This is a question that many men ask: “Why do women continuously bring up old boyfriends into conversations, especially at the beginning of a relationship?”
I guess this is a good question, but first I'd like to say that men talk about their ex-girlfriends too. I've personally experienced this, so the same following advice applies to men who are guilty of this. This is not a slant against women, it's just written in perspective of a woman. It's up for debate on whether or not women do this more often than men in relationships.
Anyway, there can be various reasons as to why a woman continuously references ex-partners to a current boyfriend:
She hasn't gotten over an ex-partner
Usually when a woman continues to talk about an ex because she still has feelings for him, it's likely that she didn't give herself time to heal after the breakup before dating again. As a result, the new boyfriend becomes the rebound. Loose ends haven't been tied. In this case, the relationship most likely won’t be a healthy one. The partner on the rebound is trying to fill a void with the new guy so the new guy’s place could be filled by anyone’s shoes. The emotional attachment that still exists isn’t going to allow the couple to really get to know one another on fair ground.
She hasn't moved on from that period of her life with an ex so the experience still affects her
Sometimes, it's not about having lingering feelings for the actual ex but about the experiences that materialized from being with that person over a certain time frame. A woman could have spent a significant amount of time with an ex, especially in a very transitional period of her life when she was younger. When a breakup happens, a transition must start again and even if the relationship wasn't a healthy one, it still feels like the woman is losing a particular degree of familiarity in her life. The more sentimental and emotionally attached a person is, the harder it is to adjust to change, even if it is necessary and healthier.
The new partner will feel like unappreciated and insignificant when a past relationship is brought up often, but in this case, the actions, on the woman's part, aren't intended to be neglectful and unappreciative. Time and lots of mutual understanding will naturally lead to healing in this scenario.
She is very close with her -current- boyfriend and feels like she can literally tell him anything at any time<
This brings up the question: How open should a couple be with one another?
I am a firm believer in establishing mutual openness and intimacy between trusting, emotionally sincere and committed partners. I don't believe in keeping secrets and shutting of communication. I think everyone should have their own head space and independence in a relationship, as it's healthy, but I don't believe in building a relationship on illusions and mysteries, no matter how big or small. This includes matters of sexual history and experience. A lot of people advocate leaving that out of discussion because it ruins a relationship, but I find that if a revelation of a past incident or activity can ruin a relationship, then that connection is not as compatible as one would like to believe. It's important to know this earlier on. However, it’s important to be able to decide if a person is trustworthy and has a high level of integrity.
I think when we are open with others and expect that in return, we can take for granted that our partners might not be able to handle complete honesty and expressiveness. They might claim to and make good on that for the most part, but they can sometimes be surprised with how sensitive they are about certain disclosures. This is validation to why I believe it's important to be OPEN, so these things can be realized in a relationship...not later down the road after more serious commitments have been made. A guy might interpret too much talk about an ex as a form of lingering attachment. This is understandable. I think the proper thing to do in this situation is for the guy to be open about how he feels and not hold in any resentment or disdain. The other person might never know how they are affecting their partner. Talk!
She is still friends with an ex and is an active part of her life
This is a pretty sensitive situation. This is where trust and openness really needs to take center stage. The new partner needs to be aware that the friendship with the ex is truly platonic and has been romantically absolved. The woman needs to be completely honest with herself and make sure that there are truly no underlying romantic feelings left. Sometime we can con ourselves into believing a connection with a past flame is innocent. We don’t want to believe that we could still have feelings. An ex might still have feelings although the woman doesn’t. The woman should NOT encourage the ex for ego gratification. She should draw a line and seriously consider cutting off that tie for good. Again both the woman and her new boyfriend need to be open and communicative with one another. I also believe there should be some boundaries placed in the friendship with the ex out of respect and consideration to a new partner regardless.
She wants to make her current boyfriend jealous, upset or aware of something he's not doing by comparing him to ex-boyfriends
If this was persistent behavior on the woman’s part, I’d advise cutting the relationship off completely because it’s toxic and emotionally abusive. If the woman is that insecure, if a woman can’t communicate her needs and desires maturely to her partner and if she expresses anger this way on a regular basis, then she’s not ready for a serious relationship and it will only get worse. The guy still needs to express his disapproval of her behavior to let her know he doesn’t appreciate it. If he doesn’t get any reasonable answers or solutions, then again it’s time to move on.
She is insecure, hurt or confused and may expect the current partner to be like the ex-boyfriend(s)
I’d give the same advice for reason #2. Time, mutual understanding and support and open communication should smooth out any wrinkles in this situation. If the woman is fully ready to move on and acknowledges her emotions, then that’s a very good sign. If a lot of denial and projection continues in the relationship, then the guy will have to decide whether the relationship has too much baggage for him to handle. At some point, he should gain enough trust from her and she should be willing to work with abolishing old conditions rather than encouraging them to prosper.
The fact is that there isn't one reason behind why some women continue to talk about ex-boyfriends in new relationships. The reason varies and if there’s going to be a resolution or understanding, then the guy needs to talk to his partner directly rather than sharing his disapproval with others or lamenting quietly to himself.