We now live in a time where the person who you'll marry is rarely your first relationship. Of course, this wasn't always the case.
In centuries past, men and women had separate spheres of existence and were only supposed to interact in controlled environments like balls, family gatherings or public places. A family dinner was the closest thing to a date.
It was only in the last few decades, with very few boundaries separating men and women, dating came to life. Now we have the potential to meet a number of different people, and thus embark on different relationships.
Although your past relationships have helped bring you to the fabulous place you're at now, it can be disconcerting to think about the other people who your significant other may have dated.
As a professional matchmaker at Matchmakers In The City, I recommend that regardless of how many people you've seen, you make your current SO feel like your only love in the world. As a wise woman once advised me, skip the ex talk entirely.
Ideally, your SO returns that favor, but occasionally, you may run into someone who has trouble with this.
So how can you tell if your SO is still thinking about an ex? (I address this to straight women, but the advice works regardless of gender.)
1. He talks about her.
You can find one of the biggest warning signs that you're a rebound just by listening. Take note if he brings up his ex in conversation, especially if it seems random.
Some men like to talk about women. They want to seem desirable in your eyes, but you want a man confident enough to value the woman in front of him -- you! You want someone who will treat you with respect.
You want a man who finds his worth outside of what other people think of him and how many women want him.
2. He gets emotional when he sees her.
One of our bachelorettes dated a man who began to cry after seeing his ex at a party with another man. Although people often have emotional reactions after seeing an ex, he should have enough composure to hold himself together, especially if he's also seeing other people.
This shows he has yet to fully heal from his past relationship. If your date starts to feel like a therapy session, run.
3. He remains close friends with her.
It's rare for exes to transition from a romantic relationship to a platonic relationship. Beware of men who still make an effort to spend lots of personal time with their ex, especially if it's on the DL.
Sometimes you're unable to avoid running into or working with an ex, but you should try to keep it minimal to respect your new flame.
4. He compares you to her.
This red flag also holds true even if he compares you in a good way, like, “You're so much better than my ex. All of my friends notice how much happier I am.”
Although this seems like a compliment, it reveals he still thinks about his ex.
If he compares you in a negative way, leave right away. Maybe he's also belittling her in front of you or claiming she's "crazy," a common phrase you should see as a red flag.
If you notice that he speaks in a derogatory way about her, pause and take a step back. Some people blame other people for their problems, and if he's doing that with her, he will probably do the same with you.
5. He keeps sentimental items that remind him of her.
Maybe she just gave him a teddy bear. It might seem harmless, but usually a man who holds onto items of the past still has feelings for the woman he left behind.
You want a man who has made a clean break with his ex and harbors zero feelings of resentment (or any kind of feelings) towards her.
Some men might just have these items out of laziness, so encourage him to give them away to charity. If you're met with resistance, you may have your answer.
6. She's all over his Instagram.
I always recommend our bachelorettes do their own social media check of men who they date. If his Instagram is filled with cute couple selfies, beware. On the other hand, he may just need a reminder to take the photos down.
For instance, a bachelorette had to tell her boyfriend to remove any photos of him and his ex-girlfriend on Instagram. They made her feel uncomfortable. He forgot he had them up!
Good rule of thumb: Remove photos of your ex from all forms of social media and your own devices after a break up. In addition to helping you heal, it shows other prospective love interests you're free of #exdrama.
Of course, all women would love to be the only woman their man has ever set eyes on, but the fact that he chose you as his girlfriend/fiancée/wife over all others reveals the beauty of him having a past. He had a choice -- and he chose you, rather than settling for you without other options.
Most men understand to keep the past in the past, but they may feel less sensitive about this than you do. Try not to get paranoid, but keep your eyes and ears open for these behaviors before you fall for a guy who's still hung up on another woman.