It can be tough to decide how and when to talk to your partner about your sexual history.
If sparking the discussion doesn’t feel natural to you, you’re not alone—22% of women say they feel uncomfortable discussing their sexual history with their partner, according to a survey conducted by Merck.
Would you like to know about your partner’s past before you do the deed? Would you like to address it, but think it’s fine to address the topic later once you’ve grown more comfortable with each other? No matter your philosophy, it can be a tricky but necessary topic for many people.
If you and your partner would prefer to leave the past in the past, then quit reading. You’re done! If you or your partner need to have a discussion in order to feel completely comfortable, here are 7 tips on how to broach the subject:
1) Give them a heads up. Next time you’re together, mention that you’ve been thinking about how you’d like to talk about your sexual histories and ask if they’d be comfortable talking about it at some point. Obviously, you’ve had a lot of time to think about it, so give them the courtesy of chewing on it for a bit too.
2) Have a bit of a game plan. You don’t need to stroll up with a full-blown manuscript, but it might be helpful to organize your thoughts beforehand. Know the answer to why you feel the need to dive into the topic. Are there specific things that you’re worried about? Do you know you need specific things related to intimacy and want to give them the heads up? Or are you just curious and want to know more about their history?
3) Establish some rules. Will you and your partner reveal names? Numbers (Sidebar: Women are 5% more likely than men to decrease the number of sexual partners they've had -- while men inflate their sexual resumés twice as often as women.) Or maybe you want to stick to broad themes only. It’s likely that your boundaries don’t match up exactly with your partner’s, and this could all go south without clarity around boundaries.
4) Be open minded. You may learn some things that surprise you. This goes without saying, but this could get uncomfortable. Once you’ve established your boundaries, check your judgment at the door.
5) Leave some things to the imagination. Honesty is the best policy, but don’t overdo it—some visuals are best left in the past.
6) Decide if you’ll need to revisit the topic. It might bring up more questions than answers. Before you move on, ask your partner if the topic feels resolved to them. If not, be open to continuing the discussion. Now that you’ve brought it up, you should create space to talk it all the way out.
Just remember, your feelings are valid no matter what they are, and it’s important to listen to your instinct. Ultimately, nothing is sexier than comfort and compassion, and it can sometimes be hard to get to that point without conversation.