Every new relationship reaches a point, sooner or later, where an often uncomfortable topic must be broached. We are referring to the “ex talk”, when you must talk about the ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend to your new partner. Most people know that doing so on the first date is a major no-no, but beyond that, each partner must search for clues as to when to disclose information about lovers past, with etiquette.
If your partner asks, disclose
The number one rule is to never say “I don’t want to talk about it” when your new partner asks about your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend. Most likely, he or she is asking about your past relationships in order to make your new relationship better. In other words, they don’t want to mess up like your ex did, and are seeking information. Don’t shut your new lover out; this can lead to a feeling of not being trusted or insecurity. If you are really not comfortable talking about it, give some light “good roads, good weather” information about the old relationship and gently tell you new partner “That is my past, I would much rather talk about you and I” or similar.
Wait for it to get serious
If your partner doesn’t ask, then there is no need to bring anything up until it gets serious. You know when this happens, it’s a feeling that no article can really pinpoint. It’s at this time that you should start to gently bring up any past relationship matters and encourage your partner to do so as well, to sort of clear the air and know where your each of you is coming from. Simply listen, don’t evaluate or make fun of anything your partner says, just listen and acknowledge, and thank them for sharing.
Do not criticize
If you trash-talk your ex, you have just given a clue to your new mate what you will do if you ever break up with him or her. Keep the high ground here; don’t reveal any embarrassing or private information about your ex, especially if he or she is known to your new boyfriend or girlfriend. Petty information and natter does no one any good, and is a sign of immaturity.
Reveal serious information soon
Notwithstanding the rule about not criticizing your ex, a partner can feel betrayed if major information about your past relationships is held back too long, such as a broken-off wedding engagement, physical abuse, sexual irregularities, etc. If you are serious about your new relationship, it is better to bring these up as soon as you start to feel you are truly falling in love, as the way your partner reacts is crucial to knowing whether the relationship is truly worth diving in deep for. It is not fair to withhold information, and then only after you are married for ten years to drop a bomb like revealing your ex was a heroin addict who may have died of a sexually transmitted disease.
Bringing up past relationships is a touchy subject, but as long as the time is appropriate and you have an understanding partner, it should not be traumatic. It is best to approach the subject gently, and maturely. Don’t treat your new boyfriend or girlfriend like your psychotherapist, but be honest and open up. You will feel much better!