Every man or woman at one time or the other has to deal with this sticky situation. Should you ask, how do you ask, when is the best time to ask — and if you are asked about your sexual past, how much should you tell.
Given the way things are today, a significant number of the men and women who enter relationships bring sexual histories into their relationships and marriages. Some couples agree not to talk about past relationships at all. They don’t ask about it, and they don’t volunteer any information regarding the past. The past is in the past. Other couples see “full disclosure” as a necessary prerequisite to relationship trust. They want everything out in the open, dealt with and filed away into the past.
The majority, based on the questions I am asked on a frequent basis fall in between the two categories above. They want to know about the other’s sexual past, but are afraid of what they might find out. They want to talk about their sexual past but fear that they might reveal too much and turn the other person off.
Most men, but more so women when asked about how many guys or girls they’ve slept with will deliberately revise the number downwards. Sensing that the person asking might feel hurt or be upset about their sexual past, they’ll lie by omission or by avoiding the subject altogether.
Why does it hurt to hear about and listen to how many other people the person we love has slept with?
When we learn that another person has experienced the deepest, most hidden and sacred parts of the person we love, most of us feel cheated. We feel as though we’ve been robbed of something that should only belong to us. We might even feel violated just thinking of sharing the person we love with another person, even if it happened a long time ago.
So even if the person is telling the truth about the number of men/women he/she has slept with, that uneasy feeling gets in the way of our ability or desire to trust him/her. Sometimes we want so badly to believe the person we love but can’t help asking “Are you sure you’ve only slept with five?” Or “Was he/she good/better than me?”
Most people give a revised down version for fear of being seen as “sleeping around”. And if you insist on “the truth”, will feel that they are being called a liar or a slut for having slept with so many women/guys that he/she feels he/she needs to lie about it.
My personal opinion is that “to LOVE someone is to KNOW that person”.
That means that for true intimacy based on love and trust to unfold, you have to get to that place where you know everything about someone and love everything you know, unconditionally. That includes his/her past. You don’t have to agree with it, but accept it because after all, we are to some degree a by-product of our past.
So if someone wants you to hear “their truth”, it’s because they want to be known and accepted, past and all. And in some instances, you might want to know about your partners’ sexual past for health-related reasons.
But I also believe that how much we disclose of our sexual past and when we disclose it should reflect the existing level of honest communication and closeness in the relationship.
If the conversation comes up and you’re asked, it’s best to answer his/her questions in an honest way. People are generally more “forgiving” of our indiscretions when they hear them directly from us than hear it from someone else. You don’t want to be lying awake at night wondering what would happen if they knew the truth.
But in being honest, don’t get too excited and get into unnecessary details or insist that the person hear you out so that he/she can love you unconditionally. Blubbering too much too soon, or and insisting on the details of someone’s else most intimate sexual experiences shows sexual insecurity and immaturity in the EQ department. And that it can get a little creepy!
If the love between you is strong enough, your boy/girlfriend or partner will find it within him/herself to look past your past. But there is also the possibility that he/she will change his/her mind about you after hearing about your past. That is something the other person has to deal with. Different people process “difficult” information in different ways.
If you are the person who wants to know, make sure before you go there that you can “handle the truth!”
What you might find out may cause you to look at him or her with different eyes; it may even change the way you feel about your boy/girlfriend or partner. Some people have told me they fight with the urge to “get even” (sleep around with as many men or women). These feelings of hurt, jealousy and insecurity have nothing to do with the other person or what he or she did… these are your issues you have to deal with.
So ask what you want to know and let go. It’s very possible that if your boy/girlfriend or partner has a sexual history he or she is ashamed of, he or she is being haunted by it enough. You making him or her safe to “come out” then “hate” him or her for trusting you is like being stabbed with a double edged sword.
The past cannot be changed. Obsessing about it often spoils the present. Who you are with now matters more than the things he/she has done in his/her past. If you can not handle your boy/girlfriend or partner’s “truth” then he/she is better off without you.
If he/she doesn’t want to talk about it, let him/her be. The time will come for a heart to heart talk, once true emotional safety is established.
The person capable of looking past your past to see the person before him/her is one who is capable of unconditional love!