Deciphering Mixed Signals: Understanding What Your Ex is Sending

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If there is one hurtful thing you can get from your ex-boyfriend who says he wants to come back or who you initiated contact with, hoping to reconcile the relationship, it is mixed signals. Mixed signals are extremely common among exes. One minute, they are hot and then cold, in and then out, yes and then no. It’s like they don’t know what they want, yet keep leading you by the nose.

This can be extremely confusing, and your emotions will be in turmoil because you are trying to understand why they are giving you mixed signals and also trying to keep up with them. This is why it is essential you are able to decode or decipher these signs or signals before it gets too late.

But then you wonder, “How can I do that?” Well, first, you need to understand why exes give mixed signals. It is like the foundation for understanding how to decode the signs. 

In this article, you will unravel mysteries, know the common signals and what they mean, the role social media plays in it, how to navigate through it, and more.

Unraveling the Mystery: Why Exes Send Mixed Signals

When an ex boyfriend or ex girlfriend gives mixed signs, it can be difficult to understand what they truly want. There are various psychological reasons why your ex might exhibit hot and cold behavior. Below are some psychological reasons why your ex is sending mixed signals:

Unresolved feelings

Unresolved feelings are the most common cause of your ex’s being hot and cold. They may still have strong feelings for you but fail to cope with them. In other words, they may be experiencing conflicting emotions, wanting to rekindle with you but yet being linked to unsolved difficulties from the past. These emotions or sensations might make your ex feel warm one minute and then hostile the next minute.

Personal insecurity

This can have a substantial impact on hot and cold behavior. For example, your ex might be warm with you at first, then cold as things grow serious because they are protective or frightened of another heartbreak. This aspect is typically driven by self-doubt, questioning their decision to quit the relationship, or doubting their own value.

The fear of finality

The fear of finality frequently lies under the surface, causing your ex-partner to alternate between warmth and distance. Accepting the definitive end of a relationship may be daunting, causing worry and insecurity. Your ex might give you mixed signals just to alternate between seeking emotional closeness for comfort and establishing distance as a protection strategy against the apparent finality of the breakup.

Emotional confusion

This is another probable reason for your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend’s inconsistent behavior. They can be unsure about their sentiments. They may be unclear about what they want from the relationship or struggle to understand how they feel about it.

Fear of rejection

Lack of confidence is a common impact of this type of factor. They are afraid of being rejected if they tell you they still love you and want to get back together. To cope, they become cold to hide their emotions and hot to demonstrate that they still care.

Your ex is hot and cold because they are toxic

It is odd to stumble into an ex who intentionally sends you confusing signals, but it does happen. Some ex-partners act inconsistently to confuse, shame, or harm you. It’s generally an ego issue.

Playing games with you, causing you to follow them. and once your ex realizes you are getting along with them, they reject you and see you in misery making with certain (toxic) your ex still feel better about themselves and more secure in their decision to end their relationship with you.

Desire for control

When your ex is giving you hot and cold behavior, they may want control over the issue. By employing various manipulative strategies, they may seek the final say and the upper hand. This component causes emotional instability and disorientation, leaving you apprehensive about the future.

External pressures

Your ex might experience pressure from friends or family to move on or avoid reconciliation. They may be fearful of failing those individuals or battling with their ideas and expectations, leading them to act inconsistently.

Decoding the Signals: Actions vs. Words

Now, we all know this saying. Action speaks louder than words. But the question is, do you know how to decode the signals? Do you know how to decipher the discrepancies between what your ex-boyfriend says and what he does? Can you read between the lines of what he says and how he acts?

You see, one thing you need to know about the two is that words tell a story, while actions show how one feels.

To understand or cope with your ex’s mixed signals, you need to understand what actions and words are and how they can help.

Words are powerful. Many things can be changed with just a few words. When it comes to breaking or making up, words are used. They are used to convey one’s feelings. But sometimes, they are very misleading. One could say one thing and mean another.

This is where action comes in. Actions are the doing. If you just say a word without acting on it, it is pointless. The action does the things spoken. For instance, if your ex-boyfriend says he wants to reconnect but doesn’t act toward it, it is not taken seriously. This is why many people believe that showing is more validating than telling.

However, many still want the words, because it is affirmative. It tells them what they want or need to hear. This is why, words and actions are very essential in every relationship. A healthy dose of both is essential. This means words should be genuine but backed with corresponding actions.

Don’t just settle for one over the other. Ensure you get a dose of both. If your ex says he wants you back, there should be actions to back up that statement. If he says he is sorry, there should be follow-up actions. 

Examples of mixed signals from ex! Note this

  • Talk + no action = Incomplete result
  • Little to no talk + action = Incomplete result
  • Talk + action = Complete result

The bottom line is decoding the signs from your ex-boyfriend means getting both actions and words. Words reveal what he wants to do; action is him acting on what he said he wanted to do. 

Noticing peculiar behavior from your ex? Learn about the signs at ‘Signs Your Ex Is Testing You.

Common Mixed Signals and Their Meanings

There are so many ways your ex is giving mixed signals. What is important is that you understand what those mixed signals mean so you can effectively and effortlessly handle them when they occur. 

Here are common mixed signals from an ex

Sporadic texting

When your ex starts sending sporadic texts (in other words, infrequent and inconsistent texts), this is a clear sign of mixed signals. Some days, they text you consistently; other days, they decide to ghost you and your messages or send sporadic texts.

What this means is that their interest is fluctuating, or they might be unclear about their sentiments or want to keep contact without totally committing.

Sudden coldness

When your ex suddenly changes from warm to chilly, then warm to chilly, and back again, you might be dealing with unresolved feelings or seeking to create emotional distance for personal reasons.

Hot and cold behavior

He’s loving and charming one minute, then distant and cold the next. This bright and loving, then cold and distant behavior can be quite perplexing and cause you to wonder about his genuine motives and whether he still wants you back or not.

Even if your ex still has feelings for you, he might be unclear of the depth of his sentiments or attempt to assess your response to his behavior.

Flirtatious behavior

Suddenly, your ex becomes really flirty with you, and you start to wonder if he wants to try to get back together with you, but, looking at it, it seems unlikely. Then you ask yourself, “Why is he sending me mixed signals?”

Well, it could be that your ex still craves your attention or has difficulties letting go emotionally. He may appreciate the familiarity without being prepared for a serious commitment.

Jealousy or possessiveness

This is one of the most common mixed signals many exes give off. Even after the relationship has ended, they are still jealous or possessive. They’ll get all hot and bothered when they see you with someone else.

Seeing this can let your emotions run high with the belief that they regret breaking up with you and want you back. 

The Role of Social Media in Sending Mixed Signals

Social media is a powerful platform for your ex-boyfriend to send the message they want to pass across. In many cases, it is one of the biggest ways mixed signals are sent, leading to confusion and mental distress. One moment, you think they are still in love with you; the next, it looks like they are enjoying the single life. 

You suddenly feel a wave of thoughts and emotions you don’t know how to understand. Here are the roles social media plays in sending unclear signals.

Wondering why your ex’s behavior is inconsistent? Discover answers at ‘Why Is My Ex Hot and Cold?

Liking and commenting without making plans

If your ex likes and comments on your posts but doesn’t contact you or send you a DM, you might get confused. 

The truth is when you see that your ex liked or commented on your post, you will become giddy or all-smiles. But then, reality sets in a few hours or days later, and you are not getting any form or initiation from him.

The thoughts that would run through your head, especially if he is the one who is the first to view all your content, like, and comment, will be, “Why is he just liking and commenting without making plans? What does he mean by doing this?”

Posting ambiguous content

When you see an ambiguous or cryptic post from your ex that seems to be directed at you, you begin to wonder what that means. This leads to misunderstanding to know their genuine emotions and intentions to get you back. 

Stalking your social media

There are so many past and present memories on social media. As a result, your ex might miss you enough to want to relieve or see a glimpse of the past, and what better way than to check you up on social media?

Indirect communication

Social media provides a simple conduit for indirect contact. These indirect communications allow your ex to quietly express words or feelings without explicitly addressing you.

How to interpret these actions

When you see these signs, how do you interpret these actions?

  • Look at the context of the already-ended relationship and why it ended to better understand the motion behind your ex’s social media actions.
  • Your ex might be doing all those to get your attention and keep their options open.
  • Sometimes, your ex might want you to initiate contact with them.
  • It could be that they have unresolved feelings, and viewing, commenting, or liking your social media profile is how they cope.
  • Maybe they want you back, and since they can’t do texts or calls (perhaps you have blocked them), they resort to using likes and comments to get our attention.
  • Above all, concentrate on self-care and emotional well-being, remembering that social media signals may not always correctly represent genuine emotions.

Remember that social media is only one aspect of communication, and interpreting actions on these platforms should be done cautiously.

Ex Giving Me Mixed Signals: How to Respond

The moment your ex starts giving you hot and cold signals, you wonder how you will navigate your way out of them. Navigating these emotional rollercoasters of mixed signals necessitates a deliberate and strategic approach.

Here are some techniques to help you respond without harming your emotional well-being.

Set clear boundaries

Setting boundaries is paramount in every relationship, romantic or not. It lets you know what you want or don’t want, as well as what you can stand and not stand. In this case, setting clear boundaries for the hot and cold ex is crucial. Let your ex know what you are comfortable and uncomfortable with. 

Also, be firm and clear when setting the boundaries. Let your ex know how serious the situation is.

Prioritize open communication

Prioritize open and honest communication. If you’re uncertain about the confusing signals, consider having an open talk with your ex to get clarification and convey your feelings.

The need to talk with your ex about their hot and cold behavior is essential. Let them know that as much as you appreciate their presence, you are not comfortable with them being nice one day and then seems cold the next. Ask them about their feelings, encouraging them to clarify their feelings and yours honestly.

Limit your social media exposure

It might be difficult, but specific situations require actions that might be challenging but must be done to get the desired result. Consider cutting down the amount of time you spend on social media if there are so many traces of your ex-boyfriend’s social media activity. This can help reduce triggers and unpleasant feelings. 

Also, you could unfollow or mute his accounts if needed. Or, unfriend or unfollow mutual friends so he does not indirectly access your content.

Seek support

Get in touch with friends, relatives, or a therapist for assistance. Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. A support system can offer essential insights, comfort, and advice as you negotiate the intricacies of post-breakup feelings.

Focus on personal growth

Focus your efforts on personal development and self-improvement. Use this time to discover new hobbies, make objectives, and engage in your own growth. Focusing on your personal path might help relieve emotional disturbance.

Reflect on your needs

Take your time to consider your personal wants and desires. What do you actually want to get back from this relationship? Are you looking for closure, friendship, or the chance of reconciliation, or do you wish to get your ex back? Knowing your own needs and wants will help you respond and make informed decisions to win back your ex.

Ex Sending Mixed Signals: When to Hold On and When to Let Go

It’s been a while, and you are getting tired of the mixed signals they keep sending. A part of you still wants to reconcile back with your ex, but the other part is tired of waiting or the games you feel they are playing with you and wants to end the relationship completely.

You are conflicted, and it’s quite understandable. Deciding whether to hold on or let go when getting mixed signals from your ex can be a difficult and emotional decision.

Before you make your decision, there are some criteria you need to consider to help decide whether pursuing a reconciliation is feasible or if it’s healthier to move on.

When to Hold On:

  • Evaluate how consistent your ex’s mixed signals are. Do they move between hot and cold, or do their actions give off a sense of genuine ambiguity? How often do they indulge in giving off unclear signals?
  • If your ex consistently shows signs or genuine effort in talking to you to rebuild the relationship, you can consider holding on. Action speaks louder than words. Despite their hot and cold behavior, if they are committed to making things work, you should consider holding on.
  • If your ex is willing to talk about his hot and cold behavior or the mixed signals he gives off, then you can hold on. Due to the fact that he is willing to talk about his issues with you shows that he wants things to work between you and just needs some time to figure things out. A foundation of openness is essential for fostering trust and understanding.
  • If your ex is willing to improve emotionally, then you can hold on. Going back into the relationship with an emotionally unstable person will hurt you more. Therefore, if your ex is willing to be emotionally strong despite the mixed signals, you can hold on.
  • If your ex communicates encouragement for relationship growth and makes efforts towards resolving the issue, it means a willingness to embrace change. That is good and progressive.
  • If your ex shows true respect and attention for your feelings, needs, and boundaries, it indicates a shared understanding and caring. Mutual respect and empathy are crucial elements of any healthy relationship.

When to Let Go

  • If you want her back, but her actions are erratic and inconsistent, then it is a sign that you should let go. At this point, holding on is futile. This goes for if you want him back also. If your ex is giving you mixed signals and, to add up, is unreliable, resolving underlying issues may be difficult. The best thing to do is to let go.
  • If your boundaries are being ignored by your ex, time and time again, then you need to let go. There is no need to return to someone who dismisses your worries, ignores your boundaries, or fails to consider your feelings. This means there is no mutual respect, so moving on is the healthy thing to do.
  • If you know that being with your ex will cause you emotional and mental harm, let go. These include tension, stress, worries, or even pain. There is no point in you reconnecting and having to feel this way still. Yes, you want your ex, but you need to let go if you are feeling stressed and worried due to that. Prioritize your mental and emotional well-being first. That should be your main goal.
  • If your ex constantly avoids commitment, that means they are not ready to go back into the relationship. So, let go.
  • Instinct is a powerful thing. No matter how much you like your ex, if you feel discomfort, unease, or lack of connection, don’t bother holding on. Just let go. Holding on or forcing yourself will do you more harm than good. Trust your instinct.

The bottom line is that holding on or letting go is a personal decision. However, making a tough decision like this requires you to read between the lines. Ensure the decision you make is one that is okay by you. Also, ensure you prioritize your emotional state, as that is the most important of them all.

Moving Beyond Mixed Signals From ex: Focusing on Personal Growth

Despite the mixed signals and the hope to get back together one day with your ex, there is one thing you need to focus on – your personal growth. Do not neglect that for any reason. Understandably, you will feel uncertain due to the mixed signals you are getting, but you must find clarity and peace irrespective of the ex’s intentions.

One thing you need to note is that focusing on personal growth during periods of uncertainty is not merely a coping mechanism; it is a transforming path toward inner resilience and empowerment.

If you are at your wits’ end and want to move beyond the mixed signals in your ex’s mind, here are some ways to go about it while focusing on personal growth:

Put self-care first

This should be first on the list. For anyone who wants to get their ex back, this is a very important factor. Love yourself. When you love yourself, you will get your ex back in your arms, even if your ex is sending you mixed signals. 

Come up with a self-care routine, such as healthy eating, exercising, body and mind care, and more. These can strengthen your ability to tolerate uncertainty and promote overall well-being.

Seek support

Don’t think you can do it alone. You have people around you who are willing to help, such as your friends and family. You can rely on them for support. If you don’t want to burden them, you can join a support group or look for professional help. Having people to help you is not a sign of weakness but strength.

Practice self-reflection and emotional processing

Self-reflection is highly important for your personal growth. Also, just as you reflect, so should you process your emotions. Don’t hide or bottle up your feelings. Acknowledge the feelings surrounding the breakup. You could share your feelings with someone you trust. Be free and honest with yourself when sharing or self-reflecting. Talking with someone can help you to understand why you feel the way you do.

Build a positive network around you

This is very important. Surround yourself with people who can encourage and support you positively. This is an essential factor for personal, emotional, and mental growth. 

Set achievable goals

Set goals. Set realistic goals. Don’t set goals that you know would be impossible or very, very hard to achieve. It might be personal, work-wise, relationship-wise, and more.

Conclusion: Seeking Closure and Clarity

At the end of it all, you are in control of your choices. Yes, it can be hard, but if you want to, you can do it. You don’t need to remain in one position. You need to move on. To do this, you need to seek closure and clarity, either by resolving the situation with your ex (that is, if you still want to get back together with your ex) or finding the strength to move forward independently – your rights reserved.

No matter your decision, you need to set clear boundaries. This is essential for emotional healing, closure, and a better transition into a new phase of life.


  1. “Unravel the signs that hint your ex might be in a rebound relationship and how to cope.”
  2. “Navigate through the signs indicating your ex will never come back and find closure.”
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About Alex

Alex Bert is an esteemed relationship coach with a specialization in marital counseling. With over 14 years of experience, Alex and his team have developed multi-lingual online programs that have positively impacted over 180,000 individuals globally. His approach, known for its effectiveness and often counterintuitive advice, is grounded in extensive real-world experience rather than theory. 

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