties. As such, social protocol mandates that neither person ask about the ex when they’re in conversation, especially in a group setting, and particularly when the new person is present.
If the friend does mention the ex, it’s perfectly polite for him to say, “Oh, yea, how’s she doing?” But if he follows that up with, “What did she say about me?” “Is she seeing anyone?” and so forth, that’s not a good sign.
He Compliments Her a Lot
It can be a sign of emotional maturity to admit that just because things didn’t work out doesn’t mean your ex is a bad person. But if he’s put her up on some sort of pedestal, and describes her as the funniest/most beautiful/most talented person he’s ever met, that’s no good.
He Hangs on to Sentimental Items
If they keep sentimental items from their past relationship out in obvious places, it may mean that they are missing their ex,” Clark told Bustle . “It’s OK to hang on to pictures and other keep sakes from past relationships — it’s part of your past. However, if those things are in obvious places where you and everyone else will see them often that may mean something about how they are feeling about their past relationship, as well as being disrespectful to the new relationship.”
He Only Wants to Go to Places He Visited With His Ex
There’s no reason to place a ban on a great brunch place just because he used to go there with his ex, but if he only ever wants to go to places he visited with her, it may be a sign that he’s using you as a replacement for what was lost.
“By recreating the same old patterns, they are vicariously living through their old relationship and stifling your new one,” relationship expert Vikki Ziegler told Bustle. “If your partner is ready to create a life with you, they will be eager to make new memories in fresh places which don’t have the footprint of a past relationship.”
They Still Hang Out With Their Ex’s Family
Unless they were friends beforehand, there’s no reason for him to be spending his afternoon going to the zoo with her sister. It’s sad, but, as is the case with mutual friends, there are always casualties involved in a breakup, and family members are at the top of the list.
He Listens to a lot of Emo Rock
If all he listens to are songs about lost love, then it’s a pretty good reflection of his emotional state.
He Stalks Her on Social Media
If you walk into your room and find him passed out on the bed looking at photos of her recent trip to Italy, head for the hills.
He’s Deleted All of Their Photos
When you’re moving on, it’s normal to delete all of the photos on social of you being lovey-dovey, as it can be a source of pain. But, at a certain point, you should be able to see a photo pop up of two of you together and think, “Aww, that was a nice time in my life. What do I want for breakfast?” If he’s not there yet, he’s probably not over it.
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