What to Reveal About Your Exes to a New Girlfriend and When

Talking about exes in a current relationship has the potential to be all kinds of tricky. On one hand it can be important to explain who you were with and why things went wrong as backstory to why you’re where you are today. On the other hand, giving too much information about those people might freak out the new person. Here are thing to think about when it comes to revealing info about the exes to the new lady in your life.

Skip it on the first date.

Occasionally on a first date an ex will briefly come up, since it’s pretty hard to explain why you moved to your current city without mentioning that you moved here to be with an ex, or whatever your situation might be. But that’s fine everyone has exes so a brief mention generally isn’t too inflammatory. However, there’s a huge difference in mentioning something like that logistically as opposed to speaking at length about your ex in a positive or negative manner.

If you talk fondly about the woman and share too much it will sound like you’re still into her, and if you bash her the new woman is going to think that perhaps you aren’t quite healed from that relationship or maybe you’re not real nice. We all have those discussions about our exes certainly, but save it for the friends or your mom.

Some ex talk can deepen the bond with the new person.

The human brain remembers things so that it can try and avoid the same mistakes again right, so it’s natural to recall elements of a past relationship and maybe even continue to talk about how those things affected you. Let’s say you dated someone who was a real train wreck with the booze and it made you realize that hardcore partying wasn’t your style. That might affect your dating choices from there on out, and it might affect your sensitivity levels to it.

If your new girl gets a little tipsy one night you might react to it in a way that really shocked her, since she doesn’t necessarily have a problem keeping her stuff together. That’s a circumstance where it might be helpful to explain why you’re reactionary about certain topics, as well as an opportunity to keep your head straight about who you’re dealing with. This isn’t your ex it’s a new woman, and she doesn’t need to be treated as if she’s carrying the same baggage. Surely she has her own baggage of faults like we all do, but we don’t project someone else’s onto the new person.

A good rule of thumb is to match the intimacy of the story to the relationship.

If you’re casually dating someone it’s not the right time to bring up the horrors of a past split. There are plenty of other things for you guys to talk about in an effort to get to know one another without spending a ton of time on the super sob stories. Like so much other stuff in relationships, the timing is absolutely everything. When you’re getting closer to someone and the intimacy is naturally deepening through communication as you get to each other better, it might feel right to share a few more details about what happened in that relationship if it seems important.

But what is really “important?”

People have very different opinions about what constitutes important information about past relationships, so you have to figure that out for yourself and then make sure that you and the new person are on the same page about it. If she starts going off about her exes to an extent that feels like TMI, let her know that you don’t find it necessary to hear the nitty gritty. But if for some reason you do think that stuff is important, then explain to her why so that she might feel more comfortable opening up to you and trusting that you’re telling her so many details for good reason.

You don’t always have to dwell on the rough stuff.  

Generally there’s an aspect of where we’ve been that got us to where we currently are, so why a past relationship ended might be important to explain. Sometimes we want to share who we used to be and the moment that tipped us over into becoming the very different person that we are now. After all we’re all learning every day of life (and hopefully growing), and nothing seems to shake us up and push us to do so like our closest relationships. With that perspective we can honor our past and our past relationships for getting us to where we are now. That doesn’t mean that we need to relive the pain of the past of speak negatively about it.

This is a good lesson in general but it’s easy to see how it applies to speaking with a new woman. Looking back on things as lessons but being able to emotionally move on shows that you’re open and ready for new stuff. Being set off by old news makes it seem like you haven’t totally processed the experience yet, and that’s generally a good thing to do before moving on otherwise it’ll come up in odd ways and effect the new relationships as well.

Never discuss the ex sex.

No matter how much sex with an ex is relevant in a conversation it’s not really going to be super fun for the new woman to hear about. The new woman is bound to get that image in her head and perhaps even wonder if the sex was better with that girl. And again, bashing an ex about sex doesn’t work either because it will make you seem judgmental and untrustworthy. Neither of those things support a healthy bedroom environment. Never in a million years add “my ex did it like this” when you’re suggesting something your new girl should try in the bedroom. It’s very simple to throw out some new ideas without bringing the ghosts of girlfriends past into the bed with you. Talk about mood killer.

Never try to make the new girl jealous.

It doesn’t sound real nice to intentionally try to make anyone jealous is any circumstance, but especially your girlfriend. And yet that happens a lot in relationships, since people seem to feel the need to assert their power here and there and there’s no better way to do that to make someone else feel bad or at least question their standing. It’s not nice when you break it down. You don’t need to intimidate your new girl with the fact that your last girlfriend was a supermodel so that the new girl feels lucky to have you. The careers of former loves might come up here and there but be mindful of your audience when you’re explaining what those careers and lifestyle choices might have been.

Some people never discuss anything.

Sometimes two people can agree that there’s nothing that they need to know about their significant others exes. This usually only works however if they are emotionally and geographically far enough removed that things won’t come up. Many of us have exes in out current town, and maybe even exes that are still in the same social circles that we’re in. It might be awkward for a new girl to be introduced to one of your exes and not find out that it was an ex until much later. On the other hand, if it’s truly over from both sides and there’s no tension in any way shape of form then perhaps there’s no story. But if there’s no tension at all then it might seem silly to keep the news in entirely.

It sort of varies on a case by case basis, which is why it’s a good idea to consider these things on your way into a new relationship. You don’t want to keep secrets, but you also don’t want to over share. Pace yourself with the pace of the new relationship, and divulge just what you feel is productive to divulge.

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