Why You Shouldn’t Talk About Your Ex With Your New Partner

Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Derekwomanbullhorn

Comment: Recently I met a woman I really like. She’s fun and smiley and makes me feel better than any woman I’ve ever met before.

But I made a few mistakes in trying to impress her, and after three months, she broke up with me.

Basically, at the beginning of our relationship, I spoke a lot about my exgirlfriend. Maybe too much. I really think I was just trying to impress her and show her that I’m capable of being in a relationship. I’m 41 and want to show her that I know how to be serious.

But she said the details I told her are things no woman wants to know about her spouse, and show that I’m weak.

One thing I probably should have kept to myself is that this woman owes me close to $3,000. We went on a very expensive trip together. I figured she’d pay me back soon after we got back, but then we broke up.

My current girlfriend was horrified, because I’d only gone out with this woman for nine months. She’s like “Why would you lend someone you hardly know that much money?” She says it makes her doubt me financially.

She also said, if it’s something that bothers me enough to be telling her about, I should call up this other woman and ask for the money back. But I can’t. It was almost three years ago, and frankly, that would be embarrassing. My girlfriend says I should be more embarrassed to be telling her about it, then asking for what is mine. And the fact that I never asked for the money back, makes it seem like I intended to give this other woman the money. I DIDN’T. I just broke up with her suddenly (to her at least) and I felt badly about that.

I mean, she did deserve it I guess. We had a pretty bad relationship. And the final straw was when she asked me to pay her money for the meals she was making us (though she insisted I pay for all dates and I bought the actual groceries).

Unfortunately I told my girlfriend this as well and she just lost all respect for me. She’s like “What? the woman owed you $3000 AND asked you to pay her for cooking? Dude, she was a whore! And what the hell is wrong with you?” Nothing was wrong with me. I’m just a nice guy and was trying to keep the peace.

Should I not be telling these details? I mean. I thought it was a way to get closer. To share past traumas and all. But apparently it makes me look weak.

I’m pretty sure she now thinks I’m a total loser. But I’m not. I have had tonnes of women interested in me. It’s more like I’m a commitment-phone. I was just in that relationship, as I said at the beginning of the letter, to try my hand at the long-term relationship thing. In retrospect, I even think I picked her specifically because I knew she was such a disaster, and I could just get one “under my belt” for future reference. Unfortunately, the future did not enjoy this referencing.
Age: 41
City: Miami
State: FL

If my guy was owed money and decided not to try and collect the debt, I’d keep my mouth shut. It’s not my place to nag him into getting his money back. Nor would I think less of him if he chose not to seek payment. Deciding to walk away from drama is a sign of maturity, not weakness.  Opening up that can of worms will do no good, other than it will sate the new girlfriend’s desire to see the Ex called on the carpet. What concerned your new girlfriend is why you didn’t want to piss this Ex off by asking that she pay you back. By talking about your Ex you created drama where there didn’t need to be any. As such, your girlfriend began to feel threatened and annoyed, both rightfully so. You didn’t stop to consider how hearing these stories would make your girlfriend feel.

What your girlfriend wanted to see was indisputable evidence that your Ex was no longer a presence in your mind /life.  That’s why she wanted you to get that money back. She wanted to see you actually do something to prove you no longer cared for your Ex. That way she wouldn’t have to worry about this woman popping back into your life.

By mentioning your Ex in more than just a passing way and with regularity, you made this into a thing. This is not an example of you trying to bond with your girlfriend. This was clear cut whining about an Ex. That’s why your new girlfriend’s hackles were raised. By repeatedly discussing this Ex, you started to make your new girlfriend wonder why – still – you were so bothered by her. You can’t say in one breath that an Ex was horrible or crazy and persist in talking about them and then claim not to care about them or what they think. Those two thoughts are incongruous. Clearly, this issue bothers you enough to keep griping about it. THAT’S THE PROBLEM.

Reading this made me think of a guy I dated who, like you, told his new girlfriend about an “ex” (aka me) and all kinds of drama unfolded. Last year, his sister in law was on a show that I watch. While scrolling through the twitter feed for the series, I came across a tweet that had  a link to naked pictures of her. Undoubtedly, some skeevy photographer took the pics and decided to post them somewhere to get publicity for himself. I was pretty confident she didn’t want those photos out there and didn’t give her permission to have them distributed in that way. So, despite the bad blood between this guy and me, I sent him the link and suggested he try to get the pics taken down. For the next few weeks he and I messaged back and forth about the pics. I gave him a fair amount of advice on how to address it publicly, all of which he implemented.

Well, he must have told his wife that he and I were in touch. Or she somehow found out. I don’t know. I assume she wasn’t happy about it. This guy and I had a very toxic relationship but an extremely intense sexual history. She had a right to be bothered that he and I would communicating for a couple weeks or that he’d be seeking my feedback for anything. He made her aware of me when they first began dating and even admitted they often poured through my tweets together and had a laugh at my expense.  That was his first mistake, as by putting me on her radar, she started to read my tweets and blog and probably read somethings that made her question him. Things got really ugly between us at one point and I had no problem taking shots at him publicly, sans his name or anything that could identify him, including that he was a serial cheater. (He is.)  I’m sure that didn’t thrill her.  That wasn’t the most productive use of my time, and I look back on it with embarrassment, but I was angry and profoundly hurt. That’s not an excuse, just an explanation.

So, because he and I were chatting last summer and because we had such a tumultuous past,  naturally she was confused. Why would he be talking to me at all given our past? Eventually she went trolling through my tweets and came across one that was absolutely a shot at her husband and by extension her. She had to dig to find it, as it was part of a much larger conversation. Apparently, she sent him a link to the tweet and was quite upset.  In response, he forwarded her email to me and wrote some super bitchy rant that I know he mostly wrote for her benefit. This guy would sooner chew his own arm off that than directly confront me about anything unless he was forced.  A few nights later he sent me this 1600 word missive around midnight talking about how I was an “open wound” for him and how terribly cutting it was for him to think we had finally mended fences only to see that tweet. I have a feeling his wife knows nothing about that email.

Anyhoo, my point in telling that tale is to draw a comparison. By habitually bitching about me to his girlfriend/now wife,  he raised a red flag. By drawing her attention to me, she possibly learned things about him she didn’t want to know. The longer he went without standing up to me, the more upset she became. I suspect that she, like the OP’s girlfriend, was baffled as to why he would let this go on and not say something. Finally she had had enough and forced him to stand up to me.

That’s what was going on in your relationship, Derek. Your girlfriend was pissed that you weren’t speaking up because she feared that that was an indication that there was more to the story. And for the record? Usually, there is. There certainly was in my case.

Going forward keep all talk of your exes on a need to know basis, dude. Mentioning an ex on any kind of regular basis will only end up worrying your new girlfriend. She’s going to wonder why this person still has such a hold on you. . That’s why your most recent girlfriend kept at you about your dealing with your Ex.  She wanted to see that you no longer harbor any feelings for her and possess no semblance of an attraction to her.



Sometimes the love of your life is the love of your life. (R)


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27 Responses to “Why You Shouldn’t Talk About Your Ex With Your New Partner”

  1. fuzzilla Says:

    Moxie’s spot on. I could go on and on about personal experience with this topic, but I won’t (for now…heh).

    **Basically, at the beginning of our relationship, I spoke a lot about my exgirlfriend. Maybe too much. I really think I was just trying to impress her and show her that I’m capable of being in a relationship. I’m 41 and want to show her that I know how to be serious.**

    So…I’m guessing this dude hasn’t had a lot of relationships, that this ex- was one of the few, if not only, relationships he’s had. Thus why he thinks this is some kind of proof to new women he dates that he’s a relationship-minded guy. I don’t point this out to be like, “ha ha, loser,” but just to try to get at his motivations and what’s standing in the way of understanding the new girlfriend’s point of view. How would he feel hearing super-detailed accounts of her ex-? He’d likely think she was still in love with him or at least had lots of baggage to sort through before she was ready to let someone else in. So it stands to reason that’s exactly how she feels being on the receiving end of these non-stop ex- rants.

    You don’t want to come across like the first guy here (so painfully accurate, OMG):

    • fuzzilla Says:

      If you’re looking for a rule of thumb for what’s an appropriate amount to share w/r/t ex-es – simply mentioning them in one or two quick stories is fine, but a lengthy info dump is not. I mean, are you sharing because you want the new woman to understand you, or because you want her to write a book about your ex-? Or did her feelings simply never occur to you?

      If you can’t tell the difference between a quick story and an info dump, or it feels incredibly difficult to refrain from mentioning your ex-, then maybe you really aren’t over them or ready to let anyone new into your life.

  2. Mark Says:

    I’m pretty sure the LW will get a lot of commentary. Most of it valid.

    One of the core points is from your own letter:

    “Basically, at the beginning of our relationship, I spoke a lot about my exgirlfriend. Maybe too much.”

    Two points.

    One. You talked on your own volition about your Ex. Sorry, but no one you are currently seeing wants to hear bout an Ex.

    Two. Given that you did talk about your Ex., the facts and circumstances would lead a current someone you are seeing to question some serious red flags.

    The fact that you had “tonnes” of interest from other women is irrelevant. You were going out with her. Not one of those other women.

    It’s the difference between being a nice guy vs. a good guy.

  3. bbdawg Says:

    Well the OP not only talks a lot about his ex, but the story makes him look like an idiot. That is probably the worst part. Stories with exes can be shared once the person has truly moved on. Why you’d share a story that makes you look like an idiot is beyond me. I think by mid-30s or so a person begins to be self-aware about the victim narrative.

    It gets very old and it’s extremely unattractive – the part where the person isn’t self-aware enough to realize that being a “victim” – especially if you are a man – isn’t perceived as very appealing, esp. at 41.

    If you’re dating in your 30s and 40s and you are looking for a serious relationship you generally pays attention to see if the person you’re dating has moved on from past relationships and is ready for something solid, in the present. A guy who talks about some ex from 3 years ago has not moved on. He is not living in the present therefore he is not relationship material.

  4. AC Says:

    Talking extensively about an ex to “prove” you can be in a relationship is suspect on two fronts. First, if a man feels like he must prove his worth, it makes him look weak. Second, any woman who’s that skeptical of a man’s ability to commit is likely a wounded bird who has her own issues she needs to deal with.

    • Eliza Says:

      Spot on AC and I agree with bbdawg too…any man or woman for that matter that goes on and on about their ex-or how supposedly crazy that ex is – still harbors feelings…good or bad, doesn’t matter–they are still affected by that person. Move on…or get therapy – but a girlfriend or boyfriend should not be mistaken for a complimentary therapy/couch session by bitching about your so-called “crazy ex”. Wounded bird! haha. Love that. And I also see a HUGE red flag when a guy (in my case), mentions that this women AND that woman, and that one too was crazy. Why? Because it speak volumes about one’s judgment in character. If a person continually get involved with someone that is imbalanced…they lack good judgment, or perhaps they are desperate, have low self-esteem – any of the above are RED FLAGS. Helpful tip: If you don’t have anything positive to say about someone you chose to have in your life, better to not say a word at all! Keep it positive – especially n the very beginning of any connection.

      • Jenny Says:

        Yep. Exactly. No woman wants to be with a man who “brags” about his low standards. No matter how great I was, I’d still be thinking, “ya, but you basically paid some awful bitch to stay with you, so how flattering can this be?״. Ie, we want to be recognized as a prize, not a consolation prize of someone who is willing to cling to just about anything.

  5. Tinker Says:

    Your latest ex-girlfriend was right to call out your weakness and that she lost respect for you.
    Everything you outline in this letter makes you sound even more weak, and it’s not even related to the fact that you won’t pursue the money now. You wanted to ‘prove’ you were capable of a relationship and ‘impress’ the new girl so you talked about a 9 month relationship you had 3 years ago? Why would you think talking about losing $3000 and another woman so clearly walking all over you would be impressive?

    Then you try to justify it all by saying you knew your ex was a train wreck, but you got and stayed in the relationship to get one under your belt? And because you are a ‘nice’ guy? But it was a bad relationship so maybe she deserved the money from you? None of this sounds any parts of good. The new girl was right to leave.

    • Jenny Says:

      Another woman definitely does not want to hear how much you spent on someone else, for future reference. This will create a lot of anger and animosity at some point, guaranteed.

  6. Alex Says:

    Sorry, but the OP is weak willed. Never let any girl compromise your self respect.

  7. Ben Iyyar Says:

    A woman I was seriously interested in broke up with me and I took it very hard. Indeed, I found it necessary emotionally to tell any and every body how broken hearted I was, even my new dating partners.
    Well, it was huge mistake, my partners either got impatient, angry, or annoyed, and in the end they all took an early hike. This might have been due to their feeling that I should spend my time with them and about them, when I was with them, not a woman who had broken up with me. I realize that getting over a hard break up is very difficult, and the secret to successfully dating after a huge breakup? I wish I knew, I haven’t got a clue!

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **the secret to successfully dating after a huge breakup? I wish I knew, I haven’t got a clue!**

      Learn to have boundaries, find an actual therapist to vent to, and stop treating dates like one. Stop treating dates like emotional toilet paper. You can’t expect a woman you’re dating to be a neutral third party observer and an active participant in your life at the same time (the royal “you,” I know you’re married, Ben).

    • Eliza Says:

      Boundaries need to be kept! Don’t be an open book–especially about such negative things and insecurities. If you need a listening board, talk to your buddies…although not sure how patient men are with each other? LOL…I know my gal pals are there when I need a sounding board! We ladies have it that way I suppose. But there is always professional therapy–even if it’s just 1-3 sessions – and in that situation you get a completely objective perspective too. But please — refrain from bitching about the “ex”…and calling him/her crazy. You come across as a cliche.

  8. SS Says:

    In my dating experience this oversharing has been a surprisingly common phenomenon, and I am still unclear as to why it happens so frequently.

    One of my absolute pre-requisites is that a potential partner be emotionally and physically ready and willing to date. The compulsion to speak repetitively (and usually bitterly) about an ex speaks to unresolved baggage which would negate that readiness/willingness.

    The fact that people lack that self awareness is just stunning. It always makes me want to run, fast.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **In my dating experience this oversharing has been a surprisingly common phenomenon, and I am still unclear as to why it happens so frequently.**

      Often a man’s girlfriend tends to be his main emotional sounding board, as he’d rather sabotage a budding relationship than do some masculinity-questioning thing like go to therapy and actually fix the problem (although this is probably an instinct and not a conscious decision). To be fair, maybe women also dump too much on their partners, but I don’t date women so I wouldn’t know.

      • Joey Giraud Says:

        You put too much trust in therapy.

        Like chiropractic, most therapy gives the customer a false sense of progress but at the end of the day nothing is fixed at all.

        • Lucy Says:

          Yeah I tend to agree with that. It’s good to hash things out with someone but I soon realised that if I never sorted my own crap out for myself, I’d be doomed. And I say this as someone who’s had therapy for an anxiety disorder in the past. Saying that, having someone neutral to talk to stops you oversharing in inappropriate situations and it may help the OP.

        • fuzzilla Says:

          Finding a good therapist is a lot of trial and error, much like dating. Even if you find a shitty therapist, doesn’t change the fact that dumping all over a new partner about some ex- is relationship suicide, or at least aggressive sabotage.

  9. ATWYSingle Says:

    Often a man’s girlfriend tends to be his main emotional sounding board, as he’d rather sabotage a budding relationship than do some masculinity-questioning thing like go to therapy

    I’m not sure it has anything to do with masculinity. I don’t happen to believe that oversharing in relationships happens all that much. I think when men do it it’s a specific type of man who engages in that kind of behavior. Mature and confident men aren’t whining about their exes to their new girlfriends. Insecure and immature ones do that, as do men who like drama. In my case, the dude was a drama hound and he knew his wife was temperamental and prone to outbursts, so common sense would have dictated that he not say anything about us being in touch. But he did, because he likes the drama. Getting her all worked up, or me, or whomever, make shim feel more important. I think THAT’S why a lot of men do it. Secure guys want nothing to do with that sort of conflict.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **Getting her all worked up, or me, or whomever, make shim feel more important. I think THAT’S why a lot of men do it. Secure guys want nothing to do with that sort of conflict.**

      I think if they are genuinely clueless about how to process their emotions (rather than manipulative attention whores), there’s some hope that they’ll eventually get sick of the drama it stirs up and knock it off. If they *are* manipulative attention whores, then God help you, just walk far, far away.

    • Eliza Says:

      Yes, agree with Moxie…he was a drama hound. And probably relished in trying to get his wife all jealous. How mature of him. wow.
      I guess in our society – men are taught to brush things off, and deal with it, and they are not open about talking about such concerns…whereas women are more verbal and at home – turning to their gal pals for advice or just for an ear, so we get on our soap boxes at times with each other. Men usually internalize such things, which is actually not good. Didn’t realize men view therapy in such a way. Sometimes we all need a very objective audience to understand ourselves better.

    • Lucy Says:

      I also don’t think it’s a masculinity thing specifically. Maybe men have fewer avenues to vent and discuss their feelings with friends in order to make sense of their emotions? Or maybe the OP doesn’t have many people to confide in about this situation in the past? But he should draw a line under it and look forward to the future so it doesn’t rear its ugly head again.

  10. Yvonne Says:

    I’ve dated a guy or two who was actually going through divorce and he knew better than to talk about his ex to me, even if he was still hurting.

    This man sounds horribly insecure. He writes, “I really think I was just trying to impress her and show her that I’m capable of being in a relationship.” The way you impress a woman and show her you are capable of a relationship is by treating her well and being respectful. Unfortunately, your going on about your bad relationship had the opposite effect. This behavior is more about pumping up your own fragile ego, rather than showing respect for your girlfriend’s feelings.

    “I even think I picked her specifically because I knew she was such a disaster, and I could just get one “under my belt” for future reference”
    Huh? You get healthy relationship experience by…wait for it…being in a healthy relationship, not by picking someone who’s troubled. Again, sounds like another attempt at boosting your own fragile ego by picking someone even more troubled so that you could feel better about yourself. Perhaps you are using the past bad relationship as a way to keep yourself single?

    If you believe you are a commitment-phobe, work on that first.

  11. Kyra Says:

    If it was three years ago, why the hell are you bringing up that ex? Move on! No girl needs to hear about a bad break-up and money troubles from three years ago!

  12. Lucy Says:

    The OP doesn’t need to prove his worth to women by talking about his exes. Showing you’re a good partner is also more about your actions, not a catalogue of evidence from the past. Besides there are plenty of people who could be good partners but it doesn’t mean you are right for each other. Therefore trying to prove you are a good partner is a fruitless endeavour. It’s best to have fun and see how you click, not try and prove yourself to the other person.

    I sympathise with the OP but I can see it from the woman’s point of view as well. Revelations such as he mentioned would leave some doubts in my mind and kill a lot of sexual attraction for me (can this guy really take care of things when the going gets tough?).If I ever feel that a guy is trying to prove himself, it makes me feel like I’m filling a void for him that any other woman could fill and that our relationship is more about him proving something to himself than about finding me desirable.

  13. coffeestop Says:

    I will mention I am divorced on a date but I rarely mention it otherwise. I assume potential dates don’t want to hear about my ex husband, details of the divorce, grievances I may have and I assumed that was a pretty much common sense understanding not to go on and on about past relationships. Nobody wants to hear it and I admit i have declined further dates when somebody did what the OP did.

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