Dating a guy who recently got out of a relationship can be tricky business — while he may claim to be "totally over it," his heart might still be on the mend.
If it seems that he just isn't that into you, he could be still hooked on someone else, says dating expert and matchmaker Susan Trombetti.
You deserve a guy who's 100 percent focused on you, not his last girlfriend, so to help you determine whether or not he has actually moved on (and whether you should), here are nine signs that a guy could be still hanging on to his ex.
Her name comes up…a lot.
Trombetti says that a guy who constantly talks about his ex is probably still hung up on her. Some of the telltale signs that she's clearly on his mind: "If he talks about her a lot in conversation and her name continuously comes up, along with things they did or shared together."
And while he may totally innocently call you her name once, maybe twice, beware of a guy who does it in emotionally-charged moments, like during sex or an argument, she says.
He still seems angry with her.
Past relationship wounds can still sting, but the feelings we have about those former partners should ebb over time, according to Wendy Walsh, Ph.D., author of the upcoming book The 30-Day Love Detox.
"Some guys have physically broken up, yet haven't emotionally let go and they stay connected through conflict," she says. "So if he's still talking about the bad things she did in the past, he's trying to remind himself that he's not still in love with her — because he is still in love with her."
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He's still mourning the relationship.
It's normal to be sad about a breakup, but not after you're in another relationship. Trombetti says that your guy may not still be in love with his ex, but if he continues to act depressed about what went down between them, then he hasn't put it behind him.
In that case, she says that you need to steer clear of him. "You don't want to be the rebound chick. You deserve more and that situation isn't healthy for you."
He considers her his best female friend.
There's nothing wrong with wishing an ex happy birthday on Facebook or shooting her a congratulatory text when she eventually gets engaged, but it's a bad sign if a guy keeps reaching out to his former girlfriend soon after their split.
"It is possible to become friends with an ex-lover, but not within a year of the break up — and certainly not when his prized personal time should be spent building a secure relationship with you," Walsh says.
Trombetti adds that you really need to watch out if the ex continues to play the role his best gal pal. "Beware if she is the first person he calls when something good happens, like a promotion at work, or when he just needs to talk," she warns.
He compares you to her.
Sure, it may be nice to hear that you're so much more amazing than your guy's ex, but if he's really over her, he wouldn't find the need to make such associations, Walsh says.
"If you find him musing about how great you are and so much better than his ex -- in bed, in the kitchen, at sports — then he's probably actually pining for her, yet trying to convince himself that you are his future."
He doesn't bring you around mutual friends.
When you're in a relationship with someone, you should want to share your whole world with them — and old friends are a big part of that. However, Walsh notes that a guy who's still stuck on his ex might try to keep you from going to events or seeing people who also know his ex.
"If you aren't invited to a certain social function because he tells you, 'it's just a bunch of old friends,' you have to wonder if he's actually hoping to run into his ex," she warns.
He's still close to her family.
While your guy might have seriously bonded with his ex's family, at some point he's got to let those ties fall away, Trombetti says.
A major sign that he's not over his ex is if he still hangs out with her family socially, like going to a football game with her dad or attending a dinner party. What other reason would he have to hang on to those relationships if not to try to win her back?
He hasn't given back her stuff.
Okay, so some of us may still be hanging onto an ex's super comfy t-shirt or pretty piece of jewelry, but a guy shouldn't be hoarding a ton of his former girlfriend's stuff.
"If her photos or any of her personal belongings are still around, he's hanging onto the relationship through those objects," Walsh says. Then again, he might just be lazy. Tell him that his ex's duds bother you and ask him to donate them or give them back to her. If he resists, then you know he still hasn't moved on.
You can just tell that he's not over her.
Trust your intuition. You'll know in your gut whether or not your guy still has eyes for his ex because you'll get the sense that he's just not 100 percent committed to your relationship.
"He might as well be seeing another woman behind your back because the result is the same," Trombetti says. "You aren't getting all of him. It's like an emotional affair. It damages or hinders the bond you share because he is emotionally tied to someone else."