If Your Partner’s Ex Ever Does These 8 Things, They Want Them Back
If your partner's ex is still in the picture, you might wonder if they're more than just friends — especially if the ex has begun to do or say things that seem to be crossing the line. The occasional text is one thing. But what if your partner's ex texts them every day? Or sends them gifts? Or likes all of their posts on social media?
While it may be totally platonic, "if it seems inappropriate or like the ex has an agenda to get back together, you should insist on setting boundaries," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. This is especially true if it's stressing you out, or causing you to question your relationship.
At that point, you'll want to talk with your partner and agree on what's OK and what isn't, when it comes to exes. "If your partner doesn’t see the problem, then it shows a lack of awareness and possibly a lack of respect for the relationship," Bennett says. But if they're solidly with you — and have no feelings, or intentions of getting back with their ex — it shouldn't be a problem to create healthy boundaries. Here are a few signs their ex may still have feelings for them, as well as what to do about it.
1. They Follow Your Partner Closely On Social Media
Social media exists, in many ways, to keep people in contact with folks they don't see every day. So if your partner's ex is going to speak with them anywhere, it'll likely be on there. And that's OK.
It's all about whether or not they're going overboard, and the intention behind it. "If your partner’s ex actively engages [their] social media, it’s a red flag," Bennett says. "This could include liking statuses and photos often, frequent comments, and a generally inappropriate level of engagement."
Keep in mind, it doesn't really matter if your partner is responding back. If the ex's comments make you uncomfortable or cause you to question the security of your relationship, speak up. By discussing with your partner where the line should be, in terms of contact with exes, you can ensure that everyone feels comfortable.
2. They Show Up At Social Events
If everyone's friendly with each other, then it's not a big deal if your partner's ex comes along as part of a group to big get-togethers — especially if they attend with their own partner.
Take note, however, if the ex seems to be wriggling their way back into your partner's life by arriving at parties they know your partner will be at, seemingly with the intention of talking to them.
"If an ex is constantly trying to insert [themselves] into social events with your partner’s family and friends, it’s a possible sign of deeper feelings," Bennett says. "You and your partner should be attending these events together. It’s inappropriate for the ex to be there, too."
3. They Don't Invite You To Hangout
While it's perfectly fine for your partner and their ex to remain friends, if the ex wants to meet up with your significant other — and doesn't invite you along, or seem interested in meeting you — that may mean there's more going on than friendly communication.
"An ex who tries to get your partner away from you to spend time alone could be more than just friends," Bennett says. "There is no reason why exes should be alone for long periods of time with your partner."
It's one thing if they grab a quick cup of coffee, especially if you're aware of the meeting and are OK with it. But you may want to establish healthier boundaries if the ex is trying to see your partner more frequently.
4. They Text Your Partner Every Day
If the past is truly in the past, the ex should be moving on and starting their own new relationship. So take note if they haven't done so, and are instead talking to your partner every single day as if they were still together.
"Whether it’s phone calls or texts," talking to your partner every day is a sign the ex may be trying to be more than just friends, therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, tells Bustle.
If you aren't comfortable with the 24/7 communication, let your partner know. "You should speak with your partner as it is up to them to set the boundary," Hershenson says. "Be clear that you do not like what is going on and what you need from them." If your partner doesn't have any intention of being with their ex, they'll put a stop to it.
5. They Send Them Personal Gifts
If your partner's ex is still sending them gifts every holiday, it may be something worth talking about, especially "if they give them meaningful gifts such as pictures of them together," Hershenson says. This is a pretty clear sign the ex still has feelings, and it may even mean the two of them are more than just friends.
If you aren't sure what's going on, "the best thing to do is speak to you partner about their intentions," Hershenson says. Your partner may not realize the gift giving is making you uncomfortable. It's also possible they haven't realized their ex still has feelings. After all, they're with you and not their ex. But it may still be helpful to set up a few boundaries, so that everyone's on the same page.
6. They Get Mad When Your Partner Doesn't Respond
If the ex gets upset when your partner doesn't respond to them right away, that's another sign they still have feelings. "For example: if the ex is blowing up their phone with phone calls or text messages ... this may be a sign that that [person] perceives the relationship to be more than just friends," psychologist Dr. Danielle Forshee tells Bustle.
And it'll be up to your partner to put a stop to it. "It may be that your partner is simply having guilt about the fact that they know that their ex is still very sad about not being together," Dr. Forshee says. But that doesn't mean they have to continue contact, especially when you're all trying to move on.
7. They Talk More Than What Is Necessary
If your partner communicates with their ex because they have kids together, then it's obviously fine for them to talk — and frequently. But there may still be feelings there if the conversations often go beyond their to-do lists as parents.
"Even if your partner and their ex have kids between them, there should not be daily communication on a regular basis," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "If there are kids then the communication should be focused on the kids, schedules etc." Anything beyond that may be worth talking about, if it makes you uncomfortable, especially since it can hinder the two of you moving on.
8. They Call For Life Advice
Depending on how long they were together, the ex may talk with your partner in a friendly way about life, ask for advice, and so on. But it may be a red flag if they call all the time and really lean on your partner for support — especially if your partner encourages it.
"If your partner and their ex consult with one another frequently for life advice and insight, they may still have feelings," Dr. Klapow says. "There may be an occasion where because of the past they need to discuss something. But in general, your partner and their ex should not be regular confidants."
And keep in mind that there's a big difference between an ex who still has feelings, and a partner who returns those feelings — so don't jump to conclusions. "An ex who is coming on to your partner can be managed," Dr. Klapow says. "A partner who is more than friends with their ex is a much bigger problem." But you won't know until you ask.
If convos like these make you uncomfortable, let your partner know. It's possible they're just communicating out of habit, or platonic friendliness. But if it stresses you out, it's OK to ask about their intentions and set up boundaries.