Disclosure and opposite sex friends

In an effort to align myself in a way that is most conducive to being able to form and maintain healthy romantic relationships I’ve found myself trying to decide on how to approach things with future partners that have been issues with past partners. I am not currently in a relationship so don’t need answer fast.

Conducting respectful friendships with opposite sex friends and being respectful of my partners opposite sex friends are priority as is having my friendships respected. I’m not giving up my friends nor would I expect any hypothetical her to. What constitutes “respectful” has been a reoccurring and widely variable issue. I’m interested in receiving input on this.

My primary question is on disclosure. Generally who I’ve had sex with in the past isn’t anybody else’s business unless I make it so. One of my friends is an ex so it’s a given that we’ve slept together. I have other friends and aquintances that may become friends that I’ve slept with. If asked I would disclose this without hesitation. I would volunteer it if it somehow came up another way. I conduct myself appropriately with them as friends, I respect my relationships and expect them to respect my relationships as well.

The question is, should I be disclosing this information? It seems to cause problems. It’s also possible the problems exist because I’m not handling the friendships as appropriately as I think I am, so I’m interested in input on what constitutes appropriate as well. I don’t want to put someone in a situation where I’m expecting them to be ok with me doing things that that are unreasonable.

Problems for whom? Are your former partners uncomfortable that you’re telling your new partners about your past history with them, or are your new partners uncomfortable with the fact that you still maintain friendships/acquaintances with former partners?

Generally speaking, I would say that if you had a fling or FWB situation that your social circle didn’t know about at the time, don’t talk about it now unless it’s definitely necessary and reliably confidential. I’m not saying that you don’t have a right to be as open about your past history as you want to, just that one person’s openness is another person’s indiscretion, and your openness may be causing ripple effects for your ex-partners in their own current relationships.

Even official romantic relationships that turn into friendships may benefit from letting the now-obsolete romantic/sexual aspects of their history lapse into obscurity. There’s no shame in being honest but there’s also no shame in expecting people to mind their own business.

Hard to know what else to suggest without knowing what sort of problems you’re running into in terms of potential unreasonableness.

I see the bad moon a-rising
I see trouble on the way

I have a standing policy not to talk about my sex life in any way. Now that I’m married, that’s not such an issue. :rimshot:

But seriously I value discretion a lot. When I was telling my wife about some crush I had 20+ years ago and she asked me if we had actually slept together, it was mentally painful to tell her. Maybe I’m on the extreme end but if I figure you for a bean spiller, you go in a certain column of my ledger.

New partners being uncomfortable about past ones still being in my life. I exercise a lot of discretion in other aspects of past relationships and friendships. Nothing said or done in confidence gets out regardless of current status.

I should point out that the numbers are small, I’m only friends with one ex, and one other former sexual partner that I see on a regular basis(who hasn’t come up in this regard) but it was a problem for my last girlfriend, who I no longer speak to(for unrelated reasons) and I have several friends who all have very different takes on what they find acceptable in their own lives.

I don’t. I’m willing to put limits or change how I interact with them to some extent to suit a new partners ideals, so long as they are instituting the same practices they expect of me, but honestly if they aren’t then thats an entirely different problem.

Bean spillers should have their own column in everyone’s ledger. I don’t talk about my sex life, past or present with anyone I’m not having sex with. I value discretion as well as honesty.

More broadly I guess I’m looking to find the line. The balance between being overly informative and being deceptive by omitting.

See, you’re a bean spiller. Pillow talk is not an exception. I never talked about past partners with current partners.

Eta: I could discuss past acts in general but I won’t name names. I’d feel very guilty disclosing some specific problem or something.

Just ruminating and reminiscing: when I got overly asked about an ex my answer was “if we broke up, how would you feel about me discussing our sex life?”

@FigNorton pretty well nailed it.

Don’t ask don’t tell. Never volunteer anything.

If explicitly asked, respond with @FigNorton’s response and if they persist, tell them the minimum possible facts (but only facts) after informing them they’re giving permission for you to do the same about this relationship with any/all future partners when those people ask.

Overall you sound like one of those people who thinks full disclosure is “honest” and you suffer a self-imposed guilt trip every second you think you’re holding onto a “secret”. That’s a socially unskilled approach to human interaction.

It’s so far out of step with the mainstream that whatever message you think you’re sending by doing this, 90+% of your possible audiences would be receiving a totally different message. And not one you would be comfortable embracing.

I like the premise posed by fignorton. I’ll say though that if I were discussing someone I was in a prior relationship with, as it would have been had we needed to break up, sex never would have been mentioned. It can be presumed that it had occurred so I dont discuss it. But it’s workable across the board I think.

I don’t guilt trip myself and I don’t like discuss things that would violate anyone else’s privacy. Feels too gossipy. I also don’t like lying, but deception is a broad and intricate topic especially since it’s generally negative but sometimes expected of you socially.

I agree it’s a socially unskilled approach, as I’m a socially unskilled person, and I find a lot of social requirements confusing if not completely mystifying. Which brings me here, to help me discover and implement an appropriate solution to a problem I’ve identified. Generally I’d have asked my friends instead of strangers on the internet but i wanted an outside perspective on this one.

Well, I guess you have to decide where your boundaries are. I agree with you that you shouldn’t disclose to a new partner anything about an ex that you had previously considered confidential. But that doesn’t solve the problem if the very existence of the ex is the problem.

If the mere fact of your ex’s still existing in your life in some capacity is bothering your new partner, I think you will ultimately have to lose one or the other of them, unless your new partner is able to get over that insecurity.

If you do drop the ex’s acquaintance, you should tell them in confidence that it’s because the friendship is causing problems in the new relationship, so they don’t worry that they inexplicably alienated you somehow. But you don’t owe them an exhaustive explanation, and you don’t owe them a lifelong friendship at the expense of your new relationship.

Never admit to anything you don’t want to be used against you down the road. Better, just don’t admit to anything.

This really smells like a college problem. I’ve been married a long time, but the idea that any of my prior GFs ever even had an opportunity to meet or know my current GF, or vice versa, pretty well ended when I graduated college. The “real world” is just too big for these people to know each other, much less deal with each other regularly.

So as to the OP, just chill about all this. It’ll solve itself as soon as you graduate. Or leave the small town you’re stuck in, as the case may be.

Another data point: I graduated college 35+ years ago, and I’ve remained friends with various exes from college and post-college, some of them for decades thereafter and some up to the present moment.

And all my subsequent partners, and all the subsequent partners of those friends, have had to deal at some level with this issue of a current partner’s ongoing friendship with ex-partners. Sometimes both the relationship and the friendship have survived the adjustment, and sometimes not.

So, OP, don’t be too quick to conclude that this problem will “solve itself as soon as you graduate”. There are in fact many people who make lasting friendships with people they were formerly sexually or romantically involved with, and all of them have to figure out how to handle situations where a new partner is bothered by the continuing friendship with an ex-partner. If you might be one of those people, then you can’t write off this problem just yet.

I think 20 years is after the statute of limitations for mentioning you had sex with someone.