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How much do you talk about the past?

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HopeImOverIt posted 6/5/2014 14:28 PM

On the one hand, we're told that in dating, talking a lot about your Ex and what happened is a "red flag" and a sign that a person still has some healing to do.

On the other hand, hearing about someone's past may be important to know to find out if there are "red flags" such as betrayal, etc.

I kind of feel like I want to know about someone's romantic past and how they got to where they are today. What do they find intolerable in a relationship? If they made mistakes in past relationships, did they have the insight to learn from them?

On the other hand I was also brought up that it's rude and insensitive to ask questions like "why did you break up?" "what happened between you two?" etc.

If someone doesn't volunteer a lot of information to their new partner about previous relationships is it because they are healed? Or because they didn't behave very well? Or because they think it's TMI? Or ?

I'm wondering about the line between under-sharing and over-sharing. And about the line between being too nosy vs. burying one's head in the sand.

Possibly this is an introvert vs. extrovert issue?

Lonelygirl10 posted 6/5/2014 14:35 PM

My IC said that I should never, ever ask about a new partner's past. She said that it's the past, and it's none of my business. And that my past is none of his business.

Well... that doesn't work for me. I think a person's past shapes their future. The past helps to make us who we are today.

I think bringing up an ex on the first couple of dates is a red flag that the person is not over the ex. So, I don't bring it up at the beginning.

In my current situation, I asked him after about a month when his last serious relationship ended. He told me, and I asked why. He told me that too, and then I asked if he was over her. After he answered my questions, he asked me a lot of the same ones about my last relationship. Since that conversation, neither of us has brought up exes.

If I have a trigger or something, I may bring up my past again. But I generally don't think it's fair to "punish" a new partner based on an ex's actions. So I would try to explain the trigger without really talking about the ex, if that makes sense.

I also tend to ask about sexual histories, and my IC told me that is a huge no no. It matters to me though. I don't want to date someone who has slept with prostitutes. But my IC says the past is the past, and isn't my business.

cmego posted 6/5/2014 15:09 PM

If all a person can talk about on your first date is their ex and all the problems…not ready to date.

Do I want the gritty details of why a marriage ended? Nope. But I do want the basics. I can't date a wayward. Just can't. Yes, it is in the past (Not liking your IC, Lonelygirl10…that seems very black/white), but past behavior is an indicator of future behavior.

I know the basics of what happened in my SO's marriage, he knows the basics of what happened in mine. More about mine, because I triggered a few times, but those are quick discussions. I have asked a few questions about his marriage because it comes up in conversation. But, I also notice that he doesn't talk negatively about her, they did try counseling, and they are good co-parents and amicably divorced. He notices that I don't speak ill of my ex and although we have a much different reasons for divorce..we don't really talk about it much. Maybe in the context of how the kids are handling everything. But, it isn't a topic of some huge conversation. It would be more like, a comment in passing.

When I was first dating, that seemed to be the crux of a lot of my discussions, especially if I was dating another BS. We would "compare stories" and I'm not sure that is the healthiest in the beginning of a relationship either, even if you ARE both BS's with similar stories.

All I do now is tell the guy, before the first date, "Hey. BTW, my ex is openly gay. I just get that out of the way in case it is a deal breaker for you." I say nothing else. Most guys are cool, a few haven't been and that ended it right there.

Charity411 posted 6/5/2014 15:20 PM

Lonelygirl10...I think you need a new IC.

I think there can be a healthy balance. I think there are a lot of reasons to want to know about someone's past relationships. We would want to know if someone had spent time in prison for something like theft or domestic violence because we would want to know what we were letting ourselves in for. The same is true of a person's past relationships. Did he/she cheat on their prior spouse? Were they cheated on. Did they get taken advantage of? I'd want to know. Informed choices are usually the best choices.

That being said I've dated men on the complete opposite ends spectrum of this issue. One was a really nice guy. Funny, intelligent, hard working and a great father. He had been divorced for at least 4 or 5 years when I dated him. His ex cheated on him and then put him through hell during the divorce process. He definately wasn't exaggerating either. But I can honestly say that not a date would go by in which he didn't eventually start venting about his ex. His bitter hatred colored the way he looked at virtually everything and everyone. It became very difficult to listen to after a while.

On the opposite end I dated someone for 3 or 4 years who steadfastly refused to speak a syllable about any of his past relationships, good or bad. Not to anyone. Not even his best friend. I started to realize that was unhealthy too. It was a red flag I've come to look for. Just like it's nice to know what a partner likes to eat, drink or do for fun, it's also nice to know what are deal breakers for them. If you never know what made previous relationships end, you don't know what to be sensitive to. It's not to say you should change who you are to fit his or her ideal, but there are prickly issues in all relationships that we can learn to handle in a better way. You have to know about them first.

Ready_to_run posted 6/5/2014 15:25 PM

But my IC says the past is the past, and isn't my business.

Wow! What a load of BS!

So, if my SO cheated on their last 3 partners that is none of my business?? According to her we all get a free pass to be as bad as we want because our future partner has no right to question anything we did??

Ummm. I don't think so.

Lonelygirl10 posted 6/5/2014 15:42 PM

Hah, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks that is crazy. We had several discussions about it, and I would never agree with her on that topic. One of the things that bothered me so much with my ex is that he lied about those beginning issues. Like, I asked about his number of sexual partners. He told me about his relationships, but not the prostitutes and ONS's. That information would have probably made a difference to me. But my IC said that it was none of my business, and I shouldn't have asked the questions anyway. I'm not seeing that IC anymore currently. Her view was that we should go into a relationship being open and trusting and judge the person on their current actions instead of the past actions. That the past is irrelevant, and is not any of my business since it did not involve me.

My parents know everything about each other though. My mom talks about prior boyfriends before she married my dad (they got married at 19, so there's not many). I just want an open relationship like that. I want to know everything about my partner.

Ready_to_run posted 6/5/2014 16:28 PM

I feel its best to get all of the past junk out in the open. Unless of course your partner has no interest in knowing any of it.

But, if I asked a SO a question about her past that I felt it was pertinent and she told me it was none of my business it would be over at that point. She can go find someone else that doesn't care about having a transparent relationship. The past DOES matter IMO.

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