Dear Carolyn: I am currently considering getting back together with an ex. We were together for over three years, then were separated for over a year. We recently spent a wonderful weekend together in the Caribbean after we both expressed that we missed each other and wanted to try again.
We both seem to be curious about one another’s love lives while we were separated – I suppose this is somewhat natural. He says it doesn’t really matter what I did during our time apart, but he just wants to know the truth.
Do you think full disclosure is necessary in this situation, and do you think it is within my rights to not disclose? We have both been tested for STIs. Do you think it says something about our relationship that I am unwilling to fully disclose? – Anon
As for your urge to ask for details and your discomfort with the details themselves: Figure yourselves out, then figure each other out. Any details will be needless distractions without that crucial self-knowledge.
Meaning, understand exactly why you’re curious about each other’s “love lives,” preferably before you start asking. Does either of you, for example, think sexual involvement would reflect poorly on the other’s character? Do you think there’s a difference between having one sex partner during that year-plus and having two or three? What about two or three versus 10?
Once each of you knows what you’re trying to find out, then you’ll see – I hope – not only that specifics are gratuitous, but also that requesting them is needlessly invasive.
Why? Because if you want to know whether there are lingering attachments, then you simply ask that. If you want to know whether you (still) have similar values, then you ask that. If you want to know whether you agree on what is and isn’t each other’s business, then you ask that.
As for what it says about your relationship that you’re unwilling to disclose, that depends. Is there a reaction you fear that he’s going to have, or that you can’t handle? You can ask him about that, too.