21 signs your ex is trying to get a reaction

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

You know what’s worse than a bad breakup? Having an ex who just can’t seem to let go and is constantly trying to get a reaction out of you. 

I’ve been there, and I’m sure you have too, or you wouldn’t be here reading this article. 

So, let’s dive in and explore the 21 signs your ex is trying to get a reaction because sometimes, you just need to know when to roll your eyes and move on.

1) They do the classic “Drunk Dial”

Oh, come on. We’ve all been there, right? You’re enjoying your Friday night with your friends, and suddenly your phone starts buzzing. It’s your ex, and they’ve had a few too many drinks. 

Maybe they’re just lonely, or maybe they’re trying to get a rise out of you. Whatever it is, it’s annoying.

2) They “accidentally” text you

This one’s a classic, too. You receive a text from your ex that’s clearly meant for someone else. It’s a classic move to see if you’ll respond or get upset.

Don’t take the bait; simply ignore the message and move on.

3) They send you the  “I Miss You” text

When your ex sends you a random text saying they miss you, they’re probably testing the waters to see if you’re open to reconnecting. 

It’s up to you to decide if you want to engage in a conversation, but remember that there’s a reason you broke up in the first place.

4) They “accidentally” run into you

Here’s another example of “accidental” things – You bump into your ex at your favorite coffee shop, even though they live on the other side of town. 

This actually happened to me, too. My ex lived a town away, but I would bump into him at the grocery, even though there was one just a few blocks away from where he lived. He might have thought he was fooling me, but he wasn’t! 

So if you’re wondering, is it a coincidence? I think not. They’re probably trying to see if you’ll get flustered or upset.

5) They’re suddenly everywhere

It’s like they’ve multiplied or something. Those “accidental” run-ins are no longer few and far between. Your ex starts showing up at all your usual spots – the gym, the coffee shop, your favorite park – even though they never used to go there when you were together. 

This is all too coincidental to be mere chance. Your ex is showing some real commitment to catching your attention. By being “everywhere,” they aim to remind you of their existence and stay on your mind, potentially making it more difficult for you to move on.

6) They show up at your work

When your ex starts appearing at your workplace unannounced or without a legitimate reason, it’s a strong indication that they’re seeking a reaction from you. 

For example, my ex, James, once began to show up at my office during lunch breaks, claiming he was “just in the area.” It was clear he wanted to catch me off guard and see how I would react to his unexpected presence.

This kind of behavior is particularly telling because it demonstrates that your ex is willing to enter your professional space to provoke a response from you. 

Not only does this reveal their desperation to get your attention, but it also shows a lack of respect for your boundaries

By showing up at your workplace, your ex is trying to make you feel vulnerable and potentially even jeopardize your professional reputation in the process.

7) They constantly check in on you

Sometimes, it’s not accidental at all. Your ex could be reaching out to you with random texts or calls intentionally, usually under the guise of concern. But in truth, they might just be trying to gauge your emotions and see how you react. 

For example, my friend Sarah once had her ex, Tom, text her every day for weeks after their breakup, asking how she was doing and if she needed anything. Tom’s constant communication made Sarah feel like he was still trying to be part of her life.

Be careful – you can easily get sucked back into the relationship with these random texts and calls!

One thing I’ve learned through the many breakups I’ve had is this – if you don’t have a strong foundation of self-love, you’ll find yourself falling into toxic and manipulative relationships over and over. 

If this sounds like you, you might want to watch this free Love and Intimacy video by the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê. This video helped me see how I easily reacted to my exes’ manipulative tactics and eventually found my way to healthy self-love. 

The result – I became so much sharper at seeing through their sneaky behavior and better at setting higher standards for my relationships. 

If you want to try it out for yourself, click here to watch the incredible free video.

8) They pretend they need your help or advice

Or they could flip that tactic above and make it seem like they are the one you need to check on

Your ex could come to you, suddenly needing your help or advice with something, even though they could easily ask someone else. It’s a sneaky way to get you to engage with them on an emotional level and see if you still care.

9) They send you gifts

Suddenly, you start receiving random gifts or flowers from your ex. They’re trying to show you that they still care, again under the guise of “concern,” but it’s really just another way to get under your skin.

You see, receiving a gift would prompt you to say thank you if you’re open to being friends with your ex. That would be an open door to communication, which is exactly what they want. 

But if you’d rather close your doors, you might consider returning the gift or gently expressing your desire to stop this kind of interaction. 

10) They bring up old memories

You’ll be chatting with your ex, and suddenly, they’ll bring up that one time you went on a romantic trip together. 

That’s not as sudden as you think; it likely is a calculated move to remind you of your connection and see how you react. 

My ex was like this, he would often bring up our favorite vacation spots or inside jokes. It was clear he wanted to see if I still had feelings for him. 

It’s like he was trying to remind me of the good times, but it felt more like a desperate attempt to make me miss him. 

11) They constantly ask mutual friends about you

If friends start asking about your relationship or feelings towards your ex, it could be that they’re being used to probe your emotions. 

My ex once asked our mutual friend Sarah to find out if I was seeing someone new. It was obvious that he was trying to gauge my feelings or gather information through our friends. He was trying to keep himself in the loop and maintain a connection with me. 

12) They stalk you on social media 

This one’s another classic. You know they’re watching your every move, liking and commenting on old photos, and even sending you direct messages. 

This shows that your ex is still invested in your life and is looking for ways to stay connected, even if only through a digital platform. 

By engaging with your social media content, they’re trying to provoke a response from you, potentially seeking to rekindle a conversation or gauge your feelings towards them. Their online presence can serve as a reminder of your past relationship and make it difficult for you to move on.

13) They post cryptic social media posts

While we’re on the topic of social media…you know those vague, cryptic posts that seem to be directed at you? Yeah, those. 

Your ex is trying to send a message without actually sending a message. It’s like playing emotional charades.

I’ve had my fair share of exes posting song lyrics and mysterious quotes that hint at lingering feelings. These can be quite attention-grabbing, I don’t deny it, and if you bite, it can possibly reopen lines of communication and keep you emotionally entangled with your ex. 

14) They do exaggerated displays of happiness on social media

Still on social media, here’s a scenario: Your ex starts posting a ton of happy photos on social media, almost like they’re trying to make you feel left out or like you’re missing something.

Bragging about how great their life is now or showing off their new relationship could be an attempt to make you jealous or curious. 

For example, when we broke up, my ex started posting pictures of his travels all over Facebook. It seemed like he wanted to show me he was better off without me. 

But I’m onto him – no amount of posting happy photos on his end could convince me it was real. And even if it was, I didn’t mind; I was enjoying my single life without him, after all!

15) They’re trying to one-up you

These happy photos are just one aspect of something else your ex is doing – trying to one-up you. 

Whether it’s a new job, a new car, or a new relationship, they want you to see that they’re thriving. Your ex is suddenly doing everything in their power to prove that they’re better off without you. 

The goal: to make you feel envious or insecure. 

Or they could be seeking validation and a response from you, possibly to make themselves feel more secure about the breakup or to gauge your feelings towards them. 

16) They play the Jealousy Game

The jealousy game takes one-upping even further. 

Here’s how it goes: Your ex starts flaunting their new fling in front of you, or worse, they start trying to make you jealous by talking about how amazing their new partner is. 

It’s like they’re trying to say, “Look what you’re missing out on!” But honestly, it’s just plain immature.

17) They compare you to their new partner

Has your ex started making comparisons between you and their new partner? This can be so annoying, but really, it’s just their way of making you feel inferior and maybe even make you question your worth. 

I found out just how annoying this was when my ex would often mention how his new girlfriend was so different from me – she was so understanding, so patient, so this and that. 

At first, I indeed felt bothered, but eventually, I saw it as just another manipulative tactic

If your ex is doing this to you, don’t react. Remember, you’re better than that.

18) They’re always the victim

When your ex starts portraying themselves as the victim after your breakup, either directly to you or through social media posts and conversations with mutual friends, it’s a sign that they’re trying to get a reaction from you. 

Do they complain about how difficult their life had become without you? Do they moan and groan about how they’re struggling to cope? 

These are examples of victim behavior. The goal is to elicit sympathy and make you feel guilty about the breakup. 

By playing the victim, they’re hoping to provoke a response from you, perhaps seeking consolation or even trying to open the door to reconciliation. They want to keep you emotionally invested in their well-being, making it harder for both of you to move on.

19) They do a drastic image overhaul

Did your ex get a bold new haircut? A totally new wardrobe? 

If your ex has changed their look or style dramatically, they might be trying to catch your eye and evoke a reaction. 

When my ex, James, got a bold haircut and a new wardrobe after our breakup, I couldn’t help but notice his transformation. It made me wonder if he was trying to get my attention.

20) They start dating your friends

Surely, if an ex started flirting with or dating your friends, you’d notice? 

That’s exactly what your ex is banking on. 

It could be a tactic to make you jealous and see if you react. It’s really toxic behavior and shows that your ex is intentionally encroaching on your personal territory, trying to insert themselves back into your life. 

With this bold move, your ex can make it really hard for you to maintain your distance and move on from the relationship. 

21) They make a fake apology

If your ex reaches out to apologize for their behavior, but they haven’t actually changed, they’re likely trying to show you they’re a better person now. 

It might be tempting to give them a second chance but listen to your gut first. Trust your instincts and remember that actions speak louder than words.


So, there you have it – these are the 21 signs your ex is trying to get a reaction out of you. If you’ve experienced any of these, remember that it’s important to stay strong and not let them manipulate you. You’re worth so much more than their petty games. Stay fabulous, and keep moving forward!

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get started.

The above link will give you $50 off your first session - an exclusive offer for Love Connection readers.

Did you like our article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.