Whatever your status with your former flame, there are a few things that your current (or potential) love interest will be none too pleased to learn about the One That Came Before. Just like most men don’t want to hear that our ex is the heir to a (fill in the blank) fortune with McConaughey’s good looks, Gosling’s sensitivity and the anatomical endowments of Wahlberg in “Boogie Nights,” there are certain things we hate to hear, too. So if your ex fits the following bill, perhaps it’s best to play your cards close to your chest:
A Model of Any Kind: Whether her bod graced the pages of an LL Bean catalog or, God help us all, a Victoria’s Secret glossy, why not do us a favor and keep that your little secret, too? Normally I’d tell you to always be up front, never lie by omission, but in this case that news may just mess with her head more than any normal woman can handle. No matter how confident a female is, we almost always compare ourselves to our peers. And, if you inform her that her peers now include genetically gifted chicks who don lingerie for a living, her head may just explode. Seriously, how would you feel if we told you we used to sleep with a Ryan Reynolds look-alike (or worse, the real thing)? Mum’s the word, boys.
A Do-Gooder: Does your ex volunteer for the Peace Corps? Is she healing the world one under-developed country at a time in Doctors Without Borders? Does she rescue orphans from war-torn regions? Yeah, this is a little too Angelina Jolie for your average woman to handle. It’s one thing to volunteer her time on a relatively local level – many of us do that, and enjoy it immensely – but if she’s off globetrotting or started her own Nonprofit, those are some big shoes to fill. We should all do good just for the sake of doing good, but that bar is set pretty high, don’t ya think?
She Lived With You (or worse, you two were engaged): No one takes a relationship to that level unless you’re really serious with that person. People break up and move on every day, but there’s something about the permanence this once showed that makes it hard for the one who’s with you now to ever feel like she’ll be as much of a presence in your life. Sad but true, and tricky to work around.
A Semi-Pro, Pro or Otherwise-Gifted Athlete: Two words, David Beckham. OK fine, maybe that’s not a fair comparison…But seriously, girls who have skills on the field or on the court are a tough act to follow – even if her name isn’t Hope Solo or Maria Sharapova. And being a female who’s good at something sports-related is about as good as it gets (unless she’s built like a Williams sister or is gender ambiguous, a la Beijing Olympics – not hot).
Bi-Sexual or just Bi-Curious: We’re aware of your fantasy to see us with another girl, but if your ex actually WAS with another girl, that’s not just dipping our big toe in to test the same-sex waters, that’s diving head first into the deep end of the pool. I’m all for people being with whomever makes them happy, male or female, but that little tidbit may just make her feel like she’d never be seen as adventurous enough to entertain you in bed.
An Identical Twin: You boys and your fantasies again… We know, twins are twice the fun. So, even if you only dated one half of that novelty pair, at some point you still swam in the Doublemint Commercial pond, and probably liked it. Nothing we can do about this one, but still not terribly reassuring.
An Adrenaline-Junkie: Was she A) a pilot, B) a race car driver, C) an extreme sports enthusiast (read: she loved skydiving, motorcycle riding or snowboarding half-pipes) or D) a crack shot with a firearm? If so, we will immediately begin to wonder why you are now dating a regulation female like us. Even if your ex’s adventurous ways were too much for you to handle, it’ll still be hard to hear that you once shared a bed with a badass.
A Singer or Actress: This one is less “actress,” since the definition of that word is shamefully loose these days, and more “someone in the public eye.” If your ex had Adele’s pipes or used-to-be-on-that-television-show-about-that-guy, those types of run-ins are hard to avoid. Even if you swear that you’ve learned to resist her siren song, your current beau might not believe you. And she might have to stop watching TV or listening to the radio, too. Would you like it if our ex was a triple threat, of the Timberlake variety? No one would, hell I’ve known straight males who crush hard on that guy. But you get the idea.
Granted, in a perfect world your relationship record would be expunged, and we would all forget that anyone came before us. Women – and men, for that matter – prefer to feel like they were the first pioneers to, er…explore your land. But that’s not realistic.
Don’t ever lie about your past, lest you seem like you’re making a bigger deal out of something that wasn’t. Just realize that, once you’ve told us your ex fits into one of these categories, it might take us a minute to process the news. Then, it’s out there and you should answer any questions she has about it, but don’t dwell on it – move on as quickly as possible.
Making the one you’re with feel like she’s the only one that matters is important, but it’s also a two-way street. If you reassure her and she’s still stuck on it, or can’t shake her insecurities, then you’re dealing with a much larger problem. The confident woman will always prevail…just as long as your ex’s name isn’t Giselle.