While the number of partners, specific deed, or fulfilled fantasy is in the past, sometimes history can have an effect on current relationships. There are a few reasons to keep former outrageous antics under wraps, but, in other cases, it’s okay—and even beneficial—to share intimate secrets with someone else, says Tyra S. Gardner, Ph.D., psychotherapist and relationship therapist.
"Sharing sexual history brings a stronger emotional closeness for the couple showing that neither has anything to hide," she says. "This strengthens their emotional and physical connection." It can also be helpful for sharing preferences and boundaries in the bedroom, explains Gardner. For example, if your partner asks you to do something you're not entirely comfortable with due to a bad experience in the past, it may help to explain where your reservations come from. Here's what you should keep in mind when you're ready to spill the details:
DO: CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME AND PLACE
While there are perks to being being totally transparent, it's important to choose the right time and place for story time. If info about your sexcapades isn't prompted by your partner, but rather you feel compelled to tell them, it has to be at the right stage in the relationship, which can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. "Create a pros and cons list to evaluate the benefits of having this discussion with your mate," says Gardner. It's also crucial to consider your S.O.'s personality. "In every relationship, mates always want to view you as being their first," says Gardner. "Some significant others are understanding of past relationships, others maybe sensitive and cannot handle that information."
Once you've decided to divulge: "Then determine when the time is right to share the information." Gardner says this should be a one-time-only discussion and in a stable setting. "Never wait until a negative situation occurs," she advises. If this info would make your partner jealous or stressed, then it's probably not a great idea to share.
DO: EDIT THE INFORMATION
If you do decide to tell your partner about your past, Garnder says it's also important to consider how much you should edit this sensitive information. "Knowing your significant other and how much they can handle is important when disclosing sexual history," says Gardner. "Painting a vivid picture of you with someone else can be hurtful. Stick to information, only." She also recommends not sharing too many details like familiar names. And on that note, you should probably steer clear of disclosing a crazy sexual act if it was with one of your partner's friends.
Lies can may seem like a smart way to avoid a blowout argument or sidestep an uncomfortable situation—but it can also backfire and have an impact on the present. "[The] relationship could end because [the] mate may feel that partner is 'hiding' something or have an 'alter ego/secret life', that they are not and will not be included to be a part [of]," says Gardner. "Feel free enough to speak with your significant other, and let them know what place you were emotionally at that time in your life. This helps them to understand better."
DO: BE WILLING TO LISTEN TO THEIR CONFESSIONS, TOO
Lastly, Gardner notes it's important to create a judgement free zone—which works both ways. After all, your partner may open up to you and want to share their past as well. "Do not judge your significant other," says Gardner. "Keep in mind that these sexual acts and individuals were in the past, and do not condemn them for choices they made."
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.