One of the most annoying things you can do to yourself is wonder about
your partner's ex. You might think about what their relationship was like, why things didn't work out, and how your partner truly felt about them. To be fair there's nothing wrong with being curious. In fact, experts say you actually should care about how your partner felt about their past relationship to make sure they're really the right one for you.
"We should care about how our current
partner feels about their past situation," Samantha Daniels, Dating Expert and Founder of Samantha’s Table Matchmaking. "If they are still getting over the breakup or obsessing over their ex in subtle ways, then it might be time to evaluate your current relationship."
One of the most important keys to developing a solid relationship is having a
strong emotional connection. If your partner is still emotionally attached to their ex, it's going to be challenging for you to form a deep bond with them. According to Daniels, nothing should be holding you two back from being together once you've decided to become exclusive. "So it’s important to know and pay attention to how your current partner is feeling about their past situation," she says.
The only way to know that is to ask. So here are some questions you can ask your partner to see how they truly felt about their ex.
"Who Broke Up With Who?"
Was the breakup mutual? If not, who ended things? As Daniels says, the way a relationship ends makes a big difference in the dynamic moving forward. "Depending on who ended things, this can reveal if the feelings in the relationship were so strong that there may be some lingering feelings now," she says.
"How Long Ago Was The Breakup?"
Knowing the amount of time between the ending of their last relationship and the start of your current one is important. As
dating coach Julie Spira tells Bustle, "If you know that time has healed your partner’s wounds and that you’re not the rebound, it’s easier to feel like your relationship has a fresh start."
"What Did You Two Used To Do Together For Fun?"
A question like this can reveal the level of emotion and feelings your partner had for their ex because it shows how much time they dedicated to their previous relationship. For instance, if they spent every weekend playing tennis together, a deeper bond was likely to develop. "Depending on how they spent time together shows how strong their feelings were, how much they had in common and if there is a difference in how they spent time together versus how you two currently spend time together," Daniels says.
Same goes for knowing how often they communicated with each other. If they texted, talked on the phone, and always stayed in constant communication throughout the day, Daniels says they likely felt very strongly about each other "Communicating that often and through so many different platforms reveals how much they enjoyed speaking with one another," she says.
"If You Could Do It Over Again, What Would You Have Done Differently?"
A question like this can reveal if your partner still has feelings for their ex or if they've moved on, Jane Reardon, licensed therapist and founder of
RxBreakup, tells Bustle. If there's a lot of things they would've changed about the relationship, your partner may still have regrets about what happened. But that's not something you should really be concerned about. "If there is open and honest communication and your partner is laying out the facts then there isn’t any reason to be worried," Reardon says. "Your partner is giving your relationship assurance by being upfront with the details." You can take comfort in the fact that they're being honest with you.
"What Was One Thing You Really Disliked About Your Ex?"
Questions that directly deal with your partner's thoughts and feelings about their ex can reveal if there are any lingering feelings of anger or resentment. "Usually when the response is emotionally charged in this way, it’s an indicator that they had and may still have strong feelings for that person," relationship coach
Jenna Ponaman, CPC, ELI – MP, tells Bustle. "We are only emotionally triggered by people who hold an emotional value to us." If your partner has truly moved on from the relationship, she says their responses would be positive, neutral, or coming from a place of gratitude like, "Regardless of what happened, I'm grateful that it helped me become the person I am today."
Was cheating involved? Did one person leave because they met someone new? Was physical distance a factor? Or did they disagree on biggies like politics, religion, and having kids? Knowing the reason for the breakup can help you figure out how your partner really felt about their ex. For instance, if their ex was anxious to start a family but your partner wasn't feeling it, your partner may have not seen a long-term future with them. As Spira says, "If you know the reasons why it ended, it can often make you feel more comfortable and secure in your relationship now."
"Did You Think You Were Going To End Up Together?"
Asking if your partner ever saw a future with their ex is a more subtle and indirect way to see if they'd consider going back. Seeing a future with someone is a pretty huge deal. If they were thinking marriage, kids, and growing old together, chances are, they felt very deeply for their ex. According to Spira, asking your partner directly, "Would you ever consider getting back together?" is not the best idea. "This shows a sign of insecurity, and if your partner is with you, [then they're focused on you]," she says. "Let’s keep it that way."
Is it really that important to know how your partner felt about their ex? It really depends on you. In some cases, it can help reassure you that your partner loves you and you're on the right track. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. But just remember, the past is in the past. There's a reason why their ex is their ex. It's important to put more focus into building a solid relationship with each other so your relationship can last.