What it means when your ex moves on immediately (and how to respond to get them back)

Whatever your circumstances for splitting were, it’s always hard to see your ex has moved on.

But what does it mean when they move on immediately?

These are a few reasons for their actions.

1) It’s their way of dealing with the breakup

First things first, you’re not a mind reader, so unless you’ve spoken to your ex you’re not going to know how they’ve been dealing with the breakup.

Just because your ex is with someone else doesn’t mean they’ve moved on from you. 

I know this sounds contradictory, but it’s true. 

I’ve been there. 

I was the person who dealt with my breakup by getting into another relationship.

In my experience, I don’t recommend it as your emotions are all over the place. 

After splitting with my partner of five years, I fell straight into another relationship to cope with the loss.

Simply put: I tried to replace him. 

Even though I was thinking this on a conscious level, my subconscious was trying to fill a gap. On the surface, I might have seemed calm and collected to my new guy, but I was in turmoil inside. I was constantly thinking about my ex and crying in my private time, while getting to know him.

Every time he’d text me or invite me out, it would take my mind off of things. My new guy became my escape. He became my sense of comfort when I felt alone.

I was using him as a source of escapism; I was enjoying floating away with him as we fell in lust.

But it wasn’t healthy as it was causing even more conflict internally: my brain gradually got more confused with who I was with.

I tried not to call him by my ex’s nickname; I almost said it so many times.

In retrospect, I understand why people take a break between relationships and allow for time to process. If I could replay things, I would do this and not jump into something new.

So if your ex is with someone else, don’t assume that your relationship meant nothing and they moved on easily. 

It’s likely much more complex and their coping mechanism.

In my opinion, it was because my ex meant so much to me and because it was so painful to process that I jumped into a new relationship so quickly. 

It was as though I was bypassing the pain for a period of time.

It’s possible this is what your ex is doing if they’re already with someone else. 

Now, while it might not look like it, there is a chance you can get them back. Given that they’ve jumped into something new to cover up the pain, there’s a chance that the person they’re with is just a rebound so it could fizzle out with them.

Just sit tight and watch the situation unfold, and don’t get into a new relationship yourself to make them jealous.

Instead focus on yourself and let them know you’re doing well in this independent phase. There are ways to show you’re thriving. For example: 

  • Use social media as a tool to highlight the positives going on in your life
  • Share your successes with mutual friends  

 Show them that you’ve very much in a single and working-on-yourself stage of your life, which will make you more attractive.

2) They can’t stand being on their own 

If you were in a long-term relationship, there’s a chance your ex struggled immensely when you two split.

They may not have realized that they struggled so much with their own company until they were forced to sit by themselves.

Your ex may have struggled with such heightened feelings of loneliness that it forced them to find someone else quickly.

I remember my ex-partner sending me an email in the early days of our split to say his thoughts were jumbled and that he couldn’t make sense of things without someone to talk to.

Truth is, I felt much the same, which is why I jumped into something new.

I’d lived with my ex-partner in the years before our split, so I suddenly went from being with someone day in, day out to being on my own.

I couldn’t stand being by myself and I wanted to bypass the pain.

It could be that your ex is going through a similar motion if they’ve moved on immediately.

If you’re feeling lonely too since your split, express this to your ex and see what they come back with. 

You could let them know you want to meet up as friends for a coffee or walk, and use it as a chance to express your feelings.

Approach the situation with no expectations, but just as a chance to be honest and to honor your thoughts. 

If you’re on the same page then there could be a chance you two can give it another go.

Ultimately, if it’s meant to be between you two then it will be.

3) They’re just looking for a physical connection 

As humans we all have needs, and one of those is physical connection.

We all know what that means. 

In other words, your ex may have moved on immediately because are trying to fill their sex void with someone else. 

It is very possible if you and your ex had an active sex life. 

They may just be seeking to replicate what you two had intimately.

He might be missing what you two had sexually.

Simply put: this new flame of theirs may just be in their life to help them meet their needs of physical intimacy.

There might be nothing more than the physical side and no real emotional connection between these two.

What’s more, your ex and this new person may have established that this is all this relationship is. 

They may both be on board with just have a sexual relationship – with no strings attached.

If it seems he’s trying to replace you in whatever way, it could signal that he still wants to be with you.

Instead of romanticizing what you two had and the way he was, ask to actually see him in person and use it as a chance to understand where he’s at.

Not only will seeing him in person allow you to speak to him about the thoughts you’ve been having – whether that’s wondering if you two should get back together and if you’ve let go of a good thing – but you’ll be able to establish where he’s at. 

He might tell you that he’s been with someone new, but that it’s nothing like what you two had and ultimately means nothing.

4) They’re dealing with feeling like a failure

Anyone who’s been through a breakup – whether that’s the end of a short-term or long-term relationship – knows that you go through a series of emotions.

One is a sense of feeling like a failure.

It’s coming to terms with the fact your relationship has ended or, in other words, has failed.

Now seeing it like this is just one perspective – but, ultimately, two people don’t start building on something with the goal of separating.

This is where the failure part comes in. 

There’s a chance you might feel like a failure, because you haven’t been able to succeed in sustaining the relationship.

You might feel like you failed.

There’s a societal myth that says those who stay in long relationships are most successful and lucky-in-love.

But who’s to say they’re actually happy?

World-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê helped me come to this realization.

In his incredible free video on Love and Intimacy, he explained that we’ve grown up being bombarded with ideas of what a relationship should be.

And let’s think about it: it’s always happy after ever, not a dramatic split.

I thought this happy ending was the idea of relationship success. 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt a pressure to find a partner and have a long relationship. 

So, when I split with my ex I naturally felt like a failure and tried to cope with it by starting a new relationship to show I wasn’t a failure.

If your partner has moved on immediately, there’s a chance they might have gone through the same process as me.

It’s pretty subconscious, but I can now see what my motives were on reflection. 

In my experience, I was surrounded by people who had sustained relationships for more than a decade and some were starting to get married and even have kids.

I suddenly tuned into the fact that everyone around me was in a long-term relationship. 

 It made me feel worse. 

I remember a friend of mine saying that she’d heard from someone else that I’d broken up with my ex-partner, and I responded with: “It’s OK, I have a new boyfriend.”

I wanted everyone to know that I was now good and successful again – building the foundations with a new partner and feeling better than ever.

But the truth was: I was dealing with so much pain internally, including feeling like a failure, so I tried to mask it with a front of being OK with someone else. 

It could be that your ex is in a similar position.

Maybe after some time apart, your ex has realized that this new person isn’t what they wanted after all – but that they’re just a rebound that’s stopping them from feeling like a failure.

It could be that time apart has helped them realize it was you they wanted after all. 

You’ll only know this by speaking to them.

Consider sending your ex-partner a message to let them know how you’re feeling and seek to meet up with them in person to talk more.

5) They had already met someone when you two were together 

 This is a bitter pill to swallow.

We don’t know if this was the case with your ex or not, but there is a chance – a slim chance – that someone else might have been in the picture before you two separated. 

It’s not a nice thing to consider, but it could be that they already had been getting to know someone before the split. 

Now, it’s not to say that they were cheating but they very well could have been getting closer with this person.

Their feelings for this person may have developed while you two were together.

Maybe it was someone they worked with or even just a new friend. 

These things do happen. 

There’s a chance your ex moved on immediately because they already had someone in mind romantically and they were set on pursuing them.

It could explain why they became distant and things felt like they were going wrong between you two in the final months of your relationship. 

Maybe this resonates if you couldn’t quite understand why it suddenly felt like it was all going wrong. 

The only way you’ll know for certain if your ex was pursuing another person is if you’re able to make the link or someone else is able to confirm it. 

Now, if it turns out they already had their sights set on someone else then you need to question why you want to get back with them.

It’s important to recognize your worth, and to know that you deserve to be with someone who really wants to be with you and appreciates you for all you are. 

They should completely and wholeheartedly celebrate you and want to be with you.

If you feel like your ex was having a moment of madness so to speak and mutual friends tell you they’re struggling with their actions, then it’s up to you to decide whether you want to have a conversation with them and to consider getting back with them.

If this situation comes about, stay in your power and make sure you outline your boundaries and expectations for the relationship. 

They need to know you won’t tolerate being second best.

6) It’s an attempt to make you jealous

Jealousy really isn’t a good emotion. 

Sometimes it’s an emotion a person tries to provoke in another. 

A person can be incredibly intentional about trying to make someone feel jealous and bad about themselves.

There’s a chance your ex could be doing this to you.

They might want to stir up the green-eyed monster in you to say: look at what you’re missing.

This isn’t what everyone would do to an ex; it depends what sort of person you were dating.

Someone with narcissistic traits, who has felt like their ego is bruised, is more likely to go out of their way to flaunt a new partner just to make you jealous.

They’ll want to show off how they can get someone else.

For them, it will be even better if they’re particularly attractive!

Your ex might be plastering their new romantic interest all over their social media, or turning up to the places you and your friends hang out, just to show off this new person they’ve pulled. 

They might want you to think: look who I’m capable of getting if the person is objectively attractive. But, remember, there’s no guarantee they’re actually a nice person!

As if that’s not enough, your ex might be trying to make it look like he doesn’t really care about the relationship you two had, while he actually cares more than you could know.  

If you still think you want to get back with your ex despite their blatant attempts to make you jealous, then you need to look closely at why.

It comes back to a sense of worth that I spoke about earlier. 

You deserve to be with someone who has all of your best intentions at heart and who doesn’t set out to upset you or make you feel jealous.

In a healthy romantic relationship, two people should feel secure, supported and loved. 

If it’s ever been anything but then you need to look at why you want that person around!

7) They’re trying to forget about you 

This one is very real for me. 

When I split with my ex I was fully in a state of denial for a long time.

Nothing felt real and I couldn’t comprehend what was happening to me. I never imagined my life without him, so coming to terms with the split was surreal. 

I’d read about heartbreak, but experiencing it was something different altogether.

Now, I’m aware that I dealt with the split by getting caught up with someone else. 

As I said earlier, it took my mind away from things and distracted me from the pain.

On reflection, I don’t recommend it! 

But it did work for the most part. 

Rather than hugging my pillow and crying (which I still did a lot of in the early days of the breakup), I was going out on dates with this new guy, spending my evenings texting him and getting excited about when I was next going to see him.

It’s fair to say that my mind wasn’t on my ex-partner when I was chatting to the new guy.

It was all fun, flirtatious and it meant that I was forgetting about my ex – at least, for a minute. 

But here’s the thing: just because I was lusting over someone else and spending my time talking to them and being with them, doesn’t mean I was over my ex.

I was just doing my best to try and move on and forget about them.

Because I missed him so much and cared more than I realized at the time, I was trying to take my mind off of things. 

It could be that your ex is trying to forget about you if they’ve seemingly moved on quickly.

It’s not that they didn’t care, but possibly because they cared so much that they’ve tried to take their mind off of you with someone else. 

You see, humans are hardwired to avoid pain and this is one way to bypass it. 

If your ex-partner is doing this then there’s a chance that they do really still want to be with you.

Before they fall too deep into lust and potentially love with this new person, it could be worth expressing to your ex that you want to get back with them. Putting that option on the table might help them reframe things. 

8) The love stopped before the relationship ended

Be honest with yourself: what was your relationship like towards the end?

In many cases two people can become like friends in the final stretch of a relationship.

Rather than sharing a deep, romantic love, a relationship can shift into something more like sibling or family love. There can be a lot of care between two people in a romantic relationship, but it can be void of deep, romantic love.

If you and your ex were more friends than lovers towards the end of the relationship then this might be a reason why they moved on so quickly. 

They were looking for a lover in their life, which they had been void of for some time. 

Now, it’s true that friendship is important in a relationship – but you also want to feel like your partner is your lover!

If you’ve come to this realization that you two were missing this romantic aspect and you can see where things went wrong in the relationship, you could approach this subject with your ex.

Perhaps you could explain that you’d like to try again with your newfound perspective.

However, you’ll obviously have to navigate this carefully if it seems like your ex is with someone else already. 

I wouldn’t recommend sending a text outlining these thoughts, but instead to ask to have a private phone call or even to send an email.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing that you’ve had these realizations; you’re just outlining your thoughts, which you’re entitled to do!

It’s up to your ex to decide what they want to do with your insights.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

15 effective ways to raise your standards and upgrade your life

“Why do I still love me ex?”: 13 reasons you can’t let go