By Chris Seiter

Published on April 5th, 2022

Today we’re going to be talking about exactly how to know if your ex is confused.

And I brought in our very own Dr. Tyler Ramsey to help us with this.

According to him, the very best way to determine if your ex is confused is to take a long look at the actions versus words approach.

In other words,

Always pay attention to what your ex is doing as far as their actions are concerned because you’ll learn a lot about a person based on how they act as opposed to what they say.

Of course there’s layers to this and so the rest of this article is going to be dedicated to answering one singular question. How do you interpreted your exes mixed signals towards you? Are they confused?

Well, let’s find out.

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Understanding Your Exes Mixed Signals

For the average person what does mixed signals post breakup look like?

According to Dr. Ramsey,

Generally what you’re going to see is hot and cold patterns where one day your ex is texting you very frequently and then the next they’re falling off the map.

But what’s really going on here?

Well, I think to answer that we need to take a hard look at the many different types of “mixed signals” that exes will exhibit when they are confused.

Confused Mixed Signal #1: I Want To Sleep With You But Won’t Commit

Unfortunately, this is a really common mixed signal we see throughout our coaching practice.

So, how does this work?

Essentially your ex is willing to sleep with you but they’re not willing to commit to you. Which is just kind of showing that they still want that connection with you but they’re not sure if they want to fully commit because that takes on an additional amount of vulnerability and accountability which adds pressure on them

Personally what I’ve always found interesting about the Friends with Benefits type situation is the inherent contradiction of of it, you know, you have this relationship with someone and then that person breaks up with you.

That’s them saying,

I’m not interested in you at all. But the Friends with Benefits aspect kind of indicates they are interested.

If you follow my actions vs words credo above then technically speaking it would seem as if your ex is unbelievably interested in you, right?

They still want to sleep with you at all so that has to count for something, right?

Psychologically What’s Going On Here?

Again, I’m going to turn to our very own Dr. Ramsey to answer this one.

Yeah, I think I think a lot of it is the fact that in this situation they are dealing with feelings, and they’re not sure exactly what to do with those feelings. My assessment would be that it’s a little bit too painful for them to cut you completely out of their life. Additionally, they’re probably not sure if they’re ready to take on a full commitment again so a lot of the times you see friends with benefits in a more avoidant person, just because the additional vulnerability that you need in order to make your time together into a full relationship is hard.

Ultimately what the good doctor is saying is that they still want to hold on to a small piece of your time together without fully committing.

In fact, Dr. Ramsey and I did an interview a few weeks ago where we talked about this idea of an addiction and how sometimes when you go through a breakup you get addicted to looking at peoples social media behaviors and he brought up this really interesting scientific fact about the nucleus accumbens which is a specific part of the brain.

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In fact, even Coach Anna talked about this concept in her latest article.

According to her,

Physically, there are three areas of the brain involved in heartbreak, and those areas are:

  1. Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA), which makes dopamine, the neurochemical that acts on the reward/pleasure parts of the brain
  2. Nucleus Accumbens (nAcc), which is the reward pathway
  3. Ventral Palladium (VP), which is associated with feelings of attachment to a partner that builds over time

But what’s super interesting about the Nucleus Accumbens is the fact that when it isn’t being used it can literally shrink.

Picking back up on another quote from Dr. Ramsey,

What I tell people often is that the brain is like a need heating machine. It will get its needs met regardless and that addiction part of it is actually something that contributes to it, and when it doesn’t, then it will go find it. A lot of the times, that’s a really quick fix. And so that’s why you typically see people entering into this friends with benefits situation. That’s why I tell a lot of my clients that if you’re in this situation you really have to set boundaries within it, because your ex is almost always going to keep you in this limbo, because it is a quick fix. And if you’re if you’re essentially agreeing to it, then you’re essentially saying you’re okay with being treated in the friendzone

Let’s talk about the next confusion sign.

Confused Mixed Signal #2: Future Pacing

So, what is future pacing?

Again, and I know this seems like a common theme but that’s because both Dr. Ramsey and I partnered on this article I’m going to turn the floor over to him.

Future pacing occurs when your ex makes comments about the future but never actually acts on those comments.

Some of the most common examples are them saying,

Oh, when we move in together Oh, when we buy this house together Oh, when we go to this place together

Ultimately future pacing is a good indication that your ex is confused.

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed from when I first started studying attachment styles is that a phoneme on I’ve noticed in studies is that avoidants often fall victim to these small bouts of nostalgia.

And this is often why exes can reach out to you from out of nowhere.

Maybe this is kind of like falling victim to that on a smaller level with future pacing.

Confused Mixed Signal #3: They Say They Are Happy Without You (But They Act Depressed On Social Media)

So, what does this actually look like?

Well, often it’s those things they say during the actual breakup that stick with you the longest.

  • “I’m better without you.”
  • “I never loved you anyways.”
  • “You meant nothing to me.”

Painful, right?

But the odd part is that on social media a different narrative is occurring.

Sure, they might feel like they’re happy without you but then they get depressed on social media posting all those sappy things that you see on their story on how they’re not doing well.

Or they need someone in their life to fill a void, those kinds of things.

Here’s an excerpt taken directly from an interview with Dr. Ramsey that I think sums this up perfectly,

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And I think a lot of people are very aware when those things do occur. And so that’s, that’s a really good indication of showing actions and words, because they’re telling you one thing and doing another, and a lot of people will tell you, and I think that goes across all attachment styles is that, you know, I’m fine. I’m fine, I’m fine. And then I’m not really, because admitting some kind of weakness, or they’re trying to convince themselves that they are, but they’re not.

I mean, how often have we been in relationships with a partner and there’s this inherent sense that something is off you can tell it in your gut.

Ultimately this sign is kind of like the extreme version of that idea. And the fact that these people are they’re putting on the front and the opposite way. They’re saying, like, Hey, I’m fine. Without you. I don’t need you. But that’s not the case, you know, the actions are taking, you’re indicating they’re kind of depressed after a breakup.

Which leads us to our next sign.

Confused Mixed Signal #4: You’re More Than A Friend… But I’m Not Ready For A Relationship

I know I’ve used this reference before but I’m going to do it again because I think it’s perfect for explaining this mixed signal.

There’s this whole How I Met Your Mother skit on that idea of keeping someone you like on a hook.

The classic, “I’m not ready for a relationship… Right now…”

Insinuating that there;’s still a chance.

Of course, there’s tons of variations of this. Another classic is, “Maybe in the future?”

Ultimately my take on it is maybe a little unique because personally I feel like if I’m putting myself in this position and I’ll preface this by saying that I have definitely been on both the receiving end and the giving end of this excuse.

I feel like every time I’ve ever said that it was more to spare the other person’s feelings which I realize is a backwards thought because all it does is give them false hope when there’s no potential hope.

But the common theme that seems to be developing is that really what we’re trying to get you to see is the words aren’t as important as actions actions.

Jordan Peterson gives this really great lecture on something Carl Jung said,

If you can’t figure out what someone is doing or why, look at the outcome and infer the motivation.

Of course, this is just a really fancy way of saying that actions matter more than words when trying to understand the psychology of a human.

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2 thoughts on “How To Know If Your Ex Is Confused”

  1. Nicole Sperandio

    May 3, 2022 at 5:21 am

    I’ve been very interested in getting some professional opinions about friends with benefits May my ex dated for about 2 years He broke up with me He seems to be in avoidant attachment style He kind of made up reason s that didn’t exist when we broke up I did 4 months of contact got in contact with him in November we’ve been talking on the phone texting seeing each other here and there somehow he managed to turn it into a friends with benefits situation which I had told him I didn’t not want to get physical too soon He kind of pressed the issue that it would help turn things into a relationship and now I’m kind of stuck I do definitely feel he has emotions but between him being an avoidant his ego and I’m not sure how to get myself out of it what to say to him because we’re now 4 to 6 months into it and we’re going to be coming up on a year since the breakup and about 3 months but his very into me physically He also seems to care about other errors of my life but he’s not really pursuing me. He is not seeing anybody else He hasn’t seen anybody else since the breakup I mentioned here and there about being on dating sites and what not I just really need advice I guess on how to go about letting him know that I’m not comfortable continuing on like this It’s not even that I really want to relationship necessarily I just want to know if he is at all interested in slowly moving towards that sometime in the future at least putting a little bit more effort in to other aspects other than what he’s been doing

  2. Aarya Rej

    April 10, 2022 at 6:25 am

    Hi Chris. So I broke up with my Ex in early March because of the way he was acting since January end. He was completely taking me for granted and wasn’t available for me the way he used to be. He was completely fine with the breakup and didn’t even try to fix things or even try to talk to me. I tried to do the no contact but broke it several times the whole month of march, and finally 5 days back I did a little bit of begging on text and he gently turned it down by saying career is important for him right now, he loves me but doesn’t want a relationship, he can’t put any efforts now and the relationship we shared is dead for him now. I thought there were hopes but it shattered me when he said all these things. I’m in day 5 of NC now, my last message to him was take care I apologise for the behaviour (begging) won’t happen again wish you well. He asked were you drunk, I said just a little bit won’t happen again. Then after a day he replied, good morning, I’m sorry if I said something wrong to you, I left it on seen and been doing NC since then. It’s killing me right now, I made this guy meet my whole family, I helped him with his job interview, I did everything I could to make him feel loved. And seeing him this cold towards me, I’m just in such a terrible state right now. And I’m blaming myself for everything. I really want him back I love him so much I am going crazy. I really hope no contact works and I get him back. I really miss him. Waking up in the morning is difficult sleeping is difficult, I don’t feel hungry, I can’t do anything at all. It’s taking a huge toll on me emotionally as well as physically. Please help me.