“The grass is always greener” shouldn’t be a mantra of relationships, but sometimes it does come up. If you’ve been worried that your partner still has feelings for their ex, you might be concerned that even the way you show your love is under scrutiny. In order to figure out whether you’re dealing with jealousy, or an actual threat to your relationship, there are some important aspects to remember.
Of course, no one wants to feel like their partner thinks their previous relationship was better than the relationship they’re in with you. “It is definitely not a good thing to be in a relationship with someone who thinks more fondly of their ex than you,” psychotherapist Dr. Kathryn Smerling, tells Bustle. “If your partner is thinking about their ex, with persistency, you really have to reexamine your relationship. There is someone out there who will think of you and only you.” While it is an option to move on from this uncomfortable situation, it is also something that can be worked on through open communication with your partner.
“Remember this,” Kimberly Friedmutter, life management expert and author of Subconscious Power: Use Your Inner Mind to Create the Life You’ve Always Wanted, tells Bustle. “If the previous relationship was so amazing, they would still be in it.” With couples counseling or boundary setting, some of these “grass is always greener” tendencies may be able to be dealt with.
Here are eight signs your partner might miss how their ex treated them, according to experts.
1. They’re Hot And Cold
its ups and downs is relatively common. But a partner taking this to the extreme is a red flag. And if you have reason to believe they still have feelings for their ex, this may be a greater indication.
If your partner seems really into you in one moment, then cold the next, they may be dealing with some inner issues. They may be giving you their all one minute, but the next, if their ex comes to mind, they may become distant, health and wellness coach Caleb Backe, tells Bustle. “While all people have their mood swings, a frequent pattern could indicate something more.” And you deserve better than being toyed around with like that.
2. They Talk To Their Ex A Lot
While keeping in touch with an ex is not a red flag in and of itself, coupled with other signs, it could be an indicator that they are missing the way their ex treated them.
“While it’s always nice to stay on good terms with our exes there’s a lot to be said for context,” Backe says. “Dropping your ex a happy birthday post is one thing, but frequent calls and messages are definitely a sign that you’re digging in the past.” Asking your partner how they view their current relationship with their ex might help give you context.
3. They’re Constantly Comparing
It’s perfectly natural to compare two relationships in your head. If your partner, however, vocalizes these comparisons, you might have a sign that they see their ex as having treated them better.
It doesn’t have to be an outright statement, either. This sign could show up in all sorts of little ways. “Comparing gifts, romantic moments, [sex], vacations, really anything, [can be a concrete sign],” Dr. Smerling says. “Comparisons are a kiss of death for a healthy relationship. It will only serve to anger the current partner, make them insecure and filled with self doubt. These are corrosive to a successful dynamic.” So look out for these little signs if you’re worrying.
4. They Take A Lot Of Trips Down Memory Lane
A healthy relationship will allow for some space to talk about memories shared with an ex. It’s practically impossible, after all, to erase someone from your memory.
Still, keep an eye out if your partner does this a lot. “[It’s a sign if] each time you two go somewhere your partner has been before with their ex, they talk about the fond memories they and their ex have about that place,” relationship expert Sonya Schwartz, tells Bustle. “This shows they are thinking of their ex and miss the moments spent together.” It’s valid to see this habit as a red flag.
5. The Ex Can Do No Wrong
Clearly your partner’s last relationship ended for a reason. But if they act like absolutely nothing bad happened between them and their ex, that’s a red flag. “[It’s not a good sign if] your mate has ‘angelicized’ the ex,” Friedmutter says. “[…] The main issue with romanticizing an ex is that there are three of you in this relationship and it us unlikely that will change.” If they view their ex this way, it’s close to impossible for you to be able to live up to their memory.
“If your partner seems to act as if their ex could do no wrong, while [being] regularly critical of you, I would highly suspect they think their ex treated them better overall,” David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. You deserve someone who sees you in a good light.
6. They Are Just Beginning To Realize Their Ex’s Strengths
One instance where your partner may craft a narrative that romanticizes their ex is if they took their ex for granted during the relationship. If they’re just beginning to figure this out, it may end up being a problem between the two of you.
“It can be shocking when we wake up after the honeymoon stage to find things are missing in our current relationship that we had or maybe took for granted in our previous relationship,” relationship expert, Giordana Toccaceli, tells Bustle. “However, each person will have strengths and weaknesses, and it is important to focus on their individual strengths without making them feel small or inadequate for what they don’t have.” It’s important for your partner to understand that their ex’s strengths do not minimize yours.
7. They Keep Tabs On Their Ex On Social Media
While not every ex deserves an “unfollow,” your partner might show their true feelings by the way they behave on social media. And while different people have different standards for online behavior, there is some fishy stuff to look out for.
“One of the telltale signs someone still really likes their ex is constantly stalking them on social media and caring about what is going on the lives of their ex,” Bennett says. “If your partner is more concerned what their ex is doing than what you’re doing, I would consider that they think their ex treated them better than you treat them.” Looking out for this doesn’t mean you have to look at your partner’s phone; you may simply notice they mention what their ex is up to more than they might otherwise.
8. They Defend People Similar To Their Ex
Your partner may be aware that their true feelings are showing, and try to hide it. If so, you can look out for other, more subtle signs that they are missing their ex.
“Your partner may be reluctant to outright compare you to their ex, but they may praise people who act like their ex,” Bennett says. “So, you know their ex used to make them dinner regularly, and you don’t cook, so your partner may mention how great it is that someone they know made dinner for their partner. While they aren’t complimenting their ex per se, they are still praising their ex’s behavior in comparison to yours.” Noticing these patterns of behavior may give you insight into the way your partner feels.
It’s up to you, and your partner, whether you try to work through things if it turns out that they do indeed miss their ex. And beginning by having a conversation about how you’re feeling is an important step if you’ve noticed concrete signs that they see their ex this fondly.