Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Telling Secrets

If you’re in a relationship, is there ever a time you reveal all or should you hold back? That is the $64,000 question. I’ve met people who held back that they’ve had been married before, a brief two week marriage that seemed to be a result of drunkenness. Another never confided she had a child when she was a teen until that child found her. These are big secrets, why would you hold back?

Is the secret pertinent to your current relationship? Many relationships often end months, even weeks later. Do you really want this person to know you had an affair with your boss? Information we spew everywhere in a moment of trust is often used against us by a vindictive ex.

Marriage therapists side surprisingly on withholding minor transgressions. A man who is quick to confess a flirtation while on a business trip feels good once he gets it off his chest. His wife is another matter. She wonders if she can ever trust him, and begins to doubt if she even knows him, and questions the stability of their marriage. Of course, the other side of the coin is the man who confesses nothing can continue to flirt without fear of consequences.

Once a person decides to confess a secret, there is a chance they’ll be regarded differently. I will admit to being privy to some bizarre sexual secrets about fellow workers that I didn’t want to know. After knowing, it was difficult to keep a straight face around them. My first thought was they were totally different people than I thought they were.

What if the person you choose to confess to is your sweetie and yours is a burgeoning relationship? It could be emotional dynamite. We are in love with whomever we think our sweetie is even if that image isn’t very correct and vice versa. An entire new chapter might mess with his image. Try to explain to your average guy after you ran with the rich and famous that you discover ordinary is really where it is at

Do you worry that if you reveal the details of a co-dependent relationship where you enabled someone’s addiction, out of love you rationalized, but it was more out of fear, that your current honey will leave? That’s a real possibility, especially depending how early you do it. People tend to relate everything back to how it meshes with them. If you confess to a toxic relationship in the past—they wonder why you are pursuing a relationship with them. They might even feel that they are lumped in the same category as your drug addict mate. If you feel totally secure in the relationship, you can drop that bombshell. It will probably be a relief to share these festering facts. Be aware that your sweetie might wonder big time how well he really knows you. He also might question your level of neediness in the past.

Names, some people want them. This is usually not a good idea, especially if you have a very jealous man who just wants to threaten past boyfriends. My old boyfriend never mentioned my name, but we were a couple so long that it was common knowledge. His girlfriend became my full-time stalker. The only way I could rid myself of this scary female was to elicit the old boyfriend’s help.

What if your sweetie’s name was the same as a crazed old boyfriend? Would you tell him? Your name is a very personal thing. It is who you are. It is something you carried around all your life. Heaven forbid, you decide to confess that not only was the last relationship toxic, but your present and current honey share the same name.

My ex-husband’s name still leaves a bad taste in my mouth because of the way he treated me. I did date two men with the same name as his. They were not successful relationships despite the fact; one was intent on marrying me. Every time I said their names, it was like eating chicken soup out of a toilet. I like chicken soup, but the visual image of eating it out of a toilet turned my stomach. They were both nice men with unfortunate names. I never told either of them that I had issues with their names. I probably tried to say them as little as possible. Should I have told them? I don’t know. Would they have been willing to go by different names to ease my bad memories? I doubt it.

I realize people change. I also realize we date a variety of people to see whom we fit with best. Some of the also-rans will be obviously wrong, horribly wrong, but that doesn’t make us bad. It makes us smart when we get away from them. Then again, these foolish choices do make us look bad to current dates, so we might not want to confess all.

Sometimes we think we need to know things because we don’t want to do the exact things the old girlfriend or ex-wife did. I will freely admit to dreaming of a simple beach wedding if I tie the knot for the final time. It was a bitter awakening to find out that my sweetie already had his beach wedding. Everyone resented it including my sweetie who paid for it. I felt tainted by a woman I never knew.

Do you have to tell everything? I think it is a careful balance. Things you choose to hold back become sticking points when they come to light. Questions about why you hid them may engender a line of questioning you never expected. On the other hand making a clean breast of it by confessing all can sometimes play havoc too.

If you were giving advice to an older couple, who had plenty of skeletons in the closets, what would you advise them to do?

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