To Tell or Not to Tell?

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-29-1998
To Tell or Not to Tell?
10
Fri, 04-15-2005 - 2:45am

I read the recommendations printed below and they fit my situation so well I thought I would see what you ladies and gentlemen also think. Do you tell your SO at some early point in your relationship about your experiences or keep it a secret. I basically feel that our experiences make us what we are and details are not important. On the other hand, I do feel very strongly about honesty. My wife swore she was a virgin while we were dating and that I ruined her for anyone else when we had sex. She maintained that story for over 25 years repeating it to me every year or so. I didn't think she was in the beginning, but after a few years felt that I had misjudged her since she was so sinceree about it.

To make a long story shorter, after 25 years of marriage, she told me one night while we were making love that she had done that with three other guys before she met me. The fact that she did it does not bother me, but now I am wondering how many other things she has been shading the truth about during our marriage. This really bothers me. When I try to talk to her, I get the usual response; "I should never have told you about that because you will never forget it and hound me with it the rest of our lives."

I found these on a sexual advice site and was interested in the advice the lady doctor gave. Do (did) you tell, and how do you feel about the subject. Thanks for any comments.

TELL OR NOT TELL

Distinguish between his insecurities over your sexual history and any moral objections he may have to it. You can reassure him about the first - but if your moral values are seriously different, this may be trickier to navigate.

Don't postpone the conversation once it starts - distracting him may seem to work but he will clock that you're not eager to answer the question - and that will plant concerns in his mind.

Do tell the truth where possible. Fudging the issue may seem a good idea when you don't want to make waves on Day One, but it doesn't make for a lot of trust when, a few months or years down the line the truth comes out.

Don't kid yourself about your own ability to keep a secret. If you decide to lie about the number of partners you've had, only do so if you know that you can stick to your story for life, even under the influence or in the middle of a blazing row.

Don't hold back from reassuring - tell him clearly that you are with him because he is your partner of choice and that past partners are firmly in the past.
Do walk away if you have to. If he objects to your sexual history, then he may not be the man for you. Trust does build over the course of a relationship, but if he has his doubts right at the start, you may want to find someone who loves you for who you are.

Don't ever, ever, ever compare him with past lovers - sexually or emotionally - unless that comparison's in his favour.

Do, if it's true, tell him he is The Best Lover you ever had - and keep telling him that forever!

Do state your sexual history with pride! It has made you the wonderful woman that your man has fallen for. If you seem guilty, ashamed or embarrassed, your man will pick up these emotions - if you feel bad, he'll start to think that there's something for him to feel bad about.




Edited 4/15/2005 11:58 am ET ET by tallguydancing
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-2004
Fri, 04-15-2005 - 9:37am

Hi tallguy,

I guess I would say I would agree with the recommendations you found re: telling your partner. Personally, I think there is no obligation to tell your partner anything about your past other than any information related to STDs. And I think a man who wants to know, well, that's really none of his business, even if it is the man you are going to marry! It doesn't matter. (Having said that, yes, my DH knows how many men I've had sex with. He didn't ask, but I didn't mind telling him. I have many married friends however who have NOT told their husbands, or who have lied about the numbers.)

I don't think your wife should have lied, and I definitely don't think she should have told you the truth so many years later. (Just curious: why did the topic come up again, and why did she feel compelled to tell the truth at such a late date?)

In your wife's defense, I guess I would say that women of my generation (I am in my 40s) were told over and over again while growing up that men preferred to marry a virgin. I would suppose that she loved you so much, she was afraid of losing you if you knew the truth. And really, I know a lot of men of my generation feel that they should be more experienced than their partners. (I have to admit myself, I might not have told DH how many partners I had if my "number" had been higher than his.)

I would hope that younger women are more comfortable about being sexual creatures and don't have such "good girl" hangups. And I hope younger men aren't so hung up on their partners' experience, although judging by some of the threads I see on other message boards, guys still get upset when they find out their SO has had more partners than they have.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-29-1998
Fri, 04-15-2005 - 12:41pm

Thanks, nanibird,

<<>>

I agree with you. She was aware of my past because I felt that I had an obligation to tell her, especially since she is very religious. I did not ask her then, but she was emphatic in telling me that she was a virgin. She has also been the one to bring it up over the years telling me how she could not marry anyone else because she was damaged goods after we had had sex. I am obviously of your generation or earlier (in my 50s) and am aware of how many men feel. I also had many friends back then who did not care, so we were not all insensitive clods IMHO.

<<>>

I was trying a new position that was very convoluted. She is very limber and athletic so we are able to do some interesting things. While we were doing it, she just matter of factly told me that she had done that with three other guys and told me who two of them were, but said she would never tell me the third one. She has a habit of saying things that I feel are inappropriate when we are making love. For example if she is unhappy with me or thinks I did something inappropriate when we were out with friends, she will tell me when we are making love. I would much prefer to talk about such things in a calm time when we can have an intelligent conversation. She can be very sharp with other people and is proud of the way she "handles people" who get out of line in her opinion, but she has never been able to just sit and talk with me about us on any subject. It is always brought up just before we meet someone or some other situation where there will be no discussion and then she refuses to talk about it later unless she wants to keep fussing about me. She is very good with people, president of the PTA and things like that while I am very shy and could never do that. She is an only child and I think she has "only child syndrome" but I would never tell her that because I think it would hurt her feelings.

Incidentally, I was going with a girl a year or so before we met who had much more experience than I did sexually. I was seriously thinking about marrying her, but she smoked, which I hate with a passion, and she refused to quit. We had a wonderful sex life, and her past did not bother me, but her smoking did. I suspect that I had sex with her in the two years we dated more than I have had with my wife in over 25 years of marriage. My wife knew about her and why I did not marry her.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-20-2004
Fri, 04-15-2005 - 1:13pm
It is very important for some people , both male and female to know the "sexual partner number" of the person they may be interested in...Employers even do a background check...lol.. Most people feel more comfortable when they are with someone of similar value systems..Most, not all. When we are young and not as worldly or experienced(such as college kids) we do all sorts of things that may not be WHO we truely are...One can pass having lots of sexual partners while still relatively young as experimentation etc.. But not too many people are interested in a person who continued that lifestyle well into their 30`s or 40`s...Its not that they are bad people, its just that their moral fiber isnt the same as others who believe that sex is more special than a handshake with an orgasm
Im sorry, but many men or women would not be attracted to someone who has had 30 sex partners in the last couple years.(some might be though) The old saying "birds of a feather" comes to mind.
If someone asks, they are entitled to an honest answer.. (the only logical reason for not telling or being truthful is that they are ashammed of what they did. "None of someone business" is just a cop out to hide behavior someone isnt all that proud of...IMHO
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-2004
Fri, 04-15-2005 - 2:44pm

Hi again tallguy,

Sorry to hear about how this all came out. I would be devastated if something like this happened while I was making love with my husband, esp. being told some details as well. I can understand your loss of trust.

And yes I do agree that not all men are insensitive clods! Actually every man I was ever involved with was much more opened minded than I was about women and premarital sex. I do need to give men more credit, I think.

Although my mom is a great mother in so many ways, she really messed up my mind about sex. She is an immigrant from another, much more sexist country, maybe that's why she's so conservative. It definitely rubbed off on me--not that I remained a virgin til I was married, but I certainly felt guilty a lot of the time!

BTW there was a thread here maybe a month or two ago--something about how many married women have told the truth about past partners--you might be interested in the responses, if you can find the thread.

Thanks for sharing.
Nani

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-29-1998
Fri, 04-15-2005 - 2:50pm

<<>>

Nani,

Thanks for the tip; I would love to find it. Was it on this board and which folder? Does anyone else remember where it was?

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-2004
Fri, 04-15-2005 - 2:57pm
It was definitely this board. The folders changed a bit not that long ago so you might have to check several. Maybe Jennie or Meme would remember. good luck
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-09-2004
Fri, 04-15-2005 - 3:04pm

It was a poll that exploded into a long thread :

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-29-1998
Sat, 04-16-2005 - 2:02am
Thanks, nanibird and zahra. That was an interesting thread. You folks did a good job of covering this subject. I appreciate both of you remembering and looking for the thread.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2005
Sat, 04-23-2005 - 12:07pm
When my DW and I met, she was open about her sexual past. She told me how old she was when she lost her virginity. She also mentioned the names of 2 of her former lovers, and one of them I happened to know. But she never told me how many there were, and frankly I didn't want to know. As far as I was concerned, that was in the past. I was only interested in what future we could have together. She also knows of some of the women in my past, but she was not concerned about how many or the details. I saw in her someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and she apparently felt the same about me. After almost 20 years of marriage and enjoying a wonderful sex life with one another, that subject doesn't even come up.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-25-2003
Mon, 04-25-2005 - 6:51pm


I was the one whom did the poll about how many married woman have not told. The reason I did it is because my wife has told me she never had sex before we meet. I doubt she did not because of the length in time she did had with other boyfriends. More than that, we broke up several times when going out at university and she lived in Miami for a year...... even thought she still says nothing happened I think before and after something happened.

Why I am not mad, first because I think is more than natural for something to happened before we meet and when we broke up also, ( a year with out sex when you are 23 and living alone?) but I think she was raised by her mother whom believe a woman has to be married a virgin or has to keep the story until she dies........

I wish she told one day about her sexual past experiences because there is nothing wrong with it and because I would be turn on by her sexual past...

Stupe