Reasoning behind not being open about past
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Reasoning behind not being open about past

Asking this in the ladies forum, as I'm hoping for a more female-oriented take on this.

First, let me say that this is not something that is truly bothering me, it's more curiosity than anything. I also trust my wife and have no reason to distrust her. The caveat is that she is not, nor ever has been, an open person with anybody. Just the way she was brought up (I see this very clearly in her parents and family...)

So basically, my wife never talks about her past willingly, and the few times I've ever inquired, she gets defensive. She has given up few details, and generally gets annoyed if the issue is pressed.

For those who don't know, incidentally, we were each others first girlfriend/boyfriend, way back in high school. 3 years together, broke up at the end of school, went our separate ways. I was with someone for 14 years, she had several long term relationships, and we rediscovered each other (when we were both single, fyi) and have since married. That's the background.

When we got back together, I was, of course, curious as to her past, after our first go round. So I asked, innocently, never accusingly or in any way that (I thought) would come across as our relationship or how I thought of her depending on the answer. In other words, I wouldn't move on regardless of her answers.

Initially, I got very cagy answers, the usual "none of your business" and some white lies. Over the first 6 months of our relationship, I genuinely thought she had stuff to hide and it wrecked me inside. I made it clear to her that if she had a dodgy past, it would not impact how I felt about her (and it wouldn't have). Her answers (or lack of) actually did the opposite, and I did start to wonder if she was right for me. I stuck it out, because everything else is great, and I'm glad I did.

I have learned over the years that she is like that about everything, and to everyone. She really doesn't talk about, discuss, or vent to anyone, about anything. It's a family thing. I'm a talker, and a venter, and a solution-finder, so we are total opposites when it comes to this. She has made concessions in regards to our relationship (which is great of her), as I made it clear that if this is the way she is when we have relationship issues, I won't stand for it. When it comes to US, she needs to talk and communicate. So far, so good.

But what's always bothered me is her lack of trust, I guess, in regards to being open about her past. It leaves me wondering and drawing my own conclusions, which isn't a good thing.

Now I want to be clear - past history means very little to me. I won't say "nothing", because that's not true. There are a handful of things that would put me off of a relationship, but they are on the extreme end of things. (like serial cheater, escort girl, etc.)

I also want to mention that I have accepted this about her, and I do NOT obsess - I really don't. I love her for who she is, and we're happy.

However, it will always slightly hang over me that she can not be open to me about her past - it's THAT that bothers me, not her actual past, whatever it may be.

If it helps matters at all, what little information I have come by is that she has had many more partners than I have. I've had 4, plus 2 that did not result in piv sex. So 6, total. She has had 3 longterm relationships (3 years plus), an undetermined # of shorter ones (a few weeks to a few months, 3 that I know of), at least one fwb relationship, and an undetermined # of ONS.

What I am having a hard time with, as well, is whether her number means anything, at all. She did go through a period (less than a year, when she just hit the bar age) in which she did not have a boyfriend, and she had several, or more, ONS. The "wild years", which we all have to varying degrees. No problem. Over a 15 year period, between our first time around, and now, I've estimated her number at 20-30. Which isn't really THAT out of whack. 6 of those years were spent with 2 partners, about a year with another. 3 partners over 7 years. The one "wild" year, with 5-10 partners, maybe. Leaving 6 years to make up another, say 10-15.

Over all, the number is high, I know, especially given the 6-7 years with 3 partners. But she's far from a sex addict, which leaves me to believe it's more an esteem thing, or being wanted, or being non-committal, etc. Our sex life is infrequent BUT it's good. She says she's never been into sex, ever, and I believe her. However I find that she's always had a poor attitude towards it. It's just something you do with your partner, and it doesn't mean a whole lot. It's part of the relationship, but also it's not, if that makes any sense. It's separated somehow.

So am I missing the forest for the trees here? Is it really a case of it not mattering to her? Is she ashamed? (I don't think so, I really don't, I know her well enough). Is she keeping it from me because of my relative inexperience because she doesn't want me to see her in a bad light? Or is it, to her, just not of my damn business?

(addendum: I don't disagree with people who say it's none of their partners business, however I also don't think it's necessarily something people have to hide. Kind of on the fence about it. To me, it's not necessary to know one's past, it's really only the present that matters, however it's almost insulting to have things hidden, even if they don't ultimately matter)
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Old 11-05-2013, 08:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Reasoning behind not being open about past

It's hard because if we tell the truth we are judged for it. If we withhold we are judged for that too.

Lose/lose.

I recognize that I'm generalizing. Many people are open and honest but some are very private. Then there is variances between the two extremes.

Most of this is rooted in childhood. Learning to trust is harder than it sounds.
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:04 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Reasoning behind not being open about past

The problem with the past is that it tends to become the present...at the most inopportune times.
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:06 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The past ALWAYS comes back to haunt you.

Absolutely.
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:10 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Reasoning behind not being open about past

So many people fail to understand that while it is one persons past, they have had maybe years to deal with and process it, and store it in their past, when things come up, it becomes their partners present. It is new, and fresh to them. They have not had the benefit of time to process it, and to expect them to just leave their new present in the past is unfair.
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:17 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Reasoning behind not being open about past

Not a woman but having married a woman with a past + having a past myself, from my experience:

She won't open up to you unless you make it known that you are the type of person who would understand/never judge and from sounds of things I don't think you will ever understand. So what's the point in her sharing her story to you? Not to mention it doesn't matter now, why keep poking at something she has no intention of remembering? Does it cause issues in your marriage? If not, leave it be.
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:46 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Reasoning behind not being open about past

1) I honestly don't think it is your business.

2) You are being disingenuous. I believe your wife is smart enough to know that you will hold it against her even if you say you won't. Based on what I've read here, you will. You won't come off that way initially, but you will end up letting it eat you up inside and soon as an argument ensues throw it in her face.Not only that it won't just stop at knowing the basic stuff. You are going to want to get graphic and the more graphic the more jealous you are going to get. It will change your relationship drastically from the point she shares any of this stuff with you and yes, you will see her differently even if you don't want to. That's something that's not your fault, men are territorial. Realize that your wife has been with other people, you have her now so leave it at that. Don't go seeking for something you don't want to find.
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Reasoning behind not being open about past

I am not a trusting person due to childhood abuse. And I very strongly would resent anyone prying into my past. If I choose to volunteer information that's a different story.

Let go of it. She doesn't want to discuss it and that's her right. She wasn't with you then so if she chose to do every male in your town that's on her.

You accept her life during that period or you don't. It certainly can't be changed now.
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Old 11-05-2013, 11:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Reasoning behind not being open about past

I think that the odds are that you'll be very judging if you're poking at numbers, motivation, timing, reasoning. To me, that's a huge red flag in a partner. Talking about past experience generally is one thing. But I can't see any benefit to rehashing the psychological motivation behind events from decades ago. Someone that wanted that kind of information is someone that would be off my island pretty quickly.
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Old 11-05-2013, 11:34 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Reasoning behind not being open about past

Motivation and mindset can be important. My STBW has a rather full past and I am aware of some of it, mostly generalities. There were a couple of extreme situations that were likely to come up where her motivations, feelings and mindset were very important to understand to put things in the proper context.
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Old 11-05-2013, 11:49 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Reasoning behind not being open about past

And see...if someone needs "context" in order to accept me, then I don't see how I can accept them feeling entitled to make that judgement on something that didn't have a thing to do with them.

Everyone's dealbreakers are different. I feel that you're either in or you're out and I'm not going to spend my time convincing someone that I deserve their time and affection if they have any doubts. If someone's past or present isn't a fit for my ethics, morals or lifestyle, I'm not going to spend my time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Not everyone has such a black or white approach though and I get that.
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Old 11-05-2013, 12:59 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by COGypsy View Post
And see...if someone needs "context" in order to accept me, then I don't see how I can accept them feeling entitled to make that judgement on something that didn't have a thing to do with them.

Everyone's dealbreakers are different. I feel that you're either in or you're out and I'm not going to spend my time convincing someone that I deserve their time and affection if they have any doubts. If someone's past or present isn't a fit for my ethics, morals or lifestyle, I'm not going to spend my time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Not everyone has such a black or white approach though and I get that.
Context...my STBW had a revenge/exit affair with her ex husbands son...her step son a couple of years before we met. Said step son was going to be living with her and her kids for a period of time. That is one of those things that was likely to come up in some way, and understanding her mindset, emotional motivations and such were crucial to understanding and accepting that situation.

That situation had nothing to do with me, but oh boy would that have been a shock if I had not been prepared for it. Her past did have a direct affect on MY PRESENT.
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Old 11-05-2013, 01:03 PM   #13 (permalink)
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And see...if someone needs "context" in order to accept me, then I don't see how I can accept them feeling entitled to make that judgement on something that didn't have a thing to do with them.

Everyone's dealbreakers are different. I feel that you're either in or you're out and I'm not going to spend my time convincing someone that I deserve their time and affection if they have any doubts. If someone's past or present isn't a fit for my ethics, morals or lifestyle, I'm not going to spend my time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Not everyone has such a black or white approach though and I get that.
This also comes off as very defensive and un empathetic. Context doesn't have anything to do with passing judgement. I did not judge my STBW in the above situation example. I have never judged her because of her past.

This is tied hand in hand with Retroactive Jealousy and so many people have absolutely no understanding of RJ what so ever, though many of them think they are experts at it and have all the answers.
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Old 11-05-2013, 01:11 PM   #14 (permalink)
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This also comes off as very defensive and un empathetic. Context doesn't have anything to do with passing judgement. I did not judge my STBW in the above situation example. I have never judged her because of her past.

This is tied hand in hand with Retroactive Jealousy and so many people have absolutely no understanding of RJ what so ever, though many of them think they are experts at it and have all the answers.
I don't understand jealousy of any type. In my mind it's tied so closely to power and control that I find it to be a dealbreaker. Since I'm single, my first priority is my happiness and satisfaction. If something is angst-filled and not generally enjoyable, I move on--whether it's a job, a boyfriend or a friendship. Like I said, I'm pretty black and white about how I want my own life to go.
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Old 11-05-2013, 01:17 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by COGypsy View Post
I don't understand jealousy of any type. In my mind it's tied so closely to power and control that I find it to be a dealbreaker. Since I'm single, my first priority is my happiness and satisfaction. If something is angst-filled and not generally enjoyable, I move on--whether it's a job, a boyfriend or a friendship. Like I said, I'm pretty black and white about how I want my own life to go.
Retroactive jealousy, as those of us who are familiar with it have explained in other threads, it really is a hugely misnamed thing. Jealousy has nothing to do with it at all.

As far as jealousy of any type being a bad thing...I think many will disagree with that. You are correct, jealousy CAN be used to fuel power and control issues, but one does no lead to the other. They are mutually exclusive.
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