There was a popular song in my youth which had a line: If you want my future, forget my past. This issue of your lover’s past is one which can plague young couples.
There is no doubt that the past can sometimes rear its ugly head in a current relationship. However, that is the exception rather than the rule.
The immediate and immature question about the past is how many exes one had and what exactly was done with them. I have met young earnest people who believe that a relationship should be started on a foundation of total honesty. I believe that too – but honesty about what?
I will be totally honest about who I am now - what debt I have, my habits, my dreams, my health status - that is honesty. Who I was five or ten years ago is irrelevant and not an honest representation of what I am bringing into a relationship.
By human nature, many of us will have periods of experimentation and judgment errors and we figure out who we are as we are given more freedom of choice.
Anyone who has made it to 30 years of age will tell you they are a totally different version of themselves from who they were at 25, or even 20. Why should those trial versions of you become a perpetual reference point for future relationships?
Of course in some cases, the things you did in the past affect who you are today. For instance, if you contracted an STD, if you have a child with someone else, if you have shared property or if you somehow ended up in jail or in courts of law because of an ex.
Those are things relevant to your new relationship and they must be discussed. Of course, if you were dumb enough to take nude photos or videos with this person, it must be disclosed – these are the hazards of ‘modern’ living.
However, I fail to see how the disclosure of number of exes and which one exactly deflowered you is of any use to your current well-being.
Let me take the example of first loves - most (normal) people will throw all of themselves into their first relationship, and that is okay.
However, it is only an immature human being who will get stuck on that so called first cut, because when you stop looking at them through hormonal coloured lenses, you will soon realise that this version of yourself could never get back with them.
First of all, the events of a couple of months, or even a few years, will not go on to define what kind of person you will be for the next 50 years.
Second, no man, or woman, wants images of their partner with someone else floating around in their head. If your past is firmly where it belongs – in the past – then kindly leave it there. Don’t dust it off, lovingly relive it and then develop guilt over it.
No current partner should have the ability to make you feel guilty about an ex. The thing people forget is that while the past was happening, it was okay.
You were not cheating on your future partner – you were probably dating someone you cared for and thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with.
You do not owe your future partner an explanation for why you loved person X when you were 25. And you certainly do not owe your ex any mental space or further consideration. In the end, everyone has a past, and sometimes the really messy pasts help us to appreciate who and where we are today.
There’s a song that sums this up nicely: God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you. You take the lessons, leave the mess behind and move on. This applies to all decent, well-meaning human beings.
Of course there will be immature people, perverts and other deviants who find it romantic to be stuck on those things of exes and first cuts. Steer clear of such people, and don’t let them drag you into dwelling in the past with them. Go forward, do better and be better.