Q: I just started seeing a new girl. We get along great, and I love being with her. Lately, however, she has been asking me about my past and my ex-girlfriends. The truth is that I had a very promiscuous past. That’s history now, though, and I don’t want her to judge me on decisions I made in my younger days. Is it okay to tell a little white lie and brush over those facts from years gone by?
A: I never recommend little white lies, and I really don’t think that deception such as this would necessarily fall into the category of little white lies. Plus, if your partner were ever to find out about your past (which she likely will — secrets like these never seem to stay buried), she would probably be very upset and feel very betrayed. At that point, the damage might be irreparable, and she might have a hard time trusting you ever again. It is better to simply start with honesty from day one, even if it is difficult or embarrassing to share this side of yourself.
But that doesn’t mean that I think you should tell your partner everything in your past. As a rule, I don’t often suggest that partners go too in-depth with their sexual history, as it often only serves to create jealousy and insecurity. Instead, I advise couples to be honest but considerate: Spare the gory details. In other words, simply tell her that you have certainly had your fair share of conquests. Try to avoid giving a number. If she insists, use your discretion about whether you tell her, and bite the bullet if you feel you should.
If you are worried about her reaction, break the news gently and preface your confession with how you feel about her. For example, “I care about you a great deal and I see myself settling down with you and having a committed, monogamous relationship. Yet I can’t lie…my past has not been monogamous by any means.” Then, give her the bare bones of your history and leave the matter in her hands. You can’t control her reaction, but you can control your own actions and decide to be honest and upfront.
And, remember, you should show her the same courtesy that you would like from her. In other words, accept her history without judgment and agree to move forward in a committed relationship without worrying about the past. Most importantly, make sure that you both have a clean bill of health and undergo testing for sexually transmitted infections before you become sexual. Safer sex is always a must, but particularly when it comes to couples who are newly dating and aren’t certain of each other’s pasts. There is no sex that is absolutely safe or free of risk, but with safer-sex precautions you can cut down your risk and ensure that you will enjoy sexual pleasure for many years to come.