Talking to your partner about your ex is typically not the most fun part of any new or newish relationship, but being honest about the parts of your previous relationship that you can be honest about can be a good idea. Still, there are things you should never tell your partner about your ex for a variety of reasons. Betraying the confidence of your ex or telling your partner things that they don't actually need to know and will likely only hurt them unnecessarily aren't things that you should be doing or sharing with your partner. It's not fair to your ex or your current partner. Honesty is important, but so is what you choose to say and how you choose to say it.
"Of course they had attractive qualities — you dated them for a reason — but the relationship also ended for a reason and it’s really important to keep that as part of the conversation," Erin C. Parisi, LMHC, CAP, a licensed mental health counselor and certified addictions professional, tells Romper by email. "Sharing why you broke up is helpful to share, and can demonstrate to a new partner some of your own personal growth."
Just as there are things that you should tell your partner about your ex, there are also things that you just shouldn't. Knowing what you shouldn't tell them can keep you from hurting your current partner or betraying your ex for no reason at all.
1. They're Better In Bed
Even if they ask a question about how they compare to your exes, if your ex was better in bed than they are, that's not something you should tell your partner, Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, a psychotherapist based in New York City, tells Romper by email. That's not going to make them feel good and is just going to cause unnecessary hurt and insecurity.
2. Secrets That They Confided In You
Sharing secrets that your ex told you while you were together with your current partner is another no-go. "Whether it’s family drama, some of their insecurities about themselves, past trauma, you really can keep those things private," Parisi says. "It would hurt your ex, who you cared about at one point, and wouldn’t help your current relationship. If anything, it tells your current partner that if the relationship doesn’t last, their dirt will be passed on as well."
3. You Got Along Better With Their Parents
If they have a good relationship with their family, chances are they would like you to get along with them as well. But if you got along better with your ex's family than you do with your current partner's family, that's not information that you need to share with them.
"Comparing your ex to your current partner and letting them know the differences will only lead to resentment and make your partner insecure," Hershenson says. "They may question the relationship and wonder why you are even with them."
4. You Still Have Feelings For Them
"If you’re still in love with someone else, it may be best to take a break from dating altogether and focus on yourself and making yourself happy," Parisi says. "However, if you find yourself in a relationship with one person and in love with another, that may be something worth keeping to yourself until you know what you’d like to do about it. Even the best possible response from your partner still probably leaves them feeling hurt, confused, and helpless."
Whether you think you're in love with them or think that you're not quite over them yet (even if you're not still exactly in love with them either), that's not something that you should tell your partner without feeling confident about what you're going to do about it. This kind of situation can be complicated and difficult, so if you need help sorting things out, speaking with a qualified therapist might help.
5. Things About Them That You Found Particularly Attractive
Whether it's the way they look or their sense of humor, telling your partner that you were especially attracted to certain parts of your ex doesn't help them feel any better about anything.
"If you are happy in the relationship, focus on the qualities your partner does have and not what they are lacking," Hershenson says.
6. They're More Successful
If your ex was more successful or made more money than your current partner, that's not something that your partner needs to know either. Hershenson says that something like this will just make your partner feel insecure. There's no need to do that.
7. They're "Crazy"
"A huge red flag to me is anyone who says simply that their ex 'is crazy,' and it’s an even bigger red flag if they say all of their exes are crazy," Parisi says. "First, if your ex is legitimately suffering from a mental health condition, calling them crazy is not very kind. Second, if the people you are picking to date fall into that 'crazy' category, something is up with your picker. If you’re saying that your exes are crazy, you’re really saying that you choose partners poorly, and likely that you contribute to (or at least tolerate) that kind of chaotic relationship. This point has even more meaning when the relationship was lengthy."
It's never OK to refer to someone like this, even if you're no longer together. Calling your ex crazy when talking about them with your new partner isn't appropriate.
Be thoughtful when considering what to tell your partner about your ex. Hurt feelings or unnecessary betrayal will likely only make you or your partner (or both) feel worse and can cause problems where there don't need to be any at all.