Regardless of how much specific info you know about their ex, simply knowing that your partner was in a serious relationship before they met you can be kind of intimidating. And, in many ways, it can even leave you wondering if they'll ever have the same type of "soulmate" love with you.
While it's common to wonder about exes, and get hung up on your partner's past, it's important to keep in mind that they're with you now. And likely for good reason. "We are capable of forming deeply intimate close relationships and thus while they may have had those things with someone else — it didn’t work out and now they are with you," clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow, host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. So if you're feeling insecure, or wondering about the future, hang onto the knowledge that there may not be such thing as one "soulmate." And then, do what you can to create a healthy relationship going forward.
It may take time to build up the same type level of intimacy that your partner had with their ex, but it can certainly happen. "The key is understanding why they are with you, how you can keep your relationship strong, and being present in the relationship so that the connections last this time for a life time," Dr. Klapow says. With that in mind, here are some signs your partner was very committed to their ex.
1They Had Special Traditions
If your partner and their ex had a ton of meaningful and special holiday traditions, there's a good chance they were deeply committed to each other.
As therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle, "Whether they did something special at Thanksgiving or had fun birthday ideas," traditions tend to form when a couple's been together for a while. And it can show that they shared a certain closeness — especially if their family members were involved.
The thing to keep in mind, though, is that you can have these things, too. With time, "you will develop your own traditions and uniqueness for your relationship," Hershenson says. So try not to compare.
2.They Had Inside Jokes
Inside jokes can form quite quickly when you spend a lot of time with someone, so they aren't a sign of "soulmate love" all on their own. But if it's years later and your partner's still bringing up inside jokes they shared with their ex, it can show how meaningful and engrained those jokes must have been, Hershenson says. And it can be a sign they knew each other well.
3The Ex Often Comes Up In Conversation
The folks we meet and date in life can make an impact, so it's not uncommon for people to talk about their exes a lot — even if they weren't technically soulmates.
But "you can tell your partner was serious about their ex if they bring them up in conversation often and/or they make references to them," therapist Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW tells Bustle. If they can't walk past a restaurant without reminiscing about all the times they went their with their ex, for example, then clearly they shared some meaningful times. But again, that's totally OK.
4They Traveled A Lot Together
Another major clue that they were a serious couple? If they did a lot of traveling together. "No one usually wants to book a trip or vacation with someone who they think in a few months might not be in their life anymore," Bethany Ricciardi, sex educator and relationship expert at Too Timid, tells Bustle. "So chances are if your partner traveled with their ex, there was one point in time when they were serious about being together."
5They Talked Seriously About Having Kids
If your partner and their ex spoke seriously about having kids, then it doesn't require much of a leap to assume they were serious about each other, in a way that went beyond mere dating.
"Whether it was your partner or their ex who might have wanted to have children soon, this is a sure sign they were serious about a future together," Ricciardi says. "Wanting to partner and have a child is a serious commitment."
6Your Partner's Family Still Mentions The Ex
If your partner's family and friends occasionally mention their ex, there's a good chance they shared a lot of time together, and possibly saw a future as a family.
As Ricciardi says, "Family and friends [might have] thought they would be together for the long run." Or, at the very least, they might just remember the ex fondly.
That doesn't, however, have any bearing on you. "You might think you have a lot to live up to now, but don't," Ricciardi says. "There’s a reason you're there with your partner’s family, and the ex is not."
7Your Partner Gets Defensive When Talking About Their Ex
Even though they're happily with you now, your partner may still be a bit touchy when it comes to talking about their ex — especially if the relationship was incredibly meaningful.
"This doesn't mean they aren't over that person," Ricciardi says. "They very much can be." But if they thought it was going somewhere long-term, and it didn't, they may still have some pretty intense feelings.
8They Made A Major Life Change For Their Ex
If you've heard stories about how your partner got a new job to live nearer to their ex, or maybe they went back to school on their ex's recommendation, it's likely their lives were intertwined in a pretty significant way.
And, as Dr. Klapow says, "these individual sacrifices are also signs that they were thinking about their life together in a very serious manner." After all, you don't drop your career or move for someone you don't see a future with.
9They Shared A Bank Account
When a couple gets serious, they often take the leap and open a shared bank account, both for current bills as well as future savings. "When we choose to put our money towards someone we are showing signs of dedication," Dr. Klapow says. It's not a decision to be taken lightly, and thus often means two people are in it for the long haul.
And that can be a tough pill to swallow, when you think about how much an ex meant to your partner. But the fact they were with someone in such a committed way actually bodes well for your future together.
"Being that they've done it before is a good thing," Emily Lyons, CEO of matchmaking firm Lyons Elite, tells Bustle. "Through discussions you can hear why it didn't work out and hopefully avoid those same issues." And, it shows that they're the type of person who can commit. So while their ex may have meant a lot, there's a good chance that you and your partner's relationship will be just as special.