She Cant Stop DISCUSSING Her Exes

The Dating Nerd is a shadowy figure whose whereabouts and identifying details remain unknown. What we do know is that he is really, really good at dating. He’s been on more dates than you can shake a lengthy bar tab at, and he’s here to help the average guy step his dating game up a notch – or several.
The Question
Hi Dating Nerd,
So I’ve been dating this new girl , and it’s going super well, except that she does this really irritating thing. Every damn day she talks about her exes. Like, all the time. Like it’s the only thing she things about. It’s really irritating. A good friend of mine told me I should just be a dick right back, and talk about my exes all the time. But I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do. But if not that, then what?
– Annoyed Andy
The Answer
Hi Annoyed Andy,
First of all, Andy, that friend who gave you this romantic advice should never be listened to again. At least on the topic of dating. If he’s a cardiac surgeon you should probably listen to him when he warns you about your blood pressure. But other than that, do not take his suggestions. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Generally, responding to romantic situations with negative reinforcement is a terrible idea. When you punish someone for behaving in ways you don’t like, you’re moving the relationship towards an unhealthy place: a situation where your partner is scared of recrimination. All great relationships are fearless. You want a dating situation where you can say what’s on your mind, try new things, and display all the facets of your personality, without your partner reacting with anger or contempt. Trust me on this one. Even if you don’t like what your partner is doing, negotiate reasonably. Don’t just be a dick. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself back on your own favorite online dating service for the millionth time. And it doesn’t seem like you need.
I agree that what your lover does is unfortunate. It could also drive me crazy. Discussing exes is obnoxious since it sends you all types of crazy messages. Like, if she lets you know about Shawn, her beautiful British boyfriend from abroad, is she helping you discover in regards to a formative experience, or does she desire to trip you up by letting you know that you’re inadequate? If she lets you know about Dave, the idiot abusive bartender, is she unloading her psychological damage in anecdotal form? It just messes with you.
Now, she’s definitely not doing this within an ill-intentioned way. I understand, because I am there. This can be a fun section of my column, where I inform you of my stupidity, to ensure that you will not be stupid just as in the foreseeable future. Enjoy my regret.
Way back when, in my own relationship with Ebba (I love Swedish girls, even though they will have stupid names) I’d discuss my ex-girlfriends constantly. Why was I achieving this? Well, for just two reasons. I’d done a great deal of dating, and I felt just like a big portion of the formation of my personality was explained by a number of relationships, and I simply wished to tell her just a little about myself. This is an innocent motivation, in case a little bit ill-conceived, like the majority of of my behavior in my own early 20s.
However, I had another motivation, that was stupid – Ebba made me insecure. She was intelligent, filled with cutting remarks, and, well, Swedish. Who wouldn’t hesitate of this type of person? And I knew she had dated plenty of hulking Scandinavian men with high IQs and high-maintenance beards. THEREFORE I wished to say, Hey Ebba! I’ve been in relationships too!” I wanted to tell her that I was good enough. Which is a bad strategy. You can’t just make shallow claims about being a valued person. You have to be fun and interesting.
I never wanted to hurt her, or make her feel unworthy. It was the opposite. I was puffing myself up. I was trying to raise myself to her level. But it really annoyed this girl, and eventually, she blew up at me, and that blowup became a series of fights, and our young relationship was ended pretty quickly by a bit of a chain reaction. And I regret that. It had been a great little fling, ended prematurely by some silly behavior. Don’t allow the same thing eventually you.
Where I am going with all of this is your girlfriend, as in my own situation, probably isn’t letting you know about her exes because she’s playing some crazy mind game. (There’s always the outside chance that she’s a total sociopath, but I like to assume that isn’t the case.) She’s probably doing it for some totally benign reason. Maybe she wants to let you know that she’s experienced in love and that you should take the relationship seriously Maybe she’s insecure, just like I was. And, maybe, like lots of young people, she doesn’t have much going on, so talking about exes is the most interesting conversational approach she can conjure up.
But just because she might have a decent reason for taking you down this irritating path, it doesn’t mean you have to like it. What it means is that you shouldn’t assume that she can read your mind. This is a good rule in dating in general, actually: don’t expect that your partner will conform to your unexpressed desires. If you want something, whether it’s in the sack, at a restaurant, or anywhere, you’ll have to be an adult and ask for it.
So how do you do that? Well, just be civilized. Don’t flip a table, don’t have a temper tantrum. Start from a place of curiosity. Maybe say, Hey, listen, I notice you’re talking about your exes a lot. I’m not angry, but it’s kind of confusing me. What’s going on with that?” (Insert the word babe” strategically if you’re calling each other babe.”)
Then, when you’ve got her side of the story, tell her how it makes you feel. And no sooner. See, one weird thing about life – whether you’re talking to a friend, a coworker, or someone you met on a dating app – is that the only way you get people to listen to you, generally, is if you listen to them. Come at somebody with your negative emotions, and they’ll get all defensive, and assume you’re accusing them of being a bad person. But if you approach your partner with empathy, and assume that they have motivations you might not know about, then they’ll probably listen to your concerns.
My suspicion is that it’ll go better than you think it will. And your relationship will improve instantly. Maybe, when you hear her rationale for why talking about exes is OK, it’ll piss you off less. Maybe it’ll go the other way, and she’ll just stop. Either way, you’ll find a solution, and it’ll make your life easier. Which is another thing that defines a great relationship, by the way. It’s a team of two people making each other’s lives easier. So start doing that right now.

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