Unless your girlfriend was also your kindergarten crush, it's likely you're not the first guy to woo your current lady love. While wondering about their girl's past is the norm for many men, actually asking is a challenge that takes tact. Whether you want to know general information -- such as how many boyfriends she's had -- or get specific, knowing the right way to ask can make the difference between getting answers and angering her.
Put the What If's Behind You
If you're fearing what your girl has to say about her past, put the "what if's" out of your mind and open yourself up to the reality of the situation. Don't go into the conversation thinking that she "might" say something that you don't want to hear. This sets a tense mood for your discussion and will only make you more nervous. As you work up to asking, let go of your fears and wait to hear her truth. Keep in mind that, while you might want to know, there are times when asking isn't appropriate or when she might not want to answer. For example, the first date may be to soon for her to open up and share highly personal details about past relationships or family issues.
John told Tina that Jane said that your girlfriend has had more than her fair share of beaus. If the reports of your girl's past are confusing you -- especially because she only ever speaks about her one ex-boyfriend -- start with an "I feel" statement instead of pointing fingers. Try expressing your feelings with a conversation starter such as, "I feel confused about what you've said regarding your past." The same goes for other past issues in her life. Don't rush to judge because you heard that she used to drink alcohol or skip school. The rumors might be wrong.
Discussing past relationships is a sensitive issue. While you might simply want to know how many guys she dated before you, asking about her exes might bring up bad memories or feelings that she'd rather leave in the past. Likewise, talking about past family problems or emotional issues such as "breaking up" with a friend may present challenges. Stay sensitive and let her speak without interrupting. Avoid asking aggressively, shaming her or making snap judgments.
Making your girlfriend feel like her answer makes or breaks your relationship may not get an honest response. Instead of instilling fear, help your girl to feel comfortable and safe when talking about her past. Sharing a mutual proposal or goal can help both people feel safe within a tricky conversation, according to the article "Effective Conversations About Difficult Issues" on the PsychCentral website. Sit down with your girlfriend and explain that sharing her past will help you get to know her and bring the two of you closer together. Offer to talk about your own past, if that makes her feel safer in the situation.
- Psychology Today: Taking the Fear, Angst & Dread Out of Difficult Conversations
- Psychology Today: 6 Safe Sentence-Starters for Sensitive Discussions
- TeensHealth: Assertiveness
- PsychCentral: Effective Conversations About Difficult Issues
- Psychology Today: Relationship Red Flags: What to Look For Early On
- Brigham Young University, Women's Services and Resources: What Makes a Healthy Relationship?
- Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images