She is back. The ghost of your lover’s past. The ex-wife that never goes away. The one you have dreaded ever since you started a relationship with your partner. And she is not stepping down. Our imaginations are replete with masochist ideas of our partner’s past loves, their steadier relationships, prettier exes… and glaring signs his ex-wife wants him back.
Think of the dead Rebecca, the principal character of Daphne Du Maurier’s hugely successful 1938 gothic novel Rebecca. She is dead, yet her looming presence haunts the entire novel and the life of our protagonist, who is the new wife.
When a dead ex-wife can drive a young narrator, a writer, and the reader up the walls through 80 years and 500 pages, you are not wrong in frantically looking for signs his ex-wife wants him back and wondering what you should do about it.
12 Signs His Ex-Wife Wants Him Back
Crude data speaks in favor of your suspicion. A study shows that 61% of surveyed American adults said that keeping in touch with their exes was not a good idea. However, contradicting themselves, over 51% stayed friends with their exes. This contradiction, or a denial, is where your suspicion holds ground.
This is why when your partner says, “But she has no one else”, when he keeps giving his ex-wife money, or “But we are just friends!”, after running an errand for her, you feel unshakeable pangs of doubt and insecurity in your relationship.
However, retroactive jealousy is a real possibility, where a person feels unreasonably paranoid and jealous of their partner’s past relationships. Studies have shown that rejection sensitivity in some individuals makes them more prone to feeling jealous.
That’s why it can be helpful to see if what you are feeling has any objective basis. To that end, we bring you these 12 signs his ex-wife wants him back, which can either leave you slightly worried or immensely relieved:
1. She suddenly got in touch
…and your partner seems happy about it.
Your partner and his ex may not have particularly been in touch. Until now, when she entered your lives like a bad case of flu – sudden, seemingly harmless, but nevertheless frustrating. His ex-wife recently crossed paths with him. And now she is calling him, texting him, and liking and commenting on his social media posts. Basically, she is everywhere.
However, try to look objectively at what has caused her to get in touch before coming to a conclusion.
2. She is communicating at odd hours
…and your partner is okay with it.
Not only has she barged her way into your and your partner’s life, but she also does so at inappropriate hours. Late-night texts and phone calls that she calls “butt dials” show that she is trying to compete with you for his attention. Those hours are reserved for you and she is hinting at something if she is trying to elbow you out.
You must tell your partner why he needs to set boundaries with his ex-wife if she is to stay in his life. Ideally, your partner should understand what you are asking for.
3. She is drunk dialing him
… and your partner entertains it.
Doesn’t matter if she is truly dialing him under the influence of alcohol, or if she is faking it. Point is, she is showing vulnerability to her ex-husband and playing mind games with him. She might be trying to attract him again by behaving inappropriately under the pretext of being drunk.
Maybe his ex-wife is jealous of you. Instead of fighting with your husband over his ex-wife, discuss with him why this is problematic and what he can do to dissuade this behavior.
Related Reading: 8 Examples Of Unhealthy Boundaries With Ex-Wife
4. She is sharing intimate details
… and your partner is listening intently.
The things she shared with your husband can underline her real intentions. Is she just keeping in touch in a platonic amicable way? Or is she showing clear sexual signs or signs of romantic manipulation she wants him back? Some examples of what kind of conversations you should be wary of are:
|Possibly harmless||Watch out!|
|Discussing current events||Whining about having no one in her life to love|
|Discussing the weather||Trying to make him jealous by oversharing her dating life|
|Conversations related to co-parenting||Talking about her future plans in detail|
|Mentions of her social/dating life||Talking too much about her family commitments |
(Remember, he knows her family and would likely feel drawn in!)
5. She often asks for his help
… and your partner is ready to step up.
Reaching out to him for help kills two birds with one stone. She demonstrates her willingness to be vulnerable with him. AND she gives him a chance to be a hero. Appealing to his ego by letting him be helpful, she is probably trying to rekindle an emotional connection with him.
However, do look at your partner’s response before worrying. If he willingly keeps giving his ex-wife money, doesn’t mind running errands for her, or picking her up when she is stranded, you are not wrong for fearing if he wants to get back with his ex.
6. She often alludes to their past when talking to him
…especially in your company.
His ex-wife is jealous of your relationship and is responding by trying to make you jealous if she is alluding to her shared history with your husband. She is playing mind games with you and wants to make you retroactively jealous about your partner’s past.
If you respond by wondering if he still loves his ex-wife, did he have a better time with her, was their relationship more special than yours, you are giving her exactly what she wants. Resist that urge and look at her antics for what they’re – an act of desperation. Unless your partner eagerly wanders through memory lane or plans a trip of his own, you shouldn’t worry.
Related Reading: Insecure Attachment Style In Relationships: Causes & How To Overcome
7. She posts #tbt pictures of them on social media
… the ones from the honeymoon, the ones with the kids, the ones with friends and family.
Divorce and social media are complicated territory. If she is trying to remind him, you, AND the world about their relationship, it is one of the most obvious signs his ex-wife wants him back. The caption to the old throwback honeymoon picture she just uploaded might say, “Good ol’ times!”, but that is enough to publicly remind him of their history.
If this is why you have begun feeling second to his ex-wife, you have no reason to worry. Grass often looks greener on the other side. Your life and relationship with your partner are plenty unique and solid too. After all, he did choose you, didn’t he?
8. She is trying to make him jealous
… and it is affecting your partner.
She might be trying to get your partner’s attention by doing things intended to make him jealous, or indirectly flirting with him, or instigating FOMO in him. To get you to catch our drift, here are some examples of things she could be doing:
- She keeps showing up at common parties with her new partner
- She repeatedly talks about how well she is doing
- If your partner and his ex co-parent, she persistently mentions how well her new partner and the kid/s get along
- She aggrandizes her new partner in front of your spouse in other ways
9. She speaks ill of you
… and your partner does not intervene.
If she regularly bad-mouths you to mutual friends, or worse, him, it’s a sign she wants to reconcile with him. She doesn’t have to like you or say nice things about you. But ideally, she should be happy for her ex, or not care, instead of speaking ill of the person he loves.
Don’t worry! This vile desperation is not going to get her very far. It is unattractive and may only push your partner away. However, if your partner is not defending you, it’s understandable why you fear if he still loves his ex-wife.
10. She is rekindling a connection with people in his life
… say, his best friend, his sister, or worse, his mother!
Your partner’s ex’s desperate attempts at trying to win him back may include reaching out to other important people in his life. Has she recently invited her ex-mother-in-law to catch up over an iced tea? And joined her ex-sister-in-law’s yoga glass? While sending group invites on Facebook to old common friends?
There isn’t much you can do about it, other than trust that your in-laws and friends know what’s happening and hope that they will always have your back.
11. She is taking responsibility for her part in their breakup
…. and that’s what your partner ever wanted.
If she hadn’t owned up to her mistakes until now, and all of a sudden, she expresses remorse, she may have had a change of heart. If your partner was not the one who wanted the divorce, it’s understandable why you would feel insecure if this were to happen.
However, if this is the only thing that has happened, it is possible that she did this to let go of resentment and bitterness. The fact that your partner appreciates this doesn’t mean he wants to get back with his ex. You can feel happy for him.
12. She has expressed her intention of getting back together
To be fair, this is not a sign. It couldn’t get any more straightforward than this. We understand how anxious this must have made you. But, to look at the brighter side, it is at least out there. No speculations any more. You can now approach your partner with this information and ask him how he feels and what he wants.
Related Reading: Questions You Need To Ask Your Boyfriend About His Ex
What To Do If His Ex-Wife Wants Your Husband Back
Epictetus, the Greek Stoic philosopher, had said, “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”
What he also meant was to focus instead on things that are in fact in the “power of our will” or our control. Regardless of whether your doubts are confirmed, or not, there is only one way out of this mess – to focus on what you can do. Here are a few things.
1. Rule out retroactive and reactive jealousy
The first step is to be absolutely sure that there has not been any misunderstanding and that you are not overreacting. A few things you can do to gain that objectivity is:
- Introspect. Journal. See what could be the causes for your insecurities
- Talk to a trusted friend and ask for their opinion
- See a professional counselor who can help you with advice specific to your unique situation
2. Communicate with your partner
If you feel your husband is too friendly with his ex-wife, just tell him so. If you are bothered by why he keeps giving his ex-wife money, express your concern. If you have been worrying, “He loves his ex more than me”, that is a big deal, and you have got to communicate that to him. Do it before its too late.
See how your husband responds when you point out the signs his ex-wife wants him back. Maybe he has been feeling guilty and is too scared to talk to you about it. Or maybe he has been oblivious to her intentions. Approach this issue with a solution-oriented mindset and patience.
3. Lay down boundaries
If it turns out that he has no way out of this mess – think co-parenting rules and responsibilities or a blended family – think of the boundaries that will make you feel comfortable with the new arrangement. They can be serious and conventional or seemingly silly but unique to your needs. Some examples are:
- No contact past bedtime or after hours
- You always being aware of their meetings, no matter the time
- Transparency in financial transactions between your partner and his ex
- Never grabbing an ice cream, no matter what, because that’s your thing
4. Do not let yourself be consumed
As much as you are being provoked to, do not be reactive and engage in pettiness. You might want to engage in negative gossip about her, stalk her, or confront her, try to “catch” your partner off guard, or get him to “confess”. Don’t.
To cope with this negativity, you must find healthy ways and constructive things to distract yourself with. Try these:
- Nurture an old hobby
- Join a skill development course
- Write that book you always wanted to
- Find a therapist
Related Reading: 9 Ways To Resolve Conflicts In Blended Families
5. Be kind to yourself, your partner, and your relationship
Lastly, you must be kind to yourself and love yourself. If you have a conflict-averse personality, you might try to brush your instincts under the carpet. You must remind yourself that your emotions are valid. Seek support from a trusted friend or a family member.
See if you can be patient with your partner who is stuck in a complicated and delicate situation. If there are children involved, you must understand his predicament. Look at the relationship you have built with him with kindness. Impatience and insensitivity may cause irreparable damage. You do not want to be breaking up because of his ex-wife.
- Studies have shown that rejection sensitivity in some individuals makes them more prone to feeling jealous. You must rule out a case of retroactive jealousy before worrying about your partner’s probable infidelity
- An ex can come back into your partner’s life for various legitimate reasons. You must look at her behavior in a composite way and see if it smells of trouble
- Does she call him after hours, drunk dial him, or share intimate details of her life with him? Does she bad mouth you?
- To deal with the situation you must talk to your partner, set boundaries that will make your feel comfortable, and then trust him
- Try to distract yourself with constructive engagements to not be consumed by this anxiety
The truth is it does not really matter if your partner’s ex-wife has suddenly come into his life and wants him back. What matters is what your partner wants. You cannot keep someone from doing what they want to.
However, if you say, “He loves his ex more than me”, even when he assures you he doesn’t, it is likely that there are deep-rooted trust issues in your relationship. This can be an opportunity for you to mend them and come out stronger. Consider seeking professional help to allow this healing to happen. Should you need it, Bonobology’s panel of experts is here to help you.
Some perspective might help. Everyone has a past life and we must accept the people we love with the baggage they come with. However, this does not mean that your emotions must be unfairly challenged. You can lay down some boundaries and expect your partner and his ex to respect them.
Our best response would be to ask him and see what he says. You can tell him what you need to be able to believe in him. Ideally, he should be trying his best to accommodate your requests and make you feel comfortable about his interaction with his ex.