How do you know if a text from your ex is one of the signs your ex misses you?
You know the scenario: Your phone buzzes, and when you check the name on the screen, your heart jumps into your throat. It’s a text message from your ex – why would he be texting you? What could he want (need?) to say to you?
“How’s your day going?”
What is that even supposed to mean? Is he trying to be friends, or start something back up? Is this a sign that your ex misses you? How should you reply? Should you reply at all? It’s very rare that relationships end without unresolved feelings. Like a bomb went off, your mind is an explosion of confusing and conflicting emotions as you try to puzzle it out.
In these kinds of emotionally charged situations, people reach out to the Experts on JustAnswer to help find clarity. Although not as busy as the legal, veterinary and automotive sections of the site, the relationship Experts on JustAnswer answer hundreds of questions each year from people looking to make sense of their relationships, and more than 115,000 people came and read the resulting anonymous question and answer sessions, looking for insight into their own situations.
Getting confusing texts
One of the most popular sessions, visited over 1,800 times in 2017, deals with receiving a confusing or vague text from your ex.
This situation can be particularly confusing because one of the limitations of texting is that it's purely verbal, which accounts for only 7 percent of communication. The 58 percent that comes from body language and the 35 percent from vocal tone are completely absent from a text message, leaving a great deal of room for context to become misunderstood.
The customer in this session is stuck in exactly this kind of turmoil; her ex has been texting her intermittently with vague messages, and she has been running herself in circles trying to interpret them.
The Expert, Coach Jen K., a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, seems to have some background familiarity with the customer from earlier sessions, and after chatting for a while to get the details of the situation, she points something out to her:
“If he is truly interested, he will get off the text and ask you to go do something with him...if not this is more of the same.”
This is Coach Jen K.’s way of pointing out to the customer that her ex wouldn’t be keeping her confused if he was interested in a reciprocal relationship.
Recognizing reciprocity in relationships
The definition of reciprocity is "a reciprocal action or relation, a mutual exchange of commercial or other privileges." Within the bounds of a relationship, reciprocity refers to partners being equally invested. It encompasses cooperation, interdependence and emotional investment, things that should be demonstrated both partners. When a relationship is important to someone, they're willing to work at building and maintaining it.
If one partner is more committed than the other, reciprocity is much harder to maintain. In this example, Coach Jen K. goes on to encourage the customer to distance herself from the ex, and to ask him directly to identify his intentions if he continues to text her.
Texting isn’t the only reason it’s confusing
Lack of reciprocity is the issue at the heart of the texting ex dilemma, but it isn’t just the technology that causes the problem. Even in person, you can get confused about signs your ex still loves you, as happened in this related session. This time, the customer had work interactions with the ex, and had noticed him starting to pay attention to her.
In this case, Mwaife1, a licensed professional councilor and expert on JustAnswer, offers a similar observation as Coach Jen K in the first session:
“It is not uncommon for people, once they break up, to find ways to be flirty with each other because of that past chemistry. But from what you say he has not acted on anything yet, which tells me he is probably committed to his current relationship. I would not read too deep into it unless he truly shows interest.”
Both Experts are pointing to the fact that an honest demonstration of interest in a relationship would look very different than confusing signals. They are trying to remind their customers that when you are looking for signs that your ex misses you, it is a person’s actions, more than their words, that matter in a relationship.
Understanding healthy relationships
The ability to recognize the signs of a healthy relationship is part of becoming an adult, and usually involves some hard lessons. But, however they are earned, the lessons do pay off. A 2013 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found a declining relationship between the age when a couple was first married and the likelihood of the marriage ending in divorce. The younger people married, the more likely it was to end badly. The people who took the time to learn these relationship lessons had better odds of maintaining healthy relationships.
This information helps to explain the data that we see when looking at the visitors to these sessions. When we look at the ages of the visitors to these two sessions, we see that interest in these topics peak in the 25-34 age range, when people are struggling to make sense of their relationships. The interest tapers off as age increases and people learn to avoid relationships that aren’t healthy.
Age of visitors to session 1:
Age of visitors to session 2:
Paying attention to reciprocity is one of these important relationship lessons, and the Experts in these examples are helping their customers to figure it out.
Some of the signs of a healthy relationship that you should be looking for include:
- You feel safe and comfortable within the relationship.
- You are confident and healthy outside of your relationship.
- You show respect for each other’s boundaries.
- You can trust each other.
- You can communicate honestly with each other.
- You are able to resolve conflicts fairly, and can influence each other’s opinions.
- You encourage each other’s individuality.
- You each have independent interests.
- You both have relationships with friends and family.
Sometimes, when you find yourself confused about your relationships, especially when you might be seeing signs your ex misses you, an outside perspective can help you to make sense of the situation. The Experts on JustAnswer are a fast, affordable and anonymous source for the useful relationship advice you need.
Do you have any advice for avoiding unhealthy relationships? Share them in the comments!