Woe Is Me! “Should I Hide My Past From My Future Husband?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“My parents have started looking for a guy for me for marriage. They think I should move out of the flat I am currently living in because I share it with boys. Not only this, they think I should not tell a guy I meet that I had relationships in the past. My mother’s argument is that even if the guy is ok with it now, he might use it against me in the future. I don’t want to hide these things from the guy I marry. What should I do?“
— My Life Could Be A Lie?
SK: The straightforward answer: definitely not! You may have heard this before, but it warrants reiteration: your past is a part of who you are, and to have to hide, distort, or butcher it isn’t fair to you, or anyone else in this arrangement! But more than that, having previous relationships or living with boys is NOTHING to hide in the first place. The question with him ‘being okay’ or not okay with it shouldn’t arise — if it does, he’s definitely not the person for you.
I’m sure the guy you might end up marrying would have an exciting past of his own; sadly, no one expects him to conceal his pursuits from you. While your parents’ heart might be in the right place, it’s not the best idea to enter a relationship by pretending to be a more ‘acceptable’ version of yourself. I think you already know the answer to this one, you just need to take a leap of faith and let honesty do its thing.
KB: Certainly, I would not advocate for deception with a life partner. Lying to someone about your current living situation sounds like a very uncomfortable and dishonest way to start a marriage. It would seem especially silly to hide things that cut to the heart of who you are and how you want to live your life — because those lifestyle preferences are bound to be relevant to your future relationship. For example, if you expect to have many male friends, but your husband has a problem with that, now would be a good time to sort this out.
However, all of that said: I also don’t think you owe your future husband a play-by-play of your entire life up until the moment you met him. It’s simply not relevant. For example, disclosing every detail of your sex life before him is not going to lead anywhere good. So no, don’t lie; yes, be clear and direct about your expectations for your joint life; but no, do not disclose every detail of your personal history that has no bearing on this new beginning.
ADT: I think you should tell him, yaar. As a watcher of several different types of rom-coms, I can confirm that he WILL find out if you don’t tell him — via nefarious agents who don’t want to see you happy or via accident of coincidence. On a more realistic note, there’s also an increased trend of families hiring private investigators to scope out their family’s new potential member, so I don’t think any secrets are off the table here, unless you’ve been super discreet with life.
Plus, here’s the thing — you will hate marrying and living with him if you find out he’s a regressive oaf. Please take him out to the nearest coffee shop and narrate your life story — leave out no detail. If he leaves, good riddance. If he stays, well, he’s a lot less boring than you thought he could be.
LG: I think you should do exactly what you want — not hide any of these things from the guy you marry. Hiding or outright denying a fact about yourself and your worldview is a poor foundation on which to start a partnership; it would be unfair to both you and your future husband and lays the seeds for future conflict whenever the truth comes out (which it, or some version of it, will). At the same time, your dating history isn’t actually his business, so I don’t think you should feel obligated to volunteer the information in a ‘come clean’ kind of way; you’ve done and are doing nothing wrong.
More than anything, though, I think you should marry a guy who (a) couldn’t give two hoots that you’ve dated other people and have male friends with whom you live, and (b) isn’t the kind of person who dredges up innocuous, outdated life facts like these to ‘use against you’ when they’re angry. Personally, I think knowing how someone handles their anger is way more relevant to gauging the future success of a marriage than knowing their dating history. Maybe suggest your (obviously loving and protective) mother worry less about what knowledge your prospective husband has of your past and worry more about what skills your prospective husband has to handle his emotions maturely. Good luck, you beautiful bride-to-be.
DR: Let me start by saying: honesty (usually) is the best policy. And an (intended) life-long partnership would certainly be a place where that rule applies. Perhaps you can explain to your mother that you anyway wouldn’t want to spend your life with a person who isn’t open-minded enough to accept you for who you are — and also, remember that when making your choice.
I think I get where your mother may be coming from, though. A lot of what we take for granted today wasn’t considered ‘acceptable’ even for the generation right before us. And while things have certainly changed for the better for us, it’s understandable that your mother’s take on how people will perceive your life is informed by her experiences — whether personal or observed. I have seen some friends experience exactly what your mother thinks you will if you open up to your potential partner. So maybe, pick someone who doesn’t seem judgemental of things you’re worried about even in the context of other women? I think that can help you gauge what to expect even if he seems ‘accepting’ of your past relationships.
Also, maybe, don’t pick someone who thinks he’s ‘accepting’ your past relationships — especially if it seems that he thinks he’s being magnanimous or doing you a favor through his ‘acceptance.’ There’s nothing to ‘accept’ really; most people have a romantic/sexual past, and it should ideally be a non-issue. Good luck!