If you and your partner can talk about everything — including admitting to past mistakes, moments of toxicity, and so on — it's a sign you have a trusting, comfortable, and supportive relationship. But since
your partner's past can hint at what might happen in the future, it's important to take what they say seriously by considering how it might affect you.
"People can definitely change," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at
Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "But, it’s important to remember that the biggest predictor of future behavior is past behavior. So, if your partner has a past that worries you, then it’s crucial to discuss it and make sure the past stays in the past."
If they admit to epic breakups, cheating, or boundary issues, make sure they're willing to acknowledge their unhealthy pattern, and look for a desire to change. Also, check in with yourself to see how you're feeling about it all, including whether or not anythings seems like a dealbreaker.
While you don't have to fix your partner, you can choose to remain supportive and
work on these issues together. Or, you may eventually decide they just aren't "The One." Here are a few things from your partner's past that may be a red flag worth talking about, according to experts.
"All My Exes Were Terrible"
While you can't expect your partner to have fond memories of all their exes, if they speak poorly of them, or blame them all for the failure of the relationship, it's a major red flag.
"This could be a sign of
their inability to take responsibility for their own mistakes in the relationship, or [it] could be a sign of lingering bitterness," therapist Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT, tells Bustle. And neither bodes well for your future.
"All My Breakups Were Messy"
Breakups aren't always neat and tidy, but that doesn't mean they have to be super toxic, either. So you may want to rethink things if your partner admits to ending all their relationships in an unhealthy way.
"If your partner talks a lot about past drama surrounding a breakup, then you could be in for trouble if you ever decide to end the relationship," Bennett says. An inability to end a relationship without setting the whole thing on fire may
be a sign of immaturity, or other emotional issues that you might not want to get wrapped up in.
"I've Never Had A Healthy Relationship"
Similarly, take note if your partner claims the've never been in a healthy or happy relationship, or seems surprised that all their relationships fail. "This is a huge warning sign suggesting that this person [may have]] a fear of commitment and/or demonstrated some narcissistic behaviors that led to continual failed relationships,"
psychologist Dr. Tasia M. Smith, tells Bustle.
They may have a habit of pawning their problems off on others, or expecting their partners to fix them — among other things. These bad habits can be certainly be changed, especially now that your partner is older and wiser. But they can also be a warning sign, too.
It's important to be understanding and supportive of a partner who's been cheated on. That's a tough thing to go through, and can take a long time to get over.
Do make sure, however, that they're putting in the work to heal themselves. "If your partner was cheated on and has not resolved the hurt that caused, they may [start] looking for the same behaviors in you,"
Lesli Doares, couples consultant and coach, tells Bustle. "They may be overly suspicious and accusatory."
And that can grow old quick. "This will leave you on the defensive," Doares says. Since a lack of trust can ruin a relationship, it may help to
encourage them to seek therapy, for their sake and yours.
"I Don't Want To Talk About It..."
It's fine if your partner doesn't want to talk at length about their past, and especially so when it comes to old relationships. But it might be a red flag if they don't want to talk it about them
"If your partner says to you things such as 'the past is the past' [...] that is a serious red flag because it means that your partner is not viewing all of their past relationships as contributors to their personal development," Doares says. "They may also argue that past relationships have no bearing on future relationships, which is false."
You two don't need to
talk about your exes every single day, but it is important that you show signs of growing. As Doares says, "We should all be able to reflect on past relationship experiences and identify ways that we could have been a better partner and what we have learned from those experiences."
"I've Always Been Bad With Money"
If your partner jokes about being bad with money in the past it's not the kiss of death, but only if they're making an effort to save and spend wisely now. So take note if they joke about it like it's no a big deal, or show zero signs of changing.
"Throw away comments about how
irresponsible they were with money in [their] younger years might indicate there is still some debt lingering," Jennifer McDermott, a consumer advocate for Finder, tells Bustle. Or, it could be a sign that they just aren't very financially responsible in general.
While things like debt don't have to be a big deal, "if you do merge finances down the road, it could impact your credit rating or ability to take out a loan," McDermott says. Mismatched views regarding money could also lead to arguments down the road, which you definitely want to avoid.
If you're worried, talk to your partner about their spending habits, and make a plan for saving for the future. It's always possible to turn things like this around, if you want to.
Hardly anyone comes from a "perfect" family, where everyone was present and loving and healthy. So definitely don't hold it against your partner is they have issues stemming from their past. We all can work on moving on from a toxic family, and not repeating the same mistakes.
That said, it never hurts to think twice about how any
unresolved family issues might affect your relationship. You might want to ask how the toxicity is affecting them today, or if it's ever affected their past relationships. As Doares says, deep-rooted abandonment issues, for example, can result in your partner looking for constant validation, or developing an unhealthy attachment.
While it's not up to you to fix your partner or clear up every issue from their past, you can be supportive and encourage them to go to therapy. But do tread carefully, especially if it seems like history might repeat itself.
"I Cheated On All My Exes"
While it may be forgivable if your partner cheated on their ex, if they now show signs of remorse. But take note if they are a serial cheater, or if they talk about it like it's some sort of unfixable character flaw.
"These are two red flags," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of
The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "If they cheated as a way to hurt their ex, they are telling you they don’t have much empathy. However, even if they are remorseful, if they have found themselves cheating multiple times and 'just couldn’t help it,' you have a partner who is likely to do it again."
partner has a history of cheating — especially if they don't see anything wrong with it — they may not be the one for you.
"I Quit My Job Without Telling My Boss"
It's fine to leave a job you aren't happy with, or move to a new city on a whim. But it may be a sign of impending problems if your partner has a habit of being impulsive.
"Things like quitting jobs multiple times, moving, breaking up with significant others, investing without careful consideration [are examples of red flags]," Dr. Klapow says. "Spontaneity is great, but impulsivity is dangerous." It shows a lack of commitment that may come back to haunt you.
"I Used To Be So Much Happier"
It's great if you guys tells each other stories about the past, and all the fun things you did. But it may be a red flag if it seems like your partner can't let it go — or look towards the future.
As Dr. Klapow says, "Talking about how things used to be, how their past was better, more fun, easier — they may not be directly attacking you but they are telling you that their heart is in their past, which can pose problems for your current relationship."
You can work on this together, and aim to create a healthier relationship. You can also encourage your partner to get to the bottom of their own unhappiness, possibly by seeking therapy. But if comments like these keep occurring — and it makes you feel insecure — it may be a sign they aren't "The One."
partner hints at having a bad temper, don't take it lightly — especially if it sounds like they have a history of anger problems in relationships.
"This is a very big red flag," Dr. Klapow says. "A one time occurrence is excusable, but a past with multiple occurrences tells you that unless they have gotten help for their anger, they have it in them and it could surface again."
No one has a perfect past, so don't hold it against your partner if they've been through a toxic relationship, if they've experienced financial problems, or had issues with their family. Do, however, take into consideration how their past might affect you — and whether or not these past problems are fixable — so that you can
have the healthiest relationship possible.