When it comes to relationships, Kristine Rose is an open book, and she thinks that we should all be like that.
A few friends and I got into a bit of a debate during dinner the other night, when talking about exes in new relationships came up, “bury your head in the sand” seemed to be the preferred method of dealing. I get it. There’s usually a knee jerk emotional reaction (jealousy, possessiveness, and the visceral squick factor). Still, I couldn’t help but feel the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy was doing everyone involved a disservice.
Put simply, your past makes you who you are, and your romantic past determines what role you fall into in future relationships. Whether your previous relationships left you scarred, wise, or a bit of both—leaving these details out in conversations with your current partner keeps them from seeing the big picture. Perhaps this isn’t so important for casual relationships or summer flings, but when things turn serious, your new love should know who you are. All of who you are. If you don’t know where you’ve been as a couple, how can you possibly know where you’re going?
To say I was a mess after my last two relationships is an understatement. I moved on rather quickly because I’m the kind of weirdo who stops loving someone as soon as a relationship is over. That’s kind of messed up, right? It’s true though. As soon as a bombshell lands that’s big enough to blow the whole thing up, goodbye romantic entanglement! I know that sounds really strange and maybe even like denial, but I swear to the God I don’t believe in that it’s the truth. You’d think this would spare me from most of the pain, but nope. Somehow, you can be totally over a person and yet not at all over what happened between the two of you because…feelings are stupid. Considering this, I realized I may never “feel ready” to be in another relationship so I decided exposure therapy was the best course of action.
Kristine, showing off her baggage with pride.
When attempting to haphazardly fling myself back into the dating pool (admittedly mostly out of boredom), it would have felt dishonest to hide this from potential partners. When I became exclusive with my current boyfriend, I was honest about the sorts of situations I had come from, what my reservations were starting a relationship, and what I realized I didn’t want. This might sound off-putting, but it led to fewer problems later on. Hopefully it goes without saying that I am making some generalizations – I’m sure there are people who don’t do any of these things and have good relationships, but in my experience it’s rare.
Some Reasons Sharing Is A Good Idea
-If you don’t share your history with your partner, they may think all of your fears, over reactions, and defensive moments are their fault. You might do the same regarding them. People tend to internalize this shit. Usually, if you understand what traumas someone has endured, it’s easier for you to interpret current behaviors in an objective way.
For example, if they know you had an ex who cheated, they will have a better idea of where it’s coming from when you are insecure about them spending time with people of the gender they are attracted to. You can talk about it as a couple, and your partner can explain that they are a different person who would never go behind your back like your ex did. If your partner is missing this information, they might feel they have done something to make you mistrust them and act defensively, leading to further problems.
I find it’s much easier to see where someone is coming from when you know what their emotional wounds are and don’t see everything as a reflection of your current relationship.
-Your partner has probably dated someone before you. They probably fucked other people. They’ve probably even loved someone else before you. This is healthy and okay. The idea that people become jealous of exes because their partner hasn’t been sitting on a bench alone for 20 or 30 or 40 something years waiting for them to come along kind of disturbs me. You should see your partner as a complete person who’s led their own full life before you met, not a piece of property that belongs to you and only you. That sort of thinking can lead to controlling behaviors that strain your relationship.
What a lot of people seem to want is a partner who has magical insight about relationships and sex without having had any in the past. It’s absolutely unrealistic and unfair. If you really love someone, you have to love all of them, past included.
-You and/or your partner may have had some unhealthy behaviors in the past. Cheating, being overly jealous, and having a temper may be some red flag behaviors you’ve exhibited. Everyone has something, and by admitting your own mistakes, you can give your partner a list of behaviors to watch out for. Knowing this means your partner can be aware of the pattern and help interrupt it. Sharing your histories can potentially supply you with an ally to help you change for the better.
-Be sure to emphasize why your last relationship did not work out. This puts things in perspective and keeps your partner from feeling threatened. Make it clear that although you are bringing up your ex, it’s not out of some sort of nostalgia. Those relationships didn’t work out for a reason and you are obviously getting something from your current partner that you were missing previously. This does not have to regress to “talking shit” about your ex. Maybe they were a horrible abusive person who burned your house down and kicked your dog, but try to look at the situation objectively. If they did some really inexcusable things and you hate their fucking guts you can…say that I guess? Honesty is important.
Relationships can be a catalyst for personal growth. By sharing your history with your partner they get a behind-the-scenes look at who you are. If you look at that as a negative experience, you will miss out on one of the building blocks of trust and intimacy. Finding someone you can share all of yourself with and be met with acceptance is a sure sign of something special.
Kristine Rose is an esthetician, make-up artist, writer and neurotic. She has contributed to XoJane, Gothic Beauty Magazine, and The Frisky. She lives in New York with her vast collection of nailpolish. Kristineispartoftheproblem.