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Millennials Are More Likely Than Gen Zers to Keep Sexual History Secret

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As you get to know your new romantic partner, you may have a lot of questions at first. But is asking about sexual history going too far?

While honesty is always the best policy, it doesn’t mean you have to disclose every detail from past relationships if you don’t want to. Psychotherapist Alexia McLeod told Newsweek that keeping this information private can positively affect a relationship.

“Sharing past sexual experiences can impact on your relationship in a way you didn’t intend. By telling, your intent may be to enhance your relationship, but the effect may be making your partner feel insecure, angry or even resentful,” said McLeod, who lives in Wellington, Florida.

About 1 in 3 American adults hides sexual history from a partner, according to a recent survey conducted by Tebra, a digital health care platform. The results found that 20 percent of Gen Zers and 27 percent of millennials have opted for privacy regarding their past partners.

Alexis Mcleod
In a TikTok video, psychotherapist Alexia McLeod discusses how to handle a discussion with a romantic partner about past sexual history.

TikTok/@@alexia.mcleod

The decision not to share one’s sexual history can have various reasons, including fear of judgment, concerns about the partner’s reaction or simply believing that the past is irrelevant to the current relationship.

In a TikTok video, McLeod (@alexia.mcleod) said that partners shouldn’t feel pressured to share their entire past.

“You have to be able to trust the person that you are talking to,” she said. “If you are not at that stage in your relationship, it is important that you respond to them by saying, ‘I don’t feel comfortable discussing that yet.'”

A comment on the clip that has over 10,800 views said: “Great point! Their response to you saying you’re not comfortable could give you A LOT of information about them.”

McLeod, the owner and founder of Therapeutic Center for Hope, told Newsweek that having a talk about previous sexual encounters could lead to negative consequences.

“You have to understand that some things can’t be ‘unheard,'” she said. “It is important to be truthful in a relationship. It is also important to choose your words carefully if you choose to make disclosures about the details of your sexual past.”

She continued: “You need to use discretion when offering up information that your partner doesn’t desire to hear. More than likely, your partner understands that you have had experiences with others in the past but doesn’t want to envision how those experiences went down in detail.”

McLeod said the conversation could lead to “insecurity or unwanted comparisons” in your relationship. If this does occur, people are encouraged to apologize and acknowledge their feelings about the disclosure.

“Let your partner know what your intentions were in disclosing the information and hopes for the future with him/her,” she said.

“Keeping one’s sexual history private can contribute positively to the intimacy and connection to partners because each partner is only focused on the other, without the distraction of intrusive thoughts about the other person’s ex-partner,” she said.

However, speaking about the past is nonnegotiable if there’s a risk of a sexually transmitted disease or a varied sexual preference.

“The other partner can make an informed decision if a sexual relationship with this person is what they want,” McLeod said. “I believe that disclosing sexual history can do harm if both parties don’t understand and agree on the reason for the disclosure.”

If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured in Newsweek‘s “What Should I Do? section.