Angela asks: “Why does a man always want to know about your past boyfriends? What does he get out of knowing that?”
Mr. Loves Boys Too SEE BIO NOW>
Well, when I start dating a new guy and I ask about his past boyfriends, it’s usually to find out if I dated any of them…specifically at the same time that they were dating them. Of course, if your new boyfriend is wondering the same thing, you’d best move on.
When significant others ask about your past, I think it has more to do with the checking out the competition to see what you were into before, to see if they stack up. I think Prince said it best in “Little Red Corvette” with the lyric, “I felt a little ill when I saw all the pictures of the jockeys that were there before me.” On one hand, maybe they look just like the guys you usually date—in which case things are great! On the other hand, maybe they look completely different than the guys you usually date—in which case things are great! Hmmm, maybe they really don’t get anything out of knowing this after all.
Mr. Noncommittal SEE BIO NOW>
There are several reasons why he may be interested. First, he may just want to spark conversation at the beginning of a relationship. In my experience, most girls love talking about their former flames. For the guys, this talk is good since it gives the perception that you “care” about what worked and didn’t work in a woman’s past relationships, and it gives you the opportunity to share your past war stories. This then translates into a false intimacy and bonding via past loves gone wrong, which leads to lapses in judgment, which ultimately ends with you sleeping with this guy.
He might also just want to feel out whether he measures up, isn’t good enough or is better (in his eyes) than your exes. Depending on which one he picks, this will either make him feel like he isn’t good enough and he has to try harder…or he will conclude that he is the best thing you’ve ever dated (not a good thing, no normal girl wants to date a cocky jerk).
Or maybe he doesn’t want to replicate what went wrong with your exes because he really is interested in having a relationship with you. Lastly, perhaps he is just a masochist and wants to torture himself. No, it doesn’t make sense, but we’re not the sharpest tools in the shed or the brightest bulbs in the box…we’re guys. Whichever option it is (or another I haven’t thought of…), a little conversation about your past is fine, but too much disclosure is never a good thing. Some things are best left in the vault.
Mr. Sensitive and Scientific SEE BIO NOW>
I think it all depends on how it’s asked. For one, it’s not a bad idea to have some idea of your mate’s sexual history for health reasons alone. Plus, your partner’s own life is also shaped by their past relationships.
However, based on the tenor of your question, I’m pretty sure you’re asking about guys who want to know the details, and that’s probably not the most healthy thing to do, but we can’t help ourselves. It’s a little like when a girl asks a guy if she looks fat. You already know the true answer isn’t the one that will make you happy; but you ask anyway hoping to be reassured not by the answer, but by the way your partner answers it.
Guys in particular like to make sense of the world. It’s our way of intellectually processing our emotions (I know that’s a paradox). Part of that is asking endless questions to try to “understand” not only the relationship, but also our feelings about our lovers. So, taking the assumption that learning the answers (Ex.: how many, where, doing what, etc.) isn’t gonna be healthy for your guy, I’d recommend that you answer broad questions honestly, but avoid the details. Focus on the two of you instead. Finally, as people get older and the number of past partners increase, the stress of this line of questioning will decrease a lot, because eventually you’ll have seen it all before.
Mr. In a Relationship SEE BIO NOW>
I know several friends who will agree with me: we really don’t care. The caveat is, if I’m going to meet the guy, or if you are still friends with him, being upfront with me about your previous relationship will make it much easier.
It all comes down to trust. We all have exes, but when you break that trust and we find out you weren’t completely honest with us, we tend to wonder who else you have dated and why you didn’t tell us in the first place. Then we ask that question….