How many of you wonder about your girlfriend or boyfriend’s ex? For a lot of students I talk to this can be a huge issue in the relationship. Especially if your partner still talks to his or her ex. How should you handle this? What is okay to ask or talk about? What if your partner doesn’t want to open up or talks about their ex too much?
When you are first dating you can get very caught up in the moment, and all other people kind of fade into the background. You might not even care who their ex was because you feel so in love and untouchable by anything negative. Sooner or later it becomes a reality. Either you run into them by accident, see a random pic, or hear someone else talk about a memory involving the love of your life with their ex. No matter how the subject comes up, it eventually hits you that there was someone else before you. Someone else they may or may not have loved. Someone else that may or may not still love them. Someone else they may or may not have had sex with. Someone they may or may not still think about or still be friends with. It can also drive you crazy wondering about how they broke up and why.
Maybe you’re lucky and this is the first serious relationship your girlfriend or boyfriend is in. It can be a huge sigh of relief to not worry about who came before you. However, most of you probably have to deal with an ex or two or ten in your current relationship. Here are few suggestions to navigate the touchy subject of the EX.
Sometimes people are too open. They have no filter so they share all the gory details from their previous relationships. It can make you wish you had a delete button in your brain. They may not realize how much they are talking about their ex. You have every right to let them know how its making you feel, and ask them to turn it down a notch.
However, many people tell me that their partner is reluctant to tell them details about their ex. This can be frustrating because it makes you wonder why they are holding out on you. Some people may argue that they are more private and don’t like to share. When it comes to being in a relationship some things need to be shared. If you can’t open up about certain things, then maybe you aren’t ready to be in a serious relationship. Here are few things I think are important to ask about the ex.
You should know how many serious relationships your boyfriend or girlfriend has been in. It is also a good idea to ask how long each relationship was and how long it has been since their last break-up. You don’t need to get all the details of the break-up, but you should know who broke up with who and why. You also don’t need to know the number of sex partners they’ve had (even though they may share anyway) or any sexual details (please stop them if they start to share these), but you do need to know if your current partner ever had sex in their past relationships, especially for STD reasons. You can also ask what your partner’s current status is with their ex. Do they still text or talk to them? Do they still hang out? Are they still friends on Facebook? Stuff like that.
Do you have the right to ask your partner to stop being friends with their ex? To be honest, most people are not able to maintain a healthy friendship with an ex. Especially if you’ve had sex in that relationship. Once a line is crossed, it is hard to go back. There is a knowledge there and certain feelings that you should make an effort not to tap into because it can lead to dangerous ground. I know people have done it successfully, but it is rare. In those circumstances your partner needs to be willing to have their ex become friends with you as well, and all lines of communication have to remain open. One on one get togethers with their ex or private conversations that you don’t know about will ultimately break the trust in your relationship.
I also always tell students to remember that their current partner comes first, not their ex. There is a reason you are no longer in that past relationship. If you choose your ex over your current partner you will cause major problems to arise. Not that your partner should always get their way, but you should be respectful of their feelings. What if your ex is part of your whole group of friends? Make sure the boundaries are strong. Only see your ex in those group situations, and don’t spend the whole night talking to just them. You can be nice and friendly without being too friendly or flirtatious. Watch your body language as well because you can bet that your current partner will be watching!! Again, if you aren’t mature enough to handle this, you may have to stay away from group get togethers when your ex is around.
Talking about the ex isn’t ever the easiest thing, but certain things need to be said and dealt with to make your current relationship as healthy as possible.