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There’s a growing trend of guides helping people decipher the meaning behind their ex’s words so they can more easily gauge their overall attraction. You’ve probably come across a few already.
These guides go on to explain that when your ex tells you they hate you, it means they only hate the situation they’re in and, in fact, still love you. Or that when your ex says you deserve someone better, they’re actually trying to absolve themselves from any responsibility and guilt about the breakup. Or even that when they tell you it’s too late to get back together, they’re actually playing hard to get.
I get the appeal of this advice.
But the problem is that since you’re emotional during re-attraction, likely can’t think straight, and your ex’s words typically contain multiple meanings, taking them at face value almost always leads to an incorrect assessment of how they feel about you.
Your ex telling you how they hate you could simply mean that they hate you and want you to leave them alone. Your ex saying you deserve someone better may be their way of saying get away from me. Your ex telling you it’s too late might mean it’s actually too late to mend things because they’ve found someone else.
What’s even worse is that the incorrect assessment of your ex’s attraction level could also lead to unnecessary mistakes that diminish your chances of reconciling further. Like pushing forward when you should be backing off.
The point of all this is to say that gauging attraction by focusing on what your ex says and means can quickly get confusing. It can easily overwhelm a person, leading them astray. So here’s a different approach — a ridiculously more accurate and simple one, to my knowledge.
A Better Approach For Gauging Attraction
Instead of observing what your ex says and trying to decipher what it means, just look at what their actions suggest. Here are a few examples.
1. On conveying interest. If your ex says how much they love or miss you but never call first, take days to respond, and put little to no effort into making you feel cared for when you’re chatting—guess what? They don’t actually love or miss you. If they did, their actions would reflect the sentiment.
2. On reciprocating. If you’re sharing corny jokes that you know aren’t funny on your date, yet your ex is laughing, perhaps even initiating light touching or playful pushing, it means they are interested — even if they say they aren’t.
3. On setting dates. If your ex tells you they’d love to meet up, but whenever you invite them out, they give an excuse like how they’ll call later (but never do) or say they’re unsure of their schedule, they don’t actually want to meet up with you.
4. On shifting focus. If your ex admits how they want to focus on themself for a while, yet the next week they let themselves get railed by random people or suddenly become the one railing them, it means they don’t actually want to focus on themself. They just don’t want to focus on you.
5. On rebounding. Similar to the above, if your ex keeps blabbing about how they aren’t ready for anything serious, yet they commit to a new person a week or two after your breakup (see: rebound relationships), it simply means they don’t want anything serious with you specifically.
6. On body language. If your ex is sulky while you’re talking over coffee and displays disinterested body language — they look and face away from you, avoid physical touch, don’t smile often, etc. — it means they aren’t having a good time, even if they say they are.
7. On keeping tabs. If your ex keeps telling you how they don’t like you, yet they frequently react, comment, and positively interact with your social media posts, it means they do, in fact, still like you.
It’s wild how many knots of confusion looking at your ex’s actions untangles. But there is one potential problem. How do you know what behaviors to look for specifically? Which behaviors imply interest anyway?
What Behaviors To Look For
I hate to sound like a dick, but this is pretty easy to figure out for most people. An average person is relatively in tune with various social cues in their environment. They can easily sense when someone is interested and when they aren’t.
That being said, there are always exceptions. You can always find people who just don’t know what behaviors to look for when gauging attraction.
Perhaps you’re one of these people. No shame in that. Or maybe you just want to double-check your know-how. Regardless, here’s a list of the most common interest-indicating behaviors to look for. The more of them your ex displays, the likelier it is that they still foster feelings for you.
- Continuously reaches out and attempts at discussing personal matters.
- Quick and enthusiastic responses to your calls and texts.
- Drunk texting and calling.
- Creating excuses to talk to you (i.e., “This restaurant reminded me of our first date”).
- Admitting and apologizing for what they’ve said or done.
- Prolonging conversations and refusing to let you get away.
- Bringing up and desiring to discuss old memories in a good light.
- Placing themselves into your orbit so you keep stumbling on them wherever you go.
- Staring at you, checking you out, and making non-accidental eye contact.
- Facing toward you when you’re talking, smiling a lot, and maintaining an open posture.
- Laughing at your jokes and jabs even though they aren’t funny.
- Ditching their friends so they can spend more time with you.
- Staying in touch with your family or friends.
- Defending you and taking your side when people talk shit about you.
- Blocking and then quickly unblocking you.
- Making social media posts about you and the breakup.
- Trying to make you jealous.
- Becoming jealous when they find out you’re dating other people.
- Showing off or carrying items you’ve given or gifted them — usually trinkets, pieces of clothing, or jewelry.
- Bringing up a future with you (whether a soon-to-be trip or major milestones like marriage, kids, and settling down).
- Standing or sitting close to you.
- Continually initiating physical touch — like bumping their knee into yours or putting their hand on you.
- Complimenting you profusely.
- Seeking your approval and validation.
- Expressing how they miss and love you or their desire to mend things.
For an in-depth guide on all the various behaviors of interest, refer to this article: 30 Glaring Signs Your Ex Will Eventually Come Back.
The Importance Of Patterns Of Actions
The last thing I’ll say is that when gauging attraction, the longer you’re dating your ex, the more intimate you are, and the more you open up to one another, the more you should observe their behavioral patterns instead of individual behaviors.
So if your ex suddenly stops initiating touches, pulls back, or grows colder, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t attracted to you anymore. You may have simply said or done something that bugged them. Or they just had a bad day, and their lowered attraction had nothing to do with you.
Instead of panicking in these moments, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Did my ex become less touchy, warm, affectionate, or whatever, for just a second? Or is this already our second date or interaction during which they’re acting like this?”
If it’s a one-time thing, carry on with the courtship. You’ll probably be just fine. However, if their behavior is recurring, you must take it more seriously.
Pulling back and giving your ex more space usually does the trick. At least that’s the quick fix. The more permanent fix, however, is addressing and resolving the emotional issues and incompatibilities sabotaging re-attraction and keeping you apart. A decent starting point for exploring this topic further are my articles on neediness, attachment, and compatibility.
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