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- Generally speaking, you and your partner should know each other well before things get serious.
- But there are certain areas of your life where it’s okay to keep some secrets.
- Those areas include daily spending habits and any lingering feelings for your ex.
You and your partner should know a lot about each other before you decide to spend your life together. What do you consider cheating? How do you feel about divorce? Do you want kids? These conversations are key.
But there are certain areas of your life where a little mystery is OK. We spoke to Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert and author of “He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing)“, about five things you don’t always need to share with your partner before things get serious.
“Overall, a lot of information does need to be discussed,” Syrtash said, related to each person’s needs, wants, and expectations. And yet “you don’t need to divulge every last detail.”
Read on for those details you can leave out, without jeopardizing your relationship.
How many sexual partners you’ve had
When it comes to sex, Syrtash said, you should know that you’re both free of sexually transmitted infections. And if you’re in a monogamous relationship, you should know that you’re both committed to each other.
You don’t need to know each other’s “headcount,” Syrtash said.
Interestingly, the 2015 Singles in America survey, highlighted in The Wall Street Journal, found that just over half of respondents didn’t want to know how many people their partner had slept with. And a 2015 study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that about 60% of participants hadn’t revealed their “number” to a current sexual partner.
What you don’t like about them
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You never want to play a game of “What do you hate about me?” Syrtash said. Sharing a life with someone is a big step, she added, and you’re not carbon copies of each other. So your partner will necessarily display some quirks that irritate you.
If there’s something that’s really bothering you – say, you want your partner to lose weight for health reasons – it’s possible to frame it positively. Syrtash suggested something like, “Let’s sign up for a marathon and train together.”
Your daily spending habits
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Syrtash emphasized that it’s important for your partner to know about your debt, including how much you have and how you’re paying it off.
Indeed, lying about money – from how much you earn to how much debt you’re saddled with – can destroy your relationship.
That said, Syrtash added that you “don’t need to be checking in on every last purchase” the other person makes. Syrtash said the spender/saver dynamic is common in romantic relationships, meaning that monitoring every penny your partner spends (or vice versa) can lead to unnecessary conflict and anxiety.
What’s more important, is to discuss your money philosophies, or how you each approach money and what you learned about it from your families.
Any lingering feelings for your ex
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“It’s OK not to know if your partner has a place in their heart for an ex,” Syrtash said. Same goes for your feelings for your ex.
“Those kinds of conversations can make partners feel insecure,” even if those feelings won’t necessarily damage your current relationship.
It’s even possible to stay friends with an ex, as long as you and your current partner establish some clear boundaries, according to couples therapist Esther Perel. It’s not necessarily an easy conversation to have, and there’s no “script” for it, but it’s an important one.
Your endlessly negative feelings about their family
To be sure, Syrtash said, “you don’t need to pretend everything’s rosy” if your partner’s family is being disrespectful. But again, it’s about framing your discontent in a constructive way.
“Instead of attacking character,” Syrtash said, “try to find a solution-based approach.” For example: “You know your mom better than I do … Do you have any thoughts on how we can spend more time together and get along better?”