7 Signs Your Partner's Ex Is Still Leading Them On

by Kristine Fellizar
Ashley Batz/Bustle

As hard as it can be to deal with a partner's ex, sometimes it can be inevitable. If your partner and their ex decide to stay friends that's one thing, but if you suspect that your partner's ex is still lingering somewhere in the background, they may be trying to find a way back in. In order to prevent that from happening, you should be aware of the signs that your partner's ex may still be leading them on.

First off, don't ever be hard on yourself for feeling threatened by your partner's ex. If something in your gut is telling you things are off, listen to that. In fact, as best-selling author and counselor, Connie Omari, LPC, tells Bustle, it's totally OK to feel concerned because they're your partner's ex, and there was a history there.

"At some point during the course of their life, your partner was attracted to that ex," Omari says. "Just because a relationship is over, it does not mean that it cannot be rekindled, nor does it mean that your partner is no longer interested. It is important to realize that your partner is human, and it is human nature to desire interaction with things that are familiar. Feeling threatened by your partner's ex is a normal reaction to have no matter what phase of your relationship you're in."

So here are some signs that your partner's ex may still be leading them on, according to experts.


They Make Up Excuses To Show Up At Your Partner's Place Unexpectedly

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If your partner's ex is still leading your partner on, they'll find ways to show up at their place unexpected. They may give the excuse that they forgot something at their place or they were just in the area and wanted to drop in to say hi. "This is especially normal for a relationship that recently ended," Omari says. Chances are, they might still have belongings there. But keep in mind, if someone's completely done with a past relationship, there's really no need for them to go out of their way to go to their ex's place. If this is happening, they may be using it as an excuse to interact with your partner directly, she says, to see if there are still any feelings there or the possibility of starting something up again.


They Will Contact Your Partner For Seemingly Innocent Things

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If your partner's ex tries to contact them about small things frequently, like a referral for a good place to get their car brakes fixed, they may want back in. "They will contact your partner about something seemingly innocent, but the direction will somehow stray towards personal topic like 'what happened to us?' or 'are you really happy now?'" Omari says. "The initial connection regarding the referral, will get overshadowed by the personal feelings being expressed." If your partner is not careful, they can get sucked right back in.


They Will Try To Convince You That They're Only Looking For "Friendship" With Your Partner

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Your partner's ex may try to convince you both that they're looking for friendship, which can be the case, unless they seem to be crossing boundaries. Take note if your partner's ex calls you jealous, or tries to make it seem like you're the problem. "This is especially true for ex-partners who feel that they have more 'rights' to your partner due to their longer history with them," Omari says. "By referring to you as jealous, your partner's ex will try to do anything to discredit you." If you bring up the fact that you're uncomfortable with your partner being friends with their ex and their ex manages to turn it around on you, that's a major red flag to watch out for.


They Will Try To Be Friends With You

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If your partner is still friends with an ex, their ex may try to be your friend too, especially if they plan to include you in hangouts. But if your partner's ex wants to befriend you out of nowhere, be mindful of their motivations. "They may just want to gain your trust so they can plant ideas in your head and steal your partner," Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. This may also be a way for them to keep up with what's going on in your relationship. If this is the case, trust your gut. Not every single one of your partner's exes is going to want your partner back. But if the conversation starts to take a weird turn, just be careful of that.


They're Still "Liking" Your Partner's Posts On Social Media

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A person's social media behavior can say a lot. If your partner's ex suddenly starts tagging them in random memes or throwback photos, pay attention. "Be careful," Backe says. "Once they start liking photos, they may end up sliding into your partner’s DM’s." If your partner's ex is behaving in ways that are making you uncomfortable, bring it up with your partner. Again, you're not "paranoid" for being concerned. You have a right to feel secure in your relationship.


They're Still Trying To Stay Close With Your Partner's Family And Friends

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There's nothing wrong with staying friendly with an ex's family or friends, especially if you've been together for a long time. But there's a difference between being friendly and actively trying to stay friends. As dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle, this usually means that their ex is trying to stay in the good graces of those whose opinions they value most. This may not apply to every situation, but if your partner values the opinion of their family and friends, their ex may see them as a way back in.


They're Still Turning To Your Partner When They Need Someone To Confide In

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If your partner's ex is asking them to do things that are usually "sacred" to a romantic relationship, couples therapist Amy Bishop, M.S. tells Bustle, you should consider this a red flag. "Common signs of an ex trying to sabotage a relationship usually have to do with poor boundaries," she says. There's nothing wrong with someone wanting to open up and share things with a person they used to do that with. But your partner should not be their ex's main source of emotional support. They should focus on being yours.

If your partner's ex is too close for comfort, the best way to handle this is to set clear boundaries. "Inform your partner that you are uncomfortable about their interactions with their ex and also set clear boundaries," Omari says. "Make it clear, that contact with their ex is a violation of your right to feel secure in your relationship." If your partner really wants to be with you, they will listen. They will take your concerns seriously and respect your feelings, so that you can find a way to handle their ex without compromising your sense of security in the relationship.