You and your partner know everything about each other. She knows about that time you accidentally set the garage on fire when you were 12, and you know about how she let one loose during the downward dog portion of last week’s yoga class. But do you know how many people she slept with before you met her? Does she know how many you slept with? It’s delicate, intimate, and more than just a little awkward to bring up in conversation.
Obviously, the question of sexual partners is not something that should be discussed at the beginning of a relationship. Asking, “How many men have you slept with?” on a first date is about as much of a turn-off as showing up in a romphim and a fedora. But saying “I do” is all about sharing everything together: the good, the bad, and the sloppy, drunken hook-ups.
So how do you have a conversation with the love of your life about Jenni from high school and Marcie from Vegas? The most important thing to keep in mind is to be completely honest and let her know that this will be an open and non-judgemental conversation. And it’s worth noting that complete honesty in these conversations can be pretty difficult. A recent study in The Journal of Sex Research found that when discussing past sexual partners, men tend to over-report the number of women they’ve slept with, while women sometimes give more conservative estimates.
It’s pretty easy to see why. As any Axe commercial will tell you, men are expected to be so sexy, suave, and confident that women can’t help but take off their bikini tops and jump on top of them. Women, on the other hand, can be called some pretty filthy terms if they’ve been with more than just a handful of men. But all successful relationships are built on honesty. If you lie to your partner about the number of beds you’ve rocked, why should she be honest with you? And if you’re both lying to each other, how can you have trust in your marriage?
We get it. This still seems like a topic you don’t even want to touch with a ten-foot pole. Here are some tips for having an honest conversation about sex that will bring you closer together, not further apart.
Have The Right Intentions
If you’re planning on asking your fiance about her sexual past, make sure you know why you’re asking. Are you planning on calling up all of her exes and asking them where, when, how often, and for how long they hooked up with your girl? Will the image of your soulmate banging her college boyfriend during their Spring Break in Mexico haunt your dreams for the rest of your life? If you answered yes to either of these questions, maybe you shouldn’t be having this conversation. Conversations about each of your sexual histories can bring you closer together, but only if you have the intention of using these little talks to learn more about your partner on a deeper and more intimate level.
Pick the Right Place and Time
Slyly sneaking in the question after your third round of drinks at Happy Hour isn’t exactly the best time for you to both blab about your down and dirty pasts to the amusement of anyone within earshot. Pick an appropriate time when you can both give each other your full attention and speak in a quiet, private, and intimate place.
Don’t Ask Too Many Questions
Your partner will be as open as she feels comfortable being, and you would never want to make her feel like you’re grilling her about details that are difficult for her to share, or like you’re feeling jealous or insecure. Which Mike? The one from your yoga class? Didn’t he call you last week? Why didn’t you tell me before? Do you still have feelings for him? Being aggressive will only make your partner more closed off and less willing to be open and honest with you.
Listen to your partner and understand if some things are off-limits or difficult to discuss. Make sure she knows that you understand the past is the past, and that you are not judging her at all for the fact that she hooked up with two guys named Tom in the same month, just like you wouldn’t want her to judge you for your thottie junior year of college.