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