August 12, 2018

How To Talk About Your Past Relationships With Him – 14 Expert-Approved Ways To Discuss Your Relationship History

How To Talk About Your Past Relationships With Him
# 1. Follow the 3 tips below

Do you want to leave your past in the past and live more in the moment and not look back? Alternatively, do you think it’s best to be honest and open about your relationships and disclose everything?

It’s really up to the two of you. You don’t have to share everything but don’t be afraid to ask or reveal certain things. How do you find out if you can both handle all of the truth or if you need some ‘edited’ communication? 

Some couples agree not to talk about the past, although if your new relationship continues, people usually feel safer to open up. Others reveal all early on and either that works well or they break up. Women sometimes want to talk more than men about their relationship history.

Here are some things to think through:

1. We all have a past.

Be selective. If asked about things you/he are not yet comfortable to share, say that what has happened before isn’t important as it’s completed and that you are interested in right now.

2. Ask yourself, why are you sharing this information? 

Is it because you believe that honesty brings trust and closeness in a new relationship? Being honest though doesn’t necessarily mean talking about every detail. What you may feel is innocuous and harmless to share may really impact your current partner.

New relationships are about getting to know one another and not venting or examining what went wrong before with someone else. Talk with a professional therapist or close friend if you need to do that.

3. Get to know each other first.

Think about timing. If he asks, you can talk generally. You can say, ‘My last relationship was for 2 years and we broke up 6 months ago.’ If it was an amicable break up, you can mention that. If it wasn’t, don’t go into too much detail too early on. It may leave an impression that you are still angry and upset and not ready yet to start anew.

How to ask? 

If you want to know about your partner’s past, ask general questions such as; ‘do you want to talk a little about what happened? If not, I’m here to listen if you wish to.’ However, at some point it’s good to know a little. Some great relationships have broken up due to ex’s who continue to cause chaos and difficulties.

So, always discuss what you are both willing and ready to share rather than just bluntly asking, ‘how many people have you slept with and was the sex really good or revealing you had an affair while married etc?’ You may think you and they want to hear the truth but most men will feel uncomfortable. You also won’t actually want to feel compared to other women or realise that you talked about something too early on.

If you respect where you are both at and disclose over time, unless you agree to just be totally open with each other, it may help your new relationship deepen and strengthen.

Sherry Marshall, BSc, MAA –

# 2. When disclosing facts about your past, parse out the information discretely

What little boy doesn’t enjoy a challenging treasure hunt?

It piques his interest. It calls forth his investigative skills. His tenacity. His cleverness. They just think they can hide the treasure from him, but he’ll prove that he is too smart for them and he’ll find that treasure, by golly.

Few little boys ever truly grow up

The treasures may change. A car. A business deal. A woman. But they still enjoy the treasure hunt, the pursuit of that which is hidden and possibly unattainable unless they can prove how clever they are.

You are the treasure. Make that man go on a treasure hunt for the details of you, your history, your pain and pleasure, your dreams. Make him work for it, and make him feel clever when he unearths another clue.

Here are a couple of tips:

If, upon discovering something that you have allowed him to find, he crows too loudly in a way that makes you feel put down, if it seems like he thinks he is smarter than you and becomes disrespectful, do not put up with it. We want to enjoy a mutually satisfying relationship, not cater to an unhealthy sense of male superiority. 

Also, he may try to demand all the sordid little details of past relationships. That does not mean you’re required to give them to him. You are in charge of your story, not him. You get to decide how much to share and when to share it, not him.

Never give the poor man too many clues or little treasures too quickly.

He doesn’t want it to be easy. He wants to be successful but he wants to have to work for that success. Don’t cheat him out of the treasure hunt. And never allow the treasure hunt to come to an end. There should never come a time in your relationship where he knows everything about you. Otherwise, the game is up and he might go find another opportunity to go on a treasure hunt.

To be specific, then, when disclosing facts about your past, parse out the information discretely.

Gloss over any abuse—that only gives him tacit permission to do the same or worse to you. And always remember that you’re the treasure and he’s on a treasure hunt. It’s essential that he doesn’t get everything up front, and it’s perfectly okay if he gets muddy during the course of the hunt.

Dr. Loral Lee Portenier –

# 3. Understand that most men do life with chapter titles and summaries
Dr. Randi Gunther

There are several ways of obtaining information from someone you hardly know, especially on a first date where both people are understandably nervous.

Yet, it is important to know more about who you are with and whether the interaction will produce more or less interest for the future.

Many people are more curious than they want to express and unsure of how to get information that will help them determine whether that person is someone they want to know better. They don’t want to appear nosy or too prying, yet still interested and wanting that person to feel cared for.

If questions are too violating of privacy or uncomfortably challenging, they can seem interrogative and self-serving. If they are too carefully presented or insecurely tentative, they are likely to be perceived as expressions of discomfort in the asker.

On the other side, what is best to share that is not too personal but yet gives that man a good sense of who you are, what you need, and what you have to give in a relationship?

What part of your past do you reveal in those offerings that set you off as your best person without hiding those parts of you that must eventually emerge? And how do you determine what that person even values or would be interested in?

All of these questions point to the most natural mistake most people make; the internal speculation of what might or could happen if this or that were to occur. They are using their own past experiences and the little they might observe in the person they’re with, and hypothesizing like crazy to try to figure out the best approach. They are creating decision trees in their mind from only one perspective – their own.

Most men do life with chapter titles and summaries.

They are not nearly as interested in the details and do not speculate about outcomes the way women do. (Unless of course, they are talking about sports, battle, business, or politics).

When it comes to women, they are looking first for physical attraction and next for comfort, being with a woman who makes them feel at ease.

They want to be with women who are up front, confident, interesting and interested, but not insecure or trying too hard to make an impression. Making them laugh is always a big hit.

So, talk about your internal conflicts and tell them what you want to know and why you want to know it.

Tell them about who you are, how you came to be that person, and what brings out the best of you in a relationship. Details are not important, nor are reasons or excuses. Just authentic sharing.

“First dates are a little stressful for me. I just wish we could do a mind-meld and share all the important things that might tell us in advance whether we should just say “hi” and “goodbye,” or stay for the second act, but I know those revelations have to come in stages.”

“I’d love for you to share whatever makes you comfortable. You can start with a detailed history of every relationship you’ve ever been in, why it went wrong, and what you absolutely cannot stand about women, but I’d be happy with just knowing who you are and what you are searching for in your life and in your relationships.”

“Can I ask you a kind of direct question? (Assume “yes.”) I’d like to know what the most wonderful relationship would look like to you and if you’ve ever experienced it before.”

“I’m a very open person. I’ve found in life that negative surprises really can hurt a relationship if they happen too late. Please feel free to ask me anything about me that doesn’t ask me to be too revealing of personal stuff. I won’t ever mind sharing even those details when I get to know you better, but start with things that are a little easier and watch my responses.”

“What would you like to know about me that would help you in your assessment of how we will be together, if this goes beyond tonight?”

“I’m probably going to be a little careful in what I ask you in the beginning because I don’t want to pry inappropriately, but I can hand you a list of a hundred questions or so to take home if you’d like.”

“Sex, politics, religion, money, prejudices, past traumas, and embarrassing prior situations are not usually great subjects to begin talking about in a relationship, but I’m always willing to listen.”

The most important thing about these statements and questions is the way in which they are stated.

Looking directly at someone, smiling, warm, hospitable, and open, you can probably even be more emotionally intimate. Suspicious, insecure, nervous, fearful, closed, you are more than often going to get a negative response.

If a man asks questions that are totally inappropriate like,

“Have you ever been in a threesome?,” or “Are you multi-orgasmic?,” or “How many dates do you require before we have sex?,” you’re probably with the wrong guy, but there still is a dignified answer: 

"That question is totally okay when you know someone really well and trust that they care about you as a person. We’re not there yet, and I’m concerned you’d open up that subject so soon. What’s behind your urgency?”

Make sure when you ask or answer any questions, that you aren’t being inauthentic or cagey about your interactions.

It’s perfectly okay to say, “I’m not comfortable with that question yet, can we table it for a little while?,” or “Please tell me if this seems too invasive. I’m really okay if you’re not ready to share that with me yet.”

The best rule is don’t ask or share anything sooner than you wish to know or be known, but don’t hide yourself unless it is absolutely necessary.

Dr. Randi Gunther –

# 4. How much you should reveal about your past relationships has to do with how long you have known him

On the first date, it is probably better to keep things light and just make sure the chemistry is working.

Our past doesn’t define who we are and you need to make sure things ‘click’ with your new guy before seeing him again. Dragging out the past can interrupt the space between you and your date, and it can also be awkward to share serious personal issues if you are not sure you will see each other again.

If, by the 3rd or 4th date, you are discovering that your level of commitment to this new relationship is increasing, it is probably time to talk about your past.

Particularly if you past is really complicated, you don’t want to go too far into creating an emotional bond that could be broken by ‘deal breaker’ history. So, come clean and let him know if you have had a shady past in relationships.

But remember that the person you were is not the person you are, and you don’t necessarily owe it to him to divulge past indiscretions, affairs, multiple relationships, etc. if it is not part of who you are now.

If there are liabilities in your personality, those will manifest soon enough anyway, without having to ‘confess’ all your past sins. 

Additionally, if he can’t see past your past that could be a sign that the two of you weren’t meant to be after all.

Questions a woman should as a man:

Are you married? Do you have children? I would be really curious about his relationship with his kids and I would also want to know about his relationship with his ex. Often when a guy hates his ex with a blue fury that is a red flag about his personality.

Particularly if his ex is also the mother of his kids, watch out if he starts calling her words that start with “B” or “C”.

Brett McDonald, M.S., LMHC –

# 5. It isn’t so much the details but things that you learned from the past relationship that are pertinent to the new

It’s a difficult question on whether past relationship should be discussed in a current.

What I find is it is not so much the details but things that you learned from this past relationship that are pertinent to the new. For instance let’s say that finances were an issue in your past relationship.

Because of this you may have a stronger reaction in your current relationship if a similar instance were to occur.

What can be confusing for your new partner is that if you overact they may not understand why. It would be essential to discuss your past experiences with finances and what it is that you expect going forward.

Where I see it getting dangerous to discuss past relationships is when you start comparing your current partner to the past. Your current partner IS NOT your past partner and to treat them as such can be very damaging, especially if you want the relationship to last.

You want to stay away from comparing and instead bring in anything from the past that may affect your current. Essentially your past partner’s name doesn’t even need to come into the conversation

Let’s use the issue of finances from above, instead you can present it as “In the past I have had disagreements around finances and I want to assure as our relationship goes forward we don’t repeat the same mistakes. 

My expectations with how we manage finances is to be a balanced in who pays versus one of us paying for it all”.

When we take this approach it moves the focus to the current relationship, instead of what has happened in the past.

Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT –

# 6. The key to when sharing your past, is that you must be cautious with who you share it with

Often when beginning a new relationship you want it to be built on honesty, love and respect.

So you now begin to ask yourself “How honest should I be?

  • Do I share everything? 
  • Do I share my past hurts? Betrayals? Disappointments?
  • Do I share the nature of my last relationship; i.e. How it began & ended? 
  • Will they judge me based on my past and look at me differently if I share too much?
  • Will they end things prematurely, before we even really get started, b/c they feel that I am not who they thought me to be, now that I have opened up and shared my past with them? 
  • And will I lose out on what could be THEE love of my life because I’ve shared too much?”

The key to when sharing your past, is that you must be cautious with who you share it with.

Before you open yourself up and share some of your most vulnerable moments and experiences in your life, know WHO you are sharing it with. Be sure that they will handle your past with care and not use what you share as COLLATERAL. Be sure that before you open up, you know where their heart lies.

Ask yourself if they are capable of empathizing with complete strangers? Are they quick to judge others? And how comfortable are they with allowing you to witness their vulnerable side?

Once you determine that they are slow to judge, capable of empathizing with others regardless of their personal connection (to them) and are comfortable being vulnerable in your presence; you can then begin to “UNPACK YOUR PAST”.

Yet remember, to be careful not to share too much all at once. As time progresses and your relationship grows, share a little more

You’ll find that the give and take method( you share a little, they share a little) is very useful when “UNPACKING YOUR PAST” with your partner. You’ll discover that your willingness to share your past betrayals, indiscretions, and disappointments strengthens your bond. 

You’ll also discover that being willing to give of yourself and expose your vulnerabilities and short comings with THEE right person will lead to a relationship built on trust, care, compromise and compassion.

The key, is to know your partner before you take it to the next level and feel comfortable, so that you can begin to “UNPACK YOUR PAST”.

Wendy Whitmore, MS, LMFT –

# 7. Be open and honest in a way that is comfortable for you
Amanda Patterson

People have intuition. Sometimes it’s strong and sometimes it’s easy to ignore. In most situations, if you follow your gut and intuition, it will help guide you through self-disclosure. My recommendation is to be open and honest in a way that is comfortable for you.

Here are a few examples of ways you can do that:

– If you had an affair, you can admit to it or you can share how you were dishonest in the relationship and then go on to share what you learned and how you plan to do things differently in the future. What about telling about the affair and be open to working through any shame you have about your actions?

– If you still have emotional baggage from your past relationship, you can share how hard the break-up was for you and how you processed out your feelings. What about even sharing how you are still feeling?

You will find that the closer you feel with someone, the more you will feel comfortable and want to open up.

If you find yourself being closed off about your past, ask yourself why that is and if it has to do with your comfort level with your significant other. If it does, that’s something to explore and resolve before you can be vulnerable in a discussion about your past.

Once you are ready to have an intimate conversation about your past, here are a list of questions that can help guide you through a discussion on previous relationships and sexual history with your new significant other.

1. Tell me about your last relationship.
2. What did you learn in your last relationship?
3. What is your dating pattern?
4. What are some things you would like for me to know about your past?
5. What baggage do you have from your past relationships?
6. What would your exes say about you?
7. What’s your longest relationship?
8. Have you contracted an sexually transmitted diseases?
9. What are your views on sex, intimacy and sexuality?
10. What are your expectations about sex?

Remember, you must be willing to answer whatever question you ask of him yourself with an open and honest answer.

And remember, answer these questions and any other ones in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Always remember your personal and emotional boundaries, especially in the beginning of a new relationship.

Amanda Patterson, LMHC –

# 8. Honor each other’s past and let it go so you can focus on building a new and vibrant present relationship
Amy Sherman

Most people who’ve had previous relationships will carry with them unresolved issues, usually referred to as “baggage.”

These can include fears about trusting again, memories of an ex-spouse betrayal, emotional pains and other hurts, etc. When you meet someone new, these issues usually come to the surface as resentments, grudges, distorted expectations and irrational thinking.

So how do you get someone to talk about their past without bringing all the “drama” back into the present?

Start the discussion by talking about your own past. Share how you have learned from previous mistakes and are done repeating old programming that used to dictate your behavior.

Discuss the importance of forgiving yourself and your past partner so you can move on, heal and release the pain.

Share that you want to listen without judgment and communicate openly in an environment that is safe and nurturing.

Finally, assure your partner of your support and willingness to keep conflicts and different perspectives at bay.

With that assurance, it will be easier for your partner to share his past more comfortably and honestly. Basically, you both want to focus on sharing information that would benefit your present relationship, not hurt it. To rehash about an old girlfriend who he took to the same restaurant as you is ridiculous, damaging, childish and not going to get you the healthy relationship you are hoping for.

You both need to honor each other’s past and let it go so you can focus on building a new and vibrant present relationship.

Keep your sense of humor through it all and realize that the more you live in the past, the more it becomes your present reality.

Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC –

# 9. Timing plays an important role in what we share
Sally Leboy

I think eventually we all share our pasts.

Our pasts are such a big part of how we define ourselves it’s hard to imagine feeling really intimate with someone for whom our past is an unknown.

When people are wondering about what to share, they are usually thinking about past relationships and/or past sexual histories.

It’s a difficult decision. I think you are obligated to share information that will affect your partner. STDs come to mind; also sexual orientation.

  • Are you obligated to share the extent of your sexual history if it doesn’t present a physical danger to your partner? 
  • What about family of origin information? 
  • If alcoholism runs in the family, does your partner have the right to know? 
  • What about domestic violence, or physical abuse? 
  • Should you have to tell your partner about past drug use?

When I read through these questions, I realize that our histories probably exist on a continuum from need to know to none of your business.

It seems to me that timing plays an important role in what we share. In the beginning we are usually looking at issues of attraction and shared interests. Until you’re pretty certain that the relationship could be going somewhere, it’s probably premature to share a lot of personal information.

If the relationship is getting sexual, which could be as early as the first date, health information does need to get addressed right away.

As a therapist I’ve learned how large a part our families of origin play in how we construct and function in current relationships. We adopt norms and learn interactive styles as we’re growing up. We adopt relationship patterns.

Our families influence how comfortable we are with intimacy.

A lot of this becomes evident as we interact in the current relationship. One of the reasons for moving ahead slowly is so that there is time to observe our own relationship dynamic.

Questions will arise as a result of the interaction, so information gets shared as it becomes relevant to understanding yourself and your partner. It also takes time to trust a new partner with personal information. 

While the relationship may not work out, you each need to know that your personal information will be handled with respect.

Sometimes people share personal information to create an illusion of intimacy. Likewise partners demand information in order to feel a sense of safety or control. Neither of those tactics work.

Real intimacy takes time, and sharing personal information is an evolving part of the process.

The intimacy in your relationship will be formed in large part as a result of what you choose to share and what you choose to hold back. 

Overall, I think the decision to share is up to each partner. As all decisions, it should be thoughtful, not emotional, a choice rather than an obligation.

Sally Leboy, MS, MFT –

# 10. Be aware of your own needs, feelings and thoughts

You just started a new relationship with someone and you have the urge to share all your past experiences with him.

At the same time, you expect him to share the same amount of information with you. But what are the right questions to ask? What shouldn’t you share with him? How to share it? How to react when he opens up?

The first rule is to be aware of your own needs, feelings and thoughts when playing the Columbus role.

You don’t want to be judgmental or to criticize his past mistakes. Remember humans are not perfect. Ask yourself, what the purpose of my questions is. What am I trying to figure out here? Is it just curiosity? Am I jealous of his past? It’s all related with the energy you bring into the relationship.

Your best bet is to be authentic, honest and mindful not to bring your own “baggage” into your present relationship.

The message is to enjoy the present, here and now, and to be in sync with your partner’s feelings and thoughts. What to ask? Anything you consider will help you to know him better, to understand his world and his beliefs.

Ask open-ended questions.

For example: What didn’t you like about it? How was that experience for you? Do not ask private questions such as how many times he had sex with his ex – girlfriend, or what was his favorite position when they had sex.

Remember the relationship is not about his “ex”.

It’s about getting to know each other in the present moment. You may ask about his favorite’s sexual fantasies, positions, what he likes and what he dislikes. In any case, his responses are going to be based on what he has experienced.

When sharing painful events you can listen with empathy such as “I imagine you felt very sad” or “I can see how hurtful that was for you”. These strategies will improve the communication. You can share your own experiences. But be aware of your partner’s ability to receive and process them.

Containment is the psychological function of a healthy relationship when both members are able to express and to comprehend each other’s experiences.

When this is not possible, psychological distress may contaminate the relational space between the partners. Be aware of any vicious cycles with an echo on the past, as well as any past dysfunctional interactions or traumatic experiences.

A fun-loving relationship starts with you being mentally and emotionally healthy. Be connected by living the moment with him and with yourself.

Yazmine Marimon, LMHC, CAP –

# 11. It’s important to explore the true intentions and potential outcomes in wanting to know/share the past

Do you remember the movie Men in Black, with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones? Do you remember that nifty mind eraser tool? Wouldn’t life be easier if we all had one of those?

When discussing your past or your partner’s, we all need to remember that we don’t own a mind eraser.

We need to be very careful what we ask because once we know something or are told something there is no going back.

It’s important to explore your true intentions and potential outcomes in wanting to know information about your partner’s past.

1. Are you asking because you want to compare yourself/ make yourself feel better/ make yourself feel worse/ have something to hold over their head?

2. How will having this information help your relationship?

3. How will it hurt your relationship?

4. Are you asking these questions to build honesty?

On the other side, what should you do when your partner is asking about your past? My belief is that honesty is always the best policy.

You are who you are and you shouldn’t change that for anyone. We all have moments in our life that we are not proud of, but we should never deny parts of ourselves.

Before giving an honest answer, explore the above questions with your partner and make sure they know this is real life, not a movie, and no one owns the mind eraser tool.

Brynn Cicippio, MA, LMFT –

# 12. Look for the embedded meaning behind the need to share/ask information about the past

As we fumble our way in and out of relationships, one important thing to keep in mind is the difference between experience and baggage.

If we can hold the past as experience, it will propel us forward and sharpen our sightline. If we carry it as burdensome, it will limit our possibilities and hinder our efforts towards new realities.

Let’s deconstruct further:

First, ask yourself “Why am I telling my date this story about my ex?” when you catch yourself in the act.

Be conscious and intentional about it

You may be telling a story in order to indirectly ask if this new prospect is capable of the same behavior. For every story you tell about your ex, look for the embedded meaning there.

“Am I telling him about my ex cheating so I can see his reaction? Maybe he’s a cheater, too.”

In this chain of thought, you’re really trying to discern if you’re safe with this new guy. If you’ve been hurt before, you might be afraid of being hurt again. 

Often, talking about exes is a covert way of sussing out how this new romantic interest operates. Be very honest with yourself as you share your stories. What exactly are you trying to convey?

Stories about our past relationships are important, and they play a part in who we are and how we engage in relationship.

Still, most of these stories don’t need to be shared right away. You are, after all, YOU- not your work, not your family, not your education, not your acquisitions, and not a past relationship.

All of these things inform who you are, but they are not you. The more you can share about yourself as a result of these things, the better.

When you are able to share your passions, your achievements and your dreams, you open the road for this new interest to do the same. Wouldn’t you rather hear all about this new and exciting person than talk about the old one?

Instead of focusing on what you want to leave behind, you may find your answers (and soothe your fears) by simply discussing what you each genuinely care about. Baggage is what you leave. Experience is what you carry.

Elizabeth Baum, M.A., MFTi –

# 13. Remember not to ask questions that you don’t want to hear the answers to and avoid sharing too much information about your past

Nothing feels as wonderful as complete authenticity and openness in a relationship.

That being said, where do we draw the line when it comes to revealing details of our past with our current partners? When two people are falling in love, the passion drives us to want to connect on every possible level. We want to share all our joys, memories, hurts, and lessons learned.

For many women, holding back anything seems insincere at best, suffocating at worst.

However, most research shows that in general, men do not want to hear about your exes. Learning about how great they were, how horrible, their accomplishments, or failures, does not serve the good of the relationship.

Men surveyed emphatically report that most importantly, they do not want to know anything about your past sex lives. Other than discovering you are a virgin, or have an STD, leave the rest to the imagination. 

Do not ever talk about your number of past lovers, your crazy sexual exploits in college, or the most adventurous place you ever had sex.

Certain things spoken out loud can never be erased from someone’s memory. It is certainly fine to mention serious relationships you have been in, and the length of those relationships.

You shouldn’t feel like you have to hide past hurts, or betrayals

But leave the long, gory details for your friends, family, and therapist. In the beginning, it is better to play it safe and assume he does not want to hear graphic details.

When your relationship is more established, it can be a great time to have a conversation with your partner about what they feel comfortable discussing when it comes to past relationships. Gage their response and respect it.

It is so essential to question your own motives when wanting to discuss any topic in a relationship.

– Why do you feel driven to discuss your exes?

– Do you want to make him jealous?

– Do you want to warn him about what you will and will not accept in a relationship?

– Do you want to show him where you set the bar?

– Do you want to share your vulnerability?

There are no wrong answers. But, often we tell stories with intention behind it.

Sometimes, this can be passive aggressive. It can be healthy and empowering to discuss what we value, desire, fear, and abhor with our partner, without relating it to our exes. Doing so can feel like a comparison or a warning. Either way, it is not the best way to communicate what you want in the present.

When it comes to discussing our partner’s exes, remember not to ask questions that you don’t want to hear the answers to.

Most adults come with a long history and baggage. We can’t erase the past, or fault someone for their choices. Just look at who they are today, and what they learned. It is best not to dwell on their past, or dig too deeply.

In some cases, learning about exes can help protect you or warn you about possible red flags. But other than that, don’t dig deeply

As time goes by and your healthy relationship is solid, those stories and memories of exes will fade away. If you find yourself still discussing it, you may want to seek counseling to understand what is really behind it.

Alisa Ruby Bash, LMFT –

# 14. Follow the 4 tips below

When you’re in a new relationship the topic of former flames and relationships is always awkward.

Some discussion and disclosure about past relationships can be helpful in getting to know each other.

However, when deciding when, how much to share, what to share, and what to ask I invite you to consider the following:

1. The current stage of the relationship.

The beginning of a relationship is about getting to know someone and deciding how you feel about them, which ideally is based on the present moment and not the past. Therefore, it is not necessarily the best time to ask about past relationships or provide full disclosure about your past relationships, betrayals, or hurts.

Get to know each other and then decide if you need to know more about them or want to share more about yourself.

2. How much do you want to share? 

Ask yourself: Whether I bring this topic up or he brings it up: how much do I want to share? I invite you to get clear about what you want to share, your motives for sharing it, consider if what you want to share will help provide insight to your partner about you, and consider if it’s really necessary or conducive to building intimacy with your partner. It is important you share what feels comfortable and safe for you.

3. Avoid details about your past sex life.

Discussing your past sex life or his past sex life might seem important depending on what stage of your relationship you’re in. Before sharing I invite you to refer back to #1 or #2. Regardless, sharing details is unnecessary and will most likely insight jealousy, suspicion, or fear (either in the moment or later on).

Everyone has their own values, ethics, and feelings about sex. For some people this topic brings up issues that can be a deal-breaker, so I invite you to get clear about what you feel comfortable sharing and what is important for you to know about this topic and why.

4. Ask your partner.

When in doubt: you do not have to figure out this entire conversation by yourself. I encourage you to check-in with your partner about their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about this conversation.

Everyone has different feelings, needs, and beliefs about this topic, so it is helpful to find out how your partner feels, so you can come to an agreement about how to navigate it together.

Laura Rinset, MS, LMFT –

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