“Have you done this before?” “How many people have you been with?”
They say defining the relationship is a hard conversation to have, but that pales in comparison to the inevitable questions from your partner about your past sexual experiences. Our fear of rejection and more importantly judgement leads to us shaming ourselves for our past before our partners even know what that looks like. This isn’t to say that it’s all in our heads, on the contrary, it’s often the societal narrative we’ve all collectively bought into. Whether it’s no sexual past or too much of a sexual past, society’s shaming doesn’t discriminate.
Here are a few oft-quoted inhibitions that people have about disclosing their sexual history with their partners.
- You won’t be able to please your partner without practice.
Too often we’re told that being able to satisfy our partner ought to be instinctive, and when it’s not we fall back on having enough practice. But the truth is that each person is different, the rhythms and techniques that worked for previous partners might not apply to new ones. Great sex takes practice and communication every time you jump into bed with someone new. If anything that’s something to be grateful for. There’s an awkward romance around discovering someone’s body for the first time- the giggles and the fumbles and the gratification when you finally get it right.
- What if you don’t live up to their previous partners?
Sex, even exhilarating, make-you-feel -things-you-never-have-before-sex, is not the key indicator of someone’s affection towards you, or of a healthy relationship. In fact, the thing that makes sex special for most people is not the act itself but rather the person they are doing it with. However, if you find this is starting to really bother you, don’t be afraid to ask your partner to love you a little extra that day, and remind you why you’re the person they are committed to. Besides, there’s bound to be something neither of you has tried despite always wanting to. Maybe they’ve never had sex in public, or with toys involved, and that can be a first for both of you!
- Jealousy and possessiveness
Despite the cheesy lines of “we belong together” and “I am yours”, a healthy relationship is characterised by respect for each partner’s agency. Unhealthily obsessing over who your partner was, or was with before you undermines your present and future with them. It’s important to remember that much like you aren’t the person you were 5 years ago and want different things and people now, so does your partner!
- Women who have had multiple partners have “loose” morals and vaginas.
Look I know 80’s fashion trends are back, but this mindset isn’t a good look on anyone. Someone’s preferences towards sex are not their defining quality. A sex-positive society is one that recognizes that all healthy, explicitly and enthusiastically consensual sex is a positive thing. It has nothing to do with your morals and is never going to be the reason someone loves you or doesn’t. As for vaginas, they’re a muscle that can bounce back even after pushing out a baby! Science has proven that sex does nothing to loosen your vagina. In fact when women are “too tight” it’s usually because they aren’t aroused, i.e the muscular canal hasn’t relaxed to comfortably allow for penetration!
Besides, womxn can never win with these sorts of narratives, either we’re too prudish or too sexual, so we might as well set our own standards for our sexual lives!
- You won’t be enough and they will leave you
Anxiety in relationships, as in life, can be immensely disruptive as you constantly try to account for the worst-case scenario in your head rather than trusting your partner and responding to the situation as it actually is. The short solution is to be open and honest in your communication, but often this fear of rejection stops us from being vulnerable in that manner. Sex and relationships can often be triggers insofar as they touch upon our own insecurities about our bodies, characteristics, all of which is then exacerbated by the importance we place on our partner’s opinion and the relationship in general.
At Manzuri we recognize that any approach to cultivated sex positivity has to take into account mental health and body positivity. Sexual concerns are rarely isolated from our larger baggage and require a holistic approach. In this case, it is important to put your own perspective of yourself before your partner’s. You have to be enough for yourself, and choose to not abandon yourself chasing someone else. When we’re able to support ourselves, the fear of being abandoned no longer drives our decision making. It’s easier said than done, we know, follow us on @get_cliterate to find support in our community and positive reinforcement in stories, information and memes!
Lastly, a few words of advice. Communication is essential for a long term relationship, secrets only cause resentment and trust issues. However, it is as much about what we confess as it is about how we react to our partner’s confessions. Ultimately, when we love someone, we are committing to growing and learning with them. So the resounding answer to the question is that no, your past doesn’t matter in a relationship. However, your partner’s response to it does determine if they are someone you want to be in a relationship with. There’s someone out there who will love your authentic self, you just have to kiss a couple of frogs to find them!