Referring to exes by name

It just occured to me that this may be a way to gauge someone’s emotional availabiltiy, or suitability for dating: If she refers to her ex- as “my ex-” and you need to ask “BTW, what was his name?”, she’s ok to go out with, but if she refers to him by his name, then it’s trouble.

I just went out with someone who’s divorced for two years, maybe, and it was all “Perry says” this, and “Perry does” that, while I noticed that I used to refer to my ex- by name but the past few years, if I refer to her at all, it’s just “my ex- did this or that.” Lately, in fact, she never comes up, unless my date asks me “Are you divorced, or a widowered, or what?”

Interesting tell, I think.

I think you can tell how much involvement/investment someone has in their ex by the way they speak about them. If they still have very strong emotions about the ex, they probably still have issues. Or it may be just too soon to start dating again for them.

Of course, not always- especially when kids are involved. Having the complication of shared children for many years after a breakup can add multiple layers to the relationship complexity.

I heard one of those trite sayings- “The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.” If someone you are dating still spends a lot of time hating on the ex, it’s probably better to move on. Or at least trying to determine if the anger is properly placed.

Hmmm, not something I ever gave any thought too. I refer to my ex as my ex as well. But if I’m with people that know her then I refer to her by name.
Just as if I was out on a date and someone asked me about something a friend of mine did I would say “my friend”/“a friend of mine” and not “Marie” or “John” just because I think it would make more sense since the names have no meaning to them so it’s just adding useless information to the conversation.

Based on that…I’m going to guess if you got your date to talk about her parents she would refer to them as mom and dad as opposed to ‘my mom’ and ‘my dad.’ Perhaps she’s just overly friendly/familiar. She also might not have realized yet that a date and potential mate might not really want to hear about her ex-husband and that if she’s going to bring him up she really should use ex since that distances herself from him a bit.
I still work with my ex-wife so when I’m taking to someone (as in, a date) I always make a point of making it clear that while we’re friendly towards each other and we get along, it stops there. Calling her ‘my ex’, I think help makes that point. But then once I’ve known someone for while I’ll refer to her by her first name since it’s just more natural.

I have an ex that I still refer to as “that fucking whorebag bitch cow CUNT”. Is this a problem? My girlfriend was a bit :dubious: when I mentioned her thus.

Wow, small world.


Did you know who Perry? Did she know your ex?

I usually refer to exes by name if the person to whom I’m speaking knows them (or if it’s important to distinguish between exes), just say “an ex” if the person doesn’t know them.

I assume you’re referring to talking about the past with that ex, and in that case I’d agree on being wary. Three of my exes are still tangentially in social or work circles, so it’s not uncommon for me to refer to them regarding post-relationship issues.

To be honest, I think the opposite. When somebody refers to “their ex” to me that signals that they’re trying to emotionally distance themselves from that person by using a label to refer to them. It seems to me that that’s an indication that there’s still some emotions there. Might well not be positive emotions, of course.

And therein lies the problem with dating, there’s no right answer that will suit everyone. For most everything, what one person sees as cute and sweet the other person will see as creepy and strange (or somewhere in between).

If you look through the giant online dating advice thread you’ll see this all over the place. Someone will ask a question and the answers are typically all over the board. For example “How long of an email should I send?” will get both “I prefer longer emails, a short email makes me thing you’re not really interested and just sending out the same two sentences to everyone” & “Just a few sentences, anything more then that sounds like you’re going to be clingy.”

I guess, WRT, the OP it’s just one of those things where your theory may be true or it just may be how she refers to people (by name as opposed to by pronoun). Either way, there’s just to many things to infer from it. She could still be thinking about him, she might not, she might be calling him Perry so as not to remind you that she has an ex-husband, who knows. Until you ask her, all you can really do is infer. But I’d still be curious if she says things like Jake/Mary/Mom instead of My brother/my friend/My mom. She might just be more comfortable using familiar terms.

Also, one last thing. If she doesn’t have a lot of ‘experience’ saying ‘ex-husband’ it might not come naturally yet. For a long time I still called my ex my ‘wife’ just because I wasn’t thinking about it. I have no problem now but I still occasionally slip and say BIL/FIL/MIL instead of EX-BIL/MIL/FIL since I don’t say that as often (also I didn’t have nearly as big as a beef with them as I did with her).

To my family, she’s “Linda”. To my daughter, she’s “Mommy”. Pretty much every other time she comes up, it’s in reference to my daughter, so it’s almost always “her mother”.

We’re in that limbo period of “not officially divorced but definitely no longer married”, so I hate when I have to make the spur-of-the-moment “do I call her my ex or what?” decision.

Easy for me. I refer to her as “your mother” when talking to my (adult) children.

To my present wife, and everyone else, she’s known as “Plaintiff”.

I usually use “your client” when speaking to her attorney. She’s always in the room, but I rarely address her directly. This way, less time is spent defending myself against complaints that I verbally harassed her, threatened her, etc. We’ll be divorced twenty years this summer, and it took me a long time to figure out that strategy.

After divorcing for the third time (not proud of it, just stupid and/or unlucky), I refer to them like distant cousins: #3 is ex-husband, #2 is ex-husband once removed, #1 is ex-husband twice removed.

I didn’t realize my hex (yes, the ‘h’ belong there, as in hex - n.An evil curse or spell) got remarried

Thankfully I never married her. As far as I know she’s still living with the guy she was fucking for pretty much the whole time we were together, while making out it was my fault that she just disappeared on me one day and lying consistently ever after.

::Steam coming out of ears all these years later::

Yes, I still have strong emotions and issues about that ex, but I truly don’t think my girlfriend is in any danger of them impinging on our relationship.

My boyfriend refers to his ex as ex, never by name. He won’t even speak to her. They were in a doctor’s office with a daughter and he didn’t say a word to her. They were divorced about 4 years at that time. It worries me because I feel that he could so easily and coldly shut me out the same way if we have issues. Fortunately, we haven’t had any…yet.

I am on speaking, even somewhat friendly, terms with my last two exes because we have kids together. My BF can’t understand that. I can’t understand why he can’t understand that it’s best for the kids. Because there are 2 exes I have to deal with, living nearby, it is easier for me to say T’s dad, or A’s dad when talking to him, or call them by name. I don’t have warm feelings for them, it just seems more mature. And the one I’ve been divorced from for 16 years - it’s like I’m talking about a neighbor or something.

My sister calls her ex, the father of her children, Ass Face - even when talking to them about him. It just seems so petty and reflects only on her. It hurts the kids. Her next husband likewise calls his ex by a nasty nickname. They sound like such idiots.

On the very few occasions I talked about my (only) exgirlfriend I use her name.
My wife knows her so “my ex” would sound stupid.

I realized that I was finally over my ex when I couldn’t instantly recall the name of the city he lived in. I spent a couple minutes thinking and remembered it, so I know I’m not senile. It had just been so long since I thought about him, it wasn’t on the tip of my brain. That was a good day :slight_smile:

I’ve got several ex-boyfriends, so saying “my ex” simply isn’t clear. They were different guys, they did different things.

To me someone saying “my ex” sounds like they don’t think of that person as a person, but only as a function of the relationship they had. It’s like when someone introduces you to an older lady they’ve just hugged saying “this is Mom” “I figured, but her name is?”

From my limited experience, a more reliable indicator of someone still hung up on an ex is when they mention them unnecessarily.

I briefly dated a girl who would often talk about her ex in that way… “Oh Andrew also doesn’t like tomatos… oh Andrew used to do that another way… I used to go bike riding all the time, back when I was with Andrew”. Treat such talk as a warning siren.