The Question: I have been with a man for 5 months. He told me a few months ago that he has strong values and wants to wait for marriage to have sex. I was a little disappointed, but I respect his beliefs. We are very open with each other and I have never lied to him about anything until he asked me how many people I have slept with. I said 3, but the real number is around 40. I’ve never been so sure about someone in my life until I met him and wish to put my promiscuity in the past, but I fear he may look at me differently due to his strong values. That is why I wonder if it is necessary for me to tell him the real number of people I have had sex with. Or is this a lie that can remain a secret?
The Answer: My first response is that it’s no one else’s business how many people you’ve had sex with in the past or will have sex with the future…
Don’t allow yourself or your actions to be judged by another person. We make decisions every day and we learn from the results of those decisions and move on to the next decision. There is absolutely no reason to regret any decision you’ve ever made as long as you learned something from the experiences that followed. We grow with each experience, each choice, and each relationship. Some philosophers say that’s what life is really about – experiencing life so that we can discover who we truly want to be.
"We sometimes have to experience who we don’t want to be so that we can discover the person we want to become."
Each of us has our own set of core values that are important to us, but that doesn’t give us the right to push those values onto another person, nor to judge that person because they do not share our values now or in the past. Your partner should not judge you for your past actions because it is those actions and decisions that have made you the person that he or she loves today.
One man’s convictions, values, and moral beliefs are another man’s heresy. For thousands of years different societies have persecuted other cultures and societies for arbitrary "values" and "morality".
Ponder this for a moment… In the greater scheme of the Universe, what gives one man or society the right to determine what is right and wrong for everyone else? Or to force others to feel shame if they feel or believe differently?
If you are suppressing who you really are to match up with another person’s "strong values", realize that there’s nothing wrong with who you are, and there’s nothing in the world that makes their values and beliefs, or life experience, any better than yours. Period. Beware of convincing yourself to live up to someone else’s values. You could end up resenting the other person for it, which could end your relationship.
While I cannot make your decision for you as to whether or not to tell your boyfriend the actual number of people that you’ve slept with, I will say this: Open and honest communication in a relationship is vital to its growth and survival. If this is something that will haunt you and cause you distress on the inside, then you should tell him because suppressing it will affect your relationship. But if you can truly forgive yourself and let go of any guilt that you carry around regarding your past sexual activity, then I say let sleeping dogs lie and move on with your life.