'Glad I don't wake up to her old face anymore.' Why how he talks about his ex matters.

This post deals with domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers.

They say how someone speaks to waitstaff will tell you what you need to know about their character.

The theory is that if someone can order a meal politely, thank their server, and even leave a decent tip – they’re a good person. But someone who looks down on waitstaff, is rude and dismissive – well, they’re a terrible person.

I was once gas lighted into believing this theory. My abuser would use it to prove his point – that when he was rude and unkind to me, I deserved it. He couldn’t possibly be an a***hole, because look at how he treated people in public, look at how he treated strangers. 

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But I soon learned that he was nice in those situations because he had no issue with that person. There was no source of conflict. So being Mr Nice Guy was easy.

I eventually realised that someone could be nice to strangers, but how they treated those closest to them, people they knew, when there was conflict, was the true measure.

For example, how they spoke about, and treated, a former partner. I grew to believe that would tell you everything about the future of your relationship. 

One morning, I was in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, examining my face. The partner who I’m talking about above made an off-hand remark.

"Sam* used to use one of those microscope mirrors. I’m glad I don’t have to wake up to her old face anymore."

I was shocked. It was such a disrespectful and unkind thing to say about a woman he’d spent a year with. Who would even think like that – what an ex would look like in the morning?

Someone who thought nothing of treating a woman he once loved like dirt. 

But you know what? I let it go. I didn’t see it for the red flag it was.

It's human nature to blame your ex for the problems in that relationship – and badmouth her to your new partner. Right?


Actually, no.

If someone hasn’t let go, and can’t be neutral about an ex – it’s a warning sign.

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She always drank too much.

She couldn’t cope with the baby.

She’ll sleep with anyone.

She’s always asking for more money for the kids.

She was the reason I couldn’t stop smoking for years.

She was frigid in bed.

She was such a bitch.

These aren’t just 'off-hand' comments. Variations of those sentiments, spoken about a former partner, demonstrate a total lack of respect; if they are in some way true, it’s disrespect of privacy, and a lack of integrity. 

If they are false, it reveals a dishonesty that doesn’t bode well for the new partner. 

Either way, the comments are unnecessary, and indicate that the person doesn’t, or can’t, let go easily of past grievances.

That is a major red flag.

But it’s easy to miss or dismiss when you’re in the throes of a new romance. A new partner can often think their relationship will be different; he’ll never treat me like that. I’m better for him than her. Our love is stronger. 

But if you listen closely to the way he talks about his ex, chances are, you eventually will be treated the same. You’ve now been shown that is who he is as a person when things go bad. In conflict, he’s mean and a name caller, and doesn’t play fair, and doesn’t let go.

Chances are, you won’t be able to change him, no matter how special/different/strong you believe your relationship to be. I think of it the way people talk about cheating partners; if they’ll do it with you, they’ll do it to you.

So the first time you see this behaviour, recognise it’s a major red flag, and remember it.

*Name changed for privacy reasons

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If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Feature Image: Getty