Why He Wants to Know About Your Exes

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QUESTION:

Angela asks: “Why does a man always want to know about your past boyfriends? What does he get out of knowing that?”

ANSWERS:

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….

23 Comments

Post a Comment
  • nevaeh2272005:

    lol wow

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  • avatar
    kera25:

    I agree.. The past is called the past for a reason!

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  • nadia cherubin:

    I would say that the only reason that a guy would want to know about your ex just to see if he is better looking or to see what was so great about him and if he’s better looking than he is.

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  • Mscutiecakez:

    Never ever ever and I mean ever speak about the exes because it can start drama if your boyfriend is just…down right not so understandable lol. But depending on the man, my boyfriend and I have shared our exes and it was not easy but learning about each others past, we are the best friends talking like old college buddies. SO just in case one decides to pop up starting drama from each side we know everything and can keep going with our life of Love :-D

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  • marisa georgalis:

    not good to talk about exes

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  • marisa georgalis:

    is a way to know you asking about your exes

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  • alicia:

    i like to know however i don’t like giving out to much information on exs. sometime men want to know and see if there is a pattern.maybe to their advantage.

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  • Lisa M:

    I always want to know myself.. but I feel its not good for either one. I agree..the past is the past.

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  • avatar
    Pamela:

    I too agree that the past is the past.

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  • avatar
    mecavarretta:

    The past is called the past for a reason!

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  • Joy:

    I agree with the last guy. I really don’t care about his exes.

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  • avatar
    dainacm:

    I think it gives you insight to how peoples dating personallity…

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  • Burmesegirl:

    I think slowly learning about a person and sharing is normal, but too much info on the past can be a turn off for guys and gals. As long as you agree it is exclusive and you both have the same goals in a relationship, i.e. marriage or not then yes, the majority of the past should stay there, but if you dated his friend or one of yours and you are still friends or not, you might want to tell him/her if he/she knows him/her, just out of respect so there is less awkwardness if you hang out. Honesty is the best policy, but too much is to much too.

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    1. Joy:

      Good comment.

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  • Crispy:

    the past is the past.. shouldn’t matter

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  • penelope:

    nice tips

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  • avatar
    vivian rodriguez:

    Because if they really are interested in you, they want to know what the exe did to be th exe so they dont make the same mistake!

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    1. Joy:

      That’s true.

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  • GOGETTA Alana:

    I’m not big on talking about past relationships…..

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  • JENNY ARCE:

    I think it depends on the guy your dating, which can be insecure, just curious, or seeing what type you date. Either way, i hate to be asked that question!! It was before you therefore has nothing to do with you so it shouldnt matter.

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  • Priscilla:

    I have run into this question before as an inquiry from a new guy to “not make the same mistakes”,and see what “my type is”. So I think each comment above rings true,depending on the kind of guy you are dealing with.
    It def makes me a little nervous when I’m asked this because I’m not sure what the exact goal of the new guy is and I’m still trying to maintain a sparkling “impression” with him…
    I’d like to hear more from Mr. Sensitive & Scientific…he sounds like a good balance of qualities!
    Just as a general statement – I hate the games that go into dating,especially in the beginning…I can’t help but wonder if this is why I just lost a seemingly amazing guy after a month and can’t make ANY sense of any of it???? :(

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  • avatar
    alice l:

    i also tend to agree with Mr. In a Relationship here… I think the other “reasons”/”explanations” are a bit complicated and possibly giving the “man” too much credit… I don’t actually believe most men are thinking about any of these things when asking questions… They’re probably just curious. Although I suppose it also depends on the guy’s age and experience in dating/relationships.
    As a female, I ask to see if the guy has been in long term relationships, but not to know the number of past partners or how i compare to the others..
    But then, as Mr. Noncommittal said, a guy may ask just to see how he measures up to the rest, and if he’s competitive, he’ll want to be the best..

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