Imagine this all-too-real scenario for a minute: You’ve been dating someone for a few weeks and everything’s going well. You really like them and think this could lead to a great relationship. The downside? They bring up their ex’s name way too often, or you catch them creeping on their social media. It’s uncomfortable, and you aren’t sure what to do about it. When someone isn’t over their ex, you’ll probably be able to pick up on certain behaviors that’ll feel like dead giveaways. Knowing what to look out for might be able to help you decide whether or not this is a topic you want to bring up.
First of all, does it really matter if your partner isn’t over their ex before they start dating you? Sex and intimacy coach Irene Fehr tells Elite Daily that it does. “From the wondering, dreaming, thinking about ‘what ifs’ or ‘what should have beens’ with an ex, still being connected with them takes emotional energy — and that is energy that cannot go to a current partner.”
She also points out the importance of emotional availability, saying, “if you want to be involved fully with this person, it’s important that they are available to be emotionally involved and in love with you. Still being involved or hung up with an ex creates a dynamic where there is a ‘third,’ which can be defined as anyone or anything that intrudes on the couple, or makes it difficult to connect deeply and get to know each other.”
If you notice any of the following signs in your bae’s behavior, it might be because they’re still healing from their last breakup and probably aren’t ready to move on.
1. It’s clear they can’t let things go.
If someone isn’t over their ex, then they might still be pretty upset about the way things ended. “They still complain about their ex and what they did or didn’t do, and that carries charge: bitterness, resentment, anger or sadness,” Fehr explains. “They are stuck wishing that things were different and they can’t let it go.”
When the person you’re seeing can’t make like Elsa and just let it go, they probably aren’t over their ex, which means it might be time to have a conversation.
2. They’re still very good friends with a recent ex.
Everyone has a different opinion about whether or not staying friends with an ex is a good idea. To each their own, but according to Fehr, someone who maintains regular contact with an ex might be doing so because they’re not ready to fully part ways. “They still stay in touch with the ex, in person or via social media, and discuss what they’re doing in and with their lives,” she says. “They are a presence in their mind and thoughts.”
That’s not to say that someone who’s still friends with an ex will never be able to give you the kind of relationship you deserve. That’s very much not the case. You can absolutely still be friends with an ex and be emotionally available to have a relationship with someone else. Nevertheless, you will know when that relationship is a little too close for comfort, especially if the breakup is still very fresh and the exes are regularly communicating and meeting up without you.
3. They constantly check their ex’s social media accounts.
If your eyes have ever wandered onto your bae’s phone screen, only to find that they’re scrolling through their ex’s Insta, they might still be hung up, behavioral scientist and clinician Clarissa Silva, tells Elite Daily. In fact, stalking an ex on social media at any point isn’t particularly healthy. “This only stagnates their growth because it occupies their brain with thoughts about their exes’ activities and whereabouts.”
4. Their memories haunt them.
This one might be hard to pick up on if you’ve only recently started dating this person, but if they’re not over their ex, they might become distracted by thoughts of them. “Especially if someone recently ended a relationship, the person might be constantly reminded of good times together — or bad,” Fehr says. “It might feel like everything is a trigger to some memory. They might bring it up or you might feel them drifting away and getting lost in the memory.” Sometimes you only have your intuition to go on, but if you notice that they’re becoming more distant, they could be thinking about their ex.
5. They regularly bring their ex up in casual conversations.
Last, but certainly not least, someone who doesn’t stop talking about their ex probably isn’t over them. “Their number one topic is their ex,” Silva explains. “When someone is struggling to get over an ex, they often reminisce about the relationship.” But, there is a difference between reminiscing fondly and reminiscing obsessively to the point where everyone needs to know every detail about their former relationship. That is never fun to sit through.
Host of the breakup BOOST podcast, Trina Leckie agrees, telling Elite Daily that someone isn’t over their ex “if they talk about their ex often, bring up their ex in conversation, or get emotional about their ex.” Additionally, if they compare you to their ex — whether it be bedroom tactics, hobbies, or life details (i.e: “Oh! My ex went to that college too,” or “My ex used to love it when I did [insert sexual act] to them.”) — they probably aren’t over it, Leckie adds.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that person you’re dating isn’t over the ex, Leckie recommends taking a step back, and “let them know that you aren’t interested in dating someone who hasn’t moved on from their past relationship. Wish them well and look to meet others who are in the right headspace and looking for the same things you are.”
You don’t necessarily have to break things off with someone if they aren’t over their ex, but it’s important to at least talk about it. “Remind them that when they do [bring up their ex], they are only extracting the moments of the relationship they want to remember that where about companionship,” Silva advises. “This is also not allowing them to form a relationship with anyone new.”
It’s not easy to get over an ex, but if someone hasn’t moved on from their previous relationship, and wants to start something new with you, it might be a good idea to talk things out first. After all, you deserve to be with someone who is as invested in you as you are in them, and that can’t happen if they’re still thinking about their ex all the time.
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