empty speech bubbleYou’re on a date. You’re both nervous and you make polite chit chat. Maybe you order a drink and loosen up a little and you’re both tentatively finding out about each other. You start talking about dating/relationships/how you’ve come to be on this date and somehow the conversation slips into the shock infested waters of Ex Territory. Now I don’t care how you got to the conversation, exes do not belong on dates in any way, shape, or form, and certainly not on the first few. If you talk about your ex you might as well have brought them along with you and plomped them in between the two of you.

The most common misconception about asking about exes or blabbing about them is that people believe it’s an opportunity for either party to find out how the other ticks within relationships. People think that you can find out how ready a person is for a relationship, whether they are looking for something serious or searching for a shag, whether they are crazy, and how they think this person will behave if they were in a relationship with them. Now I’m not saying it’s impossible to glean some information from conversations like these but there are two factors that skew any information that you get:

1) There are three versions of the relationship – How you see it, how your ex sees it, and the reality. Depending on how screwed up either one of you are, either version could be wide of the reality mark.

2) You are not their ex, they are not your ex. Their relationship is not your relationship. Your old relationship is not their relationship. Relationships are the sum of both parts. All this says is that it is better to judge a person on the merit of their interaction with you. Don’t discard the information particularly if it is red flag alert stuff, but don’t live and die by it either.

Now aside from these factors, you have very core reasons why you need to shut up about your ex, stop asking about theirs, and focus on getting to know your date.

1) An inability to keep your ex out of the date shows that you are not at the healthy stage of OVER. If you’re not at that stage, you shouldn’t be dating.

2) The biggest problem with talking about your ex is that in the wrong hands (that’s most hands by the way), dates will rightly or wrongly draw conclusions about 1) you, 2) how you are in relationships, 3) your personality, 4) how screwed up you are. Let your date draw conclusions about you based on getting to know YOU, not your old relationships. If you are not careful your date may decide that you’re not over your ex/you’re easy/a pushover/messed up/not ready for a relationship/crazy/needy/over emotional.

3) Many people consciously and subconsciously adjust their true character and behaviour based on what you reveal about your ex. This is particularly dangerous because people already put on a bit of front when they are in the early stages of dating so if they adjust again, you’re pretty far from their true personality. These people will then make a point of being the opposite of your ex but if you have other problems in your relationship, they’ll remind you that they’re not like your ex.

4) Who are you both getting to know? Each other or your exes? You may believe you’re finding out more about him but at the end of the day, people can tell you whatever the hell they like. He could sit there and tell you it all ended amicably and bla, bla, bla, and then you find out he’s a nutter with a restraining order.

5) There is nothing to gain. Further into a relationship that is developing, it is far easier to have the ex conversation because you should both be secure enough with a decent foundation to have the discussion. If you’re only going to see them once or twice, why bother to talk about someone you’ve supposed to have left behind.

But what if they persist?

You don’t need to be rude and don’t come across as abrupt or closed as your date may assume you have unresolved anger but keep your answer brief and move the conversation on. Deflection is good.
“How long is it since you’ve been in a relationship?”

“I’ve been single for a few months. Gosh time flies – did I mention that over the last few months I’ve taken up [insert a hobby/activity/or something]

If in doubt steer towards funny date stories

“You been out of a relationship for long?”

“Yeah a few months. You?”

“It’s been about a year for me”

“Oh the joys of dating! What’s the funniest date you’ve been on?”

Or failing that, be honest…

“I’ve been out of my relationship a few months but let’s not bore each other with talking about our exes! I want to get to know you”

If they persist, you know they have hard of hearing issues and you may need to be blunt.

I would take it as a serious red flag if someone won’t stop talking about their ex or won’t drop the conversation topic!

But remember – No Ex on the first date. Or sex for that matter 😉

Your thoughts?

Also read:

Your Past and Exes On Dates

When Your Ex Starts Dating First 

Why Do I Miss My Sh*t of an Ex

Recrudesce: Running into Your Ex

What Not to Do When You Get Dumped 

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