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Signs they’re still hung up on their ex

By: Natasha Archary

the ex
Photo by Jasmine Carter from Pexels

It’s a daunting playing field when you first wet your feet in the modern dating pool. Sink, swim, or float your way through the mind-traps as you wade into uncharted waters. Exciting though it undoubtedly is, navigating through their past is tricky turf. And it’s a touchy, feely debacle hitting the turbulent subject of their ex/s. 


The ex-test

While many couples who split do so amicably and remain on good terms, most break-ups are often turbulent and painful for one or both. Which results in unresolved feelings, regret that it’s over, denial, and a deep sense of longing to get back together. 

The first date is a good place to touch on the subject of the ex. Gauge their response to engagement about the ex and watch for signs of discomfort around the topic. Generally, if people are over their ex, discussing their past relationship will not be a sore talking point. 

People who have dealt with their relationship ending and have accepted that the breakup will be ready to move on. Whereas, if there are underlying feelings of resentment or trauma, it will not be healthy to get involved with the person because they remain emotionally unavailable. 


Back and forth 

It’s tempting to get back together with your ex. Instead of putting your feelers out and getting to know someone new, there’s a sense of safety in the foundation that’s already been cemented. 

They know every last detail about you, there’s no need to open up and allow someone new in. And it’s often the reason many people pick up the pieces with an ex and try again. It’s easier than spending time with someone new, not knowing if things will grow or fizzle out. 

If the person you’re with has tried to fix things with an ex, chances are they see something worth saving and may find their way back to them. It’s also tricky territory if they have kids together because that maybe the line that keeps pulling them back together. And so many couples go through this back and forth rollercoaster ride with their ex. Knowing it’s a volatile relationship but holding on regardless. 

the ex
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

Red flags to watch for 

Before you take your relationship further, get to know as much about your partner’s past as possible. How they handle conflict in a relationship is important and it points to many factors that relate to their ex. 

–      What are the triggers that spark conversation over their ex? Is it reminiscent of the past they shared, or does it come up as a “by-the-way” segway? 

Someone who is over their ex will not use any opportunity to bring them up in conversation in the early stages of getting to know you. This is your time together and should be spent finding out what you have in common, all your quirks and habits, and doing fun couple stuff. You should not have to sit through uncomfortable reflections about their ex. There’s an ex. That’s all you need to know. You don’t need to know about the cute face they make when they take a tequila shot. 

–      Does your partner make comparisons between you and the ex? 

Shut the front door to this immediately. Comparing you to their ex is something that should not be tolerated. If you’re with someone who continuously makes comparisons between you and their ex, you need to decide if it’s something you are willing to look past or you call them out on it. Creating a platform of insecurity in your relationship is not healthy. You are not there to replace an ex, you are there to establish an entirely new relationship.

–      Why are they talking to their ex about your relationship?

They shouldn’t be. Full stop. End of story. Maintaining a mutually platonic friendship with the ex is one thing but talking about your relationship is a boundary that should never be crossed. You should be your partner’s go-to person. Or if they need an unbiased perspective then a close friend should be their point of call. Confiding in the ex about personal details around your relationship is opening a can of worms. 

Read: Losing sexual desire

Other signs they’re  just not over the ex

– Pictures on their phone

– Whatsapp conversations/screenshots are still saved

– The ex still hangs within their circle 

– Ex is still invited to family functions 

– Your dates are usually covert and undercover (often at home) for fear of running into the ex

– Drives past “special” places often end with a morose recall about the ex

– Your relationship isn’t going anywhere. There’s no commitment because they’re not ready for more.


Deciding whether to walk or stay with someone who still has feelings for their ex is entirely up to you. It all comes down to whether your self-respect allows you to play second fiddle to someone else. Why anyone would want that borders around your insecurities and past. So perhaps work through your previous relationships before delving into something else. 

Written by: Natasha


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