Today I’m going to take you through the six major signs that I think are most prevalent in a situation where your ex is talking to you out of pity.
Really quickly, here are the signs in case we have looky loo’s who don’t want to read the entirety of the article (or want to skip to one specifically)
- Their Words And Actions Don’t Align
- You Can’t Ever Get To A 50/50 Split
- When You Do Talk It’s Always Short
- They Actually Reveal Their Pity
- The Conversation Is Dominated By You
- You Feel Like They’ve Always Got One Eye On The Clock
But I didn’t want to stop just there.
After I finish all six signs I decided that I was going to explain (albeit pretty briefly) how you would typically handle a situation where you’ve been pitied texted (is that a word?)
Anyways, let’s dive in!
Sign #1: Their Words And Actions Don’t Align
I know I sound like a broken record, having expounded on this throughout the existence of this website.
However, this concept IS steeped in science.
Odd as that may sound, I believe it was Carl Jung who proposed,
‘If you cannot comprehend why someone did something, scrutinize the consequences and infer motivation.’
Essentially, if you’re having trouble discerning your ex’s true thoughts, one needs only to observe their actions and see if they correspond with their words.
Here’s a handy dandy graphic to illustrate this point:
Too often, especially when an ex interacts with you out of pity, guilt, or mere politeness, they’ll frequently say exactly what you want to hear.
For instance, ‘Sure, we’ll catch up soon.’
Yet, when the time comes, they always inevitably have an excuse for why they “can’t catch up soon.”
Their actions fail to align; they don’t actually follow through with that proposed meetup.
What’s really compelling about this words versus actions approach is its function as a truth-detection mechanism.
When your ex makes a statement, the method to truly verify their sincerity is to simply observe the actions that follow their words.
It’s not always as straightforward as receiving a swift answer, which is likely why this method hasn’t garnered as much popularity as, say, my ‘avoidant death wheel‘.
Yet, the words versus actions approach is something you can apply to not only relationships but all facets of your life. It allows you to determine whether someone is being truthful in their assertions.
Sign #2: You Can’t Ever Get To A 50/50 Split
Years ago, I devised a product in secret, Away from the elves and the men and the dwarves… One thing to rule them all….
Ok, dad jokes aside…
I created a course named ‘The Texting Bible.’
In it, I essentially dissected the intricacies of text messaging an ex after a breakup. I identified several criteria that manifest in situations where texting with the ex is proceeding smoothly.
One aspect I discuss is the increased potency of having your ex initiate the text exchange, even though that is statistically quite rare among our clients.
Proof of that rareness below:
Another aspect is that it’s crucially important to have meaningful conversations with your ex. Often, individuals stick to surface-level topics and fail to delve into the ‘big talk’ I mentioned a few months back.
If you’re unfamiliar with what big talk constitutes, it’s the act of having conversations that surpass small talk, intended to evoke more interest. A fantastic TED talk elucidates this concept, and I highly recommend you check it out below.
Then, of course, there’s the matter of paying attention to the communication split.
Ideally, you’re always striving for a 50-50 split—every text you send is reciprocated by your ex.
However, the common issue our clients encounter is that they’re sending two texts for every single one they receive from their ex.
In an ideal world, for every one text you send, your ex would return two.
At the bare minimum, we’re always aiming to achieve a 50-50 split. However, it’s not always feasible from the get-go. Sometimes, you have to build towards it, utilizing the Zeigarnik effect and similar strategies to entice your ex into continuing the conversation.
In scenarios where your ex communicates out of pity, you’ll notice you never seem to achieve a 50-50 split.
Despite your efforts, you’re consistently the one initiating contact and sending more messages.
Why is this?
Well, when an ex interacts out of pity, they view the conversation with you as a chore. This doesn’t mean they’ve always despised conversing with you.
However, they perceive it as an obligation they’d prefer to escape as quickly as possible. They inherently understand that a 50-50 split prolongs the conversation, which doesn’t suit their intentions.
Sign #3: When You Do Talk It’s Always Short
So, when you engage your ex in conversation, they may appear uninterested or preoccupied.
Their responses lack enthusiasm.
You’re met with a multitude of one-word replies, such as ‘okay,’ or ‘cool.’
These are likely the easiest signs to identify, as you can review your text message history and evaluate how they responded when you tried to engage in some of the ‘big talk’ conversations mentioned earlier.
If their response was simply ‘cool, I’ll check it out,’ that leans towards neutrality, if not negativity.
If they responded with ‘okay,’ that’s a terse reply.
The goal here is to do the bare minimum, so you can’t accuse them of ignoring you, but they’re also aiming to exit the conversation as swiftly as possible.
Ya… not really sure if there’s a ton to add here.
Sign #4: They Actually Reveal Their Pity
Another prevalent sign is when they directly reveal their pity.
Usually, when you sense that things aren’t progressing well with your ex, frustration might creep in.
You may even have a minor outburst where your ex senses your exasperation or when you question, ‘Why aren’t you talking to me?’ In these instances, we find that exes sometimes disclose their pity.
They might openly say things like, ‘Well, you know, I just feel bad for you. You’re all alone,’ or, ‘I don’t want you to be alone,’ or, ‘I feel sorry for you,’ or, ‘I feel guilty for how I treated you.’
If your ex reveals their pity in this manner, then they likely haven’t evolved to view a conversation with you as something they anticipate.
Rather, they’re doing the bare minimum to get by.
It reminds me of schoolwork that was relatively simple, requiring little effort because you knew that with minimal study, you could pass. This same principle applies to relationships.
Sign #5: The Conversation Is Dominated By You
Another significant sign is when the conversation is dominated by you.
Of course, we’ve discussed the 50-50 split and how often, if you’re conversing with an ex who is responding out of pity, you’ll find yourself dictating the conversation.
This means for every one and a half to two text messages you send your ex, they reply only once.
(Look at this graphic for reference)
However, what I’m primarily referring to here is the content of the conversation.
If the entire discussion is solely about you, this usually indicates that they’re doing the bare minimum to prompt you to express your emotions, but they’re not genuinely interested in engaging.
The evidence for this is their lack of personal information sharing.
While there is a concept of a 50-50 split in text messaging ratio, there’s also a 50-50 split in actual conversational exchange.
- You share something happening in your life, and they acknowledge it, then share something about theirs.
- But if you’re sharing something about your life, and they’re acknowledging it without reciprocation, that’s typically a bad sign.
What happens then is that you start sharing aspects of your life repetitively, and you’re caught in a negative feedback loop where you continually attempt to pique their interest.
Sign #6: They’ve Always Got One Eye On The Clock
Another indicator is the sensation that they always have one eye on the clock.
It’s challenging to identify a specific behavior that confirms this is occurring when you’re texting them.
If you’re meeting in person, it’s pretty apparent—they’re constantly checking their watch, eager for the encounter to conclude.
However, in the context of text messaging, where their responses are driven by pity, there’s no proverbial clock or watch to glance at. Sure, they could use their phone, but that’s not the same.
So, what should we be looking for here?
This is one of those scenarios where trusting your gut is crucial.
As I often remind members of our community, you know your ex better than I ever will.
This understanding is vital for various reasons.
Primarily, it’s because you already have a baseline for their typical behaviors, including how they usually text. The disruption caused by a breakup will obviously affect that baseline. Still, suppose they are communicating with you out of pity.
In that case, they will inevitably revert to some aspects of that normal baseline. If that standard baseline never seems to return, and instead you consistently feel they’re merely responding to be polite, always looking for an opportunity to disengage from the conversation.
If they always appear ready to ‘check out,’ so to speak, trust your instincts. It’s likely what’s happening.
How Do You Handle A Pity Response From Your Ex?
Now, the important thing is not to despair if you’re experiencing any of the signs I just mentioned.
There are ways to rectify these situations.
From my experience, it boils down to the basics—understanding how to establish a solid foundation for text messaging.
So, what does this entail?
- Well, someone employing a robust text messaging foundation will know that all they need to do is engage their ex in a topic that piques their ex’s interest.
- They should develop the habit of being the first one to end the conversation.
- They also need to create an impression that they are moving on.
Text message etiquette has many nuances.
Often, people solely focus on initiating a no-contact rule after a breakup and then immediately jumping into the texting phase.
But people who do that often overlook THE most crucial aspect of no contact.
They don’t make any efforts during the no-contact period to indicate to their ex that they’re moving on.
One of the reasons why an ex might respond to you out of pity could be their avoidant mentality.
(And most exes we study have avoidant tendencies)
Typically, avoidants don’t start missing you or engaging heavily until they believe you have moved on.
Therefore, a significant part of the process we teach is about moving on from your ex before you even start texting them. That’s why I repeatedly emphasize the importance of ‘outgrowing your ex’ during the no-contact rule, so you can reach an emotional state that allows you to text them from the right mindset, enhancing their likelihood to respond positively.
The natural question arising from this would be, ‘If I do that, how will my ex know I’ve moved on?’ This is where elements like social media come into play.
You can utilize these indirect mediums during the no-contact period to send this signal.
A substantial portion of the work needed to lower your ex’s defenses and alleviate their guilt for responding to you involves them seeing you moving on via social media. This increases the likelihood of them responding and engaging positively.
Of course, then comes the texting etiquette—deploying the formula of:
Hook + Payoff + High Point = Success
You can watch my video on that here:
Essentially, hook plus payoff plus high point equals the ideal end to any conversation. Applying this method consistently through every conversation usually leads to better results over time.