Letting them in: When’s the right time to tell them about your secrets?

Letting them in: When’s the right time to tell them about your secrets?


letting-them-in-hero-imageEveryone has private information that they keep close to their chest. You may have a former addiction, a serious medical condition or credit card debt that has spiraled out of control. If you’ve met someone new and it’s going well, these deep, dark secrets may cast a shadow over your relationship. It’s a dangerous precipice – you can open up too soon and consequently be labelled as taking the relationship too seriously too early. You could tell them straight away about the bad split with your ex-boyfriend or the serious illness you’re living with, and face being viewed as a liability. If you wait too long you could be seen as being distant and secretive. Where do you draw the line?

Does your secret impact your relationship?

Do you have a serious financial crisis? Do you have an illness that leaves you fatigued, moody or sleepless? You may not think of them as major, but these kinds of secrets will have a huge impact on your relationship down the track. The sooner you divulge this information, the more likely your new partner is to view you as an open, honest and transparent person. But first you must establish that this person is to be trusted, and that they genuinely care for you.

 Does it affect your day-to-day life?

Maybe you’re the parent of a difficult child, or you have a condition that requires constant monitoring and regular medical attention. These secrets will leave your partner guessing what you’re sneaking away to do, why you’re reluctant to be spontaneous, or why you’re not spending much time with them. This kind of information, if not shared early on in the relationship, might just damage the trust you are trying to build with your partner. Once trust is damaged, it can be hard to repair.

Are you just confessing to get it off your chest?

Do they really need to know if you’ve cheated on a partner before? Or you went to rehab five years ago? If you have some secrets that don’t apply to this relationship, it may be best to keep those skeletons in the closet for much longer. Your partner might have nothing to gain from your past mistakes, so it’s best left unsaid at this stage. If you’ve got a criminal record from a minor mishap however, it’s best to pick your timing. It may not be immediately relevant, but the past has a way of tapping you on the shoulder.

Breaking the news

Are you spending more and more time with your new flame? Can you envisage a future together? If you’re unsure, it can be helpful to discuss the future of the relationship with your partner face-to-face. If you don’t feel like you’re at that point yet, enjoy the time you’re spending getting to know this new person – your secrets don’t have to be revealed at this stage.

If you’re heading down the serious path, it can be a sign of openness and honesty when you share a secret. If they are truly into you, they will probably take your revelation as a compliment; after all, you’re willing to lay your cards on the table for this person.

Once your secrets are out there, you can’t get them back. Has your new partner proven to be trustworthy and understanding, someone that could keep this secret close to their chest? Are they the type of person who would run if they knew about your debt, your addiction or other personal truths? Take time to weigh up the consequences before spilling the beans.

If you’re confident that you can trust your new partner and are ready for the reveal, initiate the conversation somewhere comfortable, quiet and private. When you disclose the secret, especially if it’s something that can directly impact the relationship, give your partner space and time to process the information. Don’t expect them to be immediately okay with the revelation either – wait patiently and don’t try to push them for a response. If your new partner is committed enough, you should get a thoughtful reaction.

Be prepared for rejection too. Not all people will respond positively. Maybe your secret is a deal breaker for them, or they don’t understand this information even after time has passed. Try not to take this personally – there are plenty of compassionate people out there who will be open to dating you, skeletons and all. And chances are, your secrets are not nearly scary enough to chase away the person you want to commit to.