signs your ex is testing you
If your ex keeps coming back into your life like that pop-up notification you can’t get rid of, it could be one of the signs your ex is testing you. They send one “Hey” and you start imagining a beach wedding. You want to move on so badly, but how can you swipe right on Tinder when your past keeps luring you?
Could your ex’s interest in you mean that there is a deep connection here that either of you hasn’t been able to sever? Or is it just a case of your ex testing the waters to see where you’re at? In all likelihood, it’s the latter.
So, how to know if your ex is testing you? And how to respond when this happens? Also, why are they doing it in the first place? Let’s find out.
Why Would Your Ex Want To Test You?
As Charlie Puth points out in his song, “You just want attention,” it’s possible that your ex is testing you because they want your attention. But it’s never that simple. Relationship coaches like Matthew Hussey point out, “The fact that your ex is testing you may have a lot to do with their loneliness. It’s not like your ex wants you. It’s more like they want somebody.”
There can be many reasons behind your ex’s behavior. Maybe they seriously want to get back with you and make amends. Or maybe they just want to get instant validation and fuel their ego. What exactly is their intention?
- If your relationship ended on a bad note, it could be that their overwhelming guilt is making them text you, or that their current relationship is worse than it was with you. Research suggests that when current relationships begin to turn sour, it may increase the appeal of an ex. Maybe they feel bad and regret that things turned out the way they did, and they want to get back together again
- They are having trouble letting go and moving on from a toxic relationship. They are too dependent on you and cannot make peace with the fact that the relationship has ended
- Most likely, they are reminiscing about the good parts of the relationship. They are a little tipsy, nostalgic, and horny, and are convinced that you’re their love interest. They miss the connection you shared before it soured
15 Signs That Your Ex Is Testing You | How To Respond?
Jenny Han wrote in her book, We’ll always have summer, “Rick was nothing but a tiny piece of her past, a piece that she would always treasure, but that was all because history is just that. History.”
But is history just history? Not really. Sometimes the past tries to creep into the present. And it causes a battle between the mind and the heart. Since the relationship ended on a wrong note, they still have feelings, however complicated, for you. When this happens, it’s not surprising to see your ex testing the waters. So what should you expect when you start seeing the signs your ex is testing you?
1. Your ex is confused
They show contradictory behavior, which shows that they’re confused about their feelings for you. For instance, one day you wake up and see their DP. And the next day, your messages are not even getting delivered.
- If they constantly block you and unblock you, it’s one of the signs your ex is trying to get your attention. You must be wondering, “Why is my ex texting me?” or “Why did my ex unblock me?” It’s a classic pattern. If you react to it, they get the validation that you are still not over them. Once they get this ego boost, they flee again
- Or they truly don’t know what they want from you. But this type of behavior can give you the wrong idea even if they didn’t intend it
2. They hate the no-contact rule
What are the signs your ex is becoming interested again? Life coach Aaron Doughty points out, “The moment you stop chasing and obsessing over someone and establish yourself in your light, the person will get attracted to you like a magnet. But if you use those energies to cling, they will resist you.”
- What are the signs your ex is trying to get your attention? They are mad at you for not staying in touch. When you broke up with them and snapped all contact, it left their ego starving. And since you established the no-contact rule, you moved away from being the ‘chaser.’ So, the moment you stopped chasing, the ball came into your court
- Signs your ex is testing you on social media could also include sending memes, a song recommendation, or an old picture of you both. So, “Why is my ex texting me on Insta?” Because they are trying to find novel ways to talk to you
Related Reading: Should You Delete Pictures Of Your Ex From Your Instagram?
3. They check your compliance
The most common reason that people test their ex-partners is to try to make out how much power they still hold over them. One of the major signs your ex is waiting for you to come back is that they expect you to comply with their needs.
- Your ex might create a fake emergency to call you. Or they may try to get you to do something. Getting back together may be the last thing on your mind, but it will feel like a win to them if you follow their instructions
- They may text you out of nowhere or ask to meet you. They may even start softening your boundaries gradually to make you go back to the good old days of your relationship
4. Your mutual friends are behaving unusually
Jules, an exchange student from London, told us about her experience, “Imagine this, out of the blue, all your mutual friends (read, your ex’s spies) are telling you how your ex is the right partner for anyone. Now the question that pops in my head is – Is my ex testing me to see if I’ve changed? I would say, yes.”
- Your mutual friends are either being overly interested in your dating life or they can’t stop raving about your ex being the right choice. It’s clear they are living in the hopes of uniting two ‘lovers’
- Your ex might also use your mutual friends to get to know when you’re at your lowest so they can contact you at ‘just the right time.’ The purpose here is to make you realize that you made a huge mistake by leaving them. When this happens, you know it’s one of the signs your ex is waiting for you to be at your lowest, so they can give you a shoulder to cry on
5. Signs your ex is testing you? They exhibit jealousy and possessiveness
If your ex is jealous of the person you are currently seeing, it could be one of the signs your ex is becoming interested again. They might put down your partner or find flaws in them in front of you. They are clearly trying to see your reaction.
- Possessiveness is a common tactic employed by narcissistic people to exert their dominance. It’s a test to see if you will comply with their demands of staying exclusive to them even though you’ve gone through a clean break
- Why do breakups hit guys later? Because they don’t know how to express their feelings maturely. How can we forget Kanye losing his calm in the song Eazy, trying to get Kim Kardashian back? Like Kanye, if your ex shows signs of hostility toward any person you go out with, then it could mean that they are still interested in you and testing you to see if you feel the same for them
Related Reading: Why Trying to Make Your Ex Feel Jealous is TOTALLY Silly!
6. They try to make you jealous
How to know if your ex is testing you? Your ex is seeing someone and they constantly rub it on your face. They are trying to get a reaction out of you. They post pictures and want to see how you respond.
- Remember the movie To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? Remember how Peter Kavinsky fakes a relationship with Lara Jean to make his ex-girlfriend jealous? If your life seems like this twisted movie plot right now, it could be because your ex is constantly testing you
- They’re trying to see your reaction to know if you’re still affected by your past relationship. They’ll ask your opinion about a person they’re seeing, and may even go into uncomfortable details to get you riled up
7. They still want to be friends with you
Their “Are you okay?” can be an act of genuine concern. Or just another way to get validation and make them feel good about themselves.
- Wanting to stay friends is just a strategy because they don’t want you to go far away. Your ex wants to keep you close enough so that they always have an option of getting back together
- They make a point to emphasize that they’re on good terms with you. So they may invite you to do the same things you did when you were together, making it difficult for you to move on
8. Signs your ex is testing you on social media? Mind games and mixed signals
On some days, they show affection. On some days, they ghost you. On some days, they reply like they are still dating you with “I love you. I miss you” texts. On others, they seen-zone you.
- Why does this hot and cold behavior happen? They are too unsure. They don’t want you back but it hurts them when you try to move on. They don’t want to take accountability for their mistakes but they don’t want to let you go
- Another major sign of your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend testing you is that they get defensive whenever you point out their behavior. This is nothing but a tactic to deflect the attention from the fact that they’ve been playing games with you
9. They try to provoke you
They may want to see how much they still affect you after you have parted ways. The intent is not to find out how much you care, but to know that they can still get under your skin.
- They may say one thing after another to push your buttons. These comments will range from snarky to offensive. This will be difficult for you as you’ve been with them and so your ex knows what affects you the most
- The provocation may not always be verbal. A Reddit user shared how his ex intentionally ignored him for a week to see how he would react. The user reported how deeply hurtful this was for him as they were in the last phase of their breakup and he was in a state of constant anxiety during that time
10. They get nostalgic
Research suggests that most people show residual feelings for their ex after a breakup. Your ex may manipulate these residual feelings you have for them. They could test you by bringing nostalgia into play, like this:
- They add nostalgic posts to their social media, especially the stuff that means (or meant) a lot to you
- They may also express nostalgia nonverbally by telling you that they’ve kept your stuff, or by making excuses whenever you try to get it back
- They may also mention good times from your relationship. Beware of this happening in their physical proximity. They might even flirt with you reminiscently and you may end up sleeping with them — but remember, that’s one of the big don’ts of breaking up with your girlfriend or boyfriend
11. They keep asking you for help
They ignore any boundaries you have and share extremely personal stuff with you. This works against a clean break, as you feel pressured to show empathy for everything they share with you.
- Do they re-enter your life after a long period of silence and start sharing personal details? For example, “Hey, I have been going through a rough patch lately. I haven’t been able to focus because my parents’ marriage is suffering.”
- They don’t acknowledge the fact that you both are broken up. They text or call you all day and expect you to reply like you did when you both were together
- They may also ask you for advice on their career, their trauma, any new relationships, or complicated family drama. This is just them trying to test if you can take responsibility for their decisions or if you can offer them emotional support whenever they need it
Related Reading: 18 Definite Signs Your Ex Will Eventually Come Back
12. They try to check if you have changed or not
My friend Serena’s ex had a drinking problem when they both dated. So, sometimes, to test him, Serena asks him how often he drinks. He asked me one day, “Why is she texting me like this? Is my ex testing me to see if I’ve changed?” I told him that she asks questions like this because a part of her hopes that he has healed over time. She thinks they can give it another shot if he has worked on his addiction instead of remaining the toxic boyfriend material he was.
- Your ex might test you to know if you’ve evolved from the version you were at the time of the breakup – if you’ve worked on your anger, your lack of clarity, your communication skills, etc.
- They may even ask you about your future aspirations or your career plans if marriage is on their mind
13. They question you with hypothetical situations
A Reddit user shared how his ex asked him multiple ultimatum-like ‘hypothetical’ questions while he was drunk. This suggested a lack of boundaries and lots of insecurities from his ex.
- Your ex bombards you with questions like: At what age do you see yourself getting married? Do you think we can give it another shot if we are in the same city? Are we more mature now as compared to when we dated? Will you be okay with me getting married to someone else?
- These questions will be deep and personal and you may notice a lack of respect for your boundaries. They may either choose to ignore your discomfort or express disappointment for not getting a response
14. They insist that they’ve moved on
If there was a time when your ex was reportedly at the peak of their life, then it was after the breakup with you. They posted motivational posts on social media, and claimed to be living their best life, yet they can’t seem to move on from you.
- They’re going on a rebound dating spree, posting pictures with different people on social media with hashtags of YOLO and carpe diem. What is interesting is that your ex wants to make sure you get to see these pictures of them dating someone, so they’ll never block you during these times. That’s how you know it’s just an act
- They insist on meeting to show you how happy they are and that they’ve changed completely from their old selves. The purpose of this test is to check your mental space after the relationship and if you are still interested in them
Related Reading: 13 Ways To Get Back With Your Ex
15. They offer emotional support
Your ex might try to resurface if you’re going through something distressing. It’s possible that they still care for you, but it could also be to see if you still have an emotional dependence on them. It’s very easy to fall for this as you’re already in a vulnerable space, and their presence acts as a familiar, soothing balm.
- You notice texts from them whenever something bad happens. They might even materialize in person
- Another way your ex might show emotional support is through favors, like offering to do chores or offering financial help. Though this behavior sounds benign, do take notice if they’re trying to get closer or ignoring any personal boundaries
What To Do If Your Ex Is Testing You?
When you notice the signs your ex is testing you, are you tempted to get back together with them? According to a study conducted on on-off relationships, it was found that on-off partners were less likely to report positives (love and understanding from partners) and more likely to report negatives (communication problems, uncertainty) than partners who had not broken up and renewed. These are the most common signs of a toxic relationship?
However, you shouldn’t always depend on stats. Here’s what you can do when your ex tests you in every interaction:
- Do not panic. Have a casual, polite, and simple conversation. Talk to them like you talk to a friend. If you are seeing someone, be honest with them
- Continue living your life. Most breakups induce a lack of dopamine, a feel-good hormone. So you might want to go back to them just to feel good, even if it feels worse later. Narcissists often use this to control people
- Don’t give them the impression that they can get you back whenever they want. Let your ex know that you’re your own person
- If you think that there aren’t any major red flags and your relationship ended because of reasons that were beyond your control, you can use the situation to your advantage. If you and your ex have matured emotionally after the breakup and you think they’re trying to make an effort for you, then there’s no harm in getting back together with your ex
- Noelle Nelson, Ph.D. psychologist and author of Dangerous Relationships: How To Identify And Respond To The Seven Warning Signs Of A Troubled Relationship, says in her book, “If you are considering reconnecting, be totally honest with yourself. Examine your motives for doing so. Don’t get back together because you’re lonely. Don’t get back together because you’re bored or afraid you will never find someone else.” Instead of looking for a meaningful relationship, if you get back with your ex just to make the same mistakes that led to your breakup, then you’re better off single
- However, it can be a tricky situation to be in and to figure out alone. This is when an expert can help you navigate your emotions with better clarity. Our counselors from Bonobology’s panel are just a click away to help you make the right decision
- Your ex could be testing you to see if you are still interested in them
- It may not always be indicative of romantic interest, sometimes people test their exes just to satisfy their egos
- If you notice your ex crossing any boundaries, talk with them. Do not compromise your space and core needs
- Analyze your options. Decide if you’re still interested in them, or if you want to move on
If you feel that your value systems are not in sync and you have been hurt enough, there is no point in hoping, waiting, and wishing that they would change and that it would be better this time. Thinking that only you can mold them into different person is a poor strategy. In such cases, it is better to make peace with your past and move on.
If your ex sends you mixed signals, they are surely confused about you. For example, on some days, they say that they are happy you are moving on. But on others, they get really possessive and jealous. These are the signs your ex is testing you and your patience.
Push pull relationships can get really frustrating. If your ex disappears the moment you give them attention, it could be that they are playing mind games with you. They just want to feed their ego by knowing that you are still not over them and they can have you back whenever they want.
If your ex asks you hypothetical questions about giving your relationship another shot, it could mean that they secretly want you back. Another sign could be them demonstrating that they have changed and evolved since the relationship ended.