7 Ways Your Partner May Be Comparing You To Their Ex
When in the beginning of a new relationship, it's common for people to look at the similarities and differences between this new situation and their previous relationships. Unfortunately, this can mean, at times, that your partner is comparing you to their ex in a number of ways. Although it can be annoying if it's over the top, making comparisons is a natural instinct, and as long as it's not coming up time and time again, it shouldn't be something you worry about. However, you may want to be aware of the different situations in which your partner might be doing some relationship comparing and contrasting.
"When a relationship ends, we usually begin comparing our new partner to what we didn’t like in our ex partner because after a breakup, it’s more clear what we do and don’t want," Carrie Krawiec, LMFT tells Bustle. "Sometimes people even go so far as picking an opposite person. Unfortunately when our new partner begins to hurt or disappoint us, we [may] start to be reminded of the ways those needs were met before ... either by a parent, caregiver or ex."
It's never healthy if your partner explicitly dwells on these comparisons or makes you feel bad about them, but it is common for them to notice differences in their new relationship — and sometimes this can be positive. Here are seven ways your partner may compare you to their ex, according to relationship experts.
1. Whether Or Not You Have Different Attachment Styles From Their Ex
According to the "attachment theory," a person may have one of five different attachment styles, which are influenced by your connection with your parents when you are young, and can later impact how you connect in relationships. "The way you connect is the glue of any relationship, and people have different ways of expressing this and in turn, different ways of letting each other know they care and are important to each other," couples and family therapist Tracy K. Ross, LCSW tells Bustle. "If a new partner doesn’t call with the same frequency or express affection the same way it’s natural to compare." If you and your partner's ex have different attachment styles, this is something they may notice.
2. How You Fit In With Friends & Family
Because family and friends can be important to your partner, they may note how you respond in those situations compared to how their ex did. While you might fit in seamlessly, an ex may have had a harder time, or vice versa, says Ross. "This is not in and of itself an indicator of whether someone is a good fit, but it can certainly cause someone to pause and compare."
3. How Sex Is Different
"This is a big one and each situation is so unique it’s an easy target for comparison," says Ross. It's common for people to attribute their strength of intimacy to their partner, and your partner may note how sex has changed or evolved in a new relationship. While this comparison can be a pretty common instinct, if your partner brings up it up in a way that makes you uncomfortable, it might be best to talk with them and establish boundaries regarding your sex life.
4. How You Handle Conflict Differently Than Their Ex Did
How people handle conflict varies greatly from relationship to relationship, so it should come as no surprise that your partner might be comparing how you handle issues to the way their ex managed difficult situations. "Conflict is inherently distressing, and different styles trigger different reactions and responses," says Ross. "It's a natural place for comparison to emerge."
5. Whether Or Not Your Life Values Are Similar To Their Ex's
Different partners will always have different life values as well as likes and dislikes, which means it's inevitable that your partner will spot some of these differences. "Some partners share your world view, and this can be comforting," says Ross. "Others are very different and push you outside your comfort zone or cause you to look at things from a different angle. I have heard both ‘I love that [they push] me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to things I wouldn’t otherwise experience,' and, 'I love that we share the same interests and like to do the same things, it makes it so easy.'"
6. How Your Household Habits Differ
Everyone also differs in their household habits, including cleaning up, taking care of the activities of daily living, planning, organizing, division of tasks etc. "Although it's the least sexy category, people do get very annoyed with each other over some very basic activities and can spend a lot of time in therapy discussing these grievances," says Ross. "If it was better or worse with another partner, it’s easy to find yourself comparing."
7. How Your Hobbies Are Different From Their Ex's
Your partner likely pays attention to what you like to do on your free time. "People assume that if you have little in common, the relationship is doomed," Crystal Clancy, MA LMFT tells Bustle. "If you previously dated someone who had a lot of common interests, it can be easy to compare, and question what that may mean. Know that common hobbies are not as important as shared values and respect."
Some comparison is natural, as long as it doesn't get in the way of your current relationship. If you feel like your partner is comparing you to their ex beyond a healthy curiosity, it may be time to talk and establish some boundaries.