Each and every one of us has something about our past that we’d rather nobody knew about…especially a date or someone we’d like to date. Maybe it’s the number of sexual partners you had in your wilder days. Maybe it’s the lack of sexual partners you’ve had. Maybe it’s the fact that you were once engaged or in a horrible marriage.
Depending on your perspective, you may live with fear that the person you’re dating will find out and, because of what happened before, he or she will be turned off and run away from you fast. The past can be embarrassing, regrettable and even shame-worthy…
And if you keep dating this person and become a couple, at some point, the truth will come out.
Probably sooner than you’d like it to.
When your partner discovers that you’ve been hiding significant parts of your past, he or she might wonder: “What else don’t I know?” and “What else is being hidden?” Trust can be seriously damaged when your past surfaces and it’s very different than what you’ve led your partner to believe. It’s better if you are the one to talk about your past instead of this information reaching your partner’s ears via one of your exes or rumor.
Here’s the tricky part…
If you communicate about your past in a certain way, it can also damage your relationship and be a huge turn off. It IS possible to overwhelm your date with too much information, too soon. You can also unintentionally drive your partner away when you frequently bring up the past because this gives the impression that you’re not fully over the relationship or whatever happened. It sends the message that you’re not really committed to your current relationship.
So, when is the right time to talk about your past?
The perfect time to tell your date about those aspects of your past that make you cringe really varies. A lot depends on the speed at which your relationship is progressing and also the topics you two are talking about.
If for example, you’re having a conversation with your date about past relationships and you were once married (and at a very young age), don’t lie– overtly or by omission. You can be general about it and not get into details; but be honest.
If your relationship is getting serious and you made some big financial mistakes in the past that have lingering effects today, talk about it. Especially if you two are starting to make joint purchases, it’s important to let your partner know what’s going on and then, together, make a decision about what’s best.
Definitely tell your partner about your past if you two are having sex and there are potential health issues because of your past that could affect him or her. Get tested for STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases) and always use protection.
Own it and shift focus.
No matter how much you regret certain decisions you’ve made, be honest and take responsibility for making them. This doesn’t mean you have to put yourself down or go on and on to your date about how horrible you are for doing what you did.
In fact, it’s best to talk about what happened in a general way, share how you’ve grown since that time and then return to what’s happening now. Make it clear that you acknowledge the past but aren’t interested in living there. You want to enjoy this moment now.
(And, by the way, if you haven’t already made peace with your past and forgiven yourself, it’s time to start doing that.)
Be willing to answer questions your partner has and address concerns, but know that it’s up to you how many details you will go into. It’s okay to let him or her know that this is still an uncomfortable or even painful subject for you.
Find the balance between being open and honest while also keeping most of your attention in the present moment. The past happened and, for better or worse, it’s brought you to where you are today. Your opportunity is to convey to your partner that you’ve learned from your past and are most excited by what’s now and what’s next.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches, authors and speakers. They help individuals and couples attract and keep an amazing relationship that lasts. If you’re looking for a partner who is right for you, check outAutomatic Attraction Secrets. Finding (and keeping) love doesn’t have to be difficult! Visit: www.automaticattractionsecrets.com today.