Before You Were My Man…Can Past Issues Do Present Damage?
There’s a song by the group Cherish that I love called “Before You Were My Man” about a girl who discovers that a guy she dated in the past is actually her new man’s best friend. It always makes me think about how small the world is and you never know how your past actions can come back to bite you in the present…but should they?
Anyone who is familiar with my policy knows that in relationships sometimes sharing isn’t caring and details from your past can end up doing unnecessary damage. If you’re facing inner turmoil about telling your partner about a situation from your past, ask yourself this: Does withholding the information place my partner at a disadvantage? If you and your man’s best friend shared a few nights of passion in the past before you even knew he existed, what’s telling him about it going to do besides bruise his ego? It really is a judgment call. Unless he has a jerk for a friend that wants to give him the play by play of your intimate encounter just for fun, then that might be something you both agree to keep buried in the past. There are some things that are best left behind. Certain things make you look at a person differently– unfairly. Everyone has a past and that doesn’t always accurately define the person they presently are.
On the other hand there are some skeletons that once they come crashing out of the closet can do a whole lot of damage. That sex tape you made in undergrad could cause a lot of embarrassment for you and your partner in the unfortunate circumstance that you become the victim of blackmail by a bitter ex. But how exactly do you bring something like that up without scaring your partner away? You can’t really be like, “By the way, there might be a sex tape of me floating around. Just thought I’d let you know if you ever come across me face down, behind up while Youtubing one day.” I don’t think it’s possible for that conversation to not be awkward, but it’s up to you whether you want to lay all your cards on the table and keep your fingers crossed that people from your past are possible of keeping a secret.
In my relationships I keep things on a need to know basis and I don’t ask questions I don’t want to know the answers to. Some may say that makes me a liar, but I think it’s the reason why I’ve managed to have successful long-term relationships. Most of the drama that occurs in relationships could be eliminated if people really thought about effects of what they say before they say it. I really get confused by women who ask their men questions they don’t want the answer to like, “Did your mom really get along with your ex-girlfriend?” especially when they aren’t willing to answer those same questions themselves. You have to be honest with yourself about whether you’re just being nosy or whether the info you’re trying to gather is really going to help you make well supported decisions about the relationship and if you can move past it. Think of it as a relationship résumé; you only need to reveal what’s relevant to the situation you’re in and what could affect its progress. Are you really going to be able to look at your man the same in a bedroom if he tells you orgies were a regular part of his sex life at one point? Think about the things you would want to know…or maybe not. Your partner fell in love with you for a reason. Everything you’ve experienced made you the person you are today. That doesn’t mean that your partner needs the unabridged version of every regret, misjudgment or embarrassing situation you’ve been responsible for.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.