If your partner was in a relationship before they met you, they might occasionally
think about their ex. For better or worse, their ex had an affect on them and may remain in the recesses of their brain. And you know what? That's OK. It's perfectly fine for your partner to think about their ex, talk about them, and even have a friendly relationship with them.
But it can help to know the difference between someone who's thinking about their ex in a platonic way, and someone who's thinking about them because they
still have feelings. If you notice a few clues that your partner seems to be thinking a lot about their ex, "this is a warning sign, but not a deal breaker," author and relationship therapist Caroline Madden, PhD, tells Bustle. Just because your partner is thinking about their ex, doesn't mean they want to get back together with them, or that they aren't ready to date you.
It may, however, be a good idea to talk about it. If your partner's mind seems to be stuck in the past, have a heart-to-heart to make sure
they're ready to be in a relationship with you. If you notice any of the signs below, it may be time to have that chat.
They Compare You Without Even Realizing It
If your partner is still hung up on their ex, they may subconsciously
compare the two of you — and they may even slip up and do so out loud. As therapist Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT tells Bustle, "They may not refer to the person by name, but could say something like, 'in my last relationship..." and go on to list the things their ex did differently.
But, since it's tough to tell if they're just thinking about their ex, or thinking about them fondly, try not to jump to conclusions. "The fact that they bring this person [up] may or may not indicate that they are thinking about their ex in a nostalgic way," Williamson says. "Instead, they could still be reeling from the hurt of that relationship or struggling with fear or insecurity that was instilled in them from that relationship."
It's not uncommon to dream about the people we've met in our lives — especially those we've dated. But if your partner talks about their dreams, and their ex seems to have a recurring role, it may make you feel uncomfortable.
"While this may not be a sign of infidelity or anything, you need to be mindful that they [might] have some unresolved issues regarding their ex," psychic and
spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport tells Bustle. "The mind is an amazing organ because while we are asleep, the things that bother us will bubble up."
If they tell you about their dream, you can obviously ask them what they think it means. But if they say it means nothing, leave it at that. "If you realize that your partner is dreaming about their ex-partner, [more than likely they] are processing thoughts, feelings, and emotions," Rappaport says. And nothing more.
They Call You By Their Ex's Name
Everyone slips up occasionally. But if your partner accidentally refers to you by their ex's name — especially in the heat of the moment — you may want to have a chat.
"If your partner accidentally calls you by the name of their ex-partner, this may be a sign that they are thinking about their ex, or something popped into their head to remind them of their ex," Rappaport says. It may be another sign they're
still overcoming baggage, so it can help to try to find ways to support them till they do.
They Reminisce Constantly
If your partner thinks about their ex, their name may come up in conversation more often than you'd like, Rappaport says. But that's not necessarily a bad thing — if they're doing so in a context that makes sense.
If your relationship is on the rocks, it may be a
sign they're talking to their ex again. If all is well, however, it's likely just a sign your partner is comfortable enough around you to share.
They Bring Them Up At Inappropriate Times
Talk of their ex may be something to worry about, however, if they bring them up during intimate moments. If "your partner’s ex comes up at inappropriate times such as during sexual intimacy, romantic dates, poignant confessions about love, fears, and your future together," it may be time to have a talk,
dating and relationship coach Rosalind Sedacca tells Bustle. If all the ex talk makes you uncomfortable, let your partner know.
They Talk About Their Ex In A Negative Way
If your partner talks about their ex in a negative way, it may be a sign they have not "gotten over their pain and disappointment, or completely healed from their breakup," Rappaport says. "What you can do is check in with them and let them know you are not like their ex. Remind them how you are different from their ex and that you really want to make your relationship work." While it's not your job to fix your partner and heal them of all baggage, offering support can be a big help.
They're Constantly Checking In On Their Ex
If you notice that your partner is talking to their ex on social media, it's not necessarily a sign of a problem. While you'll obviously want to be open with each other about things like this, it's highly likely they were just catching up.
Do, however, talk with your partner if it's bothering you — especially it seems like their online behavior is becoming a pattern. "The only sure sign that someone is preoccupied on a conscious level with their ex is if you notice they are ... 'stalking' them on social media, or you notice this is a topic of conversation between your partner and their friends," psychologist
Dr. Danielle Forshee tells Bustle. At that point, it may be clear that your partner is hung up on their ex, to one degree or another.
It's a great sign if your partner has a lot of respect for their ex, but there's a big difference between being polite and kind, and being defensive. So take note if your partner defends their ex, or doesn't want to tell you about them.
"If they are defending their ex to you or friends, there may still be feelings involved,"
Anna Morgenstern, a dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle. And that's not exactly fair to you, so talk to your partner about it.
You Have That Gut Feeling
If you're certain your partner still thinks about their ex — even if they won't admit it — listen to your intuition. "If your gut is telling you there is something shady happening, then you're probably right," Morgenstern says.
Whether they accidentally call you by their name, or they get super defensive, it may be a sign something's up. And the only way you'll know — or, at the very least, make
your feelings known — is to ask them about it.
While your partner has every right to talk about their ex — and even be friendly with them — it all has to be above board. So if you get a feeling that they're still thinking about their ex in a way that doesn't bode well for the future of your relationship, have that all-important chat.