Having a boyfriend who can’t seem to get over his ex or who is practicing relationship anarchy can be frustrating and painful. You may wonder if he still has feelings for her or if he’s truly ready for a new relationship. While people process breakups differently, there are some key signs that a boyfriend isn’t over an ex. Being aware of these traits can help you determine if it’s time to have a serious conversation about your relationship.
He constantly brings her up in conversation
If your boyfriend frequently mentions his ex-girlfriend in normal discussions, it’s likely a sign he’s still thinking about her. He may recall happy memories they shared or complain about the issues in their past relationship. This could indicate he’s still working through his feelings instead of leaving the past behind. Try noticing if he only seems to talk about the good times they had together. That can show he’s glossing over the real problems they faced.
He stays connected to her on social media
In today’s digital age, many exes stay connected through social media. Your boyfriend remaining friends with his ex on Facebook or following her on Instagram isn’t necessarily a red flag on its own. However, constantly liking and commenting on her posts could mean he’s keeping tabs on her life. If he prioritizes interacting with her online over sharing moments with you, it may be time for a talk.
He compares you to her
No one wants to constantly be measured against their partner’s ex. But does your boyfriend make comments like, “My ex was so good at baking cakes,” or, “You don’t laugh at my jokes like my ex did.” These kinds of comparisons are hurtful and suggest he’s holding on to an idealized version of his past relationship. Let him know how those remarks make you feel and ask that he keeps them to himself. Healthy partners appreciate each other’s differences.
He shuts down when you ask about her
Have you tried gently bringing up the topic of his ex, only to be met with defensiveness or silence? This resistance to discuss the relationship can point to lingering feelings. Perhaps he’s afraid of fully processing the breakup and still hopes to one day reconnect with her. Insist on understanding his thought process. Open communication is essential in a relationship.
He follows the same interests she did
Did your boyfriend suddenly develop a passion for tennis or become a die-hard fan of a band he used to dislike? Examining shifts in his hobbies and interests can reveal if he’s clinging to activities tied to his ex. This allows him to feel a connection to her and the past they shared. It may be time for him to find new hobbies to pursue without her memory attached.
You haven’t met his friends and family
Months into dating, has your boyfriend still not introduced you to his closest friends and family? If so, this reluctance could stem from an ex who remains tied to that social circle. Maybe she’s still close with his siblings or attends parties with his friend group. Not integrating you into this side of his world allows him to compartmentalize the two relationships. Have an honest discussion about why you haven’t met these important people yet.
He gets defensive and secretive with his phone
One prevalent sign your boyfriend is not over his ex is being protective of his phone and social media. He may angle the screen away from your view or even get angry if you touch his phone. This level of secrecy likely means he’s still connected to his ex and doesn’t want you to know. Observe if he guards his phone closely or often takes calls privately.
Heidealizes the relationship they had
Be cautious if your boyfriend describes his past relationship as perfect or seems to whitewash all the issues and arguments they likely had. This idealized view of the former couple prevents him from seeing the relationship realistically. It also tops you from measuring up to this flawless dynamic in his mind. Don’t let him get away with rewriting history.
He refuses to remove mementos of their relationship
Visiting your boyfriend’s home, do you notice old photos of the ex or cards she gave him? Maybe he still keeps a piece of jewelry she gifted him or her previous belongings. Holding on to these mementos suggests he hasn’t fully let go. These are physical reminders of their bond. It may hurt, but have a candid discussion and request that he box up memories of her if he wants to move forward with you.
He gets jealous when she dates
Even if your boyfriend complains about his ex, pay attention to how he reacts when she starts dating someone new. Does he obsess over it, seem irrationally jealous or angry? Underneath the surface, those intense emotions signal he still has unresolved feelings and attachment. Point out that his excessive focus on her new relationship takes away from your happiness as a couple.
His friends and family remain close with her
In some cases, a boyfriend’s friends and relatives maintain a connection to his ex long after the breakup. This might involve inviting her to group hangouts, keeping up with her on social media or even taking her side in the split. If you notice his closest confidants treat his ex like family, it can reveal his lingering attachment. Have an open and honest conversation about setting boundaries with his inner circle.
He struggles to commit to plans with you
Flakiness is one thing, but consistently bailing on plans you make together could be a red flag. If your boyfriend repeatedly comes up with excuses or postpones important dates, his avoidance may stem from unresolved feelings for his ex. He may have used similar tactics to avoid committing fully to her in the past. Let him know this behavior hurts you and feels dismissive of your relationship.
Your intuition tells you something is off
In the end, one of the most telling indicators is your own gut instinct as his partner. You likely notice subtle cues in his body language or how he responds to you. If your intuition is strongly signaling that your boyfriend hasn’t moved on from his ex, don’t ignore those inner warnings. Bring up your concerns gently and explain what you’ve observed. Ask for total honesty, even if it’s painful.
The path forward depends on open communication and willingness to emotionally let go. If your boyfriend remains attached to his ex, insist he seek counseling or take time alone to process the residual feelings. Make clear that you require his full commitment. Consider walking away if he continues holding on to the past. You deserve a partner whose eyes and heart are focused only on you.