‘All My Exes Are Crazy’ Is a Relationship Red Flag You Should Take Seriously


Exes are usually exes for good reason(s), so if you’re dating someone who isn’t exactly enthusiastic about theirs, that doesn’t automatically make them a monster. A little lingering resentment after a breakup—especially a particularly bad one—is normal, but when someone describes all of their past partners as total nightmares? That can be a major relationship red flag to beware of.

“Every one of us should be able to acknowledge some lessons we’ve learned from our previous romances,” Gina Senarighi, PhD, a couples counselor based in Madison, Wisconsin, and the author of Love More Fight Less, A Communication Workbook for Every Couple, tells SELF. For instance, maybe your ex was horrible at communicating—but you could’ve been a better listener too. Or things ended because they were always tied up with work and late for dates but, to be fair, you weren’t always understanding about their busy schedule.

On the flip side, if you leave a relationship thinking you did nothing wrong and place all the blame on your former partner, perhaps calling them “crazy,” this suggests you’re not willing to take accountability, Dr. Senarighi says. That’s a problem, because being able to own up to (and ideally learn from) past mistakes is an important trait—research shows it’s associated with virtues like empathy, self-awareness, and forgiveness, all of which are key for forming healthy relationships.

Another thing to consider, according to Dr. Senarighi: Trash-talking exes can reveal a lot about someone’s character—and the way they may speak about you someday. Think about it: If they’re comfortable labeling people they once dated and loved as “crazy” or “insane,” what’s to stop them from using the same hurtful language to describe you?

Of course, there are exceptions: Maybe their ex really was a jerk or did something awful that justifies some lingering bitterness. Or they just have an unfortunate knack for picking all the wrong people. Regardless, instead of simply nodding along, Dr. Senarighi says it’s a good idea to ask why they’re painting their former partner in such a negative light.

How they respond, she says, can give you some valuable insight into what you’re dealing with. Let’s say they call their ex “psycho” or “unhinged,” for example, and when you ask for more details, they reveal that this person constantly cheated on or gaslit them. Dr. Senarighi says this isn’t necessarily a red flag since their unkind words are a response to emotional pain—rather than a pattern of blaming others or just being an asshole.

However, if they deflect (“I don’t know, they just turned out to be completely nuts!”) or dismiss your concerns (“Who cares? It’s in the past now!”), that indicates that there are probably more deep-rooted issues going on, like a lack of empathy or self-awareness, that you want to steer clear of, Dr. Senarighi says. Otherwise, you’ll likely end up on their list of “exes from hell,” one day too.




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