Do you know how many relationships your partner has had? I don’t … and I can totally live with that. Contrary to what you might think, it’s not because I think ignorance is bliss. I just don’t think such information in any way adds value to my relationship.
I do know about the ones that mattered, and even then, I haven’t taken it upon myself to rustle up every detail I possibly can about those relationships. Seriously, I don’t need to know details like what she’s given him for his birthday, what her favourite cocktail is, or how long she spent getting ready each morning.
I haven’t always been so cool about this, though. In my previous relationship, I took it upon myself to find out everything I could about my ex’s ex. That was in the early 2000s, and I’m just glad now that Facebook didn’t exist then; imagine all the needless pain I’d put myself through digging up dirt and looking at old pics of them! I also hounded him endlessly about what she was like, how they interacted, what he remembers about their relationship … I can’t imagine that it was much fun for him to be interrogated like that, and I certainly took a little joy in finding out what little I could.
In the end, I was left with all this intel I knew – deep down – was causing me pointless pain. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I now know that the reason I put him through the wringer was because of my deep-seated insecurity and the sense that I would never be pretty enough, good enough, smart enough … In short, I just needed to know that I was better than her.
As clear as it is to me now, I refused to believe back then I was insecure. I took it as my God-given right to know anything and everything about my partner. My rationale was: If I was going to be in a relationship with you, why shouldn’t I know? But in the end, if you were to make demons out of your partner’s exes, the only one that suffers is you.
Of course, if your guy has ex issues like Gotye, it might be a good idea to talk about it …
These days, I’m all for picking my battles, and “the past” is not something I’m willing to start a war over. As long as I know for sure that he hasn’t committed any crimes I SHOULD know about, and he seems like a pretty well-adjusted human being, I’m willing to let it go. After all, all of us have made mistakes or stupid decisions before. If you say you love your partner, you’ll just accept it as part-and-parcel as who he is now. Who he was in a previous relationship may not necessarily how he is now, and to therefore judge him on his past actions would be unfair.
Of course, I’m not saying that everything should be swept under the carpet. If he has ex issues that are creeping into your relationship with him, then these should be addressed. But in the absence of any drama, just leave the past where it belongs.
If you feel the urge to probe, why not evaluate your relationship as it is in the present instead? When I look at Alain now, all I see is a kind, giving and funny man who is doing everything he possibly can to be with me, and who’s as willing as I am to stick it out in this long-distance relationship. For me, that’s more than enough; in fact, it’s more than I ever dreamed of. And I’m definitely not going to throw is all away for some misplaced sense of “curiosity”.
About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. She thinks the worst time to have “a talk” with your partner is when you’ve both had a few drinks. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.
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