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 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 of us fall in between the two categories above. We want to know about the other’s sexual past but we are afraid of what we might find out. We are also afraid of being asked about our own sexual past because we think we might turn the other person off.
Most men but more so women when asked about how many sexual partners they’ve had will deliberately revise the number downwards. Sensing that the person asking might be hurt or be upset they lie by omission or by avoiding the subject altogether.
Why is talking about sexual pasts such an uncomfortable topic?
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.
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 their past. You don’t have to like it but accept that 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 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 they can love you unconditionally. Blubbering too much too soon, or insisting that someone hear the the details of your most intimate sexual experiences shows sexual immaturity. It is also a little creepy!
If the love between you is strong enough, your significant other or partner will find it within themselves to look past your past. But there is also the possibility that they will change their 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 the person you love differently. It may even change the way you feel about them.
Some people have told me they fight with the urge to “get even” and sleep with as many men or women. These feelings of hurt, jealousy and insecurity have nothing to do with the other person or how many sexual partners they’ve had, these are your issues you have to deal with.
So ask what you want to know and let go.
It’s possible that if your significant other or partner has a sexual history they are ashamed of, they’re haunted by it. You making them feel safe to “come out” then “punish” them 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 they have done in the past.