Is ignorance truly bliss? Or should you share your sexual history with a partner? Here’s what psychologist and sex therapist Dr. Shannon Chavez has to share.
It is natural to be curious about your partner’s sexual history. But will sharing your sexual history cause unwanted jealousy, or will it create a closer bond between you and your partner?
We speak to Dr. Shannon Chavez, a nationally recognized expert, therapist, and educator specializing in “all things sexuality”, and get her to share her expert tips on how you should share your sexual history with a partner – if you want to.
Share your sexual history if you want to – without the extensive details
Before jumping right into the details of your sexual history, it is important to first know that you do not need to share every detail.
“There are aspects of your sexual history that are important to share with new partners, and other information that is not necessary,” says Dr. Chavez. “Share your interests and values that were shaped by those experiences without going into extensive detail, which may make a partner feel uncomfortable.”
Dr. Chavez explains that when we share about our sexual history, it is not about the other relationship or the other partner that you want your current partner to focus on. Rather, it is about sharing about the experiences that shaped who you are today.
We don’t want to hide our sexual history with a partner, but we do not need to communicate it or narrate a history that may be triggering or full of unnecessary details for a partner.
Instead, Dr. Chavez recommends always having an intention when sharing your sex history. To create an intention, ask yourself these questions: what is the intention of wanting to share your sexual history, and what do you hope to get out of the conversation.
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How to share your sexual history openly and without shame
Many women have been conditioned to think that having multiple sexual partners in the past is a bad thing for a woman, which might make you feel ashamed to share and talk about your sexual history.
It is important to remember that the sharing of your sexual history is not a confessional, so make sure the tone of the conversation is positive and with an intention to gain understanding and awareness towards a partner’s sexuality.
Start with a simple communication around sharing parts of your history that are helpful for a new partner to know, such as boundaries that you have established or interests/disinterests.
Dr. Chavez shares that you can talk about sexual values and what is important in a sexual experience. “Discuss your desires and fantasies openly, and discuss any areas of growth in your sexual history that have been valuable,” says Dr. Chavez.
“Use language that is affirming, and make an agreement around not shaming or judging any aspect of your partner’s history.”
Just remember to consider their feelings
As much as you want to share everything about your sexual past, remember that details that are not necessary can lead to hurt feelings. For example, it is unnecessary to make comparisons (whether that is around sexual performance or physical appearance), or focus too much on the other partnership that it creates hurt or jealousy.
Instead of focusing on the quantity of experiences that you have had, you would want to share about the quality of those experiences that have made an impact.
Here’s when it is a good time to share your sexual history
So when should you share about your sexual history? Is it better to do it at the beginning when you start dating someone new, or do you only share when they ask?
According to Dr. Chavez, you want to share your history as early as possible to avoid incompatibility, or differences in interest or desires that may be barriers for moving forward in the relationship.
“Sex is an important part of a relationship, and sharing your history and insights into interests and desires can help build intimacy and trust early on,” says Dr. Chavez. “Opening up dialogue about sexual history helps to normalize the fact that you are both sexually experienced and have had sexual experiences prior to each other, and can talk about it as a normal part of the relationship.”
The fact is, there is no shame in how many people you have been with in the past, and you should not feel the need to hide your sexual history or be ashamed of it!
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And if you want your partner to open up as well about their sexual history
So perhaps you want to know more about your partner’s sexual history as well, as a way of getting to know them better. How do you approach the subject, and what should you ask?
Dr. Chavez recommends sharing information together and asking specific questions about the experience – and not the timeline.
Start by asking broad questions around specifics – for example, how they formed their sexual orientation, what experiences shaped who they are today, and which experiences have informed interests and desires.
Start slow with the questions and build up to an open and vulnerable conversation. The key is to take it slow and learn to open up about your history together, and make it intentional for the health of the relationship.