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  #1  
Old 07-25-2013, 11:21 AM
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Default How much should you tell?

Honesty, along with trust and respect, could perhaps be the most important rule in a relationship, married or otherwise. But as the dynamics of relationships change over time, so does the consensus over how much to really tell. It's a bewildering concept, from the single, to those unhappy in relationships and those who've been happily married for 15 years. For most of us, the question still remains - how much should your partner really know about you? Is complete honesty in a relationship a good thing?Some would argue that they want to know the when, how where and why of the other person's actions and thoughts as they relate to them. It's fair, too, because much of what we conceal from those significant to us as adults is the stuff we're trying to get away with, exactly in the way and probably to the degree that we deceived our parents as children.

Quote:
John 8:32
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Formed another way, when dealing with couples and families, it's a question I'm asked on almost a daily basis. The question, with regards to secrets past in present, is a simple one. How much of your spouses/significant other/family member's life do you really want to know?

I've come to a place in life, I suppose, that I believe that there are certain things, despite much protesting, that we as people truly don't want to know about the past of others. I dated a woman for some time before I met my wife who held to the credo acknowledged in the scripture above. Complete honesty, after all, the truth means freedom, right? Unfortunately, her insistence on complete honesty regarding the past and present was what freed me from the relationship altogether. While I appreciated the complete honesty, it pushed me away when she told me she hooked a few times and stripped her way through college. It was one truth, with regards to our relationship, that I simply couldn't handle, and I extricated myself from the relationship as soon as I possibly could. It lead me to an interesting conclusion, which is this: When it comes to the sexual exploits of my partner, I don't wish to know their past. They may have stripped and hooked, may have been solely into women for a time, but I truly have no desire to know. My focus is on the present, and as long as my wife is faithful to me and no one else, there's not much I wish to know about her past in regards to her sexual exploits. We've been together 6 years, married for 5. To this day, I don't know the number of partners she's had in the past, or even the gender of said partners. All I care about is the here and now.

Most people I deal with are usually torn between how much they should reveal to their partners and in most cases, even those who say that they are not bothered by their partner's past are actually bothered or torn between what they hear from the other person and their own hypocrisy. I had a client come to me once with an interesting dilemna, and it came to revealing to her boyfriend as to why she had lost interest in sex with him:

Quote:
"I finally told him his penis is too small. How else could he understand why I don't enjoy sex with him?"
And then there was the man who told his wife why he was no longer attracted to her:

Quote:
"She needed to know why she didn't turn me on anymore. I finally told her it was because she was too fat. It's the truth and maybe it will motivate her. I love her, but I'm not in love with him. I just can't get past her looks."
These are hard truths, and further, are they truths that need to be told?

How much, past and present, do you/would you want to know about your significant other?

Are there times where the truth doesn't provide freedom, but rather, is damaging to a relationship?

All other thoughts and discussion regarding this are more then welcome.
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:57 PM
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Interesting subject for discussion -

In my experience with women I haven't found complete and total honesty to help at all. I'm 23 years old and I've had two-long term serious relationships, and with both of them answering them honestly about anything they asked me never ended well. Either because I'm not sensitive enough to explain things to them or because unfortunately I ended up with two girls who were basically very insecure.

And I'll be honest, with both of them most of the arguments (and consequently the breakdown of) revolved around sex, and my sex life prior to being with them. Funnily enough though, if I had similar questions (out of fairness, if they want total honesty from me I'd expect the same courtesy) I found I only got half truths. For instance, a girl I was with for 2 years told me her last boyfriend broke up with her and that in turn broke up their friendship group and she hadn't seen or heard from him since then apart from a few awkward run ins on a night out. NOW. Being constantly told that I was fine with it, but over time eventually it came out that he had called her up and she had gone to meet him for the weekend and basically sleep with him about 6 months before we initially got together.

And that basically spelled the beginning of the end, not because I was insane with jealousy, but because I felt the relationship was built on a lie. And because how, when explaining my sex life to her, I was demonised for womanising and sleeping around, but for her it was a completely justifiable act of loneliness that I should take no issue with. And that was what broke it, maybe it's immature that it was about sex, because as adults we should have been able to move past it. But the hypocrisy of it all seemed unfair.

So to answer your questions -

These are hard truths, and further, are they truths that need to be told?
I think if it's genuinely causing a decline in the relationship to the point where it barely functions then yes, sometimes they need to hear it. Practically speaking though, it's not always going to end that civilly. I mean nobody wants to hear that they're fat, or you don't find them attractive anymore, or you've got a small penis, or your breath smells or anything like that. But is it really worth getting to the point where you're basically tolerating someone to be with them?

How much, past and present, do you/would you want to know about your significant other?

If they want to know everything about me, I would expect the same courtesy. That being said I consider myself secure enough to hear the truth regardless of how ugly it is because I like to know where I stand, nobody wants to be made a fool of because they've had the truth omitted to them especially if the entire relationship is intended to be built on "honesty." If they don't feel like they can handle the answers they shouldn't ask the questions to begin with (and more so you probably shouldn't be together)

Are there times where the truth doesn't provide freedom, but rather, is damaging to a relationship?

Like I said in the majority of my post, from my experience the truth has never helped in a serious relationship. Maybe it's a sign of my immaturity, maybe I pick the wrong women to involve myself with. Or maybe it's just them. But I think if you have to ask the questions, then you're clearly looking to upset yourself. The past is the past and should be left there. Not out of ignorance, but because one question basically leads to another and eventually the image you had of the person becomes warped, and they aren't who you fell for.
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucic Seguin Neely 80 View Post
Are there times where the truth doesn't provide freedom, but rather, is damaging to a relationship?
Guess so, since you provided one from your own past, involving the girl who hooked and stripped her way through school. It bothered you enough to show her the door. If you had never known about it, you might have wound up with her instead of your wife, right?

My one & only and I tell everything in the present and leave the past.....in the past. What happened before we met surely contributed to the package of who we are now, but if your partner likes what they've got, is it really necessary to share every detail? If there's something so sordid you feel revealing it would make a difference in your relationship, better to do it before you commit to each other.

A lot of what happened in the past comes out naturally over the course of time as you share experiences. But if my one & only did stuff in the past that would sound shameful now, does it really do any good for me to learn about it now, given that our relationship is solid and permanent?

Still, if your partner has a latent sense of guilt about something in their past and feels compelled to reveal it after you've been in the relationship for a long time, they take their chances by doing it, knowing that some really bad stuff might result from it all. Take your chances or forever hold your peace.

Apparently, there are people who blame their partners for things that happened before they ever met, which is counterproductive, to say the least. After all, you care for them now.....and what you are now includes whatever happened back then.

Cheating or lying to them in the present is one thing, of course..... but your past is your past....and if they're going to hold it against you, it was probably better never to have met in the first place.
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Old 07-25-2013, 04:53 PM
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I've had my run in with the truth lately. I dated a girl for one year almost exactly before breaking up because we were going to end up being 3000 miles away due to different universities. (She changed to UBC, where I'm at Duquesne.)

I thought I loved her a ton (you can tell where this is going) and thought we were perfect for each other because we never argued, always smiled laughed had a good time, and we just were always there for each other.

Well I was talking to her recently and she told me she lied to me a lot actually. I found out she once cheated on me and regretted it, told me she at time didn't like me, and she told me she thought I was judgmental at times.

Well I told her some truths I thought about her after that. Stuff I never said because they were insignificant and didn't want to ruin our perfectness.

We no longer talk or are friends even though we only broke up due to distance.

So in conclusion, yeah there's stuff where you draw the line and don't say. I'd recommend saying what's necessary but if it doesn't benefit anyone from knowing it, don't say it. The truth hurts and in some scenarios if done in the right way can be used to help people, however if all it'll do is hurt someone and has no potential for good then don't say it.
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Old 07-25-2013, 04:53 PM
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This is entirely situation dependent. I personally prefer to keep the past in the past. If my significant other is insistent about knowing certain things though, I will tell her. She has to understand that she might not potentially like what she's going to hear. I am fully understanding of a desire to know. I am very inquisitive about my partners, but I do my best to curb that urge because I know nothing good usually comes out of it.

I believe in complete and total honesty though. So all this only applies to the past. If you can't tell the truth about present situations, then that's a relationship that's not going to last.

I once started going out with this girl, and after a short while it was clear to me that, well, she wasn't the most innocent person on the planet. I didn't ask. Part of me didn't want to know. But it wasn't my business, especially that early in the relationship. After a few months we broke up (amicably) and she went back to those ways. I had heard stories about what she was doing and kind of figured that's what she was into before our relationship. I didn't care. We hooked back up a few times when we happened to be in the same place at the same time coincidentally. We're still friends today.

What does stuff like that change about your relationship now? Nothing. There are very, very few instances where I could see someone's past affecting how I would feel about them now.

To speak towards telling the truth regarding the touchy situations you mentioned: some things do need to be said if they're detrimental to the status of the relationship. In both situations, if the other partner is getting seriously disturbed by what's going wrong with the relationship, it's not fair for you to lie or to not say anything at all. If a relationship is meant to be, the important things need to be out in the open and worked through.
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Originally Posted by Macios View Post
I've had my run in with the truth lately. I dated a girl for one year almost exactly before breaking up because we were going to end up being 3000 miles away due to different universities. (She changed to UBC, where I'm at Duquesne.)

I thought I loved her a ton (you can tell where this is going) and thought we were perfect for each other because we never argued, always smiled laughed had a good time, and we just were always there for each other.

Well I was talking to her recently and she told me she lied to me a lot actually. I found out she once cheated on me and regretted it, told me she at time didn't like me, and she told me she thought I was judgmental at times.

Well I told her some truths I thought about her after that. Stuff I never said because they were insignificant and didn't want to ruin our perfectness.

We no longer talk or are friends even though we only broke up due to distance.

So in conclusion, yeah there's stuff where you draw the line and don't say. I'd recommend saying what's necessary but if it doesn't benefit anyone from knowing it, don't say it.
I see this as a different situation. Yeah, she cheated on you in the past, but at one point it was the present and she was lying to you about something that's quite a big deal. That should never happen.

Last edited by Fire Marshall Bill : 07-25-2013 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 07-25-2013, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mustang Sally View Post

A lot of what happened in the past comes out naturally over the course of time as you share experiences. But if my one & only did stuff in the past that would sound shameful now, does it really do any good for me to learn about it now, given that our relationship is solid and permanent?
.
At the same time, if your one and only did things in the past that would sound shameful now, would it truly matter given the fact that your relationship is solid and permanent?

Hypocritical of me to ask, it seems, given I did show a girl the door for being honest with me about the fact that she hooked and stripped her way through school. As for whether or not she could be sitting where my wife sits now, it's entirely plausible. Part of it, I suppose, was the timing of the whole thing. If she wanted me to accept her for who she was from the beginning, why did she wait an entire year before she told me the truth?

And, I'll admit, part of me had a hard time with the fact that when I was 'with her', I imagined other men leaving money on the nightstand beside the same bed we were in. And it was something I could never shake.

Perhaps it's an insecurity in me, but I don't want to know every detail of my wife's past, nor she mine. As I said earlier, I don't know the number of partners she's had, nor the gender of them. And in the same vein, she doesn't know mine, either. Blissful ignorance? Perhaps.

But what matters, I suppose, is that it's worked for us for 6 years. If it stops working, we'll do something different.

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I see this as a different situation. Yeah, she cheated on you in the past, but at one point it was the present and she was lying to you about something that's quite a big deal. That should never happen.
This is an important distinction to make, I feel. It may have been the past, but it was part of the past of that relationship. If there's a lie hanging over an entire relationship, that changes the dynamics of it. This isn't a situation where she came clean about cheating on her past five boyfriends, it was her current one.

She owed him the truth, at least. And then it's up to him to decide what to do with it.
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:16 PM
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Quote:
This is an important distinction to make, I feel. It may have been the past, but it was part of the past of that relationship. If there's a lie hanging over an entire relationship, that changes the dynamics of it. This isn't a situation where she came clean about cheating on her past five boyfriends, it was her current one.
Completely agree.

In the one week I've been here, this is my favourite topic thus far.

I don't think there's anything wrong with your situation. It's not blissful ignorance, it's simply getting on with your lives and being an adult. Like you said, you found out about the other girl and naturally it destroyed your image of her and doomed the relationship. That's to be expected, like I said in my earlier post, knowing the girl I was with (and for the record, legitimately sat down and thought one day I could have a future with) had cheapened herself and run back to her ex because he said he was (and this is her words not mine) "In a sad place."

I really don't think it's insecurity to not want to know things. Why would you? Do you really want to know how many people your other half has been with? Long term relationships sure, because they're going to get brought up however you look at it.

But one night stands? Flings? Does it really matter. You can guarantee it meant nothing to them, so it should mean nothing to you.

Case in point, for years I had it on-again off-again with a girl I knew. She basically only wanted me around when her boyfriend or whatever cast her off, pissed her off, the had an argument, whatever. Long story short, I was a tool for her. And I was sort of OK with that because I had completely fallen for her and put up with it.

So I put up with that for a while and dealt with it like the manly man I am and eventually phased her out because it was too destructive.

Long story short? We're now together, and fairly happy. Why? I think because there's no pretense. She knows she treated me badly, I know what I've done. Why bother with it.

We both realised we're happier together knowing what has gone on and leaving it in the past, than being apart and bitter and pissed off.

dunno', apart from the moral of this I think I stand as some sort of hope that you can escape the friendzone if you're up front about everything.
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Last edited by BrianFNPillman : 07-25-2013 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucic Seguin Neely 80 View Post
How much, past and present, do you/would you want to know about your significant other?
It depends on how far into the relationship you are. If you are just dating then it is ok to wait to share some things that one may not be ready to talk about yet. If you are planning on marrying your significant other then if you truly care about them you owe it to them to get everything out in the open. If anything could possibly make them regret deciding to spend the rest of their life with you, now is the time to tell them. If you are already married and still have a secret you have kept from your spouse, it is time to confess. The longer you wait, the more toxic it will be for the relationship. The more serious your relationship becomes, the more your significant other deserves to know about you. By the time you're married you should know everything about each other, or at least all of the important information and secrets are no longer kept.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucic Seguin Neely 80 View Post
Are there times where the truth doesn't provide freedom, but rather, is damaging to a relationship?
The truth is only damaging to a relationship if it has been kept from your significant other for too long. Don't ever lie to them about anything. Honesty being the best policy may be a cliche, but for lack of a better word that is very true. If you trust each other the relationship will be stronger. If anyone reading this has kept anything from their spouse, they should sit down with them and have a talk about it. That may seem intimidating, but it will benefit you in the long run to be able to talk to them about ANYTHING. Yes the truth can hurt, but it still needs to be told. Keeping a secret is unfair to your significant other. They should be able to trust you and if they truly love you, they will remain with you and try their hardest to work through almost any issue.
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:58 PM
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These are hard truths, and further, are they truths that need to be told?

My wife and I have an understanding that if we ever let ourselves go to the point that one of us is unattracted to the other we will tell each other. Even if the truth hurts in this case it is something that needs to be told. We love each other, but love and attraction can be two different things. We want to remain attractive to each other so the truth would need to be told. If I had bad breath we would both want each other to say something. These truths are better coming from someone you love rather than some co worker or someone like that.

How much, past and present, do you/would you want to know about your significant other?

My wife and I have the fortunate or unfortunate circumstance (depending on how you look at it) of being best friends long before we ever got together. We know every sexual partner each other has ever had. Luckily for us neither one of us were gutter sluts before we got together because I know we both would have a problem if that were the case. As far as the present goes we are really open with each other, and that is important. I agree with you LSN80 that if I was dating a girl that I found out was a former hooker I would have a real problem with that. I just never wanted to be where 100 other guys were. That is just me though.

Are there times where the truth doesn't provide freedom, but rather, is damaging to a relationship?

If my wife told me now that she did things I didn't know about I think it would be damaging. I agree with Dagger that the truth needs to be told pretty fast because the more time that passes the more hurtful and damaging the truth can be. I would be ok if my wife messed up just as long as she didn't wait weeks or months to tell me about it.
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