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My partner lied about his sexual history

Our agony aunt Mary Fenwick offers a new perspective on your challenges and problems

by Psychologies

why did he lie to me?

I’ve been with my partner for seven years now, and when we met, I told him all about my relationship history. He told me about his too, including a girlfriend who was his first sexual experience. A couple of years later, we were out one night and this girl was there. But when I asked him about it, he acted oddly and eventually admitted he’d never been with her at all – he’d made it up to impress me. Now he gets very uptight and agitated if any mention of it comes up, saying it was private and he doesn’t want to discuss it. We love each other very much and whatever the truth is won’t change how I feel about him. But it does make me wonder. We recently got engaged, but this issue is ongoing. Should I let it go? Am I unreasonable to want an answer? Or should the answer he gave me be enough? Kelly

I wonder if you might have been his first? That would explain why he behaves so defensively, and why he tried to impress you. Or he could be working through something difficult, including possible abuse, and isn’t ready to talk to anyone yet.

The underlying principle is whether he’s entitled to have any secret that is private – even from you. I’m inclined to say that he is. It’s that simple.

This isn’t a licence for you to keep secrets in deliberate revenge, but to encourage you to remember that secrets are usually linked to some sort of shame, or a sense of feeling too exposed. As it happens, you don’t have that feeling about your sexual history, but some people do. You ask if you should let this go, and I want to quote AR Orage: ‘Take hold tightly, let go lightly; this is one of the great secrets of felicity in love.’

Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email mary@psychologies.co.uk, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line

Photograph: iStock

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