Full disclosure: does your partner need to know everything about you?

Couple relaxing with pug

Do you tell your partner everything? I often hear people say, “My partner and I have no secrets from each other.” That is, of course, a laudable sentiment, but this same sentiment can be used as an abusive tactic. We need to be clear about what we mean by saying this.

I wouldn’t say that I have secrets from my husband. And vice versa, I believe that he is open and honest with me. We would not have lasted 21 years if there was not a certain level of trust and transparency between us. He knows how many sexual partners I had before I met him and I know (or think I know) the same about him. We generally check in with each other during the day and we talk about important matters. But does he know everything about me? No, and that is fine (and vice versa, which will be implied for the rest of this article).

What happened before your relationship

Some people are obsessed with the amount of partners their current partner has had. There seems to be this unwritten rule that you have to disclose whether you were (are) a virgin when you first have sex with a new partner. And you better give the exact number of people you have slept with!

This is slut shaming, nothing else. Why is it relevant to your current partner how many people you have slept with? Why would that make a difference in the feelings they have for you? And if you are obsessed with the amount of people your partner has slept with, ask yourself the same question: why do you care? Is full disclosure really necessary?

If you care because you are worried about STDs, then ask your partner to be tested. And get tested yourself as well, which is never a bad idea anyhow. But as long as you are both healthy and the tests are clear, what else can the number of sexual partners someone had possibly matter in a relationship? They are not currently sleeping with those peole, so who cares?

The only way it would matter is if your opinion of your partner diminishes based on how many people they have slept with. That is always at the heart of these conversations. And let’s not kid ourselves, it’s somehow more important for the woman to disclose a low number than for the man. The more sexual partners you have had prior to your current relationship, the more you go down in estimation. Isn’t that how it always works?

Forcing a partner to disclose the number of sexual partners they have had before you is slut shaming. What happened before you met them is of no concern. People are individuals, and they remain individuals after they enter a relationship. You don’t all of a sudden own your partner when you embark upon a relationship. Their past has nothing to do with your current relationship, so why would there be the need for disclosure?

couple kissing at sunset

What happens during the relationship

For the purposes of this article, I am going to assume a monogamous relationship. That’s the type of relationship I am in and I want to speak from my own experience. 

So what about when you are in a relationship? Full disclosure seems to be not more than reasonable, but is it? Now, of course in any healthy relationship, there should be a level of openness and transparency. I would not want my husband to cheat on me and likewise, he would be quite upset if I had an affair behind his back. But what I see a lot in my friends’ relantionship is an almost obsessive need for disclosure about everything the other person does.

Keeping in touch with your partner during the day is nice, and can be very sexy. I usually touch base with my husband throughout the day. I tell him when I am leaving work, so he knows when to expect me home and when I am travelling I keep in touch so he doesn’t need to worry. I expect the same of him. But if, for whatever reason, I don’t text him to let him know where I am or what I am doing, it’s no big deal. He doesn’t need me to check in with him, he just doesn’t want to worry. It’s not a control tactic and I have never been “in trouble” for not checking in with him.

And this goes for other things in my life as well. I am an individual with my own life. I have interests beyond what my husband is interested in. And I don’t feel the need to explain in every detail what I do each day. I expect my husband to trust me, which is why I don’t always tell him everything. Not because I want to keep certain things a secret from him, or because I think he’d disapprove if I told him, but because there is no need to tell him. I am allowed to have my own life.

When you are in a relationship, you don’t suddenly only exist as a couple. A lot of people seem to forget that. They suddenly feel the need to do everything together, have the same friends, the same interests. If that is your thing and you love that, by all means continue. But don’t feel that is the “proper” way to have a relationship.

Full disclosure isn’t necessary. You’re allowed to have your own life. And anyone who demands full disclosure from their partner should do some soul searching as to why this is so important.

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