When you start dating someone new, sometimes you talk about your exes. Sometimes you don’t. Either way is okay, and it totally depends on what you and your partner are cool with talking about. But something will definitely feel off if your new boo is still feeling all the feels for their last S.O. If you’re worried about them being hung up on their ex, it can bring up concerns about cheating and maybe even make you feel like you should see a relationship therapist. Before you know it, you could be in a toxic relationship. Yikes! But before you freak out, read this. We chatted with Dr. Elan Golomb, an author and licensed psychologist, to get the rundown on what to watch out for if you’re worried your boo might be reminiscing a little too fondly about their last relationship.
WARNING SIGN #1: You’re HAVING SERIOUS DOUBTS
This is really the most important sign of all. If you feel like something is off with regard to your new S.O. and their ex, chances are you might be right. Of course, if you tend to worry about this kind of thing in every relationship, then this advice probably doesn’t hold true, but if you usually don’t, it may be worth it to go with your gut. “If you feel your lover is going through the motions of loving you but isn’t,” says Elan, that could be an indication that something isn’t quite right. There are lots of things that could cause you to start having doubts, but a major one is that they suddenly have less time for you than they did before, she says.
What to do: If you can, Elan suggests that you try to see the whole picture from an outside perspective. “Children are great at reading emotional signs. They don’t turn off the way their parents and society do. Get in touch with your inner child and feel the message. There’s no way to convince a child that they’re loved when they aren’t.” This might be easier said than done, but the idea here is simple: Trust your most basic instincts.
WARNING SIGN #2: THEY TALK ABOUT THEIR EX IN A PHYSICAL WAY
Talking about exes with your new partner can actually be a good thing. You can share what went wrong in the past and help each other understand your core needs and expectations in a romantic relationship. But, according to Elan, if your partner talks about their ex’s physical appearance or their sexual relationship with them, that’s a REALLY BIG red flag. Why? There’s literally no constructive reason to mention it. “If they speak of their previous lover’s looks and are insensitive about how this makes you feel,” that’s definitely a no-go, she says. Additionally, if your S.O. compares your current sex life to the one they had in the past in a way that makes you feel bad — even in a passing comment — don’t let it slide.
What to do: Have an open and honest conversation about why they felt like this topic needed mentioning, since it’s pretty much *never* appropriate. Broaching the subject might even help your S.O. understand their own feelings in a new way and lead to closure.
WARNING SIGN #3: THEY’RE UNAVAILABLE AND FORGETFUL
Did they accidentally miss plans to meet up somewhere or, even worse, skip out on date night? According to Elan, this likely means their mind is elsewhere and maybe with their ex.
What to do: If you are starting to “feel as if you’re with a stranger” when you’re together or that “the way you used to fit together isn’t happening and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Elan says it’s again worth talking to get to the bottom of it.
WARNING SIGN #4: THEY SHY AWAY FROM EXPRESSION EMOTIONS AND COMMITMENT
If your new partner isn’t willing to commit (as in not wanting to DTR) or talk about feelings, this could potentially be due to a lot of different things, but if these qualities are combined with any of the above, there’s a reasonable chance your S.O. isn’t ready to move on from their last romance. What are warning signs after being together for at least a few months? “They leave nothing behind when they come to your place and they don’t give you a key to theirs,” Elan says. If you don’t feel at home with them and they’re not trying to feel at home with you, it may mean they’re not ready to take the relationship further because of past romantic experiences.
What to do: When it comes down to it, there’s no way you can really know what’s going on in your partner’s mind if you don’t ask. While it might be an uncomfortable conversation to have, it’s likely worth it if they cringed at you leaving a toothbrush at their place. Even if the reason is something other than being hung up on an ex, it’s better to get to the bottom of it than be left wondering what’s going on, right? After all, you deserve nothing less than to be happy and secure in your romantic relationship!
Have you ever wondered if your S.O. was still into their ex? What did you do about it? Tell us @BritandCo!
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