3 Red Flags That Your Partner Still Thinks Their Ex Was The One Who Got Away

OK, let's get something straight, folks. You don't have to be a Katy Perry fan to be familiar with the phrase "the one who got away." The term is super common in popular culture, romantic comedies, and music, but when you really analyze its meaning, it can be kind of concerning. It's even more worrisome when you are concerned that your partner thinks their ex is the one who got away. Because the phrase is so often romanticized, it can be hard to discern if your partner really feels this way about their ex. I talked to Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the podcast breakup BOOST, about how to know if your partner thinks their ex is really the one who got away.

Leckie's main advice is that if you have a concern about your relationship or partner's behavior, you should try talking to them about it. "You should feel as though you can communicate about everything in your relationship and work together through each challenge that comes your way," stresses Leckie. Healing is a process, so if your partner is still sore about an ex in their past, that doesn't exactly mean their ex was the love of their life. According to Leckie, there's a difference between a sore spot in your dating past and truly seeing an ex as "the one who got away." What it comes down to is excessive contact, secrecy, and comparison. If any of these ring a bell for you, it might be worth it to look a little closer. Check out the following red flags, and don't be afraid to have a candid conversation with your partner about what you've been feeling.

If they talk about their ex a lot...

Leckie explains that if your partner talks about their ex a lot, this could be a red flag. "If 'the one who got away' is off living their best life and happy in a new relationship," Leckie says, "that can cause a person to have more regret and literally wish they were the one that [their ex] is happy with now." This can be super problematic if you happen to be dating the person whose pining away for their ex.

Talking about an ex isn't always bad, of course. The red flag that your partner may think their ex is the one who got away is if they bring them up a lot and in ways that romanticize or idealize their former partner. For example, if your partner describes a major breakup with extremely emotional language that is either negative or positive, it can show that there are a lot of unresolved feelings there.

I once dated someone who was getting over a really long-term relationship, and she mentioned her ex often. It was usually a simple comparison between the way her ex did things and the way she lives her life now, but the constant conversation about her ex was a red flag. It meant that she was still consistently thinking about her ex, and didn't have the space to prioritize me. She ended up breaking up with me because she said she still had healing to do.

If they are secretive about contact with their ex...

According to Leckie, a significant sign that your partner sees their ex as the one who got away is if they are continually contacting their ex, and hiding it from you. Talking to an ex isn't automatically bad, but if your partner is hiding the fact that they are, they could be doing so for a reason.

For instance, Leckie explains, people who view someone as "the one who got away" try to ask their exes for second chances, negotiate the circumstances of their breakup, and push for more contact. Your partner might be secretive about their communication with their ex because they might be attempting any one of those things.

If they negatively compare you to their ex...

Leckie says a final — and major — red flag that your partner sees their ex as "the one that got away" is comparison. Unlike casually mentioning or contacting an ex, comparing you to an ex in a negative way truly isn't fair in any context. "No one likes to be second-best," says Leckie, "I would suggest to just be straightforward and say 'I feel as though you are not over your ex and I am not interested in being in a relationship with someone when their heart is elsewhere.'"

It can be really hurtful if your partner wants you to be more like their ex. Any partner you have should appreciate you for who you are. By comparing your behaviors, Leckie explains that your significant other is proving that they aren't over their former partner, and are simply trying to replace them.

The good news is that talking to your significant other about this could totally help. Your partner may realize that they're behavior is from a lack of examining their feelings closely, and will want to work on prioritizing your relationship. "If they fight to keep your relationship intact and modify their behavior going forward, your relationship may be worth saving," says Leckie.

Overall, casually mentioning an ex or even visiting them for coffee, is not a guaranteed sign that your partner hasn't moved on from their ex. In any case, it could really help to express what you're feeling to your partner. The most important thing about your relationship is that you feel like you can talk to your partner about anything because you're a team.