If Your Partner’s Ex Is Still In Their Life, Ask These 5 Questions
When you're in a relationship with someone, it's rarely just with them. To some degree, you’re also connecting your life with their family and circle of friends. That can be a really incredible experience where you gain new friends and maybe even family, but it can also be tricky if there are people in that group who your partner has a complicated relationship with, like an ex. If your partner’s ex is still in their life, there are some questions you may want to ask, just to make sure everything is on the up and up with you two, and so you can feel secure in the relationship if their ex's presence makes you feel icky.
First of all, is it even possible for exes to be just friends? Well, I can tell you from personal experience that it absolutely is. One of my very best friends is an ex, who is now also really close with my current partner. There is no jealousy because my partner knows that we are totally platonic, and that comfort came about after a series of frank and honest conversations. Plus, we all hang out a lot and he was able to see that my actions matched my words.
So, if you're in a similar situation, don’t panic — talk about it with your partner. Here's what the experts say you need to ask and what to look out for that might spell trouble in the relationship.
1. How Long Has It Been Since You Broke Up?
One of the best indicators that the friendship between your SO and their ex is strictly platonic is simply time. The longer it’s been since they split up, the more likely it is that they truly are just friends, which is great! But it is worth noting that boundaries are what's most important when it comes to having an ex in your SO's life.
"Being platonic friends with an ex (after a bit of cooling off time) is completely fine, as long as you respect boundaries …and let everyone know there’s no chance of reconciliation," online dating expert Julie Spira told Elite Daily.
2. Was The Breakup Mutual?
Unless this is your first relationship, you’re well aware that the way a relationship ends makes a big difference in the dynamic moving forward. Depending on who ended things, your partner may still have some lingering feelings for their ex, or vice versa. Relationship coach Fran Greene, LCSW, told Elite Daily that the ideal situation is one where the split was mutual. If not, there should be “no renewed friendship.”
3. How Often And When Do They Communicate?
My ex (now best bud) and I communicate in basically the exact same way I keep in touch with all my other friends. If you didn’t know we dated in the past, you would never guess by our text message content or pattern. So, considering how your partner talks to their other friends is a good indication of how they feel toward their ex. New York-based author and relationship and etiquette expert April Masini says to look out for communication styles that indicate a more intimate connection.
"If your partner tends to make late-night calls to his or her ex after you're asleep, it's because they have an intimate relationship that doesn't include you,” Masini tells Elite Daily. “This is a bad sign for your romantic relationship because the seeds for romance are being sown in these late-night calls with someone your ex has been in love with before. It sets the stage for romance — without you."
4. What Do They Do When They Hang Out?
Similar to communication style, you can learn a lot based on how and when the two of them spend time together. Is it in a group setting? Are you also welcome to join? Those are good signs. Not good, however, is when their “hangouts” seem more like dates, Masini says. "If your partner has regular dates with an ex, and they don't start [out] seeming like dates, but eventually they do, your relationship could be coming into jeopardy," she says. "When these catch up dinners and drinks become regular, and your magnanimous attitude turns green with jealousy, your ego is telling you that something is wrong.“
5. What Do They Still Share In Common?
Is it just that they have fun together and like to joke around? Or do they still share similar passions? I don’t mean romantic, exactly. But do they get excited about the same things and share those experiences with one another in a way that leaves you out in the cold? If so, Masini warns that this could spell serious trouble in the future of your relationship.
"For instance, if your partner loves travel, and you don't and won't, and you see him or her enjoying this passion with an ex, you've basically given that ex a tacit invitation to interfere in your relationship," says Masini. "If your partner has a passion, get involved. If you don't, and you see his or her ex enjoying it with him or her, beware."
While that all may sound scary, it's not always the norm. Exes can be friends and have no desire or hope of rekindling in the future. Divorced parents often do it for their kids, and although you may find yourself in a different walk of life, the key to any kind of relationship succeeding is an open line of communication. If you have any concerns, bring them up with your partner! They'll help reassure you, and perhaps the two of you can brainstorm a solution. Maybe all it takes is dinner with the two of them for you to realize that there is absolutely nothing going on, and there never could be. Their ex may even become a new friend! Anything's possible, if you just talk about it.
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!