Knowing what to do when your ex texts you can be difficult. That single message can mean any number of things and if you don’t know how to decipher it, responding isn’t easy.
Factors like how long ago you broke up, who made the decision and how it ended all play a part in the actual message. Thankfully, the overall meaning and goal of the messages tends to fall into one of seven categories.
Today, I’ll be taking you through those categories and how to handle them. Once you can learn to identify your ex wants, replying gets much easier.
What does it mean when your ex texts you?
Since there’s no single answer that applies to all situations, we’re going to take a look at a few examples.
As you read through each of them below, you might even start to remember times when you’ve received them in the past. Perhaps you were oblivious to why she was texting you.
“I miss you” or “I love you”
Let’s start with an easy message to understand. Most common just after a breakup, she’s letting you know that she misses the relationship and still wants to be with you.
Example: “Hi. I just wanted to see how you’re doing 'cause I haven’t heard from you in a few days. It’s been tough. I still love you.”
Emotions are still running high and she’s done away with any form of subtlety. In this situation, the decision as to whether or not you try for a relationship again is entirely up to you.
Take some time to figure out if you’re open to getting back together as that will dictate your response. If you do, set up a time to meet and chat about why things ended and what would need to change.
If you’re not interested, you should take this opportunity to make that clear. No need to be cruel but communicate openly. Something along the lines of “Hey, I’ve just been taking some time to think things over. Considering how things ended, I think we’re better off as friends.”
Change it up to include your own reasoning in there or keep it generic -- exactly what the message looks like is entirely up to you. So long as you don’t respond with an “I love you too” just to be “nice” or to get her to text you back.
Reminders of your past together
One of the hardest things about ending a long term relationship is breaking all those habits. There are so many things that remind us of our ex constantly. It could be anything from a song to a common meme to the type of milk you used to argue over.
Sometimes, your ex might send you a photo or message about something that reminded her of you. It’s one of those ambiguous texts that make you wonder “what does it mean when an ex texts you?”
Example: “Three weeks later and I still find myself buying this damn milk. I don’t even like it!”
Think of this message as a subtle version of my first point. She misses you and is struggling with these constant reminders of your relationship. She’s messaging you about it to see if you feel the same way.
Basically, she’s fishing for your position on whether or not you’re open to a relationship again.
Once again, you have two options here. Either set up a time to sit down and discuss things or let her know that you aren’t interested.
Replying with small talk only leads to a confusing gray area. If anything, it might just give her reasons to not text you back. If you aren’t interested in being with her, this gray area also offers her false hope, which only makes things more complicated.
The initial weeks after a breakup give us a lot of time to think. Often, that can be the time we needed to realize where we went wrong or how we contributed to the breakup.
If you get a regret-filled message from your ex, that kind of realization is where it came from.
Example: “Hey, I’ve been thinking a lot about our relationship these last few days. I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for how I dealt with things. I was feeling jealous and insecure and took it out on you. You deserved better.”
The motive here isn’t as clear as the first two examples, so a bit of back and forth will be needed. It’ll generally go one of two ways. Either she’s making this apology because she wants to be with you and knows it’s a necessary step to get there.
Otherwise, she’s just being open about the progress she’s made and wants you to know.
While it’s most commonly the first one, take the time to discuss it with her to be sure. Thank her for the message and explanation and pay close attention to her tone in the next few replies.
Anger or frustration
We’ve all received this one from an ex at some point and it can be a lot to deal with. Maybe she saw a photo of you with another woman on Facebook and drew some assumptions.
She might have even spent the last hour talking about you with her friends and needs to vent. Whatever the case, you’re now on the receiving end of some anger and frustration.
Example: “Nice to see it took you all of 5 days to get over our relationship and start with someone else. I hope she’s worth it.”
When your ex texts you with something like this, I’d suggest taking some time before you reply. Your first reaction may be to bite back which only leads to a messy and pointless argument. Clearly she also needs a minute to calm down too, in which case you should hope she doesn't text back.
How you respond depends on whether or not you’re comfortable explaining anything. With the example above, maybe an innocent photo with a coworker set her off. Explaining that to her is the fastest way to defuse the situation.
But then again, you’re no longer together, so you’re under no obligation to explain yourself. In this case, you can ignore her to save yourself from her accusations.
The casual brag
Breakups tend to bring up a lot of insecurities. Some people choose to deal with this by overcompensating--by pretending their life is fantastic and things have never been better.
If your ex is casually bragging in her messages, it’s probably coming from a place of insecurity. Rather than showing herself as weak or struggling with the breakup, she wants to appear totally fine.
It can be difficult to deal with sometimes, as though she really did just move on from everything almost immediately. Just remember that in most cases it’s quite the opposite, this is just her coping mechanism.
Example: “How was your weekend? Hope you’re doing okay. I’m so sunburned, I just got back from Hawaii!”
It might be tempting to call her out on it or compete with her (like saying you're texting a girl you like), but that will only start an argument. Instead, I’d suggest just rolling with it. Ask her about her trip to be polite and leave it at that.
So long as you’re not buying into the whole “my life is great” facade, she’ll usually drop it quite quickly.
Texting you is still a habit
This type of text is more dangerous than most of us realize because of its subtlety. She’s just texting you with general conversation as though you’re still together and you may even respond in the same way.
Before you know it, you’re both acting like you’re together, yet you’re still apart. This makes for a lot of confusion and miscommunication. More often than not, it ends with one person getting hurt all over again: “Everything seemed fine now all of a sudden you still don’t want to be with me?”
This type of message will usually be something very casual as though everything was fine.
Example: “Hey! How was your weekend? Did you end up going hiking?”
How you deal with these types of messages depends on what you want in the future. If you want friendship or a relationship, it’s okay to have general chit-chat now and then. Just make sure you set clear boundaries early.
If you’d rather not hear from her, it’s time to say just that. Something along the lines of “Hey, my weekend was good. I’m sorry, but with the way things ended I think we’re better off not talking.”
This way you both know where you stand and you aren’t stringing her along for weeks or even months.
When your ex texts you, “You up?”
This one is a classic that just had to make the list. The “You up?” message is always late at night, usually on a Friday or Saturday. It might also come with a typo to clue you in on how much she’s had to drink.
While some factors may change, the translation is always the same--“Are you awake, alone and want to have sex right now?”
While it might be tempting, sleeping with your ex is never a good idea. Ever.
Ignore the text until the next morning, then tell her you don’t want to blur your boundaries by sleeping together. You’ll thank me later.
So what does it mean when an ex texts you? It depends on the context, the type of breakup you had and sometimes, the time when she texted.
If you’re still feeling uneasy about all of this, that’s perfectly normal. She’s your ex and the emotions around the breakup make things messy. Though you can always learn how to text your ex in a way that's probably healthy for both of you.
Now that you know how you ought to be responding, work through that discomfort. Make sure you handle it properly when your ex texts you.
Tempting as it may be to take the easy way out, it only ends up dragging things on that much longer. Over time, it will get easier and you’ll be happy you dealt with it the right way.