I remember being on a date with an ex and him asking me what my previous boyfriends profession was. He’s an IT contractor. I replied and I noted that a dark look passed over his face. Later after a few drinks he whined ‘I’m just a lowly mechanic in comparison to your rich ex. Why would you want anything to do with me?’ In hindsight this was a bloody good question and I should have run a mile, but instead I found myself feeling guilty and having to reassure him. He ended up using nuggets of information about my relationship past to adjust his behaviour to appear to be better than them and he also manipulated situations.

There is a reason why I am so against the discussing of your exes on the first few dates, especially the first one.

Rightly or wrongly draw conclusions about you
Subconsciously or consciously adjust their behaviour so that they don’t appear to be like one of your ex’s
Write you off as not over your ex or laden with baggage.

When you’re sitting there telling them what a piece of sh*t your ex was and how you’ve had a series of ‘relationships’ that haven’t progressed to being serious despite lasting a length of time, some guys will think: What’s the catch here? Is this a booty call girl? Is she hard work? And when you tell him all of your funny bad date stories, whilst he may be laughing there and then, he may also be thinking that he doesn’t want to end up as your next bad date story. You may feel that you are demonstrating that you are open, independent, and on a level with him, but when you communicate this type of information, in a certain type of manner, to some men, they reserve the right to draw negative conclusions about you.

Of course, telling them information and having the guy metamorphosis into ‘the opposite’ of an ex is just as dangerous if not more so. The type of guy who is insecure and who probably has a lot of red flags himself, will find himself playing ‘the opposite card’. You tell him that your last ex wasn’t around much, was emotionally unavailable, and made you feel bad about yourself because he was thoughtless, and this little number will try to always be there to the point of smothering you, tell you he loves you after a few dates, and will constantly tell you how thoughtful he is. Of course, as time passes, he shows other behaviours such as being irresponsible, drinking a lot, emotionally blackmailing or whatever his issue of choice is and you’re made to feel bad for bringing these up because he feels that he’s better than your ex.

It is very difficult for people to be matter-of-fact about their dating pasts and in discussing them passionately and in detail, you are likely to end up giving far too much information and appearing to still be emotionally invested in the situation. Either that or he thinks that he’s hearing a baggage overload alert!

It’s amazing with so many topics to talk about and an opportunity which is ripe for getting to know a person, that on the first few dates, most people cannot help but talk about their relationship history, especially their most recent ex. Although it may appear that this information gives you a leg up on getting to know your date, it’s actually a mistake to engage in this conversation topic too soon. It’s not about deceiving a potential mate; it’s about recognising that there is a time and a place for this conversation topic and it ideally shouldn’t show up until after the third date, but especially not on the first one. When a date knows more about your dating past than he does about you, it means that not only have you talked about it too soon, but that you’ve also said too much.

The first few dates are about getting to know each other, seeing if there is a connection to be established, having fun, and hopefully all of these things will combine into something positive that enables you both to move things forward into developing a relationship. The time will come when you will both share your relationship pasts but if you share the nitty gritty when there are foundations and you have gotten to know each other, there is less room for judgement and insecurity because you should have a level of security with each other and they can marry the information they are hearing with what they already know about you. Of course, there is no perfect way to navigate this awkward subject, but avoiding talking about it too soon or in too much detail can minimise problems.

And what do you do if the conversation is raised? Keep it brief, matter-of-fact (but not cold), and steer the conversation away by saying light-heartedly. But of course, we don’t want to be talking about our exes now when we can be getting to know each other, or something to that effect. If they keep pushing the subject, let them speak, try not to be too judgemental, but also be wary of anyone who needs to talk about their exes so much.

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