Honesty is the best policy. Honesty and trust is the backbone of any relationship, right? But, to keep the clichés going, can you have too much of a good thing? Is there such a thing as too much honesty?
While no one can truly escape his or her past–our pasts are what bring us to the here and now and shape us–how much of that past to share is a big question. While it can help someone get to know you better, opening up too much too soon could send your date running out the door and unfriending you on Facebook. So how do you know what to do? Should you tell your date about past relationships?
Should I tell them on the first date (or even the second)?
Just as you would probably never tell all your secrets to a stranger sitting next to you on an airplane, the first few dates should be reserved for getting to know one another. Just the basics, mind you. Most first dates are more interested in finding out where you grew up and what you do for a living than about all of your college escapades.
Match.com, the popular dating site, advises that you avoid asking your date about their past on the first several dates, especially if you are a woman asking a man. According to them, men hate this. This can guarantee that your first date will be your last quicker than almost anything you else can do.
For most of us, our pasts are very personal, especially pasts of a romantic or sexual nature. There might even be hurtful episodes from years ago that can open up scars if brought up. So why share that with someone before you have any idea whether you are compatible? Get to know each other first before baring anything that you wouldn’t want blasted all over Twitter or the featured in the family Christmas newsletter.
When should I share?
Of course, there comes a point in every relationship when most people open up about their past, at least to a degree. When to do this will vary from person to person, and even from relationship to relationship.
If there is no lingering reason to share anything about a certain ex, the experts at Oprah.com suggest making an agreement with your significant other to not discuss your pasts. While this can seem counterintuitive, especially to women, this policy can be helpful if it is agreed upon by both parties.
If the men or women in your past no longer have a place in your life and there are no significant battle wounds left from their retreat from it, why relive it? Will it help your present relationship to tell about that summer fling from 10 years ago?
For many of us, this isn’t a realistic policy. Maybe you have an ex-spouse in the picture, or have a child with whose mother or father you are still in contact. Maybe you have a psycho ex that you had to get a restraining order against. Whatever the circumstance, there comes a time when this sort of information needs to be shared. But when?
If your new relationship is getting serious, then it is probably time to have a heart to heart. How long this might takes varies widely. If you’ve been friends for a while before dating, it might come sooner rather than later. It should definitely occur before you do anything drastic, like get engaged, move in together, or meet the parents.
How much should I share?
Just because you’ve decided it’s time to reveal a bit about your past, doesn’t mean it’s time to describe every detail like it was a romance novel. Only share as much as he or she needs to know, so that it will be helpful to the relationship.
Definitely don’t share intimate details about sexual encounters. Cosmopolitan Magazine even warns against giving other details about your exes, like how much money they made or why you broke up. Sharing too many details could either make your new love insecure about how he measures up, or make him think you are comparing the two of them.
Dr. Laura Berman says one thing you should never share with your new partner is numbers. Whether you are embarrassed at how many sexual partners you’ve had or that number is like a trophy for you, keep it to yourself. Sharing that number can almost never improve the intimacy of your new relationship.
She does warn you to share one critical bit of information: whether you have, or have ever had, a sexually transmitted infection. Obviously, this information needs to be shared well before any sexual encounter. In fact, in some areas it’s illegal not to tell your partner.
No matter how much you share with your new love, the most important thing to impart is that the past is in the past. It’s over and done with. You are moving forward and he or she is the one you are moving forward with. If you can accept your past but keep it in the past, you’ll be in a much better place in your new relationship.