I am very grateful for all the kind, sweet, thoughtful, and responsible women who ask me this question: “I have this issue that I feel I need to be upfront with him about before our relationship goes too far. Should I tell him about it on the first date?”
I appreciate these women, but they go too far in their efforts to avoid deceiving a potential partner. Some women seem to feel they are being deceitful or irresponsible if they do not reveal all of their physical or mental health flaws on the first date. I disagree.
My personal opinion is that you can best answer the “when and how” question by referring to the golden rule. I believe it’s as simple as that. The golden rule simply extols the value of doing to others as you would have them do unto you.
I don’t know about you, but I would prefer that you allow me to get to know you before you flood my mind with a list of your hidden problems. Problems do not define you, but many women seem to feel their problems do define them.
I’ll give you an example. Someone once asked me if she was being irresponsible not to mention that she is living on disability income through Social Security. She thought she needed to mention it in her online dating profile to avoid “leading men on.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I feel a person is selling herself short if she does not make at least a small attempt to sell me on the many virtues I would encounter if I continued a relationship with her. It’s not that you should never speak the straightforward truth about problem areas; it’s just not appropriate to delve into deeply personal information on a first date!
That’s why I evoke the golden rule. I don’t want to share information about my medical issues with the person I just met, so I don’t expect you to do that either. Maybe this is the golden rule in reverse; “Tell it unto me as I would expect myself to tell it unto thee.” =)
In all seriousness, I want to encourage any of you who struggle over this issue to take a deep breath and relax. Real relationships unfold over time. Don’t try to force the entire relationship into the first date. He can learn about you and discover both your wonderful qualities and your liabilities over time.
Some people hear this advice and finally relax into the normal way of relating to people again. Others are so brainwashed by the fast-paced style of dating, which has taken over that they still struggle with guilt.
Our culture has changed when it comes to dating. People around the world look at potential partners as expendable options to be sorted through rapidly.
This change is largely because of the psychological shifts created by online dating. Men and women feel like there are hundreds of options out there and a seemingly inexhaustible supply, so they approach a first date with the mindset of quickly filtering out all the various qualities they would find distasteful in a potential partner.
You don’t have to go along with that toxic change in the dating culture. Treat people like real human beings, and expect them to do the same in return.
I don’t want to know about the warts on the bottom of your feet when I first meet you. I figure I’ll see those while I am learning how beautiful and playful you can be when joining me at the beach and kicking off your socks and shoes.
In this more “organic” context, your flaws will be paired with the real-life experience of getting to know the benefits of building a relationship with you. Does that make sense?
Some people press me for even more detail. Each relationship is unique, and requires a different approach because of the various factors at play. Allow me to offer a few “rule of thumb” guidelines for you to consider.
- If the flaw is something embarrassing to you, but not something that will harm him, you can wait much longer for the topic to come up naturally throughout the course of your unfolding relationship. If it is an issue that could cause him emotional or physical harm, you might want to bring up the subject by the time you reach the third date.
- Do not tell him deep dark secrets just because you feel guilty. Guilt should not be your motivation.
- Generally speaking, you should bring up the topic as soon as you can envision a “normal” conversation about it. By “normal,” I mean a conversation that others would not judge as forced and socially awkward. When two people know each other, they can sense the right time for bringing up the topic even if it is a sensitive one.
- Before you tell him a deep dark secret, ask yourself whether he would be able to fill in other details about your personal life and history easily that have an equal weight (on the neutral or positive side of things). If he doesn’t know you well enough to understand the context and story associated with your “flaw,” then it’s too soon for that particular talk.
I hope these guidelines were helpful, but remember that the preceding principles should be your ultimate guide rather than these rule-of-thumb statements.
It is my belief that you have a responsibility to put your best foot forward when meeting people. I say this because the fast-paced dating culture often means you only get one shot at impressing a person enough to get a second date.
Research has consistently shown that we tend to draw final conclusions about potential partners far too soon. We put too much confidence in our first impressions.
That’s why it’s so important to get a second and third date so you can truly get to know each other. I hope this advice will help you reach that goal.