Some of our ex’s behaviour can be very confusing because of the history we have with them. And it doesn’t help that there are all kinds of conflicting interpretations and advice out there.
I’ve seen clients go deeper and deeper into denial because they want to believe what they want to believe. I’ve also seen cases where someone gave up on a relationship when their chances of getting back with their ex were very good, and cases where someone completely ruined their chances because they misinterpreted their ex’s behaviour.
Here are 10 of the most misinterpreted ex behaviours and signals.
1. If your ex is still angry or upset with you, it means they still love you.
It’s a fact that negative feelings last longer than positive feelings. Intense feelings of anger towards you, being mean or spiteful is your ex’s way of trying to deal with those feelings and emotions. But just because they have a hard time getting over whatever is bothering them does not mean they have a hard time getting over you. In other words, anger, being mean or spiteful are not signs of love, but signs of someone not doing a good job of processing their emotions.
2. If your ex cuts off all contact with you or avoids seeing you in person, it’s because they’re afraid they’ll fall back in love with you.
If the break-up was due to bad timing or external forces and not because of something happening in the relationship, some exes may indeed force themselves to stay away so as to move on. But someone avoiding you may also be because:
- They think it’ll help you with the grieving process
- They’re trying to trigger fear of rejection/abandonment in you/cause you anxiety and panic so that you run back to them
- Not ready see you in person/take things to that level
- Want nothing to do with you.
If they maintain contact but refuse to see you in person, it could also they’re keeping you on a leash for their own reasons.
3. If your ex contacts you, it means they miss you and want you back.
Missing you is not the only reason your ex is contacting you. Maybe they are checking to see if you still love them, maybe they are ‘offering’ you the opportunity to try to get them back, maybe the feel guilty for breaking up with you, and maybe they are lonely, drunk, or looking to hook-up (See: 5 Top Reasons Your Ex Is Contacting You Now)
Some exes contact you even when they don’t want you back but want you as a friend.
4. If you disappear for a while, your ex will forget the bad memories and remember only the good ones.
Remember that time when you had a fight and you thought all was forgiven and both of you had moved on, and weeks or months later your ex brought it up? Contrary to common belief, time does not heal all wounds. It may ease the intensity of an emotion but it does not make it go away.
Disappearing for a time is not going to make your ex forget how you acted so needy, how you neglected them, the things you said in anger, you cheating on them, the fact that your put your hands on them etc.
Often disappearing after doing something to upset someone does two things:
- Makes your ex very happy that you finally left them alone, and
- Increases feelings of resentment if the person was expecting you to apologize, take responsibility or make amends.
- Create more negative feelings and memories of you disappearing without so much as a word. The could have been expecting you to wish them a happy birthday, congratulate them or send condolences and you didn’t. This will be added to all the other bad memories.
5. If your ex says they want to be friends, they are not ready to let you go.
If you were good friends before you became a couple or were each other’s best friend in the relationship, your ex may indeed not be ready to let you go. Their head may be telling them to let you go but their heart is still hoping that things can change.
However, “Let’s be friends” is also another way for someone to release you gently. “Let’s be friends” can also mean “friends with benefits” or a way for someone to use you to get over you (keep you around for emotional support until someone else come along).
6. If your ex acts jealous, it’s because they still love you.
Your ex may feel jealous and act jealous but because they want you back but it’s important to keep in mind that jealousy is, and always will be about the person feeling jealous – their insecurities, fear of rejection or abandonment, past relationship experiences etc.
Even when an ex feels and acts jealous because they may think that you seeing someone else means they have lost you forever, it’s still about them. Some exes feel and act jealous even when they hate you because they are so insecure and/or possessive.
7. If your ex hides or withholds information about seeing or dating someone else, it means your ex still has feelings for you.
Exes like most people withhold personal and private information because 1) they don’t trust you, 2) fear being judged 3) do it to manipulate your perception of them and/or the situation, and 4) feel it’s none of your business.
Your ex may not tell you that they’re seeing someone for the above reasons, and because:
- They do not want to upset or hurt you more than they already have,
- They are not sure how they feel about the new man or woman
- They feel that think they have to tell you since you are not together
- They think it may hurt their chances of getting you back
8. If your ex posts something on social media, it’s their way of reaching out to you.
Sometimes what your ex posts on social media is about you. They maybe afraid to talk to you directly and using social media to do so. Social media can also a passive aggressive tool for your ex to say what they can’t say to you directly.
But not everything your ex posts on social media is about you. Just because you are thinking about your ex all the time does not mean that your ex is thinking about you all the time. Your ex may be living his life and doing them.
Even if the posts are about you, reading too much into their social media is like chasing the wind; you know it’s there but you cant see it. It means very little if they are not making any effort to reach out to you and talk to you.
9. If your ex acts warm and friendly towards you, it means they are interested in you.
If you have never experienced an amicable break-up, never dated or been in a relationship with someone who is securely attached, are they type who never speaks to your ex again, and/or believe that everyone does the same, an ex reaching out or acting warm and friendly can be very confusing. But not all exes are mean, vindictive, angry or are avoidants. Some people (mostly well-adjusted and secure individuals) consistently act warm, friendly, loving and caring no matter what the circumstances are. It’s just who they are.
You can only tell an ex is interested if they are actually doing things that show that they are interested beyond acting warm and friendly.
10. If your ex still calls you honey, baby, babe, sweetheart etc., it’s because they still love you.
Sometimes an ex calling you honey, baby, babe, sweetheart etc. is a sign that they still have feelings for you and still see you the way they did before the break-up, but sometimes it could just be something they say out of habit especially if it feels like the old relationship all over.
Calling you honey, baby, babe, sweetheart etc., has to be accompanied by actions that tell you they still love, otherwise these are just words.
Keep an open mind and don’t read too much into one word or one action. Like I said, I’ve seen men and women ruin their chances because they misread what their ex said or did and acted on it.
You may also find this helpful: 7 Reasons Why Fearful Avoidants Do ‘No Contact’