My boyfriend and I were broken up for nearly six months when I got a text that simply said:
Can I be serious for a minute? I want to see you.
I had the exact question you’re wondering about your ex right now — was he being genuine?
Here, we’ll take a look at eight ways you can tell whether your ex means what he or she says — or whether they’re trying to manipulate you (pro tip: don’t text them back just yet).
8 ways you to know if your ex is being genuine
1) Consider the circumstances
When you see your ex’s name pop up on your phone, it’s likely that your heart skips a beat, no matter what the circumstances were when you separated.
Whether you broke up due to infidelity or simply because of different goals in life, it’s important to take a step back and figure out where your ex is coming from with their sudden desire to connect.
Take your time when deciding whether you should welcome them back into your life.
When your ex is reaching out to you to reestablish communication, you’re in control of how quickly you respond (and whether you want to respond at all).
First, you need to consider the circumstances that drove you apart — as well as the circumstances that may have led them to reach out to you again.
Before you get too far into imagining your life with someone from the past, think about why you aren’t together right now.
Did one of you need to move away and the other felt that the relationship wasn’t worth the effort?
Perhaps you felt they were untrustworthy or you didn’t care for the way they talked to you when things got tough.
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Before you consider entertaining their attempt to come back into your life, reflect on the reasons they left your life in the first place and decide whether those circumstances could be overcome.
If your ex is genuine about their reasons for wanting to talk with you, it’s likely that they’ll address the factors that drove you apart without you having to ask.
You’ll also want to consider the circumstances that brought them back into your life, especially if you don’t have mutual friends or interests that have kept you in close contact since you split.
If they’ve recently been through a breakup, proceed with caution — they may be searching to fill a void left by their more recent ex.
If you decide to chat with them, be sure to ask them what led them to contact you.
You don’t have to be hostile — a simple text that says, “I’m just wondering… what made you want to reach out to me? It’s nice to hear from you!” can pave the way for them to state their intentions for your conversation.
While they may simply have realized that they prefer life with you in it, they may also be looking for comfort due to a stressful situation, like job loss or family issues.
These events can certainly cause people to reflect on what they really want — but be cautious that your good nature isn’t being used as a dumping ground for someone who needs a sounding board.
After you find out why your ex decided to reach out to you, you can begin the process of deciding whether the conversation is worth your time.
2) Do their actions line up?
Actions really do speak louder than words, especially when you’re deciding whether you should trust someone who let you down in the past.
If you’ve been lonely or upset that your ex has moved on (while you haven’t), it can be easy to get swept up in romantic messages in which they say how much they’ve missed you or talk about what a huge mistake it was to end the relationship.
If you decide to move forward and engage in conversation with your ex, listen to what they have to say — and hold them to it.
If they say they miss you, they should make an effort to talk to you.
If they say they want to see you, they should make plans to see you.
If your ex is chatting you up to talk about unresolved feelings without action, be careful. If you’re comfortable listening to them knowing that it’s not going anywhere, feel free to keep talking.
If you’re looking for a commitment or a relationship, stay guarded until you see their actions align with their words.
Consider when they text or call you as well — a 2 am text or phone call asking if you’re out isn’t the same thing as reaching out at noon on a weekday to ask if you’re free for dinner.
You deserve more than a booty call and if your ex is being genuine about their feelings for you, they’ll want to talk with you during daylight hours.
3) Talk to your closest friends
If you went through a tough breakup with this ex, you might be avoiding bringing him up to your friends.
You might feel embarrassed that you’re considering talking to someone who your friends saw cause you so much pain or you might feel anxious to bring up your ex if you were the one who decided to end the relationship, and now you’re thinking about giving it another try.
It’s tough for the people who were there for you in the dark moments of your breakup to support the thought of you entertaining the relationship again.
That being said, your friends know you — and they (probably) know your ex.
You don’t need to show your friends every message you’ve exchanged with your ex but talk to them to get their general take on the situation.
Take the advice your friends have with a grain of salt, as they’re likely to take your side, no matter what.
If you have a brutally honest friend — like a friend who will tell you when yes, your outfit is too tight — you might want to reach out to them to get their take.
While your friends can’t tell you whether your ex is being genuine for sure, they can help you see patterns of behavior that you could have missed in the past, or help to open your eyes to the possibility of giving them another chance.
4) Take your time — watch what happens next
When your ex reaches out, it’s easy to fall back into bad habits, especially if they suggest meeting up at your favorite restaurant or start talking about memories from times past.
Pump the brakes before you dive back into your old routine.
When you start talking with an ex, going back to your old normal is easy — almost too easy.
You go out for dinner at an old restaurant that you used to love during your time together and you find yourself heading to a familiar place to hang out or go for a walk afterward.
If you’re not careful, your mind, heart, and body can go into autopilot before you take a chance to think about what you really want. You may find yourself back in the same unhealthy situation as before, without being sure of how you got there.
When your ex reaches out to you, take it slow. If you (like me) find it easy to jump right back into an old, not-so-healthy routine, it may help to set limits on how often you’re going to chat with your ex.
You might want to decide not to check your phone while you’re at work or to stop answering texts after a certain time at night. Preserving your personal and professional time can help save you from getting wrapped up in old feelings before you’re ready to do so.
Be careful not to abandon your new interests in favor of your old routine. No matter what’s happened since you and your ex broke up, you’ve found new hobbies and friendships that you enjoy.
If your ex is genuine about their feelings and wanting to spend time with you again, they’ll encourage you to keep doing the things that make you happy.
5) Do a little digging
Let’s be super clear: we’re talking about spending five minutes looking over your ex’s social media, not going on an all-night virtual stalking spree that lands you on their aunt’s best friend’s tropical vacation photos.
See if you can gain a little insight into what’s going on in your ex’s life that caused them to reach out to you and see if their online presence is matching up to any claims of changed behavior.
If your former party animal ex is saying they’ve changed their ways, a quick scan of their Instagram account will let you know whether they’re genuine — or if they’re fibbing to get back in your good graces.
6) Get face-to-face
It’s all too easy to rely on texting for tough conversations, isn’t it? If you want to know if someone is being genuine, however, you’ll need to chat face to face.
When you talk to your ex face to face, you’ll get to see their body language, their tone of voice, and whether they’re willing to look you in the eye while you have a tough conversation.
While you may be tempted to pummel them with questions, try your best to let them take the lead — see what they have to say. It’s ok to take your time when deciding how to respond.
If your ex pressures you to get back together or wants you to talk about your feelings right away, it’s a sign that something is amiss. Someone genuinely concerned about you and your feelings will respect your need to take time to process after a tough conversation.
Another benefit of talking face to face: you get to see if your ex is willing to step out of their comfort zone (usually, behind a phone or screen), look you in the eye, and get real about their feelings.
7) Ask yourself: are their actions sustainable?
Anyone can pull out all the stops when they’re trying to win someone back.
When you’re trying to decide whether your ex is genuine, you’ll want to consider whether their behaviors are sustainable over time.
While sweeping romantic proclamations can be nice once in a while, your ex isn’t likely to shower you with roses once a week if you decide to get back together.
Be wary of an ex who over-promises, saying that you’ll get lavish gifts constantly or that they’ll never hurt your feelings again.
People can change, for sure, but you also need to be realistic about what you can expect if you decide to step back into a relationship with your ex.
If you’re being showered with gifts and affection, feel free to enjoy it — just remember that it won’t last forever, and such gestures are usually not a sign of love that stands the test of time.
8) Trust your gut
I know, I know — everyone gives this same advice.
If you’re sitting on your phone searching the internet for “how to know if your ex is being genuine,” there’s a good chance you’re already leaning one way or the other.
You likely already know in your heart which way to lean.
As cheesy as it sounds, trust your heart, and know that no matter what happens, you’re going to come out standing on your own two feet.
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