11 Ways To Tell If Your Partner Loves You More Than They Loved Their Ex
If you've ever wondered if your partner loved their ex more than you, you're not alone. We've all had that moment of curiosity regarding a partner's past, who they've dated, and how serious or not serious it may have been. Not only is it interesting to think about your partner's life before they met you, but questions can also come about due to insecurity, as you wonder whether or not their ex will come back into the picture.
If your mind is more focused on the former, then you're a-OK. It's fine to ask questions about your partner's history, and what their old relationships were like. But if you find yourself comparing, or worrying unduly about this mysterious person, that's when you should take a step back and consider why you're so hung up.
"It is likely that there is something going on that is making [you] feel like [you] are not on stable grounds in this relationship," clinical psychologist Dr. Danielle Forshee, tells Bustle. "People tend to look in the past to make correlations with the present." But comparisons are never healthy.
If it makes you feel better, go ahead and ask your partner how they feel, or how they left things with their ex. But don't let it turn into a game of "who's better?" If it feels like you have to compare, you should figure out why you're so worried. And it may even be a good idea to talk to a therapist, in order to get to the bottom of any underlying insecurities you may have. With that in mind, here are some signs your partner has left their ex in the past, and that you likely have nothing to worry about.
1. They've Introduced You To Their Family
The best thing to do, when trying to ascertain whether or not your relationship is healthy, is to look for signs your partner is mixing their life with yours. And one way they might show that type of commitment is by introducing you to their family.
"If your [partner] brings you around the people most important to them, they probably love you more than they loved their ex," Racine R. Henry, PhD, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. Or, at the very least, it's a sign they're happy with you and can see a future.
You can, however, gauge whether or not this is a special occasion, either by asking outright or seeing how their family reacts to your visit. "You will be able to tell by how the family and friends respond to you that being introduced is a rare occurrence," Henry says.
While it's OK if you're not the first person your partner has ever brought home, it should feel good to know that they're comfortable and want you to get to know their parents, friends, and other family members.
2. They Are Relaxed Around Their Ex
Let's say you're strolling down the street, hand in hand, and along comes your partner's ex. Does your partner drop your hand and act like they don't know you? Or do they proudly introduce you? How they react can tell you a lot about the current state of your relationship, as well as whether or not they're still hung on up their ex.
"If you and your [partner] run into their ex and the exchange is normal, without any verbal or physical awkwardness, then they are probably more into you than their ex," Henry says. "A face-to-face interaction is the ultimate test of where two people stand."
So, even though it might be awkward in the moment, you'll likely get a feel for their body language and the words they use. "If your [significant other] introduces you as their [partner] without hesitation and maintains physical contact with you, you have nothing to worry about," Henry says. Reacting positively and comfortably likely means they've moved on and are ready to leave the past in the past.
3. They Don't Compare You To Their Ex
If your partner has their ex on their mind — or maybe if they're trying to decide between you and them — this can reveal itself in the comments and comparisons they make. They might say things like, "My ex would have never done that." Or they might reminisce about how things were "so different" in the past.
On the flip side, if your partner is content with the relationship, they will find ways to appreciate you for you. "A partner who loves you [...] will focus on you as a unique individual, and not try to compare you to someone in [their] past," Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and relationship expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. They'll love your quirks and all the things you bring to the relationship, without harkening back to how things used to be.
If, however, they do start to compare, then this might not be the healthiest of relationships. After talking about it, if it seems like they can't find a way to be happy and appreciate you for all your unique, glowing qualities, it may be better to move on and find someone who can.
4. You Never Catch Them Dwelling On Their Ex
Similarly, if your partner is happy and in love, they won't dwell on their ex, on what could have been, or what things were like when they were dating. You won't find them scrolling through their ex's social media in middle of the night, or texting secretly in another room.
Instead, their mind will be firmly focused on you, and all the things they love about your relationship. And if that seems to be the case, as Bennett says, consider it "a sign [they have] fully moved on from old feelings."
It is, however, totally OK if your partner has a platonic friendship with an ex, so it's important not to jump to conclusions if they want to say hi to someone on Facebook. That's not the same as dwelling, and as long as everyone involved is fully aware it's just friendly, it's usually nothing to worry about.
This is something you can talk about, however, if it's bothering you. And it may even end up being a great time to talk about boundaries and what is and isn't OK to do when it comes to exes. If your partner is fully committed to your relationship, they should be open to the idea of doing whatever they can to help you feel secure.
5. They're Making Plans With You
Healthy, happy relationships are very present-focused, with an eye to the future. So, while your partner may have been happy with their ex at the time, it'll be clear they have moved on when they seem content, but also excited to make plans for the future.
"People who have strong feelings about exes tend to look backwards at the 'good old days,'" Bennett says. "On the other hand, a partner who is totally focused on a life with you will emphasize the present moment and your future together." So be on the lookout for super relationship-y moments like meeting their family, as well as talks of moving in together, marriage, etc.
Speaking of the future, studies have shown that one of the predictors of a lasting relationship is talking about what's to come and making investments in each other, such as sharing debt, signing a lease, buying furniture, listing a partner as a beneficiary, owning a pet together, or having made plans for a vacation in the future.
If your partner is down to do these things, you can rest assured they're fully focused on you, and want to make things work.
6. They're Clearly Comfortable When Talking About The Past
While not everyone has to be an open book about their past for their current relationship to work, it is a good sign if your partner is willing to chat about things openly, and answer any questions you might have about their past loves.
"If you feel comfortable and confidant when discussing the ex and any issues around the past relationship," then things are likely OK, Pam Mirehouse, a divorce and health coach, tells Bustle. This shows that your partner has nothing to hide, and that they want your relationship to be a healthy one.
That said, if your partner does have a difficult time talking about the past though, there is no need to panic — a past relationship that was particularly hurtful may be tricky for them to speak about, so if they let you know that's the case, respect their boundaries and try not to dwell.
7. You Feel Safe & Secure
If you take a moment to assess your relationship, and notice that it feels safe and secure overall, then that's a really good sign things are OK, Mirehouse says. And the same is true if you've noticed that you're almost always your partner's top priority.
If you need something, they're there. If you are sharing good news, they want to hear about it. While it's obviously fine for them to have other focuses, too, being a priority is a sign your partner's head is in the here and now, and not stuck in the past with someone they used to love, or hyper-focused on people and things outside the relationship.
8. They Don't Need To Talk To Their Ex
Again, it's fine if your partner is friends with their ex. But there's a big difference between a slight indifference and/or a platonic friendship, and one that seems a little flirtatious.
"If your [partner] is frequently contacting their ex, commenting about remarks, anecdotes, and jokes that might even be inappropriate or overtly suggestive in nature, it is clear that the relationship must be reevaluated to determine whether or not these are warning signs," clinical psychologist Liz Newman , tells Bustle.
When that's the case, the best thing to do is talk with your partner, and get to the bottom of things. If it turns out they're still in love with their ex, and not in a place where they can or want to continue a healthy relationship with you, then it may be time to bow out and move on with somebody else.
9. They've Said The L Word
The word "love" means different things to different people. And some folks are going to be slower to say it in a relationship than others. But generally, if you've both uttered the phrase to each other, things are likely on solid ground.
Keep in mind, though, that you can't put too much weight on the phrase — especially when it comes to timing. "If you know your partner said 'I love you' in [their] previous relationship within a month time frame, but they didn’t say it to you until six months, this doesn’t mean they don’t love you more because we don’t know what their intentions were behind it," Forshee says.
Maybe they wanted to make sure they felt a certain way, before saying something so serious. Or maybe they realized they didn't mean it when they said it to their ex. "We don’t know how they objectively felt about this person compared to their experiences with you," Forshee says. There are so many factors that go into saying "I love you," and it's not worth it to compare.
10. They've Taken Things To The Next Level
You'd think a big moment like a proposal would make you feel like you don't have to worry anymore about a partner's exes. But that's not always true. Many people continue to compare themselves to an ex, or worry that they'll come back into the picture, even after things have been made officially official.
But Henry says proposals can and should be a major hint that a partner loves you, and not someone from their past, and that you should just allow yourself to trust in that. "You can date anybody but most people don't propose on a regular basis," Henry says. "Unless your [partner] is a serial fiancée, you can interpret a proposal as a sign that you mean more to them than an ex."
Do, however, trust your gut. If something feels off, even after serious commitments have been made, let your partner know. It's always better to be super clear with each other so you can start the next chapter of a relationship with full transparency.
11. You've Asked Them
To reiterate, if someone from the past has got you feelin' worried, it's important to talk to your partner and get it all out in the open, especially if you're planning on staying together long-term.
The only way to gauge whether or not your partner loved the other person more than you, or if they secretly want to get back together, is to point out the behavior that you interpret to mean that they love their ex more than you, Forshee says, "and then inquire about it to understand from your partner’s perspective what the experience was for them." If your relationship is healthy, and your partner is worth your while, they'll be happy to answer, clear up any confusion, and find ways to be more reassuring going forward.
You can always look for signs of commitment and love, like the ones listed above. But keep in mind that it also falls on you to feel secure in your relationship, and not get caught in the habit of constantly sizing yourself up against whoever your partner dated in the past. By living in the present moment, and appreciating what you have, you'll be doing your partner to move the relationship forward in a healthy way.
Rhoades, Galena, K. (2010). Should I Stay or Sholud I Go? Predicting Dating Relationship Stability from Four Aspects of Commitment. Journal of Family Psychology. 24(5): 543–550. doi: 10.1037/a0021008
Dr. Danielle Forshee, clinical psychologist
Racine R. Henry, PhD, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist
Jonathan Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert at Double Trust Dating
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