Usually, when a man and woman meet newly, whether they have a long term relationship in view or not, the conversation often revolves around knowing basic things about each other, like schools attended, number of siblings, travel history, philosophy of life, hobbies, parents’ occupation and other things of interest.
This does not only give them something to talk about, it also promotes bonding and helps them, individually, to summarily know the kind of person they were getting close to.
But, when the relationship is intended to end up in marriage, the subsequent discussions go deeper, in which case each person talks about their past, including how many relationships they had had in the past, the sweet and the ugly parts, whether they once had a child and many other things they feel obliged to share.
This move is usually hinged on the belief that openness, transparency, full disclosure and sharing some deep secrets are vital for any relationship that would succeed, coupled with the fact it enhances bonding.
But according to findings and observations, such openness (or confession in some cases) is sometimes the beginning of the end of that relationship. Even though the person making such statement does so with the intention of being open, he or she could say something that could be unacceptable, awful, unpardonable or disgusting to the other person, which could lead to troubles eventually.
Perhaps, if Miss Tolulope (surname withheld) had known that partners are better off not knowing some things about a person’s past relationships or sexual experiences, she most likely would have been married to Mark, the guy she described as the man after her heart. But for being open, their two-year-old relationship ended unceremoniously.
She recalled that theirs was love at first sight and that the speed at which they became intimate amazed everyone around them. And as the famous Greek philosopher, Plato, once put it, ‘At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet’, thus, within days, Tolu and Mark had long and extensive chats. But one day, one sentence from her ruined the closeness they had enjoyed over time.
She said, “We went to the beach on a Sunday afternoon to have fun, and in the middle of our discussion, I told him I had become very careful with men because of the experience I had in my former relationship. He wanted to know more and I felt we had come far, so there was no need hiding things from him. Besides, we were already considering doing introduction.
“I told him we had sex a few times and mistakenly I became pregnant. I told him Mark changed suddenly and denied being the one responsible for the pregnancy. I told him how confused I was and that my ex even abandoned me and that led me to have an abortion, to avoid the shame.”
According to Tolu, that was the line that ruined it all. She said his countenance changed on hearing that she once had abortion, and that from that moment onward, their once rosy affair became problematic until he opted out of the relationship, saying he couldn’t marry a woman who once had an abortion. Even though she assured him it didn’t affect her womb, he left anyway.
“Of course it was painful and I found it difficult to forgive myself and move on, but I have learnt not to be so open, no matter how strong the love is,” she added.
Reasonably, there seems to be no consensus as to whether to bare it all before a partner, ostensibly for the sake of honesty and openness, or it is better to let the past remain in the past.
According to Dr. Vivian Diller, a psychologist, complete honesty does not necessarily lead to intimacy. She noted that some don’t tell all but still have a trusting, fulfilling relationship.
Also, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye, a consultant psychologist, opined that psychologically, people are advised not to go back to the past because it could mar the present and make the partner to have some wrong mindset and perception of the person ‘saying the truth.’
Impliedly, there are certain things that, according to experts, should not be shared with a partner, whether the relationship is new or it has lasted decades, simply because such things could hurt and might threaten the relationship. These include:
Having a stint with someone: In the spirit of openness and honesty, some persons are wont to disclose to their spouse when they have just cheated on them because they don’t want to hide anything from them. As commendable as this should have been, some psychologists are of the opinion that it has its bad sides, as it tends to create suspicion in the relationship and such a partner might not forgive. Perhaps it is worse if a woman is the one making the confession. Meanwhile, previous studies have shown that men hardly forgive a cheating wife because it affects their masculinity and they feel deeply betrayed. And according to the popular saying, the betrayal of trust could be hard to repair. Thus, the psychologists advised that instead of spilling the beans, such a person should strive not to repeat the act.
Elegbeleye said, “Having a stint is not the kind of story you share with your spouse. You are supposed to be in love with your spouse. Nobody – a man or woman – would take it. A man would never take it. Such has to be kept in its place.”
Sex history: This is another thing that should not be shared with a spouse. Experts say it is okay to tell a partner you once had a relationship and that would be entirely understandable because not everybody ends up marrying their first lover. But they equally warn that certain details are better kept from the partner, like positive sexual experiences or fantasies. They noted that no man wants to know how his wife and her ex had sex on the couch or that his wife had slept with dozens of men in her lifetime (safe, of course for commercial sex workers), even though he knows she once had a relationship. A sexologist, Emily Morse, said creating a mental image of a past sexual experience, especially if it was enjoyed, could make the man jealous and insecure. “It never feels good to think about your partner being with another person,” she added. Notably, there are mixed feelings as regards telling a partner everything about a former affair, especially the positive things, but it has been argued that as much as possible, and knowing humans could be jealous, such things should remain in the past. Some experts advised that if the partner asks about such, like an abortion, the truth should be told, with caution.
Elegbeleye added, “Everybody has a past but it is advisable not to visit the past. If you are someone who has done abortions or one who disappointed others serially, you would likely abstain from telling most of those things, in order to protect your own esteem, because perception is important.
“Such a partner being told such could begin to guess beyond the extent it reached or imagine things, and the moment imagination comes in, there may be no end to it. If by chance you do something that does not meet with standard, the person being told would extrapolate and think beyond what happened.
“So, in order to give yourself peace of mind, certain things are better kept away from a partner. There is no way every past can be perfect, because if it were, you won’t need a new relationship, so the less said about the past, the better.”
When displeased with their family: There are instances when a person could be displeased with the spouse’s family members, maybe their conduct, bad mannerism, etc., but according to experts, even if the partner has the same reservations, telling them you dislike them as much could send a wrong signal and it could lead to an issue if they resolve issues with their family members. Morse said the only exception is if the partner’s family members did something really awful, and even in spite of that, people should try to refrain from saying such.
Frequent news about an ex: Findings have shown that no man or woman is intrigued by the sweet stories of a partner’s previous love experience. Be that as it may, people are advised against talking about an ex always, because it could create an impression that there is still some closeness and a possibility of reigniting the old affair. Thus, even when in communication with an ex, stories about him or her should not come up, it could create trouble, except for very good reasons.
Cheating record: For one reason or the other, some persons could have had reasons to cheat in a previous relationship, maybe for revenge, better sex, attention, etc., but experts say telling a partner such could create doubt as such person would think it could reoccur and they would also be victims. Morse, in a post on shape.com, added, “Telling him that you’ve cheated on a previous boyfriend will trigger his insecurities. Even if he brushes it off, believe me, he won’t ever forget. If you deeply regret your two-timing and don’t plan on doing it again, it’s okay to keep this skeleton under lock.