Even though most of my friends view my career as an advice columnist with a great deal of amusement, some of them still ask me a question every now and again. So I wasn't surprised to get a call for help from my pal Wanda this afternoon. Wanda had been seeing an extremely foxy younger man for a few months, until he got a job that took him several thousand miles away. Nothing was said about undying love and/or fidelity, but the two talk every couple weeks, and he'll probably be returning at some point. Meanwhile, as Wanda is a sassy lass, she found herself smitten with another little kitten. This fellow is also foxy and sweet, but again, there've been no declarations of love everlasting. Her problem this fine almost-spring afternoon was she felt that perhaps she should advise Mr. Faraway that she's seeing someone closer to home. My advice: Absolutely not. What he doesn't know won't hurt him, and besides, he didn't ask.
I firmly believe that everybody is entitled to secrets and that honesty is an overrated virtue. Don't get me wrong— I'm not advocating cheating or deception—I just don't think we need to know everything about our partners in passion. There is such a thing as inappropriate disclosure; this is a concept I've been attempting to drive home to my sweet, but stubbornly disobedient, boyfriend.
For example, the other day we were doing a little shopping when we happened upon a tall, semigorgeous redhead. They talked for a couple minutes, we walked away, and I thought nothing of it. But Boyfriend had something on his mind. "She and I—we used to go places," he smirked. Bear in mind—I hadn't asked. I sweetly told him I didn't need to hear about every skag he'd stuck his dick into before we were a couple. As far as I'm concerned, those were the dark years. But despite my protests, he kept on, clarifying that though they'd never done the nasty, it wasn't for lack of trying on his part. Why would I need to know that about the girl who'd just sold me a T-shirt? A perfect example of too much information.
My friend Jolene is involved with a big, handsome Latvian carpenter. They have a carefully constructed, very casual relationship. They get together once or twice a week, have sex, and that's pretty much the extent of it. She sees other people and assumed he also thought of himself as a free agent. But last week, when she came by for her weekly shag, he "confessed" to having slept with his ex. So instead of getting nailed, she got annoyed. She wasn't jealous exactly, but there's a big difference between assuming your man is getting around and knowing he's sticking it elsewhere.
Ailene's husband used to talk about his ex-wife incessantly. This was irritating, but she was finally pushed over the edge when he pointed out some movie that had really got the ex all slippery down under. But kudos to Ailene; instead of stabbing his eyes out with a fork, she calmly but firmly (through clenched teeth) explained to him that of course he—like she—has a history, and some of those memories are fine to talk about. And some of them are not. What got an ex all hot and bothered falls into the latter category.
My man's reaction to me screeching for him to shut the hell up about the redhead was to pull out the old standby, "I can't tell you anything." No, you can tell me lots of stuff. You just can't tell me stupid shit that I'd be better off not knowing! So I asked him if he wanted me to point out everyone I'd slept with as we happened across them. As I was a bit of a slut back in the day, this happens way more often than he suspects.
He ignored my question and changed the subject back to the redhead, patting himself on the back for sparing me the details. (Like what—he only fingered her?!) So I tried out my new strategy.
"I made out with Ricky." Ricky is his best friend. "He wanted to fuck me, but I wouldn't. Don't worry, it was years ago."
Boyfriend's jaw dropped, and for a minute he looked like he might cry. Then he insisted I was lying. Was I? You can bet I didn't hear about the redhead again.
Dating drama? Write Dategirl at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western, Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.