Walking on Eggshells

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Dear Hoopers,
I’ve been in a relationship with this guy for over 4 years now, and I know communication is the ultimate key to a healthy and strong bond. There are certain topics that I’m not comfortable with and my boyfriend likes to bring up to our conversations mildly often. His ex-girlfriends mostly as well as this other girl that got me into nearly ending our relationship. I’ve talked to him about it and he says that he doesn’t understand why I get so mad whenever he brings any of those topics to the table. We once had this huge horrible fight that ended up in him saying how frustrating it was to be constantly having to take great care into every word he speaks, or else, I will get insanely mad. 
He said it was really mentally exhausting and that I should act a little more mature than to start a fight over little things.

Sometimes I feel like I am overreacting but some others, I repeat to myself that if it bothers me, it is worth speaking up. He also shields himself up saying that he has explained to me a billion times that he is done with all of those girls and that I should really “cut the crap” on those topics. I fear that this is kind of a big deal, I love him so much but I can’t stand him constantly bringing these girls up into our conversations and having to suck it up and act like I don’t care, because I really do! Your words will be truly appreciated. Thanks xo.
-Walking on Eggshells

Dear Eggshells,
This is pretty confusing to me. I have no idea why he would bring up his ex-girlfriends that often. Maybe there is part of the story that we are missing but this just seems like an effort to glorify the past. Perhaps if he was newly out of a long-term relationship he would have so many recent memories of his partner that she would naturally come up in conversation. But here you are 4 years later and he is still bringing her/them up?

He has passed the statute of limitations on bringing up old partners. I think this is inappropriate for your relationship and disrespectful to you. He needs to move on to his current relationship with you and leave the past in the past.

He has passed the statute of limitations on bringing up old partners.

-Dr. Ryan

Sure, there may be reasonable times to bring up his past. For example, if he has a particular sensitivity to feeling rejected because of past baggage from a relationship it would be reasonable for him to discuss this sensitivity with you. Not in an effort to glorify the past but in an effort to tell you about his past to inform the present.

This example would be an effort to improve your relationship not undermine your relationship. I have concerns that his references to old partners is a purposeful (or perhaps unconscious) attempt to undermine you. If he is serious about his commitment to you he will respect your concerns about the old girlfriend talk and leave the past behind. You are here, they are not.
-Dr. Ryan

Dear Eggshells,
You are right that communication is a fundamental part of a relationship, but so is defining respectful boundaries in conversation. It seems that this is where you still have some work to do in your relationship.

It’s perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable when your partner brings up past relationships. The question is, why is he doing it so often? There is no need to continuously have this conversation or “bring those topics to the table” if he has moved on from them. If he wants you to “cut the crap” then he needs to cut it too.

If he wants you to “cut the crap” then he needs to cut it too.


If he cares about the health of the relationship he will express willingness to hear your concerns. In a respectful way, communicate that you love him, but do not understand why he continues to bring up past relationships. Let him know that it hurts you. Let him know that it is a big deal to you and makes you feel uncomfortable.

Try to get a commitment from him to move on from this by respecting how it makes you feel. Respect is one of the greatest expressions of love. A good partner should be there to lift you up, not tear you down. If your partner continues to disrespect you by instigating this conversation, it is a big red flag for the future of the relationship.