Recently, I was having a conversation on this topic – mainly a discussion around what the potential guidelines are. It’s confusing and filled with grey area but I’m going to suggest some navigational tools for you.
The easiest way is to first take a typical relationship and divide it into stages.
In Stage 1, the ‘Get to Know You’ stage, you don’t want to mention if you ran into an ex. And for the most part, the topic of your ex should seldom come up. It can cloud a blossoming relationship by needlessly dragging up drama that possibly existed in the past but doesn’t have a place in the future, UNLESS YOU PUT IT THERE. A new relationship is an opportunity for a fresh start, not an opportunity for you to air out grievances about your ex. Even if you and your ex get along great, the topic of running into them still doesn’t have a place in Stage 1.
In Stage 2, where you’ve committed to each other exclusively, and are now officially in a ‘relationship’, trust and transparency are key ingredients. This applies to all areas of your relationship; most importantly where feelings are involved. Trust is built situation by situation. So let’s speak of a specific situation: You are out with your friends celebrating a birthday and while ordering a drink, you spot your ex across the bar. The two of you had an amicable split but nonetheless, it’s been awhile since you were in the same room. You have a nice chat and catch up, don’t make any plans to chat again and go your separate ways. Fast forward to the next morning when you are having breakfast with your partner – do you bring it up? YES. You bring it up plain and simple, as though you were bringing up that you ran into one of their work colleagues. The reason I advise this is that, in this day and age, with FB and Instagram photos being posted everywhere and everyone sharing each other’s business freely, you don’t want to have that tagged photo of you talking to your ex showing up in your partner’s news feed. Now I know what you are thinking, “But Christine, no one was taking pictures”. That is not the point. The point is relationships are built on openness so if you are open about running into an ex, your partner is more likely to believe you are open about everything else. When you increase transparency, you are investing in the relationship, allowing trust to grow.