The Ex-Factor

At Kelleher International, we coach clients through talking about exes. And when and why it’s appropriate.

The ex-factor can be an uncomfortable conversation depending on your past. But there comes a point in dating when relationship baggage surfaces and talking about exes becomes imperative.

Timing can be tricky, but making space for the dialogue after the first few dates is usually a good idea.

“When online dating you can’t be certain what your date’s long-term intentions are. If you’re both feeling chemistry after the third date it’s critical to start examining motivation and compatibility,” encourages Kelleher International CEO, Amber Kelleher-Andrews. “For our matchmaking clients who do have intentions of finding the one, talking about exes can reveal important insights when done correctly.”

Gain insight by exploring the ex-factor.

Talking about exes can be beneficial to both you and the potential relationship developing. Not everyone receives closure at the end of a committed relationship. And those doubts can haunt any future romantic situations in which you find yourself. Unanswered questions make the processing of a break-up that much harder.

If you swept the last ex and accompanying emotions under the rug, they’re most likely still there waiting for you. It can take years to get over an ex if you don’t deal with the emotional fallout in real time.

Yes, it takes a level of vulnerability to say it out loud, but vocalizing past mistakes or regrets can make you less likely to repeat negative patterns. Whether cheating, ghosting, being emotionally unavailable or too needy, we’ve all made mistakes in relationships. Transparency can be your chance to break the pattern and start fresh.

Talking about exes can also help you and your potential new partner understand each other on a deeper level. It’s always lovely to be with someone who “gets” you. How someone listens to your story and how they respond will give you equal insight into the type of person they are and any baggage they might also be carrying.

We are each a collection of our life experiences. Pulling back the curtain on past relationships provides the opportunity to explore new, meaningful connections. Honest dialogue and focused discussion can help you build trust, but a tell-all is undoubtedly not required when talking about exes.

Share your experience and what you’ve learned from past relationships but be mindful of your delivery. Gauge your new love interest’s comfort level with the conversation by reading their body language and line of follow-up questioning.

Talking about exes is often used as a measuring stick for gauging the potential of the new relationship.

For many, there’s a curiosity or fascination with the ex-factor. Matchmaker Lizzy Solomon explains, “There’s no report card in dating. We don’t know exactly how we’re doing in a relationship. And as humans, we crave that evaluation. We want to know how we measure up to the exes so we can see how we’re pacing in our new role. But it’s like being graded on an art project. It’s subjective and not truly measurable.”

If talking about exes fills you with dread, it’s crucial to get clear on why that is. Are you afraid you won’t measure up to your new love’s old flame? Are you ashamed of your past actions? Or maybe you aren’t over your ex. Recognize where your growth opportunities lie and do the work.

No matter the reason, you deserve to be happy; don’t forget that. Allowing an ex to linger in the shadows can keep you from moving on and starting fresh. Don’t let the ex-factor stand in the way of experiencing love and connection with someone new.

Talking about exes isn’t easy, but it’s an integral part of growing in a new relationship.

If you aren’t sure how to start the conversation we’re here to help. Leave your question for our matchmakers in the comments section below or send us a private message here.