When and If to Share your Past Baggage With Men

Niki Marinis

While being honest and transparent is a solid foundation, is your past actually relevant?


Photo Art by Katie Dutch

So many women feel the need to confess everything they think is wrong about themselves to the guy they’re dating. Or the things they think another may judge as wrong about them.

Bless me Father, for I have sinned” comes to mind.

Guilty conscious? Shame? The belief he’ll better know how to love you when you bring the skeletons out of the closet? Maybe he will, or maybe he’ll reject you and throw it all in your face later.

I’ve had my past thrown back in my face more times than I can count. Used as a weapon to shame or guilt me.

That doesn’t work too well with me and taught me a lot about what to share or not, and when.

Knowing when and what to share can prevent you from self-sabotaging a new relationship.

Drop the shame over your past

If you’re stressing over sharing parts of your past, you likely feel shame and have already judged yourself as less worthy.

While we’ve all done things we aren’t proud of, we did them. It’s done. You can’t go back and fix it. You can dwell on the what ifs ‘til the cows come home, but you can’t change it. Things happened and you now have zero control.

When you feel no shame or regrets over your past, what you share with the men in your life doesn’t seem like a big deal. When it’s not a big deal, you don’t really dwell on what to share or not.

I'm not saying to sweep everything under the rug or not share with your partner. I'm saying to drop/heal the shame and things get a lot clearer.

Telling him about past relationships

Some of you want to know all about all of his past relationships. Then when it’s all laid out, often your insecurity sets in. It’s a two-way street.

Recently I read about a woman struggling with when to tell a man she’d started dating that she had two failed marriages.

Newsflash: this isn’t unheard of. A friend of mine was wife number 4. Maybe that should have been a red flag for her, but the marriage was good for a while and he treated her well. It just didn’t last forever.

She didn’t know that much about his past when she married him, and probably still doesn’t. That’s not why it ended. She married the man who showed up for her, not the one who did or didn’t show up for his ex wives.

It’s what she learned about herself from that marriage and carries forward that matters. That’s what will show up should she enter another relationship. Who she is, not what she did and didn’t do.

As you’re getting to know someone the things of past relationships will come out organically in time. It’s not something that needs a scheduled conversation about.

For example, he may share a piece of his past or a detail about an ex in conversation. You may reply, “Yeah, I dated a guy who would do that,” and the conversation may flow.

You might not, however, share the part that this guy was one of three guys you “shared company with” all in one weekend.

Bits, pieces and clues will be revealed, and that’s all in getting to know someone.

We all had a life, including the man you’re currently fretting over telling about yours.

Some couples bond over a lot of sharing of the past. As long as it’s not trauma bonding all may be well.

Others don’t see much significance in it. Can you honor this without the lens of you or him hiding something?

Some things need to be shared

If you have a sexually transmittable disease, you probably need to tell him so he can make his own choices about his health.

If you’re an addict in recovery, again, he may not want to take the risk of you relapsing.

Severe anxiety, or issues like depression or other emotional issues, let him know. Don’t wait until he asks you to pick him up from the airport to tell him you can’t drive because you pass out from fear.

An ailing parent that you care for.

The ex buried in your backyard, or a warrant out for your arrest.

An ex of mine drove around with no license and I found out how deep it was when he got in a wreck in my car and was taken to jail. That was the day everything shifted and began to shatter in our relationship. It impacted me right then. Who he slept with before, by the way, did not.

These are current issues that can have a present impact and should probably be put on the table sooner rather than later. These issues are your life now.

You are not your past

Your past played a part in the way you are today but it’s not who you are. It molded you and taught you. It’s a movie that couldn’t have played out any other way.

Yes, you can share it with others and probably will over time. All I'm saying is consider the part of the movie you haven’t seen yet and what is ahead of you, or what is happening right now and it’s significance over what is behind you, and give your partner the same consideration.

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I'm an original. A Warhol. You're just a print. I like thrift store owls, true crime, and breaking hearts.

Ventura, CA

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