Early on in my relationship, the “have you been tested lately/can we stop using these stupid condoms already” talk naturally led to the subject of past partners, specifically how many. This made me nervous in that I was an early bloomer and had a feeling my Catholic-raised boyfriend had gotten started a little later in life.
Despite having given it up on just our second date, I really didn’t want my new boyfriend (I really liked this one!) to think I was...slutty. So, I let him go first, thinking I might “round down” a little depending on his answer. But what he said next was incredibly relieving and revealing of the kind of guy he is: confident, secure, trusting and not the jealous type.
After confirming his clean bill of health, he said something along the lines of, “We’ve both probably had our share of hookups and I bet we’ve been with roughly the same number of people.” And that was that. I didn’t even have to lie!
He kept the same tune when past relationship baggage came up, and my bags are pretty heavy. For example, a six-year, on-again-off-again saga filled with cheating and trust issues is known to my boyfriend simply as “I once dated an asshole in college.” To my relief, he’s never pressed me for the dirty details and I’m thankful because I’m not the same woman I was back then.
He even remained calm and forgiving when I revealed that I'd hooked up with one of his best friends and former roommate, months before the two of us had even met. He didn't grill me for the date, place or positions.
It’s not like we hide things from each other. We just live in the now. Whatever happened in my past—short of any STDs or seriously illegal or morally wrong activity—remains there. I don’t know the names and faces of a threesome he supposedly once had; he doesn’t know the name and face of my short-lived failed experiment with a woman. We’ve never questioned if we live up to the former roster of partners, otherwise why would we even be together? Ignorance is bliss—and in this case, completely harmless, if not also beneficial.
Case in point: A friend of ours had her now-husband relay every detail from the strip clubs of his bachelor party. She wasn't thrilled, among other things, to learn he got a lap dance from a woman who had the same name she was saving for her future daughter. Key word being was.
Ignorance has saved my relationship quite a few awkward, potentially painful and completely unnecessary conversations. It’s saved me from pointless hours of Facebook stalking his exes to check if their boobs are bigger or their stomachs flatter, and from dangerous mind wandering.
Yes, share almost everything with your significant other, but stay above the belt. Counting and examining the notches doesn't do your relationship any good. See also Chasing Amy and the finger cuffs incident. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t have a happy ending.
Jessica May is a freelance writer happily living in sin with her boyfriend and vibrator like "Three's Company."
photo credit: Martin Fisch via Creative Commons