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10 Signs Your Ex Is Testing You (And What You Can Do)

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We’d never have to see or hear from toxic exes again. The one who got away would stay away, and we’d find someone else to love.

The ones we’d like to keep around would become great friends with no hard feelings. But the world is not ideal. 

Most breakups are messy because feelings are messy.

Even the most mature and rational person can behave in irrational and even manipulative ways while handling overwhelming emotions.

Sometimes, your ex will even test you. It may not always be intentional, but there are some easy signs to tell if it’s happening to you.

Here are 10 signs your ex is testing you:

1. They like your social media status.

Let’s all be honest: Social media stalking happens.

While most relationship experts will tell you not to do it and will even suggest blocking them to help you resist temptation, most of us have — at some point in our lives — checked to see how an ex is doing.

It’s not a good look for us, but it’s an entirely human impulse.

However, if an ex who is no longer involved in your life starts liking your posts and pictures, they may be testing the waters.

There are many reasons for doing this, and it all depends on the relationship.

They might want you back, want to be friends, or just want to remind you of their existence. Toxic exes might even be using this as a form of harassment and intimidation.

What to do about it

What to do about this behavior depends entirely on how you feel about your ex.

If you would ever consider repairing the relationship and reuniting, you might want to test the waters right back — or, and this is the more direct route, you may want to privately message them to ask what their intentions are for contacting you.

If you would consider dating them again, you might want to find out if they’re looking for a reunion, a friendship, or something else.

If the ex was toxic, you can block them. In fact, anyone who would openly harass, bother, or intimidate you should make the block list automatically. Protect your space and energy.

Don’t let them in your social spaces.

Are you over the romantic relationship but would like to be friends again? It might be important to clarify that while you would consider a friendship, you are not willing to consider a future relationship.

It may seem cruel to point that out, but if your ex is testing you, it’s important to be kind and clear. Don’t let them have false hope just to keep them around for when you need the ego boost.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Know You're Really Ready To Date Again After A Toxic Relationship

2. They make contact.

Making contact is one of the clearest signs your ex is testing you, but all the reasons I just mentioned still apply.

Plus, there’s an additional reason why they may reach out.

They could want you back, want a friendship, or just want to bother you, but they could also be looking for some type of closure to the relationship. It all depends on the context.

If you receive a text or another form of contact, check in with your feelings. Are you annoyed to hear from them? Excited? Angry? Indifferent?

It’s important to note how you feel to decide what you’re going to do about it.

What to do about it

Just because an ex makes contact doesn’t mean you have to respond. In fact, you’re within your rights not to, and no one should demand a response from you.

If the contact is unwelcome, blocking is always the best option. If, however, you do choose to respond, you get to set the tone for the contact.

A polite yet formal response could acknowledge receipt of the message without encouraging future contact.

Another option could be setting a boundary with them. If you don’t want future contact, tell them so. If you are okay with contact but don’t want to take a walk down memory lane with them, say that.

If what they need is closure, you don’t have to be the one to provide it.

If you do choose to have a conversation, it could be that you’re seeking some type of resolution to the relationship, too. It could help you heal to talk it out after both parties have had time to process the breakup.

3. They try to make you jealous

One of the most common signs an ex is testing you is they try to make you jealous.

If you’re in contact with your ex, they may try to tell you about their new dating life or love interest to make you jealous.

They go out of their way to communicate about it, and they seem overly interested in your reaction to the news.

If you’re only in contact on social media, they may post loved-up selfies or other photos that let you know that they’re having the time of their life without you.

It isn’t mature, but it’s honest to admit that we all want to be missed by people who meant something to us.

We’d like to think that they’ll never find anyone better than us — but that’s not real love. Love is hoping they find the right person for them even if it’s not us.

Anyone who has ever tried to make someone jealous likely knows that it may get a reaction, but it’s rarely a desirable one.

What to do about it

The real question is this: Are you jealous? If so, that’s natural. Even if you’ve moved on, you could still have feelings about them moving on.

At the same time, you might be jealous because you do still have feelings for them and hold out hope that one day you’ll get back together.

You could try to make them jealous right back, but that’s not the mature or healthy way to handle it. Instead, let them know that you don’t want to hear details of their dating life.

Set that boundary and be clear that you’re uncomfortable with them sharing this with you given your former relationship.

It’s okay to have feelings about it and still not want them back. It’s also okay if you still do.

4. They try to sleep with you

It’s a pretty clear sign that they’re testing you if they try to sleep with you.

Let’s be clear — sleeping with exes is a bad idea. If you still have feelings, you might think it means something when it doesn’t. If you don’t have feelings, they may get the wrong idea.

It muddies the waters, and it can really get in the way of your healing — and theirs, too.

Don’t assume you know what this sign means. It could mean anything. It could be their way of finding closure, or it just might mean they got lonely.

They could even be testing your loyalty to them to see if they could still have you when they want you. They might genuinely want you back.

What to do about it

Decide what you want, but even more than that, look at the consequences. If you still care about them but don’t think they feel the same about you, sleeping with them could be a terrible choice.

If it’s the other way around, know that it’s not okay to use someone’s feelings against them. If you know they want a meaningful relationship, but you just want a sexual one, be better than that.

Make the right choice for both of you and move on.

If you think they might want to get back together and you’re open to it, have a conversation.

Ask what they want. Tell them what you want. Don’t impulsively make this decision or do it when you’re under the influence. Make sure you do what’s best for you, not just what feels good in the moment.

RELATED: Women Who Escape Toxic Relationships Do These 12 Things To Stay Out Of Them Forever

5. They keep bringing up your history

If the ex that you still talk to keeps bringing up the “good old days” of when you were together, you could be stuck in a relationship loop.

If you’re trying to move on, they may have strong feelings about it.

Bringing up the past and taking walks down memory lane may be their way of dealing with those feelings and assuring themselves that what you two had together was special.

Or it could be a way to test the waters to see if you remember the relationship being as good as they do.

Are they trying to rewrite history? Do they remind you of the good times but never mention the challenges?

An ex who has yet to own up to their part in the relationship’s demise isn’t ready for a new relationship — with you or anyone else. They’ve got more healing to do.

What to do about it

It all comes down to communication and boundaries. If you don’t want to keep talking about the past, let them know.

Suggest that they find another friend to talk about it with because you don’t want to reminisce. Remind them that you’re moving on and living in the present and not the past.

If being reminded of the good times tempts you to try again, ask yourself a few things. Has anything essential really changed? Do you want the same things out of life and for the future?

Are you truly compatible or just attracted?

How much healing have you both done, and can you openly talk about what went wrong and how to correct that going forward? The answers will indicate if it’s a good idea to try again or if it’s better to leave the past behind you.

6. They ghost you

Did your ex totally disappear after the breakup? There are a few reasons why this happens.

  • You were toxic, and they are done with it.
  • They are focused on their healing and needed to remove you from their life in order to stay committed to their breakup recovery.
  • They want you to miss them and think ghosting you will help that happen faster.

If they are just disappearing so you’ll want them back, you’re being tested. It never feels good when someone disappears from us when we still care about them, but breakups are uncomfortable.

We have to adjust to how things are going to be and acknowledge that they won’t look or feel the same.

If you initiated the breakup, that might be a good thing, but you’re still allowed to have mixed feelings about it. If you were the one broken up with, it can be difficult to let go.

What to do about it

People have the right to ghost you. Trust that they know what’s best for them. It may not even be personal.

Sometimes, blocking someone we still love is the only way to keep from going back to check on them and putting ourselves through the hurt that causes. It’s not always meant to be a punishment. Sometimes, it’s an exercise in self-control.

Most relationship experts will also tell you that it’s a good idea to have at least a 60-day no-contact rule following a breakup. Someone ghosting you could be their way of following this rule and concentrating on their healing. Embrace it.

After a period of no contact, you may decide you still want to be friends, or you may even question if ending the relationship was the right move.

Whatever you decide, allow the ghosting to give you time to address your feelings rather than worrying about theirs.

7. They ask mutual friends about you

This is one of the most common signs an ex is testing you.

Are they constantly checking up on you through mutual friends? It’s natural for exes to be curious, but if this happens a lot, they could be testing you.

If they know your friends will tell you they asked about you, they may be trying to reconnect.

They could just be feeling nostalgic and still care about you.

See why assuming is a bad idea? You might think they want to be with you again when they really just want to know if you’re happy. Of course, this is never true of abusive exes.

They might just be trying to get inside your head.

What to do about it

The rule for toxic exes is always to block them, but you can also ask mutual friends not to keep your ex informed about your life. Good friends will respect your right and need for privacy.

For other exes, you might want to set the same boundary with friends, or you might want to reach out to them directly to let them know that you’re aware they asked about you.

Do you want to try again, or are you ready to be friends? Be clear about what you want before you open the door to reconnecting.

RELATED: No Contact Means No Contact: 5 Reasons Cutting Off A Toxic Ex Is The Only Way To Heal

8. They try to find out your relationship status

Does your ex ask if you’re seeing anyone? Trying to find out your relationship status is a clear way your ex is testing you. They want to know if you’re available.

Maybe they don’t want you but don’t want anyone else to have you either, or it could be that they miss you and want to see if you’re involved with anyone else yet.

This can be awkward. I had an ex I remained friends with for a while, and I never wanted to talk about people I was dating.

Even though he’d broken up with me, I had big feelings about trying to move on.

I’d have much rather stayed with him, but when that wasn’t an option, it felt strange to communicate about going out on dates to someone I had an intimate relationship with for so long.

It felt inappropriate, and I could tell that he had feelings about me moving on, too.

What to do about it

If you’re going to stay friends with an ex, you need to talk about how you’re going to handle this.

When you truly love someone, you want them to be happy, but that doesn’t mean you want to hear about them being happy with someone who isn’t you.

Setting some boundaries for communication can help both of you feel more comfortable with this transition.

At the same time, feel free to tell your ex that it’s none of their business. You don’t have to keep them informed. It can even feel intrusive.

9. They show up where you are

Does your ex just happen to show up at the coffee place you regularly visit? Are you constantly running into them? Showing up where you are is a test. Or a coincidence. It depends.

If you live in the same general vicinity, this is bound to happen. If it keeps happening too frequently to be coincidence or proximity, it’s likely intentional and designed to get a reaction out of you.

What to do about it

If it makes you uncomfortable, tell them. If it feels harassing, tell someone else. Report it. Don’t let someone intimidate you or make you feel threatened just because you have a shared history.

If you find that seeing them brings up other feelings, it could be time to reconnect as friends or lovers. Is that something you’re open to or something you know isn’t in your best interests?

Only you can decide that.

10. They vague-post on social media

Is your ex making vague, sad, or nostalgic posts on social media about love, dating, and breakups?

Are you the target of passive-aggressive memes?

They could be trying to let you know that they’re thinking about you. It’s a way to get to you without having to make the first move.

It could also be unrelated to you. Maybe they just found it moving. Maybe it is about you but wasn’t meant for your eyes. Vague posts are intentionally vague. No response is required.

What To Do About It

If you want to be petty, vague book right back at them. You could do that all day. It might feel satisfying at the moment, but it won’t make you feel any better in the long run.

Address it directly or not at all. Those are the real choices. It might not be about you, but if you think it is, why not ask for clarity?

If whatever they posted hurt your feelings, it’s okay to share that with them privately. Avoid being the exes that have everyone popping popcorn to watch the drama in the comments section.

Take it off social media and let them know how you felt. Or block them and don’t worry about it.

Did you pass or fail the ex-test?

It can be awkward and even cringe-worthy when an ex reaches out, but most of us have — at some point or another — been that ex. We’ve struggled to move on.

We’ve wanted someone who didn’t want us back. We’ve hoped against all hope.

Add in a little kindness. You don’t owe anyone a response. But you also don’t have to be petty or unkind even if they are.

You can choose to be the kinder person and remember that we aren’t always at our best when we’re feeling heartbroken or angry.

Whether you passed or failed the ex test depends on what you ultimately want.

If you feel good about your choices, consider it a pass. If you feel like you didn’t handle it well, forgive yourself and make the next right choice.

Your ex might be testing you, but you don’t have to participate if you don’t feel like it.

Decide what you want, set your boundaries, and choose kindness.

If all else fails, the block function might be your new best friend.

RELATED: 15 Toxic Things You Do Because You're Still In Love With Your Ex

Crystal Jackson is a former family therapist who writes across genres to encompass blog posts, poetry, short stories, children's books, and literary fiction. 

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This article was originally published at The Truly Charming. Reprinted with permission from the author.