A couple talking about their exes.

When things start to get serious with someone new, exes inevitably come up. Maybe internally in your own mind, or aloud as a dialogue. Some couples get everything out in the open and share past experiences. Others avoid the “e-word” at all costs. Every couple is different. But perhaps there are benefits to talking about past relationships.

It could help your partner understand who you are and how you think in new ways.

Just because you have a talk about your ex doesn’t mean your relationship is in danger. Actually, it could mean the opposite. Sharing your experiences can be a learning experience for you and your partner. A good talk about your ex might make for a healthy dialogue about your current relationship. It could be cathartic, even. You encountered relationship-ending thoughts or behaviors in the past, and this is your chance to air out your feelings and set expectations with your current partner. Your ex is your ex for a reason, and the lessons you learned from that relationship can help shape your current one.

Talking about past relationship mistakes will help you avoid repeating them.

When you talk about your ex, mistakes and even pangs of regret are likely to come up. That doesn’t necessarily mean you still have feelings for him or her; you’re a human being with emotions and are allowed to feel bad for how something ended, no matter how long ago it was. Your instinct might tell you to keep those thoughts from your current partner, but getting transparent about what went wrong will help you recognize what makes your current partner a better fit.

Remember: Your partner doesn’t have an ex to hurt your feelings. Having an ex is just a natural part of life. Once you start to see exes as a stepping stone to the relationship you’re in now, they become less threatening. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, think of your exes like horcruxes: When looked at individually, they each represent a certain part of your past. But when looked at together, they tell the story of who you are and how you got to this point.

Ultimately, honesty is key when you talk about your ex. You don’t need to overshare too many details, but you shouldn’t lie or purposefully cover up details either. Honesty builds trust and strengthens communication. If and when you decide to talk about your ex, make sure it’s to help the two of you move forward in your relationship—not backward.

Elizabeth Entenman

Freelance Writer

Elizabeth is a freelance writer, editor, and advertising copywriter in Brooklyn. Right now, she’s probably somewhere Instagramming her dogs.