When two people start dating there is usually this awkward cloud looming: The “ex cloud.” It’s one of those taboo topics, right? You have an ex, or exes – you’ve been in past relationships…. And, you never know what to share and when or how to bring it up. Some of you may wonder if you should even bring it up at all.

Overall, I never suggest there are hard and fast rules, but in my opinion, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach this topic. And, the wrong way could potentially ruin what could be a really great future relationship.

The fact of the matter is, when we are dating someone new at some point this topic has to come up. It’s actually a very important topic to discuss. If you are someone who, like me, is older(ish) – in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, etc., you’ve been in relationships. Relationships that didn’t work out for whatever reason. Relationships that are a part of who you are. How could you not bring it up with someone you see yourself spending your future with?

What’s the wrong way to talk about your ex? COMPLAINING! I don’t want to hear the woe is me sob stories. I don’t want to hear how you were scorned and mistreated. Please don’t be a victim. I don’t want to hear blame and finger-pointing.

I’m not saying that it’s not OK to be angry and bitter of out what somebody did to you or how they treated you in a relationship. I’m not saying it’s not OK to have gone through turmoil. Breakups are not fun. Even if it’s something you wanted, they are never easy. It’s natural to feel hurt, contempt, disdain, etc. toward an ex. But, those feelings are ones that should exit before entering the world of dating.

It’s in your best interest, and your potential date’s, to take the time you need to get through it. If you start dating as a way to get over your ex, or the rough time you’re going through, the new relationship you are trying to start is probably going to blow up in your face. Especially if you burden this new person with stories of your past relationship. Remember, you are supposed to be looking for a new potential partner, not a therapist.

I always find it refreshing when I meet someone who isn’t hanging onto the past. Someone who is open to exploring new things and is excited about the future. In fact, it helps me open up just the same. When I meet someone who is stuck on what was I shut down and I lose interest in sharing who I am and what I am all about.

Is anyone else like me? How do you react when trying to get to know someone who is hanging on to the past?

What is the right way to talk about your ex?

Matter of fact explanations and constructive reflection. I want to hear what you learned from the experiences – what you learned about yourself and what you are looking for. I want to hear how you maybe could have done things differently – in the relationship or for yourself.

Understanding what you’ve learned helps me to know what you will strive for and who you want to be in a new relationship. I will know that you’ve accepted what’s happened, you learned from it and you are taking what you learned to have better and to be better in the future. I like knowing that I am dating someone who is open to new possibilities, eager to move forward and excited about a potential future with me.

Another thing that’s important to note is when to start telling ex stories. In my opinion, the first date or two, maybe even three, isn’t the time. Again, there are no hard or fast rules, if this topic enters conversation naturally, ok. But, it shouldn’t be something you specifically ask. It’s not a conversation starter. The first few dates are a time for two people to gauge a vibe and start building trust. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like sharing deep personal pieces of my life with someone I just met and don’t know if I should trust yet. So, I say, save it until a time when a stronger a connection is being formed.

In conclusion, know when you are ready to date and be open to letting someone new in. Then, when the topic of past relationships comes up it’s in a much more constructive purposeful mature way. Only good things in your new relationship can happen after that.

Have Fun! Happy Dating!

For more on this topic (and others) listen to my podcast.

Another post you might like: Don’t Fall In Love With Potential. 

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