Sharing Your Sexual History with Your Partner

Sharing your sexual history with your partner can enhance the relationship if it is done right. Here are my thoughts regarding what to share, what to keep to yourself, and what to expect from the conversation.

Keeping it Non-Judgmental

Each of you may have things to share you are not proud of. Try not to judge or condemn choices your partner made. Keep in mind that, while the things being discussed may impact the present, they happened in the past, when your partner may have been less mature than they are now.

Setting Boundaries

You don’t have to tell your current partner everything. Most important are things that affect your sexual health, such as whether you have had unprotected sex before and if you’ve had a sexual health check since. If you have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD), you need to disclose that and talk about the treatment. You might want to add information about contraception you have used, and what kinds of sexual activities you have enjoyed.

It can be awkward, of course, but better a bit of embarrassment than contacting or transmitting a STD. Condoms and diaphragms do not eliminate the risk of STDs. You can carry an STD without knowing it. And STDs can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.

Making it Simple and Helpful

Sex is an intimate act. So is talking frankly and lovingly about your sex history—in private. Discuss how much you want to know before the conversation start. Edit the stories, sticking to the facts. Don’t go on and on about how great a past partner was. The point is to share useful information, not make you new partner feel inadequate. Respecting yourself leads to respecting others.

There’s no right number of people to have had sex with in the past, so just be honest, again, with as little detail as possible. If you or your partner becomes jealous, hurt or embarrassed during the discussion, talk about it.

Note that you are no longer with that person from the past, and you haven’t cheated on your current partner, so that past only matters in terms of sexual health and what kind of sexual relationship you want to have going forward. Lies will backfire, so if you need to share something you don’t think will be easily accepted, explain where you were emotionally at the time of the incident, and keep the story short and sweet.

Building The Connection

Sharing your sexual history shows that you have nothing to hide. It can strengthen the emotional and physical connection.” It can also clarify things in the bedroom. For example, if your partner asks you to do something you’re not entirely comfortable with due to a past experience, it may help explain your reservations.

Talking about your past is not a one-time thing. Share as much is appropriate to the situation at hand. Share more when the time is right.

How Sexual History Affects Sex Therapy

When couples come to me about sexual issues, I take a complete, confidential sexual health history of each person before recommending any treatment. These give me a clear, uncensored view of their relational, psychological and sexual development. If I know what you have been through, I can help you get where you want to go.