Do past relationships matter, when it comes to marriages? Does the virginity of a man or a woman become a deal breaker in alliances? Do answers to these questions differ on basis of the gender of the person concerned?
Well, these questions were raised by a user on Reddit and replies to them followed a pattern. One of the users' reply was "I would not necessarily be worried about their past. I would find it strange if they continued to be close with their exes - not cordial, but close in a day-to-day way."
While another said, "Nothing is a deal breaker if the relationship is honest to begin with. As long as the people involved are truthful about the past it's fine. You don't need to disclose everything that happened in your life, but neither should you say you're a virgin when you're not."
Terming it a personal choice whether a person should be worried about their partner's past relationship, a user wrote that it's probably a personal thing. "I come from a fairly conservative background so I chose not to date. Now that my family is looking for matches, I would personally prefer a partner who has no past relationships as well because I would want the relationship to grow between just the 2 of us. It feels like if they had a relationship, there might be a constant comparison factor," he added
Speaking about the benefit of having past relationships, another user wrote, "Honest reply - 41 year old male. Unmarried as of yet. If I still get married now, it'd most probably be with a woman who's at least 35. At that age, in fact, I'd be more scared to be with someone who hasn't been in any relationship before. I mean if you have not been in any relationship till 35 then ... I don't know... your ability to handle relationships might not have matured enough !! Just my 2 cents."
These replies cover up different aspects of how past relationships may or may not impact a marriage. If we go by the replies, there people who want partners with no previous relationships and then there are those who don't mind it. But the question is that does it really matter?
As far as previous relationships are concerned, research proves that it might impact the marital quality, perhaps negatively. But it also mentions that, "Couples who “slide” rather than “decide” their way through life-changing transitions like having sex, living together and becoming pregnant are less likely to report high-quality marriages." This means that if the past relationships and experiences are not shared honestly, it might lead to negative impact.
Well this is certainly true because we are always told to try and make marriages work and honesty helps built trust in a relationship which might affect its longevity. But is it easy to share about past experiences without getting judged? How many men will be accepting of their wife's past relationships, especially if she has had sexual relationships with her former partners?
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Hiding past relationships: It's complicated
Sharing about past relationships certainly makes a bond strong. But it can also weaken it when the partner is not understanding enough and non-judgemental. In our society, women are never expected to have a relationship before they get married. Their body is preserved for the use and ownership of their husbands. Women who still indulge in premarital relationships and sex, get character assassinated and slut shamed. They are no longer considered good enough to deserve a prospective groom.
Even if a woman is already married and she opens up about her past relationship, she is still scrutinised for being immoral. The reason behind all this is the thought that a woman's izzat resides in her ">hymen. If that breaks before marriage, she becomes a characterless woman whom no man would want to marry.
On the other hand, men are not meted with the same treatment. If they open up about past relationships or losing virginity, they are accepted because it is assumed that this is typical male behaviour and their gender is allowed to have a lower self control, when is comes to preserving virginity. In fact promiscuity is men is seen as a sign of virility, in a way validating a man's past relationships.
So the point is that sharing about past relationships might be necessary but is society ready to accept a woman's dating history before marriage? Are men ready to marry women who have been deemed "used goods"? If not, then why are we discussing the past? Shouldn't we first try to remove the gender bias that lurks in marriages? Shouldn't we first focus on society's prudishness, when it comes to discussing premarital sex?
Before demanding women to be transparent about their past relationships, we need to first condition men to be accepting of the same.
Views expressed are the author's own.