4 Signs That Your Ex Is Totally Over You (And How to Handle That)
Signs That Your Ex Has Moved On and Is Over You
Some people believe there are two stages to every person’s breakup: when you first break up, and then when your ex gets over you. And while the second portion of the breakup doesn’t receive as much notoriety as the first, it can feel just as devastating (if not more so).
As a result, people who are freshly broken up with often expend an immense amount of emotional energy trying to figure out if their ex still has feelings for them. While it can be difficult — if not impossible — to know for sure if your ex is over you or not, it’s worth asking whether there are, in fact, key things to look out for.
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In order to better understand the signs that your ex has moved on, we spoke with three dating experts, and two people who went through difficult, extended break-ups. Here’s what they had to say.
What It Means to Be ‘Over’ Someone
In order to truly understand when someone moves on, how and what it looks like, first we need to understand what it means to truly be “over” an ex.
According to dating expert Marisa T. Cohen, Ph.D., it’s less a sign that you’ll never feel another single feeling for this person, and more that they’re simply not holding you back from seeking out other people.
“Being over someone means that you are no longer emotionally invested in them to the extent that it is causing you to put other relationships (or the pursuit of finding new relationships) on hold,” says Cohen. “You may always be emotionally connected to an ex, especially if you were in a loving, securely attached relationship with them.”
For Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of “Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today,” it’s also about no longer being in a dark, post-breakup place associated with your ex.
“Being over someone means that you're no longer in emotional turmoil or pain about the relationship, you've done your grieving and you're open to new things in your life,” she says.
It doesn’t mean you don’t have any regrets or that you don’t care about the other person at all. Instead, it means that the old relationship and the breakup aren’t taking up a lot of emotional space for you anymore, and instead, you’re moving forward and focusing on other parts of life.
As Jennifer, one of the people I spoke to about a difficult breakup, told me, an ex you're still in close contact starting to move on can be bittersweet — but it can also help you move on.
“I feel like we reached a stage where he sort of wanted more (not really from me, just in life) and I wasn’t quite ready to want more. I had really just settled into our comfortable routine. It didn’t feel dramatic, it didn’t feel fraught, it just sort of was an easing out of a comfort zone. It was sort of sad to say goodbye to that stage, but I wasn’t angry or scared and I think not feeling those two emotions makes it easier for me to be a bit more relaxed about it.”
Signs Your Ex Is Over You
That’s all very well and good when it’s happening to you, but what about when it’s happening to your ex?
Right after a breakup, it can be heartbreaking to watch someone you used to have a deep, meaningful connection to move on (or seem like they’re moving on) from afar, without any real access to what they’re actually thinking and feeling. Most likely, even if you were to ask them if they still had feelings for you, they wouldn’t necessarily be honest or forthcoming.
All you have to go off of are signs and signals. That’s things you see your ex post on social media, things you hear about them doing from a mutual acquaintance or clues you can pick up from things that have changed.
However, as Cohen points out, “signals aren’t that clear-cut.”
“When we send messages to another person, we have to consider the sender’s intention, the receiver’s perception and contextual information,” she says. “Therefore, a person may be attempting to signal that they’re over the partner by publicly displaying that they’ve moved on with others. This may all be a carefully curated facade, and may not actually mean that the person has healed and is moving on from the relationship.”
Basically, anything you see or hear of your ex doing after a breakup could be misinterpreted.
They’re going on dates? It could be in an attempt to numb the pain of missing you, or it could be that they’re enjoying meeting new people. They’re staying in a lot? They could be crying themselves to sleep, or catching up on some of their favorite books and movies. They blocked you online? Maybe they hate your guts, or they miss you so much that seeing your profile picture would feel devastating.
It could also just be all of the above. That being said, there are a few signs that are relatively good indicators of an ex having truly gotten over you:
1. Communication Dwindles
Relationships are built on interactions, and if you’re not in touch in one way or another — in person, on the phone, or elsewhere — there’s not really a relationship. Accordingly, when you break up with someone, your conversations typically become shorter and more infrequent.
However, sometimes people keep in touch an ex long after a breakup, and that can be a sign that one or both partners isn’t fully over the relationship yet.
“After breaking up, it’s normal for one or both partners to cling to the scraps of connection by continuing to text or talk,” says Connell Barrett, dating coach for The League. “If your ex has halted small-talk messages (‘Hey, you… How’s your day?’) and no longer shares life updates with you, it’s a sign that you’re in their rear-view.”
2. Interactions Become Less Fun
There’s another way for two people’s conversations to dwindle: by losing intensity, as well as frequency. You might be talking about the same amount, but if these start to feel less and less fun, that could be a sign that your ex’s heart is no longer in it.
“Another sign it’s over for them is that the flirtation is gone from your texting and messaging,” says Barrett. “Any interactions are logical and informational, without the humor, teasing or playful banter that happens when two people are romantically attached to each other.”
That’s something that Marcus, another person I spoke with who went through a difficult breakup, noticed.
“Three months post-breakup, I realized that although we hung out regularly, she only contacted me when she wanted to hook up, or needed some kind of practical help with something (transportation of a new bed, for example). I was still contacting her for other kinds of activities (art galleries, dinners, etc.). For a while, it still felt like a diverse relationship, in a way, until I noticed that imbalance.”
Though sex was still part of the picture, the relationship between them was no longer romantic for his ex — a clear sign that things were over in an emotional sense.
3. Interactions Become Less Awkward
Another sign that your ex has moved on is that your interactions might get better.
While this is more likely to happen after a lengthy period of silence immediately following the breakup, a positive uptick in tone or frequency of interaction might be misread as your ex wanting to get back together with you. In reality, it means they’ve processed their emotions around the breakup, and are ready to be friendly.
“If your ex is still in contact, and is no longer pining over you, blaming you or stalking you, they're probably over you,” says Tessina. “If your ex is ready to be friendly, especially with someone new you are dating, then they're definitely over you. If your ex was incommunicado, and is now making contact, they're probably over you.”
Depending on where you’re at emotionally, that could be the start of a wonderful friendship with your ex … or it could be heartbreaking.
4. They Get Serious With Someone Else
Perhaps no sign is more conclusive of an ex being fully over you than their getting into a serious relationship with someone else.
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While it’s possible to still be pining for your ex when you start dating after a breakup, typically, the further into a serious relationship you go, the more your feelings for your ex (or exes) will fade as the new person in your life takes priority.
“One sure sign that they’re over you? They’re in a new relationship,” says Barrett. “They’re not just going on dates but are now ‘seeing someone.’ You’ll know this if they start posting ‘couple-y’ photos on their social media.”
However, as Marcus explained, even going on non-serious dates can signal that a big shift has occurred.
“The really obvious moment [I realized she was over me] was about six months post-breakup, when we were still occasionally hooking up (but less often than during the first few months), and she casually mentioned going on a date with someone else. [She] started to tell me about it as if that was a completely normal thing to do (which for her, I'm sure it was.)”
Depending on whether you were monogamous or not, and your ex’s relationship to casual dating, that might be totally meaningless. In Marcus’s case, his ex’s comfort talking about this other date signalled that something had seriously shifted.
How to Deal With Your Ex Being Over You
If the above signs sound familiar to you, your ex might well be totally over you — and that’s OK.
Maybe that’s the outcome you were hoping for, but if you’re one of the many, many people who don’t want their exes to have moved on just yet, it might feel strange to imagine a world where someone who was once so important to you simply doesn’t hold you in their heart like that anymore.
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But as Tessina says, it’s time to start embracing the future yourself.
“You must let them go,” she advises. “The relationship you had with this ex is over. If your ex comes back later, you'll need to begin a brand new relationship on new terms; this old one is over.”
So what does that look like?
“Be distantly friendly when you encounter each other,” she suggests. “Do not attempt to work out unresolved relationship issues with your ex. Let it be. Don't bad mouth your ex to friends. It will get back to them, and you'll look bad. Change your focus to the future.”
Barrett agrees that looking forward is the best approach to realizing your ex has moved on, and that it can even be a net positive in your life.
“If your ex moves on first, face it — it’s going to sting,” he says. “But you can reframe it as a kind of gift. Don’t isolate yourself socially — reconnect with friends and family because spending time with loved ones keeps your emotions in a good place. Avoid relationship reminders — don’t swipe through your phone looking at photos of you and your ex, and stay away from places that the two of you went to together. And when you’re ready, take new actions to start dating again. The secret to moving on is to move forward.”
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