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New Relationship Issues: Past Relationship Sharing

When is sharing too much information about past relationships a problem? As a therapist I find it hard to tell couples to ignore the past when the past is evident in so much of their daily lives. While I would agree that “ex talk” may not be appropriate for first, second, or even third dates, it is clear that sharing experiences and lessons learned is an easy way to create intimacy. Since intimacy is the goal of a healthy relationship, sharing can be enhanced by avoiding these two common mistakes: over-sharing and negativity.

Before blurting out how your ex cheated and broke your heart, think about how that information may affect your companion. Is this conversation going to define the date? Will the information show that you are capable of learning from the past and setting expectations for future relationships? Focus on why the relationship ended and what it taught you. As your relationship matures you can share more.

Communication is not only about what is said but also how it is said. If you are using these precious moments to bash an ex and discuss all of his or her flaws, it may appear that you aren’t really over that relationship. If your ex cheated, say that. No need to tell how you found out, what you did, and if/when or how you sought revenge. If you use that moment to discuss the confidence you have gained in yourself and what you need from a partner you will create a space for dialog, expectations, and your possible future together.

Take these possibly uncomfortable moments and turn them into ways to advertise your maturity and confidence along with your expectations for your future partner. By choosing to highlight your strengths rather than your ex’s flaws your new suitor gets to know you and not your “horrible ex.”

Eboni Harris, MA, LPC Intern, LMFT Associate

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