I’m a firm believer in discretion, especially on social networking sites and of all things in relationships. You may have been misled by the belief that partners in relationships have no secrets, but trust me when I say: loose lips sink relationships. This can be a challenging thought for most women since naturally (yes, something else you can blame those damn XX chromosomes for) women think that the best solution to a problem is to talk it through and get it all out there. We think there are magical combinations within language that will solve every problem. But frankly, there are some things in relationships that once revealed end up hurting the relationship more than it helping it. By dissecting and analyzing every conflict with a conversation, you may be in fact creating a bigger problem than you began with. The next time your guy tells you that you talk too much, he might actually have a point.
I’m not talking about deceit, and I’m not talking about lying by omission. For example, if you slept over your ex-boyfriend’s house last night and not your bestie’s, the information is probably going to hurt the relationship once revealed, but it will also allow your partner to make a clear and informed decision regarding the relationship because he/she has all of the facts. On the other hand, I personally believe that things that took place before the relationship sometimes lay unnecessary groundwork for mistrust and jealousy, and those are two things that can surreptitiously sink a relationship over time. The truth is, some things are frankly not any of your partner’s business and once he/she has knowledge of certain aspects of your past, they may subconsciously be distracted from who you truly are in the present.
What’s your take on the following situations? Do you feel like your partner should know EVERYTHING about your past?
1. Every single person that’s ever hit on you.
Maybe your point is to make him jealous, and that is why you choose to run down every cat call or whistle you’ve received. Unfortunately, when dealing with someone who already has trust issues, you’re basically just laying the groundwork to be interrogated every time you step foot out alone. Complimentary margaritas from your Friday night “club crush” may give you a nice buzz as well as a quick boost of confidence, but once you tell your partner, he’s not going to hear anything about how you kindly let the guy down easy and told him you were taken. All he hears is, “You have competition and you can trust me all you want to, but not any other male who is in my presence.” We’ve got it: you’re hot. No need to remind your man everyday that everyone else knows it as well.
2. Detailed information about your ex’s.
You’re relieved that he actually calls when he says he will unlike you’re inconsiderate jerk of an ex-boyfriend. That coffee spot with the amazing bagels? Your ex used to take you there all of the time. That shirt he just bought? It reminds you of the shirt your ex used to wear ALL THE TIME. If any of these phrases sound like excerpts from conversations you have with your man, then I hate to break it to you, but he might be preparing to leave you. Obsessively bringing up an ex either negatively or positively just makes you sound like you’re not over the relationship. Leave the past in the past when it comes to love lost, otherwise you’ll be having this same conversation with a new guy within months.
3. Sexually transmitted infections that have been cured.
The last thing you may want to do is explain your medicine cabinet collection of Monistat, and I hate to break it you, but a discussion about STIs and sexual history is never pleasant. Positive diagnosis of incurable STIs like herpes and HIV are obviously things that you would want to know about your partner, and in some states it’s even a criminal offense to not reveal a confirmed diagnosis with sexual partners. But what about a gonorrhea infection you experienced years ago that’s long gone? Is this something you need to reveal?
If my partner had an STI in the past, curable or not, I would want to know and feel that I should extend that same courtesy in revealing my sexual past. Your sexual history is one of those things that in fact can affect your present. Some STIs can affect fertility and doctors agree that if you’ve been infected with an STI you’re more susceptible to contracting STIs in the future. So while you may not want to make every partner fill out a health history chart every time you do the deed, sexual history should be on a need to know basis and anyone you’re sexually involved with needs to know.
4. The number of partners you’ve been intimate with.
This is another part of revealing your sexual history that can be tricky. When it comes to the “What’s Your Number?” game, you may not always get the truth because so many social stigmas are attached to the number of sexual partners an individual has had. Values and double standards aside, there are sexual health reasons that might make you think twice about fudging your number since the more sexual partners you’ve had, the more likely it is that you contracted an STI at some point. If you are regularly tested and your results are negative this may not be as big of a concern and any mature man will respect your choice as an adult to engage in responsible sexual activity as well as your number, no matter how big or small it may be.
5. A phase of homosexual experimentation.
Here go those double standards again. If a woman reveals to her man that in college her and a roommate got extra close one weekend, he may think it’s the sexiest thing ever. On the other hand, if a man reveals to his woman that at one point he thought that his boy could be more than a friend, it might seriously mean the end of the relationship. It’s not fair, but it happens. Sexual curiosity about the same sex is a very common thing and while the occasional thought might pass through someone’s head, it doesn’t necessarily determine someone’s sexual orientation. Some people may actually take that curiosity to the next level and quickly discover that a fantasy should have stayed just that. If someone’s secure in their present sexuality, I’m not convinced that it’s necessary to let your partner know of every experimental experience you ever had, regardless of the genders involved.
6. Sex, Lies and Videotape.
I couldn’t help but wonder if somewhere the woman featured in the “Tupac Sex Video Scandal” is explaining to her husband why there’s suddenly a video of her floating around on the Internet. The thing about sex videos and sexting is that it’s all fun and games until the relationship goes south. Not everyone can handle that level of intimacy and not every partner can be trusted with that type of material. But now that the deed is done and you know there’s footage somewhere of your freakier side, do you tell your partner? The thing is if the tape never surfaces, you now have your partner living in a state of paranoia knowing someone else could be watching his woman’s bedroom behavior at any given second. If the tape does surface, your partner may wonder why you never revealed that this could be coming. Difficult judgment call. In the meantime, leave pornography to the professionals unless you’re prepared to deal with what could go wrong.
7. What you really think about his mother…
His best friend, his taste and clothes and anything else that you’re solely using for ammo in the heat of an argument. One of the perks of being in a relationship is that while you can depend on your partner to give you honest feedback, they truly should be your number one fan. And part of being a fan is still giving support even when your partner isn’t on his or her A game. Stashing insults and harsh truths in an arsenal to sling when times get tough is not only a low blow but it’s not how you should treat someone you care about. If you really have issues with a part of your partner’s life that you want addressed, bring it up when things are calm so you can actively compromise. Don’t just save them for the KO in your verbal boxing match.
8. A past pregnancy that didn’t result in parenting.
A pregnancy that didn’t result in a woman actively parenting can be a tremendous burden to bear alone. Miscarriages, abortions and adoptions are heavy conversations that aren’t just had with any casual partner and it could be a part of woman’s past that she may not want to revisit for many reasons. In some cases, talking about it may actually help her process her feelings in a healthy way as long as she feels supported, listened to and doesn’t feel judged. While an adoption is something that could possibly be a future issue in a long-term relationship, miscarriages and abortion that are properly handled and treated in most situations have no effect on future pregnancies. It’s truly up to each woman’s individual judgment to choose whether or not to reveal this part of their past to a partner, and if so, when is the best time to do so.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator 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.
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