Legit Reasons You Can't Stand Your Significant Other's Exes (Other Than The Obvious)

You're in a relationship with someone who seems practically perfect for you, but there's one problem: their exes. Like their family and childhood friends, your partner's exes are simply part of the package when you two get serious. Even if you never meet them, just knowing about the people your S.O. once dated — through pictures, their social media profile, or offhand remarks your partner makes — can sometimes trigger jealousy.

Experts call this feeling retroactive jealousy, and in general, it's pretty common. You may notice it bubble up when you feel threatened by your partner's past relationships or wonder what their exes offered that you lack. Even if these feelings aren't unusual, they're worth exploring — often, deeper insecurities or fears drive jealousy, and they can start to seep into your relationship in unhealthy ways.

Sometimes, however, we have totally legitimate grounds for despising a partner's ex that have nothing to do with the green-eyed monster. If you can't stand your boo's former flame, these reasons might explain why.

They wronged your partner

You love and completely trust your significant other, and anyone who hurts them deeply is immediately put on your personal blacklist. So if your partner tells you their ex cheated on them, lied to them, or otherwise left an emotional scar, it's natural to view that ex in a negative light.

Their past actions may even influence the relationship you share with your partner now. "Everyone has baggage from past relationships," Melissa Divaris Thompson, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told Elite Daily. "So, when entering into a new relationship, there will always be something to work on." For example, if your S.O. was betrayed by a former partner, you may have to work together to overcome their trust issues.

Keep in mind, though, that sometimes exes get a bad rap, even if both parties played a role. Women, in particular, are often reduced to stereotypes like the "crazy ex-girlfriend" by partners who get away scot-free. While there's nothing wrong with supporting your significant other, keep in mind that there are two sides to every story.

There are no boundaries

In some cases, a partner will choose to keep their ex in their life, and even if you wish they'd avoid each other for the rest of eternity, their friendship isn't necessarily a red flag. "There's nothing wrong with remaining friends with an ex under certain circumstances," Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and dating expert, explained to Bustle. "In fact, considering that many breakups are filled with drama and discord, remaining on friendly terms can be a sign of maturity in your partner."

That's good news — unless their friendship lacks healthy boundaries. Maybe you noticed that your S.O.'s ex gets too touchy-feeling when they hang out together, or perhaps you realized your partner shares intimate details with their former flame. If their connection seems suspiciously close, you may be quick to point the finger at your partner's ex. However, your other half is really the one responsible for upholding boundaries and preserving your relationship together.

Your partner compares you to them

As the old saying goes, "comparison is the thief of joy," but if we're being honest, it can be hard to not draw comparisons between yourself and your partner's ex. After all, your significant other chose to be with both of you at one point in their life. By comparing and contrasting, you can find similarities and differences, as well as the points that led to the downfall of their relationship so you can try to avoid similar mishaps.

If your partner has a habit of comparing you to their ex, though, it might be a red flag. Greta Tufvesson and Nikki Lewis, founders of matchmaking service The Bevy, told MadameNoire that it's a warning sign if your partner turns you and their ex into rivals. "Your boyfriend should not compare you to an ex unless it's in a positive or appreciative light," Tufvesson and Lewis shared. "A jab here or there is one thing, but constant negative comparisons are not OK."

If you feel pressure to live up to — or exceed — someone else's relationship track record, it makes sense that you might grow resentful toward them. But don't lose sight of who is responsible for creating the comparisons in the first place.

It's too awkward to be friends with your S.O.'s ex

You might not have a significant reason for disliking your partner's exes. Sometimes, keeping your distance is simply better than the alternative. Even if your other half is on good terms with a former partner, that doesn't always mean that you will be. You might realize that you have nothing in common, besides your current (and their former) S.O., and that can make for some awkward conversation ice-breakers (like, "So, when you were with him, did he also leave cotton swabs all over the house?" or, "How did you deal with her thunderous snoring every night?").

If trying to be buddy-buddy with your partner's ex feels uncomfortable or stresses you out, you don't have to force it. "Everybody has a past. If the friendships are mutually authentic — great! — but if you can't be friends with your partner's ex, that's fine, too. Safeguarding your social circle is a form of self-care," Sam Owen, a relationship expert at Hinge, revealed to Marie Claire.

What to do when you can't stand your partner's exes

At the end of the day, you get to choose who you do and don't want in your corner. If you can't stand your partner's ex, you may feel more at peace keeping them at arm's length. However, if they're interfering with your relationship, it's time to take action.

First, rule out any personal insecurities that could be driving your discomfort. Your partner's ex may not be a threat after all, even if you have your doubts. Learning about your attachment style and reflecting on your relationship beliefs can help you work through your own worries.

Still, you don't have to deal with your concerns alone. "Let your partner know your feelings," Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, licensed clinical psychotherapist and relationship expert, suggested to Elite Daily. "Don't throw a fit. Discuss. Ask questions such as: 'What kind of feelings do you have for your ex?' 'What do you talk about?' 'Do you doubt my feelings for you?'" It's especially important to talk to your S.O. if they're contributing to the problem. Remember, your partner — not their former flame — is committed to a relationship with you. If they lack boundaries with their ex, compare the two of you, or incessantly reference their past loves, let them know how their actions are affecting you and what changes need to occur to keep the relationship going.