If you’ve split from your ex but it feels like they’re still involved in your life and always popping up – it’s possible they’re testing you.
But what does it mean when an ex is testing you?
It usually means they’re interested in getting back together, or at the very least want to know what you’re up to and how you’re handling the breakup.
To help you figure out if this is what’s happening, here are 20 signs your ex is testing you and what you should do about it:
20 Signs Your Ex Is Testing You
1. They Ask if You’re Seeing Anyone
If your ex asks if you’re seeing anyone, it’s a clear sign they’re testing you. They want to know if you’ve moved on and how closed the door is on them getting back with you.
The best way to respond to this is by being honest and telling them that you are seeing someone if you are.
This will shut down their hopes of getting back with you and will hopefully spur them on to move on as well.
2. They Follow You on Social Media and Comment on Your Posts
If your ex is constantly liking and commenting on your social media posts, it’s a sign they’re testing you.
For one, they want to see what you’re up to and who you’re spending time with. Another thing this shows is that they want to get a reaction out of you.
The best way to deal with this is by ignoring them and not engaging with their comments. If they see that you’re not paying attention to them they’ll soon get bored of wasting their energy.
3. They Still Compliment You
If your ex compliments you, it’s a sign they still have feelings for you and are testing to see if there are still any mutual feelings.
The best way to deal with this is by being thankful for the compliment but not responding in a flirty or romantic way.
For example, you could say something like “thank you, I appreciate it.”
This will show them you appreciate the compliment but aren’t interested in getting back together.
4. They Give You the Silent Treatment
This might seem like an off way of testing you, but by giving you the silent treatment they’re testing to see if you reach out to them to ask what’s up.
If you do, it means they still have a hold on you and can control how you feel.
This is why the best way to deal with this is by also giving them the silent treatment. If they see that you don’t care about their games, they’ll soon get bored and move on.
5. They Won’t Return All of Your Belongings
If your ex is holding on to some of your belongings, it’s another sign they’re testing you.
They want to see if you’ll reach out and ask for them back, pop round in person to collect them, or if you’ll just let them keep them.
It’s another way of retaining some form of control and is just a toxic behavior that you will do best to ignore.
That’s easier said than done when they have your belongings though. Try and get them back as soon as possible so you can set some healthy boundaries on your terms.
6. They Always Seem to Turn up Where You Are
If you’ve bumped into your ex a few too many times to be a coincidence, it’s likely they’re going out of their way to bump into you.
They clearly want to know what you’re up to, who you’re spending time with, and see what kind of reaction they can get out of you.
The best way to deal with this is by being civil and friendly but not engaging in any conversation that lasts longer than a few minutes!
7. They Ask Your Friends About You
One way of finding out more about what you’re up to without speaking to you directly is to ask your friends.
But this is just as big a breach of your trust, even more so sometimes.
The best way to deal with this is by having a talk with your ex and telling them that you don’t appreciate them going behind your back and to please stop doing it.
If they continue after that, then you know they’re not worth your time and you should move on.
8. They Try and Reminisce on The Good Times You Had Together
An ex who’s testing you will try and bring up all the good times you had together in an attempt to make you feel nostalgic.
They’re hoping that by doing this they can make you forget about all the bad times and get back together.
The best way to deal with this is by being firm and telling them that those memories are in the past and that you’re not interested in getting back together.
If they can’t take no for an answer and stop bringing old stuff up, it’s in your best interests to distance yourself from them.
9. They Ask You About What It Would Be Like if You Didn’t Split Up
This is a more direct way of testing you and seeing if you’re still interested in them.
They might say something like “Do you ever think about what it would be like if we were still together?”
The best way to deal with this is by being honest and telling them that you don’t think about it because you’re happy with how things are now.
This will show them that you’ve moved on and aren’t interested in getting back together, and hopefully, they’ll stop wasting both of your time daydreaming about something that has passed.
10. They Do Weird Things to Get a Reaction Out Of You
Weird things could be anything from liking all your social media posts to turning up to places you’re going to be or bothering your friends and family.
It’s their way of trying to get a reaction out of you and see if they still have some sort of hold over you.
The best way to deal with this is by ignoring it and not giving them the satisfaction of a reaction.
If they see that their attempts are futile, they’ll eventually give up and move on (we can hope).
11. They Ask You for Help
This is another way exes commonly try to get back in our good graces and earn our trust back.
They might ask you for help with something or to do them a favor in the hopes that you’ll let your guard down and start talking to them more.
The best way to deal with this is by being polite but firm and telling them that you’re not able to help them out.
If they can’t take no for an answer or they become difficult, you’ll have to be blunt and join a line.
Keep in mind that they’re doing this deliberately to just see you, I’m sure they have other options and will not be stranded in any way.
12. They Make Efforts to Reconcile
This is the most blatant way an ex can test you to see if you’re still interested in them if you’ve moved on, or where your head is at.
They might say something like they miss you or that they made a mistake in breaking up with you to see what you say.
They might even go so far as to say they want to get back together and put you on the spot!
The best way to deal with this is by being honest and telling them exactly how you feel. Don’t feel pressured to tell them what you think they want to hear or let them down too gently.
This will just result in them pressing you more and more in the future or playing with your emotions.
13. They Do Nice Surprises for You
We all like nice surprises, but it’s the intention behind the surprise that really counts, not the act itself.
An ex who’s testing you might do something nice for you out of the blue as a way to get on your good side – but if they’re just testing you it’s not genuine.
They might buy you a gift, do something special for you, or even just reach out and talk to you more than they have been.
While it’s always nice to receive gifts, be careful with this one and make sure you don’t let your guard down too much.
I’ve even known people to return gifts and say, “thanks, but I’d rather you didn’t buy me gifts any longer.”
14. It Feels Like They’re Trying to Make You Jealous
Jealousy is a powerful emotion, and if your ex knows how to push your buttons they might try to make you jealous on purpose.
Typical ways exes try to push the jealousy button are dating someone new and flaunting it, talking about their new relationship all the time, and generally making out like they’re happier than ever.
Something to keep in mind is that if they were that happy, they wouldn’t feel the need to show off to the world – or you.
It’s not good taste, and is almost always a sign that they’re just trying to make you jealous to see how you react.
15. They Tell You No One Else Is Good Enough for You
This is a way of trying to control you and make you feel like they’re the only one who understands you.
They might say things like, “you deserve better,” or, “no one will ever understand you like I do.”
It’s their way of making sure that you know they’re still thinking about you and that they’re the only one who really gets you.
The best way to deal with this is by being confident and telling them that you’re happy with where you’re at in life.
The only way you’ll be happy is to break free from controlling behavior like this.
16. They Go Hot and Cold on You
This is probably the most confusing way an ex can test you because it’s hard to tell what they’re really trying to do.
One minute they might be blowing up your phone and being really sweet, and the next they’re completely ignoring you.
It’s important to remember that this is their way of trying to keep you interested and gauge your response to how they’re behaving, it’s all a test!
The best way to deal with this is by being consistent yourself and not rising to their bait. Just focus on yourself and your own business and let them play their games.
17. They Get Their Friends to Put in Good Words for Them
This is a sneaky way of trying to get back into your good graces by using other people.
They might ask their friends to remind you what a great person they are or how they’re doing, and even use them to find out information about you.
It’s usually harmless fun, but sometimes it can be a pressure tactic and needlessly brings other people into your situation.
If you know they’re doing this, I’d make it clear to their friends that they can speak to you directly if they have something to say.
18. They Push the Boundaries You’ve Put in Place
If you’ve already established boundaries after splitting from your ex – and I hope you have – if they cross those boundaries they’re testing you.
It might be something small like text messaging you late at night, or trying to see you when they know you’re busy.
Or it could be something bigger like turning up unannounced at your house or place of work.
Whatever the boundary is, if they cross it they’re testing your limits and seeing how much they can get away with and how you’ll react.
It’s time to be strong and let them know the boundaries are there for a reason and any crossing of them means you’re going to distance yourself.
19. They Lean on You for Emotional Support
This is another manipulative way of testing you and trying to keep you within their grasp.
If your ex is still trying to use you for emotional support in any way, they’re trying to take advantage of your good nature – and that’s just wrong.
You need to be firm with them and explain that you’re no longer their emotional support system and they need to find someone else to lean on.
20. You Can Just Feel the Tension when They’re Around
This is probably the most important sign of all because it’s not something that can be faked.
If you just have a bad feeling in your stomach or a sense of unease when you’re around your ex, trust that gut instinct.
We all have an intuition for these things, and when something doesn’t feel right it usually means there’s trouble ahead.
If this is the case, take a step back and evaluate whatever friendship the two of you currently have.
If you don’t have boundaries in place that you’re happy with and they’re respecting, that’s the first thing you need to do.
What to Do If Your Ex Is Testing You
By far, the best way to deal with any ex is by having boundaries in place and sticking to them.
If they’re testing you it means they are still trying to have some level of control over you, and that’s the last thing you want.
By being firm and consistent with your boundaries, you’ll soon find that their tests become less and less frequent.
Never play their games, try not to get upset or wrapped up with what they’re doing, and always stand firm with what is right for you.
Image credits – Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.