Starting a new relationship should be exciting, otherwise, why bother? But that’s not to say that there won’t be issues that arise, especially in the beginning phases. You’ll end up meeting new partners at a variety of different stages in your life; perhaps when you’re still in your teens, or maybe in your late twenties, or going through a divorce, or when you have two kids from a previous relationship. The point is, you’re likely to have relationships that come after major periods of growth and change in your life, periods that will often involve other partners.
I’ve always tended to be a relationship person, which means that huge important chunks of my life have, more often than not, involved a significant other. I love this fact and I wouldn’t change it for the world – after all, for me, life is all about sharing moments. But it has meant that when I’ve ended up with a new partner, I will, for want of a better phrase, end up ‘name dropping’ my ex perhaps more often than the next person. I think I’m yet to be in a relationship where the conversation about how often I’ve done this hasn’t come up at some point. And I get it, really I do. You can easily understand why a significant other doesn’t really want to hear all about the times you’ve shared with someone else, someone who used to fill the role you now have in their life. But I think, for me especially, it’s hard to talk about my life and my experiences without mentioning my exes.
Just to be clear, I’m not telling stories about these boys at inappropriate moments. I’m not lying in bed next to my s/o and talking about how my previous lover used to please me, that would be horrendous. But I do have some exes who are still friends of mine, some who are extremely important to me still, and I don’t want to have to censor myself when reminiscing about the past or bringing a new partner up to speed on my life and my experiences prior to meeting them.
I think we should definitely be more open about past partners with new ones. Though I think it’s also important for us to assess how we would feel on the receiving end before we take up arms. I don’t want to have to censor myself, but am I going to be happy hearing all about my new boyfriend’s exes?
The answer to this is simple: yes. However, this hasn’t always been the case. Jealousy and insecurity are two seriously toxic things, and I’ve been guilty of letting them rule me on more than one occasion. But what I’ve learned to replace them with, thankfully, is trust and honesty. I don’t want to be in a relationship where there is no trust, and if I trust that person, why should I be jealous? Their past is their past, just as mine is – as long as they are all about me in the present, that’s more than good enough. And as for insecurity, if I’m feeling insecure then I need to be honest about it. It’s something that I need to work on and discuss with my new partner, even if it might concern old partners. I believe that nothing gets truly fixed in a relationship if it isn’t shared and discussed.
As I’ve had issues with mentioning past partners with present ones before, I asked a few of my friends how they felt about it:
Do you think it’s important to know about your present partner’s exes?
Personally, I don’t mind knowing about my present partner’s past exes. It’s kind of an insight into the person you care about’s past, isn’t it? And that’s important. Obviously, their ex will have had traits that didn’t click with my partner’s, so it’s always good to know what not to do!
How often would you be okay with hearing their ex’s name?
Only bring them up when it’s relevant. There have been times when my partner has talked about their ex non-stop and I’ve ended up comparing myself to that ex, thinking about whether I was actually good enough and things. But, ultimately, sharing experiences is what a relationship is all about – that means sharing the past and the present.
Do you think hearing about your partner’s past relationships can signal any red flags?
I think there can be some red flags when you hear about your partner’s ex, but it also totally depends on the person. I tend to have a highly optimistic mindset and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. To be fair, this has backfired a lot, but I like being open-minded and I don’t regret anything.
How do you feel about a present partner being friends with their ex?
A present partner being friends with their ex doesn’t bother me, I’m not the jealous type. Although I don’t talk to my ex I’d still say we’re friends. I think it comes down to trust.