Why do guys bring up their ex girlfriends in conversation?

Have you ever been talking to a guy you like and he starts talking about his ex-girlfriend?

I’ve done it myself in some cases when talking to women.

The question is:

Why do men do this? It depends, but it’s almost never random.

Here’s why some men do this and what it can mean.

1) To tell you he’s still in love with her

In some cases, a guy will name drop his ex for the simple reason that he’s still in love with her.

He’s either doing this on purpose to let you know he’s still in love with her, or he’s doing it by mistake because he’s so in love with her.

Either way, if he does still have feelings for an ex, he’s going to be somebody you’d generally be better off avoiding.

If you get feelings for a man whose heart is already taken it’s an uphill climb and you’re likely to end up with a broken heart.

If he mentions his ex offhand one time it may not be that he’s still in love.

But if his voice is full of intensity, his eyes get a yearning look and he’s mentioning her frequently, then the interaction is probably leaning in this direction.

2) To tell you he’s available

Why do guys bring up their ex girlfriends in conversation?

Like I said, it really depends on the situation and the context.

Take a common example:

He’s out with a group of friends at a restaurant and the waitress starts flirting with him.

She’s winking, letting her hand linger on his shoulder, calling him “hun,” you know…the whole package.

But she also keeps eyeing the attractive brunette to his left slightly uneasily,

Little does this gorgeous waitress know that the brunette is actually just this guy’s platonic friend.

This guy starts looking a little bit flustered.

Then he starts talking about his ex-girlfriend when the waitress is in range.

“Do you want another drink, hun?” she asks.

“Yes, please. My ex-girlfriend would have said no, but, uh, being a single man has its advantages, you know?” (laughs nervously).


Remember: I’m not saying this is a good move to make. Being this desperate is generally pretty unattractive.

But it is something guys sometimes do to advertise that they are fully available and looking.

3) To challenge you

An ex-girlfriend is just that: an ex.

Sometimes a guy will talk about his ex to challenge a new woman and throw down the gauntlet.

He’s letting you know in no uncertain terms that the last woman failed to last for a reason.

In this case he will generally emphasize that he was the one who broke up with his ex, or talk about things she did wrong or that weren’t good enough.

He’s dropping the none-so-subtle hint that he’s a selective guy who’s high value.

Anybody who wonders if an actual high value guy would do this has a good point, because the answer is probably no.

But it’s still a common reason why guys will go on about their supposedly shitty ex in conversation with potential new partners.

4) To tell you to back off

When a man talks about his ex around other women it can sometimes be like a romantic car alarm:

He’s blaring out a clear message and telling women to back off.

The basic message?

I’m damaged, I’m focused on an ex, don’t bother with me.

This may be something serious or it may be him playing games, which I’ll get to later.

The basic point is that he’s putting this out like a porcupine deploying its spikes.

Go away, I’m sad and heartbroken. Leave me alone, girls.

To be fair, sometimes a straight guy will say this to other guys too just to let them know he’s not into socializing, hanging out or getting to know anyone new.

5) To explain the past

There’s not always a deep rationale behind a guy talking about his ex.

Sometimes I’ve done it for a very simple reason:

To explain the past.

Now, by explain I don’t mean justify.

Especially with potential dates or casual new friends there is no real reason to go into detail about an ex.

But explaining a basic overview of what went down makes a lot of sense.

If a guy is simply summing up a past relationship for you, there’s a good chance he’s basically just explaining what happened in a general sense.

Sometimes it might not really mean more than that.

6) To help bring closure

Another reason why some guys bring up their ex girlfriend in conversation is to get more closure.

Of course, the relationship’s already over.

But he may bring up an ex simply to confirm both to himself and others that this relationship is fully in the past.

He’s making it official and reminding himself and everyone else that the past is over.

This can sometimes help bring a measure of closure.

7) To make you jealous

Sometimes a guy will bring up an ex to make you jealous.

This is a game that some men play, especially if they are not very serious about you or want to see your reaction.

Getting you to think of his ex and him with another woman can be a man’s way of making you envious and uncomfortable.

This is basically a way for him to feel a sense of power in your interactions and to put you on your back foot.

Around other guys it can be a way to also make them jealous about what great girls he’s been with in the past.

It can be an egotistical reminder to others that he’s a guy who gets very hot girls.

If you’re interested in learning more about why guys bring up other girls in conversation, then you might enjoy our latest video that discusses what it really means. 

8) To slow things down a little

As I mentioned, sometimes speaking about an ex can be a way to challenge a woman, push her away or bring some form of closure.

It can also be something a little bit in between: a way to slow things down a little.

A man may mention his past disappointments and broken relationships as a way to pump the brakes slightly.

If you are dating and it’s going a bit fast, he’s reminding the both of you that not everything works out and to proceed with some caution.

To be fair, that’s a good point.

9) To get you to open up more

Another common reason why a man may talk about an ex is to get you to open up more.

By making himself more vulnerable and mentioning something that’s painful, he’s giving you an invitation to do the same in return.

Whether or not you feel comfortable talking about subjects like this is a different matter.

But this may well be his intention in mentioning an ex to you in such a way.

10) To get nosy about your past

The negative version of point 11 is that sometimes he’ll want you to open up but in a less benign way.

In fact, he’s hoping to dig up more “dirt” on your past, find out details of when you were last with a man, and so on.

Rather than just ask directly, which at least would be honest, he’s trying to elicit a response from you.

If you decide to open up about your dating history or your exes that’s up to you.

But don’t ever let a guy back you into talking about things you don’t feel comfortable with just because he’s chosen to open up.

13) Because he’s still talking to her

Sometimes a guy talks about his ex because it just pops out even though he didn’t intend to.

One of the reasons is because he’s still speaking to her.

She’s on his mind because he’s still in touch with her.

If you’re interested in this guy it’s obviously bad news.

If you’re a friend who’s heard his tales of woe about the breakup, it can also be a cause for concern.

Why is he talking to her still, or again?

Maybe he’s still in love, maybe she’s caught him in a toxic trap, maybe he just got overly bored or horny one night…

Either way, it’s rarely good news…

14) Because he’s trying to choose between you and her

Another one of the reasons why some men bring up their ex in conversation can be because they are still torn up about her and trying to decide between her and a new woman.

They may want to weigh their options, get outside opinions or test a woman’s reaction who they talk about it to.

If his ex is on his mind, there’s usually a good reason why.

And in many cases that reason may simply be that he’s deciding whether to get back with her or try to be with someone new.

As I said, every situation is different, so it really depends.

What’s the real reason why he’s mentioning his ex? It all depends on context and getting as good a peek inside his head and heart as you can.

15) To vent his own insecurities

Another big reason why some men talk about their ex is because they feel very insecure about what happened.

They feel unworthy and like a person who has failed in their romantic life.

Is it true?

One thing I’ve noticed consistently in life is this:

Often people who tell you they’re great and good people are real shitbags, and people who tell you how bad and flawed they are end up actually being genuine and compassionate individuals.

Go figure.

The point is that sometimes a guy brings up his ex because he has low self-esteem and wants to advertise to the world that he’s a failure.

Is he right? Maybe, but in many cases, he’s just lost in a spiral of avoidant behavior and low self-worth.

The real monsters are the narcissistic emotional manipulators who are out there thinking they are God’s gift to mankind.

16) To show you he’s experienced in love

Sometimes one of the reasons guys bring up their ex girlfriends in conversation is to prove they’re experienced.

They want whoever they’re talking to to know that they’re not a newbie at love.

If this is a girl it can basically be a form of bragging in front of her.

If it’s in front of a guy or somebody he’s not attracted to, it can be a form of establishing romantic “street cred.”

“Yeah, well my ex …”

Yes, we get it, you have an ex. Congratulations.

Bottom line: Is it bad or good?

Generally, guys avoid talking about their ex except to close friends, to a counselor or during a crisis.

If you want to know: why do guys bring up their ex girlfriends in conversation? The answer is usually not for anything good.

It’s either because he’s insecure, baiting you or otherwise trying to manipulate people in some way.

This is not always the case, as I’ve outlined above.

But if you hear a guy who often talks about his ex it is generally not a good sign.

Proceed with caution and always keep in mind that somebody else’s past and problems are not your responsibility.

Being a good listener and empathetic is one thing, but never allow someone to use you as an offloading port for their problems, issues and mind games.

We all deserve much better than that.

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