Honesty, the males-only policy

A friend of mine got engaged a few months back, in the ‘arranged marriage’ way. Several questions rattled around in her head. One of the real biggies was: “Should I tell him about my past?” All the people she discussed this with (all women) advised her not to. I on the other hand, told her that it made sense to have it out before getting into a big commitment like marriage.

This principle works for me. I don’t believe honesty is the best policy. I think it is the only policy. Forget about the goody-goody stuff, lets think practically. How possible is it to spend your life with a person, share their bed, dining table, bathroom, family, schedules, lifestyle etc and hide such a vital fact from them?

Cut to the present now. The engagement has been broken for various reasons including dowry demands and the guy cheating on her. It was unpleasant…downright dirty, especially when the boy’s family threw out a stinging “Apki beti ka kisi ke saath chakkar tha!” (“Your daughter has had an affair” expressed in the most vulgar way possible)

I’ve been in a relationship..more than one as a matter of fact. Maybe I’m too volatile for a woman or maybe I’m just too old to change my habits but I can’t imagine having to conceal this fact. Any intelligent person who stays with me long enough can figure out that my sometimes-brash, rather forceful opinions about men, love, relationships and the world have to be based in past experience. I would rather be forthright and expect the same from the other person rather than get embroiled in the nasty games that couples seem to indulge in.

And yet, is this realistic? I’m not talking about what is right or wrong. It is a matter of how viable it is. I was honest enough to admit that I had been in love before, to my last boyfriend. In retaliation, he’d throw that fact in my face at every opportunity, making subtle references to my character, to my intentions and upbringing. This despite the fact that HE had had several more relationships before, had cheated on two of them, had pursued another one simply because she was ‘available’ after his friend dumped her and generally done other such things that just seemed wrong to me. When I left him, I thought “I’m glad I’m rid of the jerk!” But my next thought was…am I really rid of him? What if the next man is like this too? What if they’re all the same jerk with different faces?

I can just see Valhalla, Apoorva, Brad, Rumpelstilskin and the other men who read my blog start to protest violently. Simmer down…I’m not saying any one of you is like this. It is possible that the small set of men who read my blog just are more liberal and fair-minded than the rest. In statistics, you choose a small part of the entire group and observe them and draw conclusions about the whole group based on it. This does not mean that every single element in that group exhibits these traits. It simply means that if you had to characterize any one element it would MOST LIKELY show these features.

I intended this to be a serious thought, not a raving one. I want to know how many men are willing to face the idea that their wife/girlfriend has been with someone before them. A lot of men tell me that they don’t mind. Even that points to something. My ex- once said “If a girl’s been around with other guys, you know she’ll be easy”. As Sagnik put it in a more refined way, “If she has had other people in her life, she’s dateable”. So fine….a girl who has dated is available for a date, a chat and other sorts of fun. But that’s about it. Fun and serious relationships are mutually exclusive apparently.

Most of my women friends are married or planning on tying the knot soon. And all of them are facing the big question : To tell or not to tell? Every single one of them has been in love or lust or a relationship. I would imagine there was something seriously wrong if a 20-something hadn’t felt the natural urges of any human being. I tend never to believe guys who say that they have ‘never looked at a girl all their lives’.

That’s two issues in one. Why do some guys lie? And why do they expect the woman to lie? Do men have a birthright on honesty and how much of it should exist?

I have made mistakes. I have taken bad decisions. I have been stupid and gullible and naïve and foolhardy. I have been human. I admit it. Does that make you respect me more or less? Or is that supposed to be a gender-specific question?

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About IdeaSmith

IdeaSmith is the digital doppelganger of Ramya Pandyan (intrepid train-traveller and frequent spouter of post-midnight rhymes and rants). As IdeaSmith she battles obscurity and slays boredom with her stories about men, books, digitalia and Mumbai. She performs live and also blogs, tweets, Instagrams, Facebooks, +G’s, Youtubes and Goodreads all as IdeaSmith. Ramya is a blogger, digital storyteller and spoken word performer. She also runs a forum for aspiring writers called Alphabet Sambar. Tweet-bomb her at @ideasmithy.

Posted on August 30, 2005, in Battle of the sexes, Seriously speaking, Times, they are a-changing. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. smithy: i dunno abt other guys… but let me get this straight.. i can only be violent with an ant… thats where i feel powerful… and i am not the retaliation kinds as well… too laid back to retaliate…

    you left out one thing in sampling in statistics… the extreme readings are always dropped… else they result in wrong results… all i ever said was drop off the extreme readings… the ones that are general aint all that bad… but then probably there is something called destiny… because not a single man that i have met or been around with (i have loads and loads of friends) have any of these stated characterestics… they have always been good to people (regardless of gender)…

    and yes i do completely agree with you that honesty is the ONLY policy… and that has nothing, let me reiterate, NOTHING to do with gender… if it didnt work out, that was never meant to be 🙂

  2. Hmm Is it not hard for anyone, male or female, to easily accept (emphasis on easily) that their future life partner has had past relationships? I know of men, and also women, who had their first relationship with someone who had been in a relationship before! I would hardly think honesty has anything to do with gender.

    You are right in saying that it would be too naive to expect that your future life-partner was not involved in any relationship. But it is just this natural discomfort everyone faces in “telling” because society demands and accepts monogamy. And for some reason, even the relationships from past seem to matter in this.

    If any guy is actually expecting his woman to lie and accept that she has led her life without any crushes/ relationships/ infatuations, he is fooling himself. And the same applies to girls. The gender differentiation is lost on me, really!

  3. Well I know BOTH men and women who have serious “issues” about peoples’ pasts. Goes to show it takes all kinds…
    — These kinda people deserve each other I guess…

    I have also come across hypocrits who have had a lot of “fun” in life but are looking for someone without a past as a lifepartner..
    — These kinda people deserve the kinda people who lie about their past relationships…

    Having said that…I’d say anyone who wants a “REAL” relationship.. should be willing to deal with and move past their own and their partners’ past.. It might even be difficult in certain situations.. but I guess that’s the price you pay for an “honest” relationship.

    With the new generation, I guess it isn’t that big a deal… I mean like you said.. You’d probably think there is something WRONG with someone who hasn’t had an “interaction” with someone of the opposite (or same ??) sex.. So eventually it’ll be the “norm” rather than an “exception” to have had some history..

    Maybe that’s why this problem is more likely to rear its head in the context of arranged marriages.. Where two people from GEN-X (or Z mebbe ?) are being brought together by their parents.. there is ALREADY a huge generation-gap-divide as far as ideologies are concerned… So its easy for the situation to get messed up…

    As far as your friend goes (and others like her..).. I’d say, the next time.. maybe she should be more “sure” about the person.. before she talks about her past with him.. and DEFINITELY before she says “Yes”…

    Ok..so now I’M rambling…

    I shall stop…

    -anon1

  4. can I see u r photo? this is not at all related to ur current blog..but I am amazed the way u write…just wanted to see the creator of this nice stuff..

  5. Firstly, I do not see the problem in having been in a relationship/s with some other people, before getting married. I also do not know why does one think it is mandatory to tell your spouse about your past. It is the past; you jumped, you fell, you got up and walked on; what’s the compulsion to tell your spouse everything. It’s your past, and you have a right to privacy.

    Of course, if one does feel the need to ‘tell’, then one should. One should also decide how to put it, depending on your spouse’s ability to accept/handle the info. Since this facet of your spouse in an arranged marriage, is not easily discernible, most people have their doubts of divulging information. Hence the concept of dating, where you do the talking and stuff, if at all deemed necessary.

  6. First, honesty as a gender thingy, not sure how that connection has come up.

    Second, i think i’ll prefer keeping mum on a subject if i think that telling the truth is not going to help in any way than by hurting the other person. Truth is such a many-layered thing, it varies coz of yr perspective too…

    Love is supposed to be a universal feeling, but it isnt without a feeling of possessiveness. In that case, the unravelling of the past is sometimes tough of the listener; might be too much for him/her to think of their pardner with some prick.

    And of course, we get what we deserve. Pricks always end up with pricks. The better ones with the better ones 🙂

  7. Ahhh… now for some adhyatma gyan for those who read this blogs comments.

    Tell. Speak. Share the the past. I think its always better. If your to be significant other can take it now, its good for you. If he/she cant, then its better to have resolved issues now than after tying the knot. Imagine your ex being your significant others distant friend who you meet few months after marriage and he’s like – “Heck, I dated her.” Now that could be a potential problem for the significant others who cant take it. Always better to lay things upfront – “This is how it was. The past cannot be changed. Take or leave”

    On the personal front, I wouldnt really care about my girlfriend or to be wife telling me about her past. Its not the past but the present and future which matters more to me. But yeah, its good to know the past for the following scenario

    Her ex comes onto the scene and says – “Hey. I dated her once. Did she tell ya about blah blah blah?”
    Me: “Oh yeah. All of that and also the jerk that you had been”

    Always better to confide in the one you gonna spend the rest of your life with.

    *Knowledge transfer completed*

  8. And your friend whose engagement broke up, looking at the big picture, I think it was a good thing to happen. Better than being tortured for dowry after marriage and spending the rest of your life with a jerk.

    Tell her I said that… and if she is drop dead gorgeous, tell her that she’ll find some awesome guys in the comments section of XXfactor 😉

  9. You fellas should meet Teddy (her nickname), my ex-girlfriend.

    In the beginning, Teddy blabbers all about her ex-bf in bits and pieces, squirting unwanted information, she thinks she is sharing her past, I wasn’t asking, but after some initial teasers, I was forced to ask some questions, to which I got answers that I was better off without. I get a feeling that I am being compared. I didn’t say anything.

    When I don’t say anything, I got- “Brad, how come you don’t react at all? It’s almost like you don’t love me.”

    And finally, when the ‘subtle’ comparison goes beyond my tolerance limit, and I do say something, I got- “Grow up, it’s my past. I am not into him anymore. Don’t be jealous.”

    Damn, Danggitt!

  10. Brad, thought of writing XYFACTOR?? 😉

    Needless to say this whole issue of talking about ones past can be a sensitive one. Talk too much about it, it means you aint over the person yet. Talk about it on the first date, and its a complete – how can he talk about his ex thingy (which to me makes sense).

    Its a good idea to hold up till you are comfirtable with the person and then to let him know…. if he really cares about you, the past would not be a factor for judging you. Of course this is my opinion, so it could fail very badly 🙂

  11. the same question that i asked you – what is the number then 🙂

  12. The Friend:

    I know all of us have varying opinions on the whole issue of disclosing past relationships.I was wary even worried but when the conversation turned in the direction I did tell the the man about it.It did make me feel so much better when the whole thing was over and I gave him a piece of my mind.I agree Ideasmith that was the best advice you ever gave me cause there was no guilt,nothing weighing on my conscience when it was over.
    And Apoorva to answer your question -I am definitely drop dead gorgeous,just needs the right person to see it !!

  13. The Friend: Well said! I am sure the right person will come your way! Take care.

  14. Actually I’d say, everyone can see how drop dead gorgeous my friend is. It just takes a wise man to see that her beauty extends to far beyond her face and body.

  15. Oh my god, yet another incident of telepathy, Idea!!!!

    Just yesterday I was reeling when I learnt that someone close has been a target of vicious gossip: she trusted a male friend with her sordid past, and he tainted her all over town as an easy lay and a man-eater, and even ‘sent’ a friend of his over to meet her ‘to have fun’.

    This is what you get for trusting men, I tell you. I can’t whip them enough right now. It IS gender specific: men who have slept around are ‘studs’, and women who have had more than one partner are ‘whores’.

    Oh sure there are nice guys out there, but frankly, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. Given a chance, almost EVERY man would flaunt his affairs, or make them up, or just shoot his mouth off about having slept with so-and-so even if she had nothing to do with him.

    And if a woman experiments around, she is a ‘bitch in heat’, judged by none other than those assholes themselves who had no qualms in misusing her trust in them, or by other assholes who WISH they could have had the opportunity too.

    Oh damn. I better take some deep breaths now before I explode in indignation.

  16. @Aketa: Wow! I don’t think those attempted deep breaths did any good, girl. It seemed like you were gasping for air over there. Easy.

    Underlining some Miller’s analogies in your comments-

    Men: Affairs – Women: Experiments.

    And since we are generalizing, so who’s more evil? And in defence if you say, that having an affair leads to a woman getting used and led on, agreed the man was manipulative and a total arsehole…then are you acknowledging that the women involved in such cases are just plain dense.

    “…in heat’, judged by none other …” Do you realize all the verdicts that you have passed in your comments! I know, it’s difficult to ‘practise what you preach’.

    Peace.

  17. when a girl is married before her puberty (as a bala) and remains in her parents home with the image of her husband, all her sexual fantasies and a dream lover get congealled with the image of her husband. After she attains puberty, she goes to live with her husband and family (who technically in those days truly took care of her like the Grihlakshmi-the wealth of the house). sigh, those were the days….(to be read with a huge dollop of NaCl)

  18. LOL @ Brad. Peace. 🙂

  19. Finally.. All my violent protests on XXFactor paid off! I got an honorable mention in this blog.. woohoo! And I’m all over the comments, what with Apoorva referring to me as awesome guy, and Aekta alluding to me as a needle in a haystack!

    Ok.. so I’m full of myself, but that’s just how my gender is, right Smithy?

    As usual, all the wise souls that frequent XXFactor have already stolen the remarks I intended to make, and then some.

    Your friend is one lucky gal, she is drop dead gorgeous, she evaded a potential train wreck of a relationship, and she has you as a friend.

    Being honest.. in my book, is not telling lies, and telling the truth where it is germane and not inappropriate. I may be all for absolute candidness in a relationship, but it simply may not work for some others. It would perhaps depend on the couple, and so I protest violently again…. It is NOT gender specific! 🙂

  20. Apoorva, guys are vying to get a mention from you now…yeh kya ho raha hai???

    Valhalla, I’m sure you’re protesting just for the heck of it…what the hell, where’s the fun in making up (or out!) if you don’t fight?

  21. Hey, hey, hey! Blame the guys… not me!!! I am here just to attract that drop dead gorgeous friend of ya’s!

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