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Do you tell your partner everything?

Posted on Thursday, September 9, 2010 in Honesty, Men, Relationships, Women

I knew Rex was going out of town for business, so I called Mia to see if she needed some gal time.

“Nah, thanks. I have plans.”

“Hope he’s cute,” I joked.

“What do you mean?” she said with an unusual intensity.

“I don’t mean anything, but now you’re making me feel like it is meaning something. What’s up?”

“Nothing, really. I’m just going to get together with Peter, that’s all.”

“Peter as in your old flame Peter?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Uh, I don’t know. That’s cool. If it’s cool with Rex, it’s cool with me.”

“Well, I’m not going to tell Rex.”

“How come?”               

“Because, why should I? I mean, he’s
just a friend and I love Rex and I would never do anything to hurt my guy or our relationship so … what’s to tell?”

Good question, I guess.

But what if it were Rex meeting up with
an old flame and he didn’t tell her? How would that feel?

I’m guessing she wouldn’t be so OK
with it. Unless, of course, she didn’t find out.

Which is what most of us hope happens when we don’t reveal something that we’re not sure if we should share or not. Or know that we should, but don’t.

Otherwise, we’d just say it.

Which gets into the bigger question — should we tell our partner everything?

And if we don’t, why aren’t we?

It’s simple to say, well, just tell the truth. But as Oscar Wilde says, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Especially in relationships.

We can’t be in a healthy relationship without trust and truth. And yet, we don’t always tell our partner everything. That’s not necessarily lying, but it isn’t necessarily the “whole truth,” either.

And then, if it’s discovered something was omitted … watch out!

I pretty much assume that whatever guy I’m with will be fantasizing and checking out women and feeling tempted daily — maybe hourly.

Either he’s going to be the kind of guy who acts on it or not (and if he does act on it, he’s not my guy for much longer).

But sometimes when we’re confronted with reality  — Hey, I saw your sweetie having lunch with an attractive women yesterday — we feel a little twinge of, “hmm.”

Coworker? Boss? Client? Old friend? New friend?

Should we care?

Should we be sharing every little thing, especially if it involves time, however brief, spent in the company of someone of the other sex?

I know I haven’t.

Of course, I know that when I spend time with a male friend or a former flame, well, nothing’s going to “happen.” I trust myself, know my boundaries, and therefore my sweetie can trust me, too. (Yeah, yeah, I know — I once cheated on someone, long ago. I’m not “that girl” anymore).

Still, do we ever fully trust another person the same way we believe we can trust ourselves — and the way we want them to trust us?

  • How much do you share with your partner, especially about time spent with the other sex?
  • What if it’s time spent with a former flame?

Photo © Nathalie P –

Bring on the comments

  1. Steve says:

    I’m a believer in total honesty – minus those rare exceptions when it is better to leave some things unsaid. I think it is best to push the envelope on what is said. That way you know you aren’t giving up on openness too soon. I think that is where most people go wrong.

  2. Eathan
    Twitter: iswirls

    I am open about everything. And honestly that can be a problem if the woman I’m dating isn’t secure in our relationship. I have lots of close female friends that are like family to me. And it’s very common for us to have drinks, dinner or just hang out.

  3. dadshouse
    Twitter: dadshouseblog

    Not all guys are tempted daily or hourly. If we’re in a secure relationship with a sexy loving woman, there’s no temptation at all. That doesn’t mean we stop looking! Heads still can turn. I admire beauty. But I don’t necessarily fantasize about being with other women if the sex with my gf is totally connected.

  4. Mike says:

    Yes. If I felt weird about it then there is something wrong with me or the relationship that I can’t say everything. Like I do a 5 mile beach walk with an old girl friend every week. I wouldn’t date her again if you paid me, but she is now a good friend. My GF knows I do it every week, plus she knows I won’t see her afterwards. I share pretty much everything I would want to know.

  5. Jack
    Twitter: thejackb

    If you can’t tell your partner about lunch/coffee/drink with someone of the opposite sex than you need to rethink your relationship.

    I am not saying that you have to share everything, but if you find that you are compelled to withhold this sort of information than maybe there are issues.

  6. Kat Wilder says:

    Do we have to tell our partner everything?

  7. KC says:

    Its so funny that I turned on my computer and, of course, went to your blog first, and saw this… Last night, my GF and I were having fun, playing around and getting frisky and we started talking about old fantasies… What were our old fantasies and then describing them in detail… we both shared old memories as well as things that we did when we were a “bit” younger… and what we might think about when we’re “playing” with ourselves…. she told me some of hers and it was very erotic… I had no idea that she had such a vivid mind! Then I told her some of mine. things that I did and things that I would like to happen…. didn’t go as I thought. I thought we were sharing things… what she wanted to hear my wildest times were the things that we’ve done together. A great erotic night turned to shit would be a good description! Another reason to keep things to yourself… your partner really doesn’t want to know what you did in your past… It was too bad to because the night started off so nice… I guess she doesn’t do well on Rum! Makes her think too much. Another point for not being an “Open Book”
    Happy Friday Kat!

  8. brian says:

    opoosite sex no problem

    old flame?
    maybe in a group social situation
    one on one?
    she is playing games and not being honest with him and possibly herself
    self doubts?
    thinks she settled for him and the ex she misses?

  9. Single Mom Seeking
    Twitter: singlemomseekin

    First, an observation: I love the fact that all of your comments so far are from MEN only. Interesting.

    Second, for the record, I’m with the folks who make every intention to be honest. And I hope to be with a partner who makes a similar intention.

  10. I’ve learned this the hard way, and I wasn’t the perpetrator. If someone is in a committed trusting relationship with another person why even put yourself in a situation to cause suspicion. Regardless of the innocence of the meeting, the other person’s perception is our reality. And to your point, I put myself in the other persons shoes, how would I feel if she were out with a male friend or old flame? Chances are I would be far from keen on it. My personal experience was my ex wife and her personal trainer. (I know how cliche is that?!?!?) A friendship, on the surface, carried on until it became something more and, well, the rest is part of my story.

  11. Becky M
    Twitter: Becko7

    Oh, I enjoyed this one immensely. I have a male friend my husband refuses to accept as just a friend, so… I don’t tell him when I talk to/see this friend. It’s that simple. As you said Kat – “nothing’s going to happen” and in my situation it certainly isn’t. This guy is married, too. Seeing him is about as romantic as going to lunch with my mother, but my husband would still flip.

  12. Kat Wilder says:

    Steve — giving up too much too soon is always a problem. Gotta ease people into our”quirks”!

    Eathan — well, and that’s the problem; when your partner doesn’t feel secure in the relationship. How much effort should we invest in helping him/her feel secure, or is it his/her own bag?

    Dads — well, they do say that most of our fantasies are with our partner; how boring is that!!!??

    Jack — Ah, there’s a difference between “If you can’t tell your partner” and “If you don’t tell your partner.” Can’t is a problem, obviously; is don’t?

    KC — thank you for turning me on first! (uh, you know what I mean 😉 ) I have a number of friends who had experiences like yours. I just don’t understand why people get so tweaked about the past. It’s the past, people!

    Brian — maybe. We all have been known to not be honest with ourselves, even when we think we are …

    SMS — Yeah, we’re all these men come from? Bring ’em on! I do hope you’ll be with one, too. I think you might indeed be. 😉

    Project Fatherhood — Yikes! A cliche indeed; sorry. I agree that we shouldn’t put ourselves in such situations, but sometimes we don’t even know it is a situation until someone freaks. Then, we REALLY know!

    BeckyM — well, as anyone who has ever cheated knows, married or not does not matter. Really. If someone wants to cheat, he or she will. If this is the only guy your hubby freaks about, that’s not so bad. He’s a keeper 😉