I adopted a catchphrase when I started college that has managed to get me out of some sticky situations over the years, and I have always attributed it to a somewhat truthful reputation that I acquired during school of being brutally and often unnecessarily honest.
“I cannot lie,” “I’m a terrible liar,” “Everyone knows that I can’t lie my way out of a paper bag” – the variations were endless, but the idea carried through. I could only tell the truth.
However, the “real” truth is that I am an excellent liar. Not that I spin these great yarns, or invent ridiculous tales, but I have the power to repress information, details, secrets, conversations and events to the point where I can convince myself that they didn’t even happen.
These are known as lies of omission, and often sneak out of the “lie” category as it doesn’t usually involve directly lying to someone’s face.
My “rep” of brutal honesty came from gal pals asking me what they thought of a certain boy, dress or pair of shoes and my responses being aggressive, negative and, if I may say so myself, pretty damn hilarious.
“It’s disgusting and actually does make you look fat so just burn it and wear a trash bag instead.” And so on.
Similarly, when it comes to being asked difficult questions that I don’t want to answer, I have developed wizard-like skills of diversion. Example:
Q: “Have you ever killed someone?”
A: “How could ask something so ridiculous? That’s so unfair... What is wrong with you?”
Turn that tricky question around and you’ve got yourself a get-out-of-jail-free card. I have, for the record, never killed anyone. Nor do I plan to.
Lies of omission are fine, depending on who you are omitting them from. No, your mom does not need to know that you started smoking when you were 13, and no, your dad does not want or need to know anything about your love life, ever.
However, what does your boyfriend “need” to know? This needing thing is a bit of an issue, and it’s often a tough call to make on what information about your past is relevant to your present relationship.
How many partners you’ve had before, how many serious relationships, how many messy breakups... Doesn’t this all just add up to a measure of how completely dysfunctional you might be, and isn’t it best to just lock that up in a box somewhere with all the other bad life decisions you made?
He doesn’t need to know about the flairs, the scrunchies and the glitter mascara, so surely knowing about that time you were kind of accused of stalking someone is irrelevant too, right?
I’ve often been asked some of these grossly unexpected and hideously inappropriate questions that require a level of volcanic divulgence and a thorough psychotic architectural excavation to resurrect these truths from where you burned, buried and abandoned them.
I like to keep people on a need-to-know basis because, quite frankly, I have a relatively turbulent relationship history and like to congratulate myself on having come so far, which can really only be fully achieved with the aforementioned burning and burying ritual.
I am 24 years old, and my current boyfriend is the eighth boy/man that I have introduced to my parents. I am a serial monogamist, and I do not know how to stop.
However, this is an issue for another day. Now, we must tackle the problem of these previous relationships, and how much information I need to tell my current beau. How much does he even need to know in the first place?
Sometimes it is okay to be the only one who is informed of certain aspects of your past. Sometimes, those certain aspects are really and truly not relevant to your current relationship, but are the exact nuggets of information that can be warped, imagined and replayed in whatever unsuitable fashion by the man of the hour, and turned into a rewritten past that you should have told him about the moment he first set eyes on you.
“How could you keep this from me??” Quite easily, my dear, and for the exact reasons that you are currently completely freaking out about and reading way too much into this. Case and point.
In the beginnings of a relationship, or “the honeymoon period” as it’s so often called, you want to keep things light and fluffy. Let’s not talk about our dark and twisty minds or our murky pasts, that girlfriend who drove you insane or that boyfriend who made me hate myself.
Let’s have fun. Let’s enjoy each other’s company, and let’s really live in the moment.
Then a few years down the line when we decide we might actually want to spend the rest of our lives together because of all of this light and fluffy fun we’ve been having, we can dig up our pasts and begin to fling them at each other like wild animals engaging in hysterical warfare.
As the Spice Girls so perfectly put it in the 1990s, “If you want my future, forget my past.” Granted, they did also say, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends,” which I would have to disagree with.
Please do not get with my friends, actually. Bad move, regardless of which Spice you are. That’s certainly one way to destroy this “future” you speak of.
Bottom line is, if you want to explore your lover’s past, you'd better brace yourself for all the nasties that will be there, and the fact that you will not like them. The past is Pandora’s Box, and you have to be willing to take the good, listen to the bad, understand it all, and look forward to the future that you’re embarking on. Whatever came before the “us” came before it for a reason, and no matter how much you might want to, you cannot change it.
So accept it, move on, and “slam your body down and wind it all around.” SPICE.