Upon starting a new relationship, it's likely to get butterflies and feelings of excitement at the prospect of what's to come; however, when your partner is hung up on an ex, things can get a little more complicated... and usually not for the better. As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling satisfied and confident in their relationships. Firstly, we will evaluate where they stand within this area of their lives and discuss in which direction they'd like to go.
For instance, some people are dating or married, and within those relationships, there might be tension regarding previous relationships or with making comparisons. There also might be pangs of jealousy, and this can depend on the characters of the people in the relationship, as well as past circumstances. On the other hand, some people haven't found someone to make a life with just yet and are playing the single game, and for those who embark upon new relationships, it's possible to notice uneasiness or inability to open up based on feelings for previous partners. Here are eleven signs to know that your partner is still hung up on his or her ex and when it's a problem you shouldn't ignore.
1. There's Weirdness When An Ex Is Mentioned
If you notice a change in your partner's behavior or tone when you mention the name of his or her ex and your both come across a photo or update on the ex's social media accounts, then it might indicate that your partner hasn't fully moved on. "Be mindful of your 'gut feelings,'" says Chicago-based licensed marriage and family therapist, Erika Fay, LMFT, over email with me. If your gut senses this tension, it's probably on to something.
2. Your Partner Speaks About The Ex Often
According to Dr. Judith H. Tanenbaum, a psychiatrist in New York City, over email with me, if your partner brings up his or her partner's name voluntarily and on a regular basis, it could mean that he or she has not yet moved on and is still consumed with thoughts of his or her previous relationship. A healthy new relationship should focus on you two, and the ex's name shouldn't be common in conversation.
3. Your Partner Compares You To The Ex
Going into a new relationship should be filled with excitement and confidence, not insecurities that you do not measure up to his or her expectations or past relationships. Tanenbaum says that a clear sign could be if your partner is constantly comparing you to his or her ex, and such comparisons can be detrimental to a budding, and even stable, relationship.
4. Your Partner Is Emotionally Distant
Tanenbaum warns against partners who are emotionally distant, as it can bring unhappiness to present relationships and indicate that he or she is not prioritizing the two of you before other thoughts, needs and relationships. If he or she seems to be avoiding you or is not as affectionate as you'd like, be wary of potential hangups on past partners.
5. Your Partner Is "Best Friends" With An Ex
If your partner is too close with his or her ex, as in they see each other for lunch and dinner dates, communicate regularly over phone, email or social media, and your partner is constantly speaking about how great the ex is, then it's important to be wary of the relationship as threatening to your new budding one and to establish whether you trust your partner or not, says relationship expert and author John Gray over interview with WebMD.
6. Your Partner Is Moving Too Fast
If your partner is rushing in establishing a relationship with you and taking too many steps to build a future together, especially when the time-frame seems out of the ordinary or your comfort zone, then it's a sign that he or she is vulnerable and might be hung up on a previous relationship, says Lisa Marie Bobby, Ph.D., marriage and family therapist, in interview with Women's Health. Figure out his or her motives before getting too attached.
7. The Sex Isn't Great
According to Jackie Pilossoph, divorce expert and author of Divorced Girl Smiling, in interview with Huffington Post, if the sex isn't great, as in he or she seems to be holding back or more reserved between the sheets, it could mean that he or she hasn't moved on from a previous relationship and is unable to open up to you due to sexual memories with an ex. Plus, if he or she calls out the ex's name, you've got a direct signal there, as well!
8. There Are Memories In Your Partner's Home
If you see photos of your partner and his or her ex, desk top images or albums on the computer of them being together, sentimental tokens of endearment, such as old tees, pillows and magnets that the ex had purchased or warn, then it probably means he or she hasn't received closure from the relationship and is still pining for the past, according to experts at eHarmony.
9. They Are "Platonic Dates" To Events
According to Manj Weerasekera, The Fresh Start Guy, who coaches divorced men, in interview with the Daily Mail, a clear sign that the previous relationship has not fully ended, likely platonically or romantically, is when your partner and his or her ex still attend events together, such as weddings, reunions, work events and sporting games, as "just friends." This "just friends" idea is complicated and should be looked into.
10. Your Partner Is Close With The Ex's Family
Weerasekera also notes in his interview with the Daily Mail that another big warning sign is if your partner is still considered "part of the family" in his previous relationship's circle. If he or she is still attending family holidays or is on great terms with the ex's siblings or parents, to the point of them speaking over phone frequently or meeting up for events and meals together, then you should check with your partner to see if he or she would be willing to break it off and focus on you two.
11. Your Partner Is Angry At The Ex
If your parter gets angry when his or her ex is mentioned, then it's a sign that he or she has not gotten the closure that is needed to put the previous relationship aside and focus on new and better things, says Wendy Walsh, Ph.D., author of the upcoming book The 30-Day Love Detox, in interview with Today. If he or she were over the ex, conversation about how it ended shouldn't bring up such terrible feelings and rage, as it should be buried in the past and just accepted for what it was. If there's any trash talking, address it.
If you notice any of these signals, it might be wise to take a step back and evaluate where you both stand in this relationship and how best to move forward. Ties to previous relationships can interfere with the ability for you and your partner to build a future together, so address any issues before getting too attached.
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