Is it ever really a good idea? And should you be interested in their dating past? In both areas, it's worth treading carefully...
When's the right time to bring up exes?
If your ex is really so bad the bile you have to say about them cannot be held down, train yourself to talk about something else awful - your opinions on the death penalty or the time you wet yourself on holiday. Anything is better than going into a tirade about what revenge you're going to take on them.
Harsh truth: if you can't control what you're saying, you shouldn't be trying to be with anyone else right now.
But what happens if you've dated really great guys you want to talk about? Some of the exciting things you've done in your life might've involved a previous lover's presence, such as travelling or the time you both tried to build a homemade weapon for Robot Wars. Naturally, you want to share these amazing stories, but choose your words carefully. Don't be the person bragging about what a great time you had with someone else.
When's the right time to listen about exes?
You can learn a lot by listening to what someone says about the girls they've been with. Any straight-off-the-bat negative makes them seem bitter and you'd be wise to worry there are residual feelings. Imagine some guy announcing his ex was a "stupid bitch" - you'd leave because not only is it gross, but he also still has unresolved issues and one day, he'll be calling you that too. It's like how some men love to use the word "psycho" as a way to describe human emotion.
I like the men I date to have been with beautiful, interesting women. I also don't want anyone to be a pure, innocent virgin.
Sure there'll be times you leave relationships kicking and screaming and setting fire to everything, but they must've been worth it to start with.
The thing about listening to other people talk about their exes is, like hearing someone bang on about their dreams, it's boring unless you're involved.
If you don't know much about someone and they're talking about someone you don't know then why would that be exciting? If someone only talked about battle reenactments or the different shapes of stones, would you hang around to listen to that? Why would you? Actually, if you know anyone who wants to talk about rough cut diamonds all day, send him my details.
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