7 Things From The Past You Should Tell Your Partner About Vs. 3 You Shouldn't
While it may feel like you need to reveal each and every one of your secrets in order to have a healthy relationship, it's actually OK to be discerning when it comes to what you do and don't tell your partner — especially if the information is uncomfortable, embarrassing, or may negatively impact your relationship.
"Relationships don’t have to be a complete open book," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "There are some things that you might want to keep private because you find them embarrassing or regretful. Also, some things you can keep private because your partner just wouldn’t want to know!"
While the choice is up to you, it's always a good idea to weigh the cons before sharing something super awkward, surprising, or private from your past. "You must proceed knowing that the information is necessary to share," Anna Gonowon, a communications strategist and relationship coach, tells Bustle. If it feels like the information is crucial to the health of your relationship, go ahead and spill the beans — no matter how "awkward" it seems. Here are a few things from your past you might want to share, versus things you're not obligated to share with your partner, according to experts.
1. Do Share: Your Current Health
While you don't need to go down the list of every health issue you've ever had, unless you want to, it is important to keep your partner up-to-date on things that may affect you today, like STIs.
"You should share health issues, especially [things like] like [STIs], or issues that may affect having children, or debilitating illnesses that can impair your ability to do certain activities," psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, LMFT, PhD, tells Bustle. "Be real about this. This is not going away, [but] there are things you and your partner can do to make things work better if you both know."
Being open about any current concerns, can keep you both on the same page. Sure, it may be a little uncomfortable to talk about. But since it impacts both of you, it's important info to share.
2. Do Share: Your History Of Cheating
If you've cheated on parters in the past, it may be a good idea to let your current significant other know about it. "It will cause a lot of pain and lead to loss of trust if your partner finds out first from a source other than you," Gonowon says. So go ahead and own it.
By taking matters into your own hands, however, you'll be showing your partner that you've moved on from this habit — and that can help establish trust.
"What I normally tell my clients is that achieving and supporting healthy, strong communication is the most important determinant of the longevity and success of their relationship," Gonowon says. "Part of this involves fostering trust, which you can establish by encouraging an open and safe environment for both of you to be vulnerable with and fully support each other."
3. Do Share: Your Financial Situation
Talking about things like your credit score or history of student debt may not be anyone's idea of a good time. And yet, it's a necessary topic to cover if you want to have a serious, healthy relationship.
"Your partner is entitled to know if old financial problems (liens, tax issues, unresolved debts, bankruptcy) are liable to haunt your relationship," Dr. Tessina says. And you need to know if you're OK with whatever financial issues they may have, too.
By being honest with each other, you can figure out if you're financially compatible. And if you are, you can then work together to come up with a financial plan.
4. Do Share: Past Traumatic Events
While you may not be leaping to tell your partner about traumatizing events from your past — mostly because these topics can be super tough to talk about — these are things you might want to consider sharing if they're still affecting you today and you're comfortable with telling them.
Whatever they may be, "these events will affect your relationship today, especially if you haven’t worked through them in a therapy setting," Dr. Tessina says. "Revealing them will allow your partner to support you in overcoming them."
5. Do Share: Any History Of Anxiety & Depression
Again, this one may not be easy to open up about. But if you're in a serious relationship, there are so many benefits to being honest with your partner about your history of mental health issues.
If this is an ongoing issue for you, then it's definitely something to consider sharing, Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "Answer their questions and talk to them about your current treatment plan."
Are you taking medication? Have you been to therapy? Letting them know what your anxiety and/or depression is like — and what you're doing about it — will better equip them to be a helpful, understanding partner. "If you are going to be intimate with your partner in any sense, then part of that intimacy is sharing your health — particularly if it is something that you may need them to support you in down the road," Dr. Klapow says.
6. Do Share: Why Your Last Relationship Ended
Even though it may be awkward, there are so many benefits to discussing why your last relationship ended, breakup and life coach Chelsea Leigh Trescott tells Bustle. Were there communication issues? Was there any dealbreakers that ended things? Whatever it was, let your partner know.
By talking about how old relationships ended, you can work together to avoid making the same mistakes again. "Plus, it will actually give your significant other something to aspire to," Trescott says. "For example, if you tell your partner that your ex used to never pick up on the small details that mattered to you ... and that made you feel insignificant and overlooked ... it can act as direction for [them]."
7. Do Share: Problems You've Overcome
If you went through something super embarrassing in the past, but have come out the other side a better person, go ahead and let your partner know. "[It] can be helpful information to share," Bennett says. "It gives great insight into your character and proves that you’re capable of personal growth." (And, it can make for a funny story.)
8. Don't Share: Intimate Details About Your Past
There's no hard and fast rule about what you shouldn't or shouldn't share with your partner, when it comes to exes, or things you've experienced in the past. That said, you may want to take comfort levels into account, before opening up.
"Everyone has different triggers in relationships and it’s important to know them — not necessarily test them," Trescott says. If you think your partner would enjoy the story, or learn something important by hearing it, then go for it. But if they'd just be upset or uncomfortable, definitely keep it to yourself.
9. Don't Share: Your Past Sexual Partners
Again, everyone's is different when it comes to what feels OK to talk about and what doesn't. But one thing you don't have to share, if you don't want to, is how many sexual partners you've had.
It's 100 percent possible to have a healthy relationship without divulging these types of details from your past, so the choice is up to you regarding sharing this type of info. It's really none of your partner's business, after all.
As elite matchmaker and celebrity Love Architect Kailen Rosenberg tells Bustle, "you don’t need to share how many partners you’ve had," but you may want to consider opening up, if you feel comfortable. It's nothing to be ashamed of, and completely your choice to discuss or not.
10. Don't Share: What You Liked Best About Your Ex
When talking about an ex, "it’s important that you don’t complicate your relationship — and chemistry — through comparisons," Trescott says. And that includes sharing with your partner information about your ex, and what you liked about them in bed.
If you're trying to get a convo going about your sexual chemistry, do so without making direction comparisons. "You can easily avoid [comparisons] by telling your partner what excites you or simply guiding them in the moment," Trescott says. "Be vocal about your needs without attaching those needs to anyone who isn’t present to fulfill them."
Again, keep in mind that your relationship doesn't need to be a complete open book in order to be healthy. As long as the info won't directly impact your partner, it's always OK to keep certain things private, if you don't want to share.