The ex chat: when is a good time to bring up the ex?

We all come with baggage from our past relationships. When we first meet a new love interest, you have to make a decision when to share details regarding your past and particularly about your ex. For some of you, there’s not a lot to talk about. But for others, there’s plenty of details associated with the past that need to be shared. So when’s a good time to bring the ex in conversation? Discussing your ex is a delicate conversation to have. Do it too soon and it can be overwhelming for your new partner. Wait too long, and they may think you’re avoiding something. Consider these guidelines when making this decision:

1) Wait a month You may think that it’s a great idea to dive in on your first date and discuss your ex and the break-up - but don’t. It can be too much to hear early on and it can make you appear overcomplicated and still hung up on the past. Give yourself at least a month, get to know your partner, and then bring it up when the opportunity arises. 2) Process your feelings first Before launching into the ex talk – make sure you’ve processed your feelings around the break up. You don’t want to be discussing this when you’re feeling rejected, angry, hopeless and disillusioned. Only bring up your ex once you’ve processed your feelings and you are back on top of your game. 3) Talk in a neutral way When you can talk about your ex in a matter of fact way, then you’re ready to share them with your new partner. It means that when you decide to discuss the break-up, it’s more about a fact sharing exercise rather than a painful traumatic conversation that sends you spiraling again. 4) Learn from your mistakes Only discuss your ex when you’ve understood what went wrong and the lessons learned from the experience. This way, your new partner is getting a blueprint from you of what you want different and how you expect this relationship to be better. You will come across as being empowered and excited rather than shattered and broken. 5) Have clear boundaries with your ex Don’t have the ex chat if they’re still very much involved in your life (e.g. coffee catch-ups, socialise with each other’s friends, gym together, still go to one another for advice etc). This will signal that you haven’t let go of them. Instead, have the chat when you have established clear boundaries with your ex and have dramatically reduced the contact with them, so you’re appear available and open to your new partner.

John Aiken, RSVP dating and relationship psychologist, as seen on the hit show Married At First Sight, and on Ch 9’s Today show, Today Extra and A Current Affair. He is a best-selling author, regularly appears on radio and in magazines, runs a private practice in Sydney, and is a sought after speaker. (

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