When is it Okay to Reveal a Secret to Your New Lover?

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Everyone has a past, though admittedly some are more checkered than others. And sometimes it isn’t something we’ve done but we are. It could be an illness genetic or otherwise, an awkward past experience, a sexual fetish, family secrets, missteps in the past, a bizarre idiosyncrasy, strange tastes, and more. But for those who harbor big secrets, it can be really difficult to tell when the right time is to divulge it to a new love interest is. Most people feel anxious over what consequences such an admission might bring. What if there isn’t anything there? You would have opened up for nothing. Also, there is the potential of scaring this person away. But wait too long and you risk damaging the relationship in its most fragile stage. So at what point should you share your cryptic information? Each relationship develops differently. There is no easy answer. But here are some guidelines that you can use to increase your chance at having a positive outcome.

If you are just hooking up or casually dating, and the thing in question has absolutely no bearing on the other person, you can omit it from your interactions. If it does have bearing say HIV, it is your moral imperative to share this information with them, right in the beginning before anything happens. But otherwise, if it doesn’t touch their lives whatsoever, than see where things are going first. Who knows how long this relationship is going to last. Once things are starting to look serious, sit the person down and have a talk with them. Clinical psychologist Randi Gunther, Ph.D. is a marriage counselor in Southern California. She calls her approach, “The Law of No Negative Surprises.” It works like this, “Any data that could ever hurt a potential partner must be disclosed before it does.” You do not want to harbor a secret after things turn serious. The most important element in any relationship is trust. Failing to disclose could damage or even destroy your bond, driving the person out of your life.

If there is any information that is readily available about you, you should disclose it as soon as possible. You don’t want them finding out on the internet what you could have told them upfront. Any STDS, illegal activity you are or have been associated with, if you are already in a relationship and looking elsewhere and whether or not your partner knows, if you have children, a serious allergy, or have dated someone whom he or she knows, tell this person as soon as you can, face-to-face. When the time comes and you are entering into a committed relationship reveal any genetic diseases, serious financial obligations, any significant relationship problems from the past, family issues, any therapy you’ve had and medications you take, and anything else that might be pertinent. Make sure this is a person you trust before entering into a relationship and sharing your deepest, darkest secrets with them. Memories that are just too painful can be kept to one’s self. If it is pertinent just give them the gist. The best rule of thumb is whether or not the thing you are harboring will hurt this relationship. Any person worthwhile will accept you for who you are, faults and all, just as they wish to be accepted. Remember that everyone has a past. We all learn from it. But it does not define us. Anyone who cannot accept the real you does not deserve to have you. But the flip side is that you have to extend them the same sort of kindness, open-mindedness, and understanding.

For more on building a better love life read, Relationship Saboteurs: Overcoming the Ten Behaviors that Undermine Love

Advice for Working Out Difficult Issues

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When we first get into a relationship, we fall into a kind of surreal world where we mistakenly believe there will never be any problems in our love life ever again. Our boo is perfect. Then as time goes on issues we never dreamed of crop up one after another. Some we take of. Others begin inhabiting our relationships, and threaten to bring it down. But if your present self could jump into a time machine and warn your past self about the problems and misunderstandings, the slipups and snafus, would you believe them? Probably not. Even if your past self did believe, where would they go from there? Any relationship is always in flux. You are either growing together or apart. Though we may pine for the days when everything looked perfect, that was nothing more than a bio-chemically induced delusion, though undoubtedly the most pleasant kind. How can you make sure you are growing together instead of apart? One way is to sort through the difficult issues together. Communication, patience, caring, open-mindedness, and negotiation skills are vital. Lots of couples get tired and give up when things get too tough. But if you try some novel strategies and keep in mind that it takes time to overcome the big stuff, you two can find a way to coexist peacefully, and even reignite the spark that brought you together to begin with. This advice isn’t guaranteed to keep you out of divorce court. But they can help turn around a relationship that is drowning but just needs something to grab onto to be saved.

If either of you are angry, do not discuss the issue. Hurtful words are said in anger, which are likely to increase rather than decrease the gap. When one is mad, logical reasoning is no longer in charge. Instead of moving forward, we try to win, get even, or even going for the jugular. This is pure instinct. Many do this without realizing that any amount of damage you do to the relationship is only going to take you deeper down into the hole. You will only have to work longer and harder to climb back out again. Instead, step back from a fight, or even goading. Tell them that you do not want to move forward now. You do not think it will be productive accounting for the mood you are in, or perhaps your partner is in. Instead, couch the issue and schedule a time to come back to it at a later date. Ruminate and look at it from your partner’s point of view. Sometimes we hold so hard to our own perspective we fail to take theirs into account. But in this we may be missing something. Do not focus on who is right or who is wrong. It is not about that. Really emotions lie at the core of any fight. These aren’t good or bad. They just are. How we deal with them makes them good or bad. If you can get to the root of the issue, you can overcome it.

Agree to disagree on small issues. Learn to let things go. Do not be too judgmental. We all have certain idiosyncrasies. If we are to be accepted and loved, we must also accept our partners. But harsh judgment gets in the way of love and causes derision. Trust in the fact that you will find a solution that works for both people. Have serious conversations in private. Nothing can be more embarrassing than airing your grievances in front of an audience. Lastly, always be supportive of one another. Watch out for childish behavior like one-upmanship. Sometimes we like to rub our partner’s nose in missteps. But we end up building an intolerant atmosphere where each person is waiting for the other to make a mistake, and both partners are keeping score. You should both be on the same side, not adversaries. Cheer each other on, instead of tearing each other down. If you cannot find a way to be on the same team, you are not meant to be together. Spend time discussing what is important. Too many times partners let squabbles get out of hand, and ruin what is really a good thing overall. If you both love one another and desire to work things out, have faith that you will. It may just take some patience, hard work, and of course time.

For more advice on getting the most of couple hood read, Emotional Fitness for Couples: 10 Minutes a Day to a Better Relationship

Why Readers Make the Best Lovers According to Science

 

There is something about cracking open a new book that makes one filled with hope. With equal measure finishing a great book can leave a hollow feeling. Those who know this struggle well revel in the act of what is called, “deep reading”. Psychologists note that reading is the second most transformative act one can take part in. The first is writing. But today due to the internet, tablets, smart phones, and e-readers people are more or less skimming, and not really delving in deep like they used to. That’s a shame. For if true readers are a dying breed so lessens a great segment of the dating pool which makes preferable mates. According to two studies those avid readers are smarter and more compassionate, two vastly appealing features for a significant other. Both these studies were Canadian. One took place in 2006 the other in 2009. Each study was a collaboration between Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, along with York University’s Raymond Mar, a psychologist. Oatley and Mar were able to prove that fiction readers showed more empathy—knowing exactly how another feels and being moved to compassion. These readers were also better able to hold beliefs, ideas, and interests that were not their own, something called “theory of mind.” If you have ever been in a multicultural relationship, you know just how important these are.

Today, psychologists say those who have trouble with empathy should read fiction. The idea is that if you can see the world from behind someone else’s eyes, you can better identify with him or her and through the experience people in general. One of the most important relationship tools you can have is how to relate to one another. Theory of mind is considered a natural part of the human experience. But it takes the right kind of social interaction in life to bring it out and help one to develop it. Anyone who has ever been with a selfish lover or even a narcissist knows how important theory of mind is. If you are considering having children with someone, know that just having books in the home increases the child’s word count and cognitive abilities from a younger age. They are also better adjusted socially. A study Mar conducted in 2010 found that children who read more had a better developed theory of mind and could relate to people more. So that would go for not just your love interest but should you wish to have children, your potential offspring as well.

Someone who is a reader should have a better vocabulary. Few relationship skills are more necessary than communication. A person who can communicate exactly what they mean clearly, and perhaps in different ways so you can grasp it should their first attempt not strike you, is the type you wish to keep around. Chemistry and rapport are certainly important. But what we often forget is that relationship and problem-solving skills are necessary too. We don’t often screen a potential love interest for these. Many times we just lead from the heart. So when you go into someone’s apartment for the first time, be cognizant of whether or not they have a bookshelf and check out what is on it. If you are out with someone special, ask them about their reading habits. What was the last book they read? What was a book that changed their life? Their answer may mean the difference between you sticking around or rushing out the door. For more on finding the perfect mate read,Become Your Own Matchmaker: 8 Easy Steps for Attracting Your Perfect Mate by Patti Stanger and Lisa Johnson Mandell.

Year Two Can be Hard on a Relationship

That sheer rush when you fall for someone can be so exhilarating. Every insight they share fills you with awe, their jokes are hilarious, and every idiosyncrasy tickles you pink. But some two years later some find their partner’s insights stale, their jokes lame, and the little habits you used to find so cute are now positively irritating. What happened? The biochemical that kept you high on this person this entire time has leveled off. This is what some people call limerence and others the “honeymoon phase.” After about six months it begins to wear off. The two year point is heavy for most people. Some never want to settle down. They just want to jump from person to the next, chasing the feeling of newfound love. But many people want a life partner to share things with. So in this case to keep those feelings alive takes a lot of work. It takes a considerable investment in time, effort, thinking and planning for any relationship to run smoothly. Once those feelings end you have to evaluate it for what it really is, and consider whether you indeed have a deeper connection with this person or if it was all just infatuation.

Take a good look. Is there good communication? What about affection and tenderness? Do you treat each other with respect? Can you work through problems constructively? If the thrill is gone and you can’t for the life of you figure out what you saw in this person, be happy that the fog of love has lifted and cut your losses. Don’t keep trying to breathe life back into the corpse or you will waste a lot of time and effort, and frustrate yourself to no end. If you have been through a series of these relationships and are always let down in the second year or thereabouts, take a look at your standards. Are they perhaps too high? Some dating experts say apps and websites have made it seem like we can find someone perfect, when it’s really in our foibles and our acceptance of one another’s that we find acceptance and through it, love. Another aspect may be a fear of intimacy. Those who fear commitment often find their fears bubble up to the surface once the feel good chemicals of love wear off. Take it slow, communicate and seek help so as not to sabotage a good relationship if you are indeed in one.

As things develop, that frantic intensity might be gone. But there are other advantages not available before. Sometimes we forget how those dizzying first days, weeks, and months give us tremendous anxiety. But relationships in later stages are more comfortable. Partners who know each other better are closer. Though the instant need to gobble one another may be gone, many married couples say sex is better once you get to know each other’s likes and dislikes, and perhaps what kinks you share in common. You have your technique down too. Sometimes relationships and sex can get dull and need some sprucing up. Having a date night, plan a vacation, consider tantra, learn a hobby together like cooking, rock climbing, yoga, or salsa dancing. These are novel experiences which will invigorate your relationship. Talk about what you want to explore together. Also, partners who spend too much time together can get on each other’s nerves. Spend a little time apart to explore different hobbies or spend time with friends. You can talk about something new over the breakfast table. Consider your relationship carefully. But if you have all the right things to make it great, try and infuse a few changes and you’ll be able to reignite the spark. For more readHow to Keep Your Relationship Exciting: 85 Tips to Keep the Romance in Your Life! by Kate Anderson.

Why You Aren’t Finding Anyone You Have Chemistry With

Dating wasn’t any level of hell in Dante’s Inferno. But it can sure feel like one sometimes. We generally think it’s a natural process. It’s all about chemistry. You meet someone. You like them. They like you and boom! The magic happens. Cue music. Except it doesn’t always work that way. Not in real life. Sometimes you date someone and they drop off the face of the planet, right when things were just getting interesting. What was it a fear of commitment? Did they meet someone else or get back with their ex? Or else they owed money to the mob. There isn’t much you can do at this point, except pick yourself up and keep going. Then there is for some a worse situation, a kind of dating purgatory. This is when you meet people all the time. You date and date and don’t have chemistry with any of them. What do you do? Some say chemistry is over-rated. It is compatibility you are looking for. Chemistry fades as soon as the “honeymoon phase” has worn off. Then if compatibility isn’t there, there are few things to keep the couple together. Others think you should hold out for someone who knocks you off your feet. So what is the best way forward if you aren’t finding chemistry with anyone you are dating?

You shouldn’t spend a significant amount of time with someone just because you want someone there. But if you have been on a significant number of dates or spent time with lots of would-be suitors and have no feelings at all toward any of them, consider where you are. What is your selection process like? Are you being too picky? Sometimes we want everything in a mate and refuse to settle. But we forget that each of us is a human being. We all have our faults. Consider giving it a rest for now. Focus on yourself. Then come back at it fresh. But begin looking at your dating life from another point of view. Some people are very goal oriented. But one’s love life rarely fits into the plans we’ve made for it. Usually, we say we want something specific and someone comes along and mucks it all up. There are those who have started to realize that their choices in past lovers may have not been the best. Chemistry can sometimes push us toward those who are not healthy for us. It is best to resist it then. But don’t think you will be stuck in limbo forever. Your system only has to be reconnoitered. Just be patient and wait for someone who gives you that “wow” factor and is also good for you.

There are those who find that nerves get in the way. It is often those people who are very reserved. Others are shy and introverted and take time to get used to others. Chemistry cannot be formed when one is experiencing high anxiety, or when one’s date is. Spend a little time with the person who is nice but whom you aren’t sure about. If you or they are nervous or seem to be, spend time in a setting that is comfortable for the uncomfortable person, on their home turf. If you just aren’t sure about them and nervousness doesn’t factor in, try and see them from a different vantage point. A new context or different environment can bring out other sides of a person, ones you may be more attracted to or less so. Take them out with friends, bring them along on a hike or do some volunteer work together. Realize that compatibility with a little bit of chemistry makes for a better long-term relationship than the other way around. You can do novel things together to turn that spark into an inferno. But compatibility on the other hand is an either have it or you don’t scenario. Realize that a love life just doesn’t work the way other aspects of our life like family, friends, or our career does. Those things are relatively straightforward. But a vibrant love life takes patience, confidence, and a great attitude and the ability to start over, to come out the other side unscathed and smiling. Just be yourself. Be happy, open, curious, and practice nonjudgment towards others. Sooner or later someone you fancy will be knocking on your heart’s door. For more on better ways to travail the often bitter landscape of the human heart readThe Secret Laws of Attraction: The Effortless Way to Get the Relationship You Want by Talane Miedaner.