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12 clear signs your ex is testing you and how to respond

In dating, it's easy to let your guard down and ignore the signs that your ex might be trying to win you back. We’ll tell you how to know.

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It’s been a few months since you and your ex broke up, and things have been going well. You’re moving on, going on steady dates, and starting to feel good again. But then, out of nowhere, your ex starts giving you mixed signals. They start texting you, calling you, and trying to see you. They say they miss you and want to get back together. 

What is going on? Is your ex testing you? Here are 12 signs that they might be.

1. They text you out of the blue

One of the clearest signs that your ex is testing you is if they suddenly begin texting you after months of no contact. When they start reaching out to you out of nowhere, it’s because they want to know if you’re still interested.

This means your ex may randomly text you things like, “I miss you” or “What are you up to?” in an attempt to gauge your reaction. Once you start giving them positive reactions, they’ll likely continue texting you in hopes of getting back together. 

2. They try to make you jealous

Another common way exes test their former partners is by trying to elicit bad feelings and making them jealous. You may notice your ex will talk to you about their new romantic or casual relationship and post their photos all over social media to get a reaction out of you. They may even go as far as flirting with other people right in front of you in an attempt to see if you still care. 

These are hopeful attempts to make you jealous and want to get back together with them out of fear of losing them altogether. 

3. They talk about the good times you had together

When your ex starts talking about the wonderful times you had together, it’s a surefire sign that they’re attempting to test you. By reminding you of the good times, they hope you’ll begin to miss them and have a desire to reconnect.

This tactic can also give them an opportunity to see if you still have feelings for them. Getting you to admit that you still have feelings for them will have them thinking of the chance of getting back together.

The best way to deal with this is to agree that you did have some good times together, but that it’s in the past now. Thank them for reminding you and then move on.

4. They ask if you’re seeing anyone new

Putting you to the test might also come in the form of asking whether or not you’ve met anyone new. You’ll likely hear this from them in person, over the phone, or through text. And their tone will likely be one of jealousy or anger. 

Seeing you in a current relationship, your ex will be worried that they’re losing you for good. But if you’re not, there’s a chance that this will give them a reason to look forward to getting back together with you. 

5. They won’t give your things back

Holding onto your things is another key sign your ex is testing you. Keys,  clothes, and other personal items — all these things could even be used as leverage to get you to do what they want. 

For example, they may say they’ll only give your things back if you agree to go on a date with them. Or they’ll only mail your things back to you if you talk to them for an hour on the phone. 

It’s better not to reply to your ex’s demands if you aren’t interested in getting back together. You can always get a new set of things, and the stress isn’t worth the hassle.

6. They play mind games 

Once your ex starts playing the push and pull game, it’s a pretty clear indicator that they want to get under your skin. One day they act interested in getting you back and then completely ignore you the next. This hot and cold behavior is part of their plan to keep you on your toes and see how you react. 

Fall for their antics and start chasing after them, they know they still have a hold on you. Ignore them and move on, they’ll know they don’t have a chance.

7. They ask for your help 

Having all sorts of excuses to hold conversations with you is also one common sign your ex is testing you, and that sometimes could mean they’ll ask for your help from time to time. Whether it’s needing your help with something or wanting to talk to you about something important, they’ll find an excuse to get back in touch.

Your ex may even ask you to help them move out of their apartment, or they may ask you to help them overcome their fear of rejection. But really, they’re just trying to see if you still care about them and if you’ll do what they want. 

8. They stay connected on social media 

In a digital world, keeping up with your social media activity is the quickest and easiest way your ex could keep tabs on you. Viewing, liking, interacting with your posts, leaving comments, and even tagging you in things — they’ll do all of this to get your attention. 

The moment you notice your ex doing this, don’t fall for it. Don’t engage with their behavior, block them from your social media accounts, and move on.

9. They bring up old arguments

Long-forgotten arguments will suddenly be brought back into the spotlight by your ex. Past slights will be dug up, or they may even accuse you of something you didn’t do. 

When your ex starts bringing these arguments to your attention, they’re hoping you’ll get defensive and start a fight. If you get angry with them and engage, it’ll give them more fuel to keep trying to get a rise out of you. But keep your cool and don’t rise to their bait, they’ll eventually give up. 

10. They ask you hypothetical scenarios 

Getting plied with imaginary scenarios and hypothetical questions is just one of the many ways your ex might try to test you. You’ll probably hear questions like, “If we were still together, where would you want to go on vacation?” or, “Do you think we’ll ever get back together?” 

These questions are designed to give your ex insight into how you feel about them. Staying noncommittal and saying that you don’t know is the best course of action if you’re trying to move on. This will frustrate your ex, and they’ll eventually give up trying. 

11. They open up to you 

In an attempt to get you to care about them, your ex may start confiding in you about their struggles and problems. You’ll probably hear them say they’re going through a difficult time in their career or that they’re having financial problems. 

Your ex is hoping that you’ll take pity on them and offer to help them. While you might be tempted to do just that, it’s important to remember that you’re not obligated to help them. The best thing you can do in this situation is to say you’re sorry that they’re going through a tough time and refer them to someone who can provide professional help, like a therapist.

12. They say they want to remain friends but often act differently 

Wanting to stay friends with you but doing things that make it clear they’re not interested in being friends is one of the biggest signs your ex is testing you. Flirting, trying to get you to be intimate, and other disrespectful behaviors are all red flags that you should cut ties with your ex. 

There’s no reason to try and be friends with someone who is just using you, and you certainly don’t want to be friends with someone who wants to continue causing you emotional pain. There are plenty of other people in the world who would love to be your friend.

Breakups can be messy and tough, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. If your ex is testing you, stay strong and ignore all their attempts at contact. Eventually, they’ll get the message and leave you alone. 

There’s plenty of fish in the sea, and you’ll find someone who is better suited for you. Just keep your head up, and don’t let your ex get the best of you. Good luck!


Must-read books about exes

Exes can be a touchy subject. Whether you’re still hung up on them, or you’ve moved on, they’re often a topic that’s hard to avoid. If you’re in the former or latter camp, these books about exes might be for you. These titles explore everything from what it’s like to be dumped to how to deal with an ex who won’t go away.

  1. Flirting: How to Flirt for Women Wanting to Date a High-Value Man, Including Seductive Body Language Techniques and a Guide to Get Your Ex Back
  2. Relationship Goals: How to Win at Dating, Marriage, and Sex
  3. Don't Text Your Ex Happy Birthday: And Other Advice on Love, Sex, and Dating
  4. The Friends With Benefits Rulebook: How to Get in, Get Laid, and Get Out With Dignity (and Even a Relationship)
  5. She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman
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