How much to tell a new SO about your sexual history?

This came up tonight… a friend of mine, Gina, felt guilty. One of her friends just hooked up with this guy. Gina slept with this guy once last summer, and she told her friend, thinking it was no big deal. Well, this girl flipped out because her guy told her he hardly knew Gina, when actually he had sex with her. The truth is, he really doesn’t know her that well; they were casual acquaintances and remain so. It was drunken one nighter.

We (Gina, this guy, and I) got into a discussion about this. He says this girl didn’t need to know about him and Gina, since it was once, a year ago. Gina said that her friend felt deceived by him and was offended that he would say he hardly knew a woman he “knew” Biblically. He responded that she was just being high-strung and melodramatic, that he didn’t have to give her a full list of every woman he’s ever slept with, as that is insensitive and unnecessary.

What do you think? How much of your sexual history do you reveal at the beginning of a relationship? When, if ever, is it appropriate to reveal all about your sexual history? Personally, the less I know (as long as it doesn’t pose a health risk), the better, but…it’s hard to trust people.

Which brings me to another fun scenario (yes, I have messed up friends): another friend of mine, Pam, had a month-long affair with this guy. They didn’t use condoms b/c she’s on the Pill, and he told her he was “clean.” She found out recently that he, in fact, had unprotected sex with a girl who has genital herpes (the girl with the herpes told her). Pam flipped, talked to this guy, who said, “It was 6 months ago, and I haven’t had any sign of herpes, so I figured you didn’t need to know about it.”

Was Pam right to flip out? Or was she overreacting? Apparently the chick with herpes told the guy that “she wasn’t having an outbreak at that time,” which, I don’t know, man… you can have herpes on your cervix and not feel it until you’re well into an outbreak (I asked the health teacher at my school).

So I’m torn now between the Reveal All position, which allows your partner to make a more informed decision about protection, skankiness of said partner, etc., and the Need to Know Only position, which avoids a lot of hideous, unnecessary and jealousy-inducing convos. Opinions welcome.

Well, he potentially infected her because of stupidity.

No, she’s not overreacting.

She should have required the condom.

While the guy is scum for not telling her he could have been infected, you should always insist on using a condom. There is never a good excuse not to use protection, and the pill is one of the worst of all.

My sex life is an open book to all, but when I met Mrs. robgruver I did not tell her much. At the time of meeting her I was involved with a swingers club, which I didn’t take her to for nine months. I didn’t even tell her about it for six. She was this nice, wholesome, Christian girl and I was a freak. You do the math.

Of course then I found out just how much of a freak she was, and we lived happily ever after.

YMMV though. :smiley:

Complete honesty is required.

Also you can then do some “well you could probably not top this…”.

These days, you really need to address it. Sins of omission are not as bad as outright lies if the subject has not been addressed, but they’re equivalent if the inquiry’s been made.

Personally, I’d have to have that little talk before the flesh flies. It wasn’t always like that.

Frankly, Gina doesn’t sound like much of a friend, telling the girl “oh yeah, I did your new boyfriend.”

I think if something is relevant, then mention it.

Like I tell partners that I’ve had unprotected sex before, but have been tested for STDs and came out ok. Just like if I hadn’t been tested, I would tell them that too, especially if I’d had sex with an infected person, or someone that might have been.

Those are things someone should know. Aside from that, I don’t feel some great need to get into my past, unless I’m asked a specific question. Otherwise, the names of my past partners, how many partners I’ve had or just how many times I’ve had sex is just irrelevant.

What your health status is and that you will only have sex with him/her with protection.

It’s really no one’s business how many people you’ve slept with. If there is a health issue, you are obligated (at least morally, if not legally? [lawyers help us out?]) to tell them, but if you are disease free, and use protection with them, what difference does it make how many people you’ve slept with?

Why do people feel that they have to force the “numbers game” upon their SOs?

Well, unless you’re trying to have a kid. That’d be a pretty good excuse to not use protection. But other than that, good point.

I tend to be in favor of “spill all,” which is what I did the last time it looked like it might become relevant. So did the prospective partner. It wasn’t nearly as awkward as I had imagined it might be. My history isn’t that long or exciting, though.

I think names are unnecessary unless specific questions are asked, but health status, whether you’ve had unprotected sex in the past few years, and a general idea of number of past partners are all a good idea.

Why the number of past partners? (Just curious, not an antagonistic Q).

Because someone who has fifty past partners is more likely to have been exposed to something, or if male, fathered a child, s/he doesn’t know about, than someone who has only had two. And I, personally, would like to take that risk assesment into account. Granted, if they’ve been tested thoroughly and recently, it’s less of an issue, but I would still like to know.

Possibly more importantly, someone with a large number of previous partners with whom they are no longer in contact probably doesn’t form long-term relationships easily. I’m not interested in super-short-term relationships, so I’d like to know that, too. If someone has a large number of previous partners whom s/he is still involved with, I’d like to meet them if I’m going to be a part of his/her life. Either way, something I’d like to know.

I don’t expect an exact count - just some idea. “Less than five,” “about a dozen,” “between a hundred and 150,” that sort of thing. Granted, if it’s been exactly 27 and you know that without having to mentally count each one, I’ll be more turned on by your level of self-awareness, but I’m not about to require it. :slight_smile:

None of you are the same folks who said not to confess to cheating are you?

Good, I’d hate to see a double standard applied to sexual relations.

What CanvasShoes said. Keep the numbers to yourself, I don’t want to know, and trust me, you don’t want to know mine.

The $64,000 question is, when do you tell? When does a “casual boyfriend” become an SO? Third date? First night together? Moving in together? Third kid?

Tell too much too early and all there’ll be is a cloud of dust and a boyfriend-shaped hole in the door.

I agree with whoever said you should tell your health status, and that’s about it. I sure don’t want to hear about all the women he’s been with and I don’t think it’s any of his business who or how many I’ve had.

I learned a lesson on the numbers thing a long time ago. I asked the guy I was dating how many he’d had and he told me the number was over 100, but he’d lost count. Um, that freaked me out a lot and I wished he never told me. I really could have lived without that information.

I tend to think that this is something top be discussed before you become sexually intimate with your SO. and yes, numbers should be discussed because it’s not up to you to decide how many is a big deal- it’s up to your SO. If it’s a dealbreaker, better early on than after years together and a potential multitude of embaressing/upsetting situations where it could potentially come up.

I will admit that I am a prude right off the bat. That said, my wife and I exchanged sexual histories fairly early in our relationship- I was initially uncomfortable (and frankly, she was not promiscuous at all- i admit that i’d be uncomfortable knowing that she’d been with anyone else, period)- but I am glad that we got it out of the way, so that neither of us ever have to wonder about it.

I think if two people decide to have sex, protected or unprotected, they should reveal their histories as far as “I once slept with someone who has herpes but it was 3 years ago and I’ve tested negative,” or stuff like that.

I don’t think it should be required to say “I’ve slept with X number of people.”

As far as having screwed your new love’s friend ages ago, I don’t think it’d be a good idea to tell. Good way to mess up a friendship, even though it happened in the past.

I was MrSnoopy’s first and only, but had he had a drunken one night stand with, say, one of my sorority sisters 2 years before he met me, I wouldn’t see why I’d need to be told that.

I think that revealing the number of past sexual partners is important, at least if you and your SO are fairly young. IMHO, there is NO reason why a 19 year old should have had 10 sexual partners.

But then again, as an 18 year old virgin, if I found out from an SO that she’s had just one sexual partner, that would be one partner too many for my liking.

I can see both sides of both of these scenarios, but in the second one (re: herpes) either the guy was just rationalizing his decision to his own benefit, or he is just kind of dumb about herpes. People should reveal all when there is a potential health issue. Let the new partner decide whether it’s important enough to require a condom, trip to the doctor, etc.