Getting to know all about someone new when you first start dating is one of the most fun things about the process, especially if you sense there's chemistry — and maybe even a little potential for real romance. But there are a handful of topics that, at least early on, you probably want to be extra thoughtful about discussing, such as politics, religion, and, of course, exes. Here's the thing: Your previous relationships are relevant and you probably want to dive into them at some point. The question is, when's the right time to talk about exes on dates? Brenda Della Casa, a relationship coach and author of Cinderella Was A Liar, tells Elite Daily there's no need to rush it. "Avoid bringing up any specific ex on the first date, and if you're asked questions touching on this topic, give general answers about your dating history that you're comfortable sharing. As much as you want to get to know someone, you don't owe a stranger full access to your life story days after meeting them," she says.
Instead of diving into your past, early dates should be about getting to know one another as you are, right now. "When you are first getting to know someone, it's important to keep the focus on exactly that: getting to know them. Oftentimes as a defense mechanism, we talk about the past or the future rather than revealing information about ourselves at the moment and staying present," Dr. Christie Kederian, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Elite Daily. Not only does talking about your ex on your date make it hard to stay in the present, but it may also give them the wrong impression. "It's a huge turn-off to your new partner, because it sends the message that you're possibly not over your ex, or you're playing the comparison game. No one wants to walk on eggshells with you, so refrain from talking about the ex, so you and your new partner can start with a clean slate," Julie Spira, an online dating expert and author of Love in the Age of Trump: How Politics is Polarizing Relationships, tells Elite Daily.
That being said, there will eventually come a time when the subject of your exes may come up naturally, and that's when a conversation can (and should) be had. For instance, if your ex is still in your life, this is something you'll want to disclose to your potential new partner. "If that's the case, you should let your date know you're proud that you've been able to keep a healthy friendship with your ex, but there's no chance of reconciliation," says Spira. "This conversation should only come up if you know you're in a promising relationship where you've agreed to be exclusive," she adds.
The topic may also come up naturally if the person you're dating is curious about your dating history. In that case, Dr. Kederian recommends honesty and brevity in your answers. "If someone asks questions about your past relationships, I think being honest without sharing every detail is the best thing to do," she advises. "You can say something like 'my last relationship had many positive points, we shared similar interests and goals, but ultimately felt like our personalities weren't a click'."
While you want to be clear that there's no chance of reconciliation with your ex, this also isn't an opportunity to bash your ex, says Della Casa "As tempting as it may be to lay out all of the terrible traits of your ex, this is a tactic that can backfire. Your date is not your therapist, nor are they your best friend, and let's be real; no one wants to be out with a bitter or angry person. It's boring and draining," she says. "The more negative stories you share, the more opportunity you give the other party to question your role in the breakup."
And of course, comparing your ex to your current date is something to be avoided, full stop, even if you think it's complimentary, says Della Casa. "It sends a message you're still thinking about them, which can create concern and stir up frustration or insecurity," she explains.
When deciding when and what to say about your ex to your new dating partner, Dr. Kederian says to consider what's really at the core of their question. "When someone asks you about their past relationships, the real things they want you to know boil down to 'why would someone not want to be with your or why would you not want to be with someone.' This is for the purpose of security for your date to have more information and know what they're getting themselves into,'' she explains. With that in mind, choose your timing wisely and answer thoughtfully in a way that lets them know what they're asking but paints you in the best and most honest light. "The best way to approach questions about your ex is focusing on what you learned from the relationship and the type of person you're looking for based on what you learned,'' Kederian concludes.
Talking about your ex is one of those rites of passage that almost all new relationships have to go through, but with the right timing and attitude it doesn't have to be awkward. Well, not too awkward, anyway.
Dr. Christie Kederian, a licensed marriage and family therapist
Julie Spira, an online dating expert and author of Love in the Age of Trump: How Politics is Polarizing Relationships