15 signs your ex is testing the waters – How to tell

You thought you were finally over with your ex.

But now you see them trying to get closer to you all over again.

It feels like they’re testing the waters… but are they really?

In this article, I will give you 15 definite signs your ex is toying with the idea of getting back together with you (and what you can do about it).

1) They message you out of the blue

You haven’t been in touch all that much, but now their name is all over your notifications.

And it’s not even because there was an emergency or something. They’re just trying to start a conversation!

“Hey, it’s been a while. I hope you’re doing well.”

“I saw your mom at the grocery store today.”

Your ex wants to reach out to you not just because they’re being friendly, but also because they want to find out if you’re still interested in them.

Trust me—an ex who’s totally moved on won’t bother with you even if it’s the end of the world. And especially not with trivial stuff like this.

If you respond with curt one-word replies, they’ll probably take a hint and stay away. Give an enthusiastic reply on the other hand, and they’ll assume you have a chance of getting back together.

2) They want to go beyond small talk

When you talk, it seems like small talk is just not enough for your ex anymore. Your ex wants to get closer with you again by asking more intimate questions about your life.

Instead of talking about the latest gossip, your ex wants to know how you’re feeling, what makes you happy…if you still have the same dreams and aspirations as before.

This is unusual because since your break-up, your interactions were pretty much “hi” and “goodbye.”

So if your ex is doing this, they’re definitely feeling things out.

3) They stalk you on your socials

You get notified that they liked your posts from a few years ago, and you see their name in the list of people who have viewed your stories.

Talk about something on social media, and they’ll talk about it as well.

Perhaps they might even be blatant with it and, when you meet in person, reference your posts from time to time.

Some of these might be unconscious or accidental— like them accidentally tapping “like” while they’re browsing your posts, or your thoughts just naturally inspiring them to make posts themselves.

But it could also be deliberate messages from them telling you that they’re paying attention to you and want you to approach them.

It’s not subtle, but it does go a long way to informing you what they want you to know.

4) They post stuff about the things you have in common

You’re both passionate about animal rights and climate change, so the two of you post about these things a lot.

That by itself doesn’t mean much.

But the thing is that on top of that, they’ve also been posting more about the food, places, media, and hobbies that you have in common!

It’s subtle, and you might even laugh it off as you simply overthinking things.

But it’s very likely that they’re doing this to stir your interest, and perhaps have you try to start a conversation with them.

5) They post stuff about the past

This is a bit more blatant than just posting about the stuff that you have in common.

In fact, it’s so blatant that you’d have to be denser than uranium to think it’s nothing!

They’re not posting blindly either, because everything they post relates in one way or another to some good memories you had together.

For example, if the highlight of your romantic relationship was the time when you visited Japan together, they might post about how much they miss Japan.

You may think “what if they actually miss Japan?” but then you see that they’ve made other posts alluding to your time together.

They might post about how cool the Beatles are, knowing that the two of you loved to listen to the Beatles together.

If you want them back in your life, the best way to go about it is to like their posts and comment about how much you relate. They’ll take it as a sign that you want them back too.

6) They call you by your pet name

Kinda cringe, right?

You’ve broken up but here they come calling you by your pet name as if nothing had changed at all.

And that might just be the point, actually.

Some exes are bold. They want their answers fast and obvious, and your reaction to this will be as obvious as it gets.

If they “accidentally” call you baby or pumpkin or hun, trust me—it’s no accident.

They want to see your face when you hear it. If you blush and your eyes twinkle, they’ll take this as a sign that you still want them.

But if you’re disgusted by it or if you laugh and tell them off, then they’ll get a clue and move on.

It’s actually a pretty smart move, to be honest.

They don’t have to do much of anything, and yet the reaction you give them is worth a thousand words.

7) They reach out to your friends again

Our friends are one of the most important people in our lives. They know almost everything about us, and they can greatly influence how we make our decisions on some things.

Your ex knows this and that’s why they’re trying to get close to your friends again.

They probably want to get news about you.

Or they want to win their hearts again so they can help them in getting back together with you.

Unless they’re really close to begin with, your ex befriending your friends means that they’re thinking of getting back together with you.

8) They give you “casual” gifts on random occasions

It’s your birthday and guess who just gave you a funny shirt? Your ex.

And it’s not just any funny shirt, it’s something you both used to find funny.

And they do it too during Christmas, and gosh…even on Halloween?!

You can’t help but feel a bit shy about confronting your ex about the gifts when they aren’t even making a big deal over it. Besides, what if they’re just trying to be friends again?

But a dead giveaway is that they never do this to any of their other exes…ever. And another thing is that, well…they’re doing almost all of the things in this list.

9) They ask for your help on something “important”

Your ex has always been independent and proud of it. But then, all of a sudden, they reach out to ask for your help.

It’s just an excuse, of course. Rather, it’s their way to test you.

It can be about something you’re really good at, in which case, you think they’re not up to something.

But they can be about something that anyone else can do, really, like watering their plants or feeding their cat while they’re away.

They’re doing this to see if they can rely on you like they used to. If yes, they’d take it as a sign that you really still care for them despite everything…and that it’s not totally impossible that you’d want them back in your life.

10) They show off on how much they’ve changed

They’ll try to find ways to show you that they’re a much better person than the last time you met them.

This is their way to “sell” themself to you again. It’s especially the case if you broke up with them because of their weaknesses.

Let’s say you always hated them for smoking. Well then, if your ex still wants you, they’ll flaunt how they haven’t smoked for a year already. Your ex talks about it when you’re together and posts about it online.

If they’ve always been unemployed, they’ll flaunt their new career and even their brand-new car, just to show you that they’ve now stepped up.

It’s been haunting them since the two of you broke up, and so they’ve worked hard for it. They’re hoping that this time around, you’ll finally give your relationship a second try.

11) They try to make you a little jealous

If your ex is the sneaky, manipulative type, they might not make any obvious advances towards you.

Instead, they’d come up with scenarios that would make you reveal your feelings for them.

One classic way they do that is by making you jealous, but only by a little bit. They’ll get a little close to you and then gush a bit about someone else to see how you’d react.

They not only manage to gauge how you feel from that, they will also have you thinking about them!

12) They get physically close to you

If you still see each other often as friends, one of the first things that your ex would “test” is if you’re still physically drawn to each other.

They’d like to gauge if your chemistry is still there.

Not only do they want to know if you still want them close to you, they want to know if they still want you, too.

They’d pay attention if there’s still physical attraction. After that, they’d try to see how far they can get close to you to check your level of interest.

This is a wise move because although love is important, a relationship will feel inadequate if you no longer lust each other.

13) They observe you with great intensity

They pay extra close attention because they want to know if it’s possible to get back together and whether it’s really the right thing to do.

They’ll especially pay attention to the things they most like and least like about you while you’re still together.

If you used to drink too much and they hated it, they’d pay attention to your drinking habits when you’re out drinking with other people.

If your ex used to love you for being generous to everyone you know, they’d try to observe if you’re still the same person.

We go through a lot of changes when we break up, and your ex is trying to gauge if, given the changes, you can become a better couple the second time around.

14) They talk about your relationship

This is possibly the most important sign of all. It’s also the most mature.

When you broke up, they never talked about the past. Perhaps they find it too painful and well…useless.

But then, here they are, suddenly talking about the past like it still matters. And it probably does because they’re starting to think of the possibility of you getting back together.

They want to see what you think about it, what you think about them, and what you think could have saved your relationship.

If you say something like “God, let’s not talk about. I realize we’re really just supposed to be friends. Don’t you think so?”

Then…well…they’ll probably get a hint that a reunion is not possible.

But if you say something like “Yeah, we were great. I was just not ready at that time.”

Then…they’ll take that as a go signal.

15) They tell you they miss you

“I miss you” is a very common thing to say. It’s not exactly a loaded phrase like “I love you” is. We say “I miss you” to our friends, our colleagues, and our pets and not think twice about it.

That’s why your ex likely isn’t going to go up to you and say “I love you”—that’s too forward and, honestly, quite cringe.

But they can use a more common and “acceptable” phrase instead and that phrase is, well…“I miss you.” And if they just happen to be a bit shy, they might even drop the “I” to simply say “Miss you!”

This works because of how casual this phrase feels.

Even if they’re your ex, you’re not going to immediately think “Oh, they want me back”—it could just be that they simply missed hanging out with you.

Your ex is smooth. The best way to test the water between the two of you is through simple, ambiguously friendly phrases like this.

What to do if you want them back

1) Use your head

It feels good to finally have your ex treating you like you’re the most important person in their life again. There’s no denying that.

But before you go scream “Hallelujah!” from the rooftops, hold on for a second and turn your brain on.

Look, the two of you broke up. That break-up happened for a reason. It probably even destroyed you for a while!

So instead of diving in head-first and claiming your prize, sit back and think. Take things slow and try to make sure the things that caused your relationship to fall apart then aren’t being repeated.

After all, it would suck to get back into a relationship, only for it to fall apart again in the end.

2) Get advice from a relationship coach

When it comes to complex love situations, it’s inevitable that you will have your biases. And that those biases are likely to get in the way of you making the best decision in this situation.

That’s why I recommend getting the opinion of a third party. A friend can help but even friends may not be entirely unbiased either.

That’s why I suggest consulting a highly trained relationship coach, such as the ones you can find on Relationship Hero.

Not only do they know what makes relationships tick, they have also helped many people through their problems before… and this gives them personal insight as to why relationships fail or succeed.

And with this experience at their disposal, they can help you figure out whether you should give your ex another try, or if you should stay away for good.

So click here to get started.

3) If you DO want them back, don’t waste any more time!

Okay, so you have thought it through and decided that you want them back in your life.


Now all that’s left is to actually take the risk and tell them how you feel. You could always try to get them to chase you, but being direct is generally much more preferable.

The two of you wasted so much time apart already. Why waste any more?

Just make sure you:

  • Tell them what you want this time around.
  • Have learned from your failures.
  • Make sure to avoid rushing your relationship.
  • Manage expectations.
  • Treat it like a brand-new relationship.
  • Keep your friends and family informed.
  • Keep the past in the past.

Last words

These attempts at testing the waters might seem a little annoying, or they might slip under the radar entirely.

But it’s good that they’re doing this because then you can give them an opportunity to know if you want them back or not.

Should you decide you want them back, keep in mind that the two of you broke up for a reason.

If you are to build a new relationship together, you should have learned from your past mistakes. Because otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for more heartbreak.

But assuming that you have actually learned—take heart. Because you might be getting into a relationship that’s stronger than ever before!

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.

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