Is honesty really the best policy?

Over Light & Easy this morning, a man related his story of how he told his wife before they were married everything under the sun about his previous relationships. He wanted to start with a clean, fresh slate. The Mrs was alright with it but the man begin to notice some things. For example, after a night ‘date’ with his buddies, he gets interogated with all sorts of questions and so forth. The man feels that he made a huge mistake in revealing all to his wife, therefore turning his past into a weapon to incite guilt and etc.

The question asked was should people tell everything to their partners when it comes to talking about past relationships. Is honesty really the best policy?

Personally, while I believe that too much is never a good thing, I also believe that couples should have a fair idea about who their partners used to date and the stuff on the surface, eg how long the relationship last and in a nutshell, why they broke up. In my case, I feel that it gives me a good indication of that person’s behaviour, personality and attitude towards a relationship and can help me understand him better. Also, it does help to clear the air should I and my current partner bump into his ex or suddenly she crops up in his life again.

What I’m not too comfortable about, when it comes to him telling me all and sundry about his past, are the finer aspect of things such as how the ex looks like, how big her boobs were, whether the sex was good, what she like/didn’t like, the way she walk/dress/cut her hair…well you get my drift. I mean those are the things which you can, honest to God, keep to yourself. There is such a thing as “too much information”.

A while back, a family friend once told me that all men and women have secrets – some are skeletons and some are just that – secrets. They don’t tell their partners not because they have anything to hide but because it is the nature of people. While a marriage (or relationship) was about building a life together, it also meant that people have to work doubly hard to maintain their own identity and everything else that came with the individual. It didn’t mean two people blending into this one individual with no barriers or boundaries. It meant two people building a life together yet maintaining their own identity.

At the same time, she did mention that while some things can be kept a secret – like bank accounts and what-nots – others should be in the limelight. That, however, did not apply to previous relationships. She mentioned that telling one’s partner of the intimate details (or even generic stuff) of one’s part relationships would not help strengthen the current one but only serve to act as ammunition in times of conflict.

You know, Mei, it’s like this. When I’m with you, my heart, my all is yours. Why talk about the past? Sometimes, it’s not good to talk to about the past because it creates insecurity and ego problems. Besides, the man can always turn around and use it as a weapon against you. It’s best to never ever talk about the ex.

That sort of made me think long and hard about my own relationship and the funny quirks about it…

While I’m aware of Nil’s past relationships, I am only familiar with them on a very superficial level. Yes, I know how long each relationship last and who/why did the breaking up but that was about it. I don’t know how they look and I don’t know what they are like except for the very basics – what she worked as, nationality, etc. It helps that they are half the world away from us both and that I pretty much don’t really care about them. The fact that he hasn’t spoken to them in ages helps as well.

He, on the other hand, is quite familiar with the situation(s) revolving around my third ex – the first and the second are barely mentioned because there was nothing much to say about them in the first place except for the generic stuff. Nil has seen my third ex before, has experienced indirectly the horrors of me putting up with the third ex (look back at last month’s entry for those incidents of stupidity) and well, even read some of the stuff the third ex sent. He is also familiar with the other secondary issues like the ex’s sister and the ex’s best friend. And yet, he seems to be unfazed by it all.

“He can be a dick for all I care.”

Of course I don’t tell him everything and he doesn’t tell me everything. That’s fine by me.

The thing is this: I’m beginning to suspect that all couples have little secrets that they keep stowed away somewhere from their partners. But is it balanced on both sides or is your relationship a little like mine where one partner knows a bit more about your past than you do about theirs? Are you comfy with that? Or do you think it should be fixed?

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  1. There is such thing as too much information. Agreed.

    Save the details. As long as both have moved on, we can’t possibly change whatever that has happened in the past.

    I’ve had my fair share of experience. I was on the receiving end – I was told about how her ex used to treat her and all. I went like, “Wth.. I don’t wanna know. It’s disturbing!”

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