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Eyes Wide Shut? Research Explores What We Don’t Want to Know About Romantic Partners

white man and Asian woman resting beside each other on bed

When you’re in a relationship, do you have to tell your partner everything? While open, honest communication is generally the price of admission for lasting love, there may be some caveats to that rule. 

Recent research suggests that we may not always want to know some things about our partners — such as cheating, whether they’re still hung up on an ex and how they’d rate us.

Related: How to tell if someone is cheating on you.

A paper published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships examined the topic and found that there are certain types of information that people prefer to avoid knowing when it comes to their romantic partners. The paper looked at research from two studies: one explored the types of information that people would rather avoid learning about romantic partners (both past and current), while the second explored differences in avoidance of information for current romantic partners.

So what is it that we’d rather not know?

As noted in Psychology Today, the first study found that nearly 35 per cent of participants said that there was information about their romantic partner that they preferred not to know. (Note: participants who were not currently in a relationship referred to a past relationship.) 

When it came to the type of information that these participants wanted to avoid, the report broke the responses into three key categories:

  • Sexual thoughts and behaviour (such as sexual or emotional infidelity and sexual history): 52 per cent 
  • Relationship issues (such as a partner not being over an ex or a partner’s negative perception of the participant): 34 per cent
  • Miscellaneous (such as information about a partner’s drug use or criminal activity): 14 per cent

See also: 10 breakup warning signs you can’t ignore.

Past vs. present

Interestingly, the study also found that there was a difference in how much people wanted to know in relation to whether they were talking about a current or past partner — with people much more likely to want to avoid information about past romantic relationships (58 per cent) than they were for current relationships (26 per cent).

This, of course, makes sense: we’re naturally more invested in learning about our current romantic partners. When it comes to looking back on relationships that didn’t ultimately work out, we might just not want to know about certain things once they’re over.


Perhaps, when looking back, there may be times when ignorance really could be bliss.

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