11 Signs Your Partner's Frustration Comes From Comparing You To Their Ex
To create the healthiest of relationships, it's always a good idea to leave the past in the past, and not compare your current partner to your old one. That's why, if your partner has failed to move on from their ex, you might notice them getting frustrated with you — over seemingly every little thing — to the point where it's affecting your relationship.
And while some form of baggage is understandable, to a degree, they will eventually need to move on and realize that you aren't with their ex, and thus shouldn't be compared — if they want your relationship to be successful.
"Being constantly compared to an ex can create a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "People want to be accepted and loved 'as is' in a relationship and not always feel like they have to 'measure up' to another [person] from the past."
So if you feel like that's happening in your relationship, speak up. "Communication and building a deeper bond can help put an end to this behavior," Bennett says. "The more you get to know each other, the more you can discover the great things that set this relationship apart from previous ones. Then, you and your partner can focus on your present and future together rather than dwelling on memories from the past." Here are a few signs it may be time to have that chat, according to experts.
1They're Super Rude To You
If your partner is living in the past — and not dealing with their own baggage and hangups — there's a good chance they're also going to be rude, frustrated, and impolite.
As Bennett says, "If your partner is used to things being a certain way (e.g. like with an ex), but lacks the courage to tell you this directly, it could come out in offhand comments."
This form of criticism may be their indirect way of telling you that you don't "understand" them, the way their ex did. But it's obviously an unhealthy way of going about it. The only way to get on the same page as a couple is to discuss — directly and out loud — what you both need.
2They Compliment Their Ex
"While hatred for an ex can be a bad thing, if your partner always speaks highly of an ex and compliments [them] often, it could be an indication you’re being compared — and not necessarily favorably," Bennett says. "In fact, it could be a hint your partner wishes you were more like the ex in some ways."
Believe it or not, this is another sign of poor communication on your partner's end — as well as an obvious sign that they're livin' in the past. It's fine if they liked a few key things about their previous relationship, but they will need to say so outright, so that you can adjust your relationship accordingly.
3They Closely Follow Their Ex On Social Media
It's perfectly OK for people to be friends with their exes, to follow them on social media, and even to hang out with them in a platonic way IRL. Do take note, however, if your partner is doing any of these things secretively or excessively — as it may be a sign they're hung up on their ex.
"If your partner constantly checks up on an ex through social media, it could indicate [they] still [have] some kind of feelings and [are] comparing your present relationship to the previous one," Bennett says. "This is especially true if your partner 'likes' photos and statuses of an ex often."
If this makes you uncomfortable, talk with your partner about it ASAP. If they're secretly wishing your current relationship had some of the same qualities of their old one, this convo will offer them a chance to share those thoughts, so you can both get on the same page.
4They Seem To Have A Checklist
Take it as another sign if your partner seems to have a running checklist of all the things they think you're doing "wrong" in the relationship, as it may be their way of comparing you to an ex.
"If they tell you what their ex did differently than you and are telling you how they want you to be," it may be a sign you're being compared, therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. Since this is anything but fair, you should call your partner out immediately.
5They Don't Want To Talk About Certain Topics
As psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow, host of the Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle, "If you find your partner avoiding certain topics as soon as they are brought up, if they jump on you verbally as soon as they are brought up, or if they get extremely hurt when you point out flaws they have in these areas then chances are this was an issue in the past that they ran out of patience [with] and are carrying over those feelings to this relationship."
While it's fine to have some form of baggage — because really, we all do — your partner shouldn't let it affect you, or the health of your relationship.
6They've Given You A Long History Of Their Last Relationship
"One way to determine that your partner is comparing you to their ex is if you have obtained a pretty thorough chronological history of your partner’s previous relationship," Dr. Danielle Forshee, doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle. "This will enable you to see communication patterns in your current relationship, and whether or not you feel like those communication patterns might be present."
Basically, if you see history repeating itself, let your partner know so that you don't want to get caught up in an unhealthy dynamic.
7They Think They Know How You're Going To React
Another sign of poor communication — and impending frustration — is if your partner immediately assumes they know how you'll react in any given situation. As Hershenson says, they might "anticipate your reactions based on past experiences with someone else." But this is yet another habit that will keep your relationship from moving forward.
8They Straight Up Compare You
While it's totally unfair, it's not uncommon for some folks to say things like "my ex would have never done that." As Hershenson says, comments like this might come up during arguments, where your partner might "talk about how their ex acted in similar situations." And obviously, that is not OK.
9They Get Really Uncomfortable
"If every time or many times when [their ex's] name gets brought up in conversation, [your partner] gets really awkward or pretends like [they aren't] paying attention to the conversation, then this might be a sign [they are] still not over [their] ex," Samantha Daniels, dating expert and founder of Samantha's Table Matchmaking, tells Bustle.
Of course, they might just have a few unpleasant memories about their ex, and not want to talk about them. But if they get truly uncomfortable, take it as a sign that they haven't fully moved on, as that can lead to unhealthy comparisons and frustrations down the road.
10They Say You Remind Them Of Their Ex
While it might seem sweet at first if your partner says you remind them of their ex, take note if they just can't stop comparing you both. "If this is the case, you need to figure out if this is just one of [their] habits or if [they are] actually doing an active comparison of the two of you," Daniels says. Because if it's the latter, that isn't necessarily a sign they're ready to be in this new relationship.
11They Talk About Their Ex Constantly
While you might not be too bothered by your partner talking about their ex, they shouldn't necessarily be doing so 24/7, as it may be a sign of an underlying problem.
"If at every opportunity, [they bring] up [their] ex in conversation, this might mean that [their ex] is still on [their] mind, even though the two of you are together," Daniels says. "More specifically, if [they bring them] up when you two are talking about a certain experience that the two of you are sharing together but somehow [they] figured out a way to weave [their ex] in, then you should be concerned."
There are so many explanations for all this ex talk, and any comparisons your partner might make. It might mean your partner is still hung up on their ex, that they're oblivious to the pain these comments are causing you, or that they're somehow weirdly frustrated with the differences between their current and past relationships. The only way to figure out what's up is to ask, and (sadly) to move on if it doesn't seem like an issue that's fixable.