Illustration: Janet Sung
We’re all grown-ups. Which means that as time goes on, we may learn that we have something more in common with our new boo than just our favorite restaurant or a love for Love Is Blind. (It’s okay. We know you watch it.)
What if you and the new woman in your life had another commonality? What if you found out that she once had sex with a friend of yours? Are you cutting it off? Or are you mature enough to shrug your shoulders and continue in a relationship that works?
The correct answer is, of course, you would shrug your shoulders, because who cares? Right?
So we might’ve had a quickie with your friend during a boozy night in our junior year of college. Are we really supposed to tell you when we all meet over drinks 20 years later? We barely knew that man. Sorry to this man.
There’s really no way we can win here. If we’re honest with you about hooking up with your homie, we’ve betrayed you, but if we deny it or omit the truth, we’re toxic. Where’s the common ground?
Wait. Did you say he was your line brother? Your cousin? Your brother? Okay, in those cases, we need to come clean. Other than that, our lips are sealed. If your boy tells you about it, so be it; that’s between the two of you. One of the best things about dating when you’re older is that posturing is over. We can come to the table as our pure authentic selves.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. There’s no way in hell you could lock down a woman who’s gotten busy with one of the crew. And most of you would expect us to spill the beans. But there’s really no way we can win here. If we’re honest with you about hooking up with your homie, we’ve betrayed you, but if we deny it or omit the truth, we’re toxic. Where’s the common ground?
We do not need you having a flashback-laden emotional breakdown à la Lance Sullivan from The Best Man. The 1999 film explored the nuances of an impending marriage on the verge of collapse once the groom (Sullivan) discovers that his best man, Harper, once hooked up with his fiancée, Mia, in college after she was fed up with Sullivan’s cheating. (Which he discovered from Harper’s thinly veiled autobiography of a debut novel, no less.) While we’re still cringing about the relationship overlap in the film 20 years later, we learn that Mia actually handled Lance’s infidelity with grace, and maybe a bit of revenge — but perhaps Lance’s prime mistake was thinking of Mia as a pure, almost virginal saint.
Guess what? We’re not saints either. Especially now that we’re grown-grown. We have sex. Many of us have had multiple partners, and it doesn’t make us loose or slutty. (And if it does, we’re fine with that, too.)
It’s likely that your future or current partner has most of her life in check; from education and career to finances — she’s got it together. But that also means she’s well traveled, and not just the well traveled that comes with passport stamps.
If you want to run away from a promising match because your boy knows about the freckles on her inner thigh, you’re probably not mature enough to handle her anyway.
Now, we should come up with some ground rules if we’re going to move forward. We will admit that this can all be sensitive, especially if we all live in the same proximity.
- If it was more than 20 years ago, please keep it moving. Don’t even bother asking. And if you do ask, we may not answer.
- The above rule doesn’t include close blood relatives. Still doesn’t need a conversation.
- Unless we had a kid by this person or nearly made it to the altar, how far the relationship went on really should not matter either.
- There will be no comparisons. Ever.
It’s a given that relationships come with ex-relationships. If you can’t accept that your partner is human and has a past, there’s the option of ending it all. But keep in mind, the next woman is grown, too.
Ultimately, what matters is if you’re able to accept your partner’s past and stop living in it. Relationship maintenance requires difficult conversations, especially if you’re triggered by our long-ago decisions. So, stop obsessing over your man knocking it down! More likely than not, there was no love involved. And even if there was, what matters is where we are now — by your side. Let’s work. Besides, the only way to get over it is through it.