The Ex Factor: How to Deal With Your Guy's Ex

“Oh my god, no. You’re way prettier. What is she wearing, anyway?” Questions regarding a boyfriend’s ex always evoke encouraging responses from your besties. You sigh and think they’re just trying to cheer you up, but yeah, maybe they’re kinda right… her cleavage is far too skanky to be sexy… and if you squint your eyes… she does kinda look like Michael Jackson.
 
Is there a girl out there who doesn’t feel a twinge (or more) of jealousy when the topic of her guy’s ex comes up? It’s hard to believe that someone else (gasp!) was once the object of your honey’s affection. As college students, we have to remember that most of the guys we’ll date have been in one or two… or ten… relationships before their current one.

You can’t blame your guy for having a life before you met; it’s not like you didn’t kiss a few frogs before Prince Charming showed up. You may find yourself stressing over your boyfriend’s ex, however, and sometimes it can lead your relationship in the wrong direction. Jealousy and the ex are a touchy subject to deal with but if you ignore it, it might just show up in the form of runny mascara, puffy-eyed beer tears at your next party. Diagnosing the terms of the break-up between your boyfriend and his ex should give you a clearer understanding of how to deal.
 
If he broke up with her…

If your boyfriend broke it off with his ex, chances are you’re in the clear. There was obviously a reason he felt the need to call it quitsand lucky for you, he ended things with her. There’s no need to pry for the nitty-gritty details; it will only lead to unnecessary stressin’. “Talk about him and them ONCE and get it over with,” suggests David Coleman, dating and relationships expert. Ask your guy what terms he’s on with his ex and you should get an idea of how the break-up went. Coleman also notes that it is, “absolutely not necessary to know the details about their break-up unless there were issues of infidelity, abuse, etc. that he needs to address before you even consider dating him for real. You are not her and the interaction with you is not the same,” says Coleman.
 
Laura, a collegiette™ at Virginia Tech, admits to prying for details and learning the hard way to leave the ex factor out of the equation. “I dated a guy a while back and I would always casually mention his ex in conversation just to see what he'd say about her. I was a little jealous and I knew the girl. Eventually, a night came where I brought it up for the millionth time, and he completely lost it.He didn't know why I kept bringing her up and accused me of not trusting his word of saying he was completely over her (which to be honest, I wasn't). We broke up not long after.” In some cases, it’s a completely uncomfortable subject for your guy. “If he never mentions her, relax and do the same!” suggests Laura.
 

If she broke up with him…

In this case, you need to be more cautious with your diagnosis of the ex. If the break-up was recent, and the ex burned your boy pretty badly, chances are he could still be hurting. Look for red flags in his behavior: Does he bring her up in conversation more than a few times? Do they still talk via Facebook, phone or texting? “If the ex has broken up with him, it is riskier for them to be friends because guys always need to feel as if they were the ones to call it quits, warns Carole Lieberman, M.D., psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets. “He will be tempted to get back with her just so he can be the one to end it when he’s good and ready,” Dr. Lieberman explains. The ex can be a threatening third party in this case and it’s important not to be naïve. If he’s immature, calls her names or doesn’t want to share any info with you, he may still be hung up on this chick. Finding out about the break-up is important because “it may reveal something about him that would make you think twice about continuing the relationship,” says Dr. Lieberman.