Talking About Exes
Q: Why do women want to discuss previous relationships? - Steve, 45
Dr. Susan: When a woman dates someone new, she's auditioning you for the role of partner. In order to make points in the contest to be her mate, you have to pass certain tests. One of the ways many women find out who you really are is to tell you about their previous relationships and listen to your reactions. If you commiserate with her and show genuine compassion for what she's been through, that's a plus. But if you tell her what she did wrong in the last relationship (without her specifically asking you), or you seem ambivalent that the last guy or two was really a rat (if that's how she saw them), you'll lose points. She's sharing her most vulnerable self and trying to determine if you would be better than the ones that got away (or that she tossed away). For the same reason, she will want to hear about your previous affairs and/or marriage(s). Why did you break up? Did you learn anything from those break-ups? Do you blame your ex for everything? Are you still longing to be back with your ex? A full and open discussion of your and her past relationships can tell both of you a lot. For some people, that conversation takes place as early as the first date, and if one of you is ready for it and one is reluctant, that gives you both information also. In relationships, knowledge is power. And it saves a lot of time, too.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.