Read any article about dating etiquette and undoubtedly it will say that you should never, ever bring up your ex on a first date. However, sometimes these things just come up. Are there any circumstances where talking about your ex is okay?
Well, yes and no. It all depends on the context. Before you mention your ex, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself first.
- Did they come up in conversation organically or are you inserting them into the conversation?
Asking someone, “when was your last serious relationship?” is a totally mature and normal question to bring up. You want to know where someone is coming from (for example, did they *just* break up with someone?) and what they learned from the experience. If someone asks you this, it’s perfectly acceptable to answer, however just make sure you don’t get into the gory details when the straightforward facts (i.e. when you broke up) will more than suffice.
However, if you find yourself looking for ways to insert your ex into the conversation — even when it’s a reach (for example, “that’s so interesting you ordered a hamburger — my ex used to love those!”), it could be a sign that you need to cleanse your ex from your system (or at the very least, learn not to bring them up) before you attempt to date anyone new. Even if you feel like you’re over your ex, it’s a surefire way to make the other person feel like you’re not.
- Are there kids involved?
If you have offspring or (still) share property with your ex, eventually it’s going to come up. While you don’t have to go into a play-by-play of everything that went wrong in your past relationship (a huge no-no), failing to bring up the fact that you have children with your ex could actually be interpreted as a red-flag. Same goes if you still live with your ex or have a shared housing situation. You don’t have to bring this up immediately, but the longer you keep it to yourself the greater the chance you’ll come off as shady or untrustworthy.
- How are you talking about your ex?
One first date no-no that you should never commit: bashing your ex. It’s like the old saying — if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
With that said, there’s a fine line between saying nice things about your ex and making the other person feel uncomfortable. Gushing about your ex and how wonderful they are is almost as bad as trashing them.
If your ex comes up, make sure you talk about them in positive but neutral terms. For example, “my ex is a good person, but we wanted different things,” or “we worked better as friends” are things you can say when you want to be complementary towards your ex without delving into the nitty gritty of why the relationship ended. Being able to talk about the people you dated in a diplomatic manner shows that you’re emotionally mature and signifies that you’re ready to move on.