Expert Speak

Should you ask your girlfriend about her ex?

Is it ever the right thing to ask your current partner about their past relationships? Our counsellor responds
lady sitting on table

Is it okay to ask a girl about her past relationships?

Tricky, tricky, tricky this one! So many relationships and even marriages have been rocked because of this question. Even though it’s natural for men, and even women, to be curious about their partner’s past, real trouble arises when they can’t handle the information that comes forth. So here are some pointers you need to keep in mind if you’re going to pop this kind of question!

Decide the relevance

Now we can understand that curiosity gets the best of us, but you also know that too much curiosity can kill the cat. Curiosity is only good if it adds to your existing knowledge for something productive in the future. So unless you feel that your girl is traumatised by a past relationship that is hindering your current one, or her previous patterns are having an effect on your current one, there really isn’t much to be gained by rehashing details of her past relationships, except for masochistic pain!

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Representative image Image source

Related reading: How my wife helped me heal from past heartbreak

Stick to the basics

Let’s say you do decide to ask the question. Then try and stick only to “how was it” and “what went wrong”. Do not go into nitty-gritty like where they hung out, how did she talk to him, how did he make her feel and ESPECIALLY not sexual details. Believe me, the torment of a little curiosity is better than the constant conflict of knowing and comparing yourself every time you’re with her. It’s not worth it. She’s with you now because it DID NOT work out with those people, so that should tell you that you’re a great guy!

Make sure you have courage

You’re going to push her into telling you the details of her past, so before you ask the question, make sure you have the guts to accept whatever she shares. She is talking about her past; you weren’t there, so it couldn’t have happened the way you would like. She didn’t know you then. So don’t let your aversions or unpleasantness come up. It’s already over. You wanted to hear it; just listen and hug her when she’s done.

Related reading: Childhood sexual abuse left me with shame. Until love and acceptance freed me.

Keep it between the two of you

Always remember that if you have a common group of friends, then no matter how curious you are and how easy it is, NEVER ask her/your friends about your girl’s past relationships. That’s an absolute no no!

Communicate, but don’t overthink

It’s perfectly natural to experience certain emotions when she starts to talk about her past. Make a pact before you start that you will name those emotions as they come to you, but that’s all that needs to be done…mention them. Neither should you stretch a conversation by digging into them, nor should she get defensive and read too much into your admissions.

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Never ask the “would you go back” question

Once you’ve heard all about it, refrain from asking if she ever wants to go back to any of them. She has moved on. And even if there are some unresolved feelings, this would further complicate things for her. She’s with you; let her feel comfortable in this space.

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Ask what she learned

It would be a good idea if you can have a healthy discussion about the lessons her past relationships taught her and what she would like to change about the ways she deals with her relationships now. This can be a great opportunity for you to understand her pain points and her strengths, if dealt with sensibly!

To be honest, talking or asking about an ex doesn’t have to be a bad thing altogether. You just need to know your boundaries and know that no matter what information comes forth, it need not shadow what you two currently have! Good luck!!

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