I Promised My Boyfriend I’d Never Discuss My Romantic Past

Dear Dr. Darcy – In my last relationship, my ex set a boundary within the first few months to never talk about my past and to delete all photos on social media of exes (plus unfollow and remove them as followers). With some hesitation I did this. Over the next year, little mentions of my past came out in passing and he came across photos that weren’t deleted. I apologized profusely and we broke up because of the “disrespect” I showed. I hope he can forgive me, but will he ever come around?



Here’s the thing about the past: We all have one. And your ex’s desire to erase yours is not only unreasonable, it’s deeply unfair. Not to mention unrealistic. 


You have a right to your past. You have a right to your history and to your own narrative.


What he tried to do is similar to what jealous people tend to do: Fix an internal problem by controlling their partner. 


The problem is not that you have exes, or pictures with exes, or a past. The problem is you were dating someone who wanted to live in denial — and worse, he had you convinced that his wishes weren’t inappropriate and controlling, rather, that they were boundaries, which they most definitely were not. 


That relationship was NEVER going to work because he wanted you to play a role in his fantasy. Well, I’m sorry. Grown women have pasts just like men do. 


I don’t have a problem, by the way, with the fact that he didn’t want to stare at pictures of your past relationships. It’s reasonable for him to ask that framed photos get taken down — like the ones in your home — but to insist that you delete all the photos on your social (I hope you at least archived them), block and unfollow all your exes, and never talk about your past, throws up SUCH red flags for me. Reminds me of when men expected to marry virgins. 


Stop apologizing for his insecurity. And the next time someone asks you to never discuss your past, make that the last date. 


Final thought: With the exception of one ex, I am very close to everyone I’ve ever been in a relationship with. They are some of my closest friends today. Over the years, they’ve joined my wife and me for holidays, they’ve helped us in emergencies, and they remain solid members of my support system. 


If I were you, at the very least, I’d unblock the exes so they can reconnect. Maybe there’s a chance of having a friendship with them in the future.


Writer’s Demographics

Gender: Female

Sexual Orientation: Straight