I think it’s been a good long while since last I wrote about relationship issues. (Spoiler alert: I haven’t had many. I think I might possibly have met the easiest person to get along with, ever.) Compatibility notwithstanding, I do firmly believe in one of the boundaries he and I set up early in our relationship:
We only talk about past relationships when it is absolutely necessary, and never in much detail.
What’s worthwhile to know? That I had a very bad relationship with my first boyfriend which resulted in me almost having a panic attack because I thought I saw him at the Hofbrauhaus. What’s not worthwhile to know? How and when I lost my virginity, all of my ex-boyfriends’ names, and my old favorite date spots. Similarly, I just plain don’t care about his exes.
Of course, I care if he was hurt by one of them, and if there’s anything I can do not to bring up pain again. But do I want to know how they spent their Valentine’s Days? Nope. I don’t want to know their names to Facebook stalk them. I don’t want to know what they did in bed.
Like many other people, I can be a little bit jealous of the past. I get territorial. I’m also a tad irrational, so learning the names of my beau’s exes just adds more names to the list I have in my head of Names I Just Don’t Trust. I don’t actually know if Steve has this problem, because I think he’s a little bit more balanced than I am in general, but I definitely don’t want to risk making him feel bad by waxing nostalgic about some dude. (It probably helps that I’m not nostalgic. Except like, “Hey honey, remember when I dragged your vegetarian ass out for burgers? That was great.”)
As a result of this, we’ve pretty much only mentioned exes when it was pertinent. My favorite band is Tegan & Sara, so I once asked him if he’d heard of them and what he thought. Turns out, one of his exes liked them a lot, so as a result he wasn’t terribly fond. Big deal? Not really. Bitch had good taste – can’t fault her that, right? He knows that similarly, I shy away from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for that reason. Do we each need to know more intimate details about the people who ruined totally awesome things for us? No, thanks. We’ll just listen to whatever he has on in his car because I don’t know the names of what he likes except sometimes there are “beep-boop” noises, and we’ll watch some Firefly and all is well.
This is just what works for us. I definitely don’t advocate keeping things hidden or being dishonest. You should absolutely share with your partner what you feel is important. But so far, I can tell you that this has given me a lot of peace of mind.