Deciding to take a break from a relationship can be a really difficult decision. Despite how much you love someone, there may come a time when separating feels like the best option. Depending on the rules of the break, there’s a pretty high chance that you and your partner were seeing other people while you were broken up. If you hooked up with other people during a break and have decided to get back together, figuring out if you both should open up about your sexual experiences outside of the relationship can be tricky.
Even if the break was (at the time) defined as a full-on breakup, many people struggle with the idea of the person they love being physically intimate with someone else. However, if you were no longer together and agreed that you were both free to do what you wanted, then nothing dishonest actually occurred. That said, during your makeup conversation(s) your SO might ask you about any people you were with during the break and it’s important to know the best way to answer this question — Or if you should at all. To better understand how to handle this potentially uncomfortable situation, I spoke to sexpert Jess O’Reilly, PhD, and host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast.
The first step is tackling any negative feelings you’re harboring about their actions if you’re bothered by the the fact that they might’ve been intimate with other people too. "Ask yourself why it bothers you," O’Reilly tells Elite Daily. "Do you worry that they enjoyed sex more with another partner? If so, you can talk about your concerns — but more importantly, focus on making sex more enjoyable for both you and your partner without the need to compare experiences."
Unfortunately, not comparing sexual experiences can be really tough and it’s so easy for both of you to feel jealous following a period of dating or hooking up with other people. "It’s okay to be jealous," says O’Reilly. "Jealousy can be functional and normative if you’re willing to acknowledge it and use it constructively. Many of us, however, ignore jealousy and this can result in lashing out, withdrawing or engaging in other unhealthy behaviors."
Once you’ve confronted your own feelings about your partner having potentially been with other people, figuring out if you should both come clean about the details can be a difficult decision. "You are not required to share everything about your past — including the details of what you did while you were on a break," explains O’Reilly. "If it’s not relevant, you don’t need to open up. But, if you feel a need to hide the fact that you’re a sexual being outside of the relationship, you might want to consider whether or not you can really be honest with one another."
We all know how important honesty is when it comes to relationships. Although you might wonder if telling your partner something that would hurt them is too honest, O’Reilly disagrees. "Sexual honesty and emotional honesty overlap, so if you’re afraid to be open up about sex, you may find that you’re afraid to be open about other important topics," warns O’Reilly. Ultimately, how much you tell your partner in regards to sexual activity that happened outside of your partnership is going to depend on if they ask or whether you feel the need to tell them. Either way, O’Reilly recommends being honest above all else.
"You will, both inevitably, experience jealousy, discord, insecurity and other negative emotions over the course of your relationship; if you try to avoid these negative feelings or sweep them under the rug, you’ll have greater difficulty processing them," explains O’Reilly. Ultimately, if you’re hoping to transition from a period of separation back into a monogamous relationship but feel like you can’t be honest, then this could be a red flag. "If you’re committed to one another, you should be able to discuss uncomfortable topics knowing that tough conversations have the potential to deepen understanding and connection," says O’Reilly.
In the end, only you can decide if opening up about your sex lives during the relationship break is the best decision. If you decide not to tell your partner purely out of fear that they will no longer accept you, then this could signal a bigger issue when it comes to communication and trust. However, if they don’t ask, and you don’t feel the need to discuss it, then that’s OK too. Just know that practicing open and honest communication on every topic, even painful ones, is almost always a healthy choice for your relationship in the long run.
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