You’ve found yourself a smoking bedroom buddy, but within the first few dates, you become aware of their relationship history.
You do a little digging, and discover their ex is even better looking. He even takes influencer-worthy photos with puppies. You start to compare yourself to him. Then you wonder why your new schmoo ever got rid of them. A few weeks down the line and you’re still regularly checking his social media accounts to the point of obsession.
This may not have ever happened to you (or, you may not admit it), but the idea of becoming obsessed with your partner’s ex is very real. So, how do you stop it? We spoke to Damien Diecke, founder and CEO of School of Attraction, a Sydney-based dating coaching company that has become Australia’s largest to find out if it’s a behaviour he’s noticed, what he thinks causes it and how to ultimately cut it out.
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Damien first admits by telling us that obsessive behaviour doesn’t tend to come up in his line of expertise, “I suspect because they know that I’ll outright be telling them to cut it out, and also because I’m helping guys meet new partners, not get back old ones.”
As for why a guy could become obsessed with the newfound partner’s ex, Damien believes it comes down to two things: insecurities and unregulated control issues. With the former, Damien says, “if men have an old wound that’s triggered, they can become very insecure and in desperate need of validation, or emotional support.”
“For example, if a guy has had numerous ex’s cheat on him and his ex seems to potentially already be dating someone else, then he can become insanely insecure and anxious.”
Furthering the idea of cheating, if a guy thinks his new partner could still be in contact with her ex, Damien adds that “feeling inferior is definitely a part of it [casuing them to become obsessed], but it’s not about that ex specifically, it’s about themselves. If they have a deep belief in themselves that they aren’t good enough, then EVERYONE can be a threat, because they themselves aren’t good enough.”
Tracking back to unregulated control issues, Damien explains, “most healthy adults still at times with they could control the world around them, but they recognise that much of the time they cannot, so they seek to manage their own emotions when things go wrong outside of their control.”
“Unfortunately, plenty of people try to control things they can’t control as a way to deal with their insecurities. They feel like that’s the only solution and they become obsessed with trying to control a situation that threatens them.”
Guys, you have to accept that your partner will have had previous relationships, but so what? You would have to. It’s completely normal, and the person you’re with has chosen to be with you.
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We asked Damien if he recommends a guy tell his partner about his social scrolling antics, whether it just be a casual look every now and then or a daily stalk where he ends up knowing more about his history than the girl. To this, Damien says “most relationships end as a result of lack of communication. People try to hide all their insecurities because they think those are what end relationships.”
“But actually what ends relationships is people not having learned to talk about their insecurities from a mature space.”
“We all have ‘crazy’ inside of us, some are able to communicate this side of ourselves well, while others really struggle and it can lead to argument and sometimes ending of relationships.”
“My best advice would actually be to find a good couples therapist to attend with your partner to talk about this issue together. A great therapist will help keep a healthy form of communication between both parties around difficult topics.”
As for preventing and stopping obsessive behaviour, Damien refers back to therapy once more. “I’m such a huge advocate of therapy. Many people avoid it unless they’re absolutely falling apart, but spending some time with a therapist can be a critical part of general self-development, even if your world isn’t falling to pieces.”
“But the best strategy BY FAR one way or another is to start talking to people about it.”
“If you have good friends you can talk to, this is fantastic. Sadly many men don’t have close friends they can discuss this kind of thing with, in which case a therapist is definitely an ideal option.”