Is Digging into Your Partner’s Past Hurtful or Helpful?

The age of social media has spoiled us with the bulk of information available at our fingertips. We have access to the past, the present, and even have the ability to seek out information that will improve our futures. 

When you have an SO, you might constantly be wondering about what has happened in their past love life. You might think about who they were involved with or about the cause of their past relationship’s demise. While it’s okay to be curious, being mindful about how far you’re willing to search is equally as important. It's normal to creep on your potential love interest, you know, when you want to lurk on their Instagram and go through their incredibly outdated, cringe-y Facebook albums. But do you sleuth in secret, or are you straight up inquisitive? Could you be exhibiting self-destructive behaviors while actively searching for trouble? You could be destroying any previous traces of trust in your relationship when digging too deep into somebody’s past.

Perhaps there's no need to dig into your partner's past, but rather a need to dig into why you desperately need this information in the first place.

Why am I obsessed with my partner’s Past?

The answer to why we spy is incredibly simple: we search out of curiosity. However, sometimes a constant interest in a partner's past can get the better of you, and you might end up asserting all of your energy into finding out who they used to be in order to really understand who they currently are. You may feel like knowing this information will ultimately affect you and the outcome of your relationship. Without a doubt, when you care about your relationship and your partner, you want to do whatever you can to prevent things from going south. But what if all this research leads to hurt feelings, and subsequently, becomes the cause of your relationship failing?

Digging into your partner’s past without their consent can bring up issues of distrust. Without knowing their side of the story results in unnecessary conclusions being drawn. Avoiding this by bluntly asking your partner questions about their past is one possible solution, but what makes you assume your partner will be comfortable with answering? When you ask about why their past relationships didn't work out, and they don't want to answer those personal details you're dying to know, things can become a little more complicated.

Sometimes, obsessions with people's past relationships boil down to how convinced you are that a person’s past is a reflection of who they are now. Let's also remember that sometimes your partner is a reflection of yourself. At first thought, many people don't want to overanalyze what it means to be with a "cheater," or somebody who has a messy past. However, before assuming that your partner is still the same person they used to be, consider how you would feel if someone did the same to you. Would you like to be judged based on your past actions? If your answer is no, then decide whether there’s even a reason to creep on your SO.

If you don’t trust your partner and feel the need to investigate their past, there may be some deeper relationship issues that you both need to resolve. But, what if your partner just hasn’t cheated on you or they exhibit a change in behavior? It’s important to not self-sabotage your relationship with these little nagging thoughts that end up pressuring you into poor decisions. Trusting your partner is the foundation of any relationship.

Communication, communication, communication

If you feel like there is an obvious lack of trust, be direct. Don’t beat around the bush when inquiring about certain information. Be transparent and communicate with your partner about the suspicions that you have, especially when there is unease within your relationship. As opposed to checking up on that one girl’s profile from 96 weeks ago (and being very careful to not double-tap anything), ask your partner first and assume second. The communication that is put into that one conversation alone will be a big indicator for the direction your relationship. 

Thinking about the outcome before taking that deep dive into your partner’s past will force you to consider some questions: is there really a need for more transparency and communication? Does my partner make the effort to be open and forthcoming with information? Does my partner tend to hide things from me, even if it's in my best interest? A huge part of healthy and effective communication in a relationship, that is often overlooked, is the need to actively listen to the other person. Don't just hear what the other person is saying without understanding their intentions of sharing. Instead of jumping to conclusions straight away when you hear something you don't want to hear, thank your partner for sharing this information that they normally wouldn't share, and remind yourself that the past is not the present. Be clear with your partner about why you're asking these questions, but also make sure you're asking questions for the sake of bettering your own relationship, as opposed to being nosy or feeling insecure.

We must refrain from exhibiting self-destructive behaviors when conflict could be handled proactively with honest conversations. These conversations are difficult and sometimes very awkward, but they are the best ways to prevent the uncomfortable feeling following a stalk session.

Let’s be real

While digging into your partner’s past doesn’t seem very healthy, keep it real: there’s a good chance we’ve all done it before. There are some major things that shouldn’t be hidden in a relationship, such as having children from a past relationship, previous arrests, or even dangerous exes. Past experiences have a way of shaping people’s identity, so it makes sense to be curious about it. Those who know the relationship the best are the ones who can truly determine whether a deep dive into each other's pasts is necessary.

Perhaps all of this will make you rethink creeping your partner’s social media or asking them incredibly intrusive questions. Maybe there’s a greater need for people in relationships to recognize the past, communicate, grow, and live in the moment.

Don't beat yourself up for wanting to lurk your partner's socials. Instead, take the time to understand this element of your relationship that needs to be tactfully, yet thoroughly, discussed. Recognize the need for more communication and transparency within your relationship, and keep things as honest as possible for both you and your partner.