Disclosure While Dating: What to Reveal & When

Disclosure While Dating: What to Reveal & When

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Navigating the dating world is always a challenge. From sorting through potential partners to choosing activities for your outings, planning dates can be stressful. Perhaps the trickiest part of dating, however, is deciding when to reveal personal information to your date. Though some subjects ought to be discussed within the first few dates, other topics may be better suited for later conversations. Whether you tend to keep secrets or habitually overshare, these guidelines will help you determine which touchy subjects you should and shouldn’t discuss when dating someone new. 



Chronic Health Conditions & Disabilities


Disclosing information about a chronic illness or disability requires quite a bit of thought. If the condition is something that plays a major role in your day-to-day life you will probably want to explain it sooner rather than later, likely within the first few dates. If you have a chronic condition that flairs up only occasionally, it's generally fine to explain it at a later point in time. If you're afraid of scaring off potential partners as a result of your health condition, consider discussing it on the second or third date rather than the first. Though some individuals see chronic illnesses as a deal-breaker, many open-minded people are receptive to dating others despite their health problems.



Sexually-Transmitted Infections & Diseases


Though it's never an easy conversation to have, individuals with STIs or STDs should discuss their conditions before engaging in sexual activity with potential partners. In these conversations it is good to discuss the facts surrounding the situation. How can the condition be transmitted? What percentage of people are affected by this STI? Do condoms reduce the risk of transmission? By discussing things openly and answering any questions your date may have, you can do your best to ensure that the conversation goes in a positive direction. Though some individuals may decide against having sexual relationships with STD-positive partners, many individuals are open to it once they understand the risks and precautions surrounding the conditions.



Criminal Charges


Criminal charges vary widely in their degree of seriousness. There's no reason to ramble about your latest parking ticket or a petty shoplifting charge from your college years. More serious crimes, however, may need to be disclosed. If you believe that the charges could make or break the relationship, try to discuss things during the first few dates. Doing so will allow your partner to decide whether or not they can accept the charges. Be honest and open. If you feel like you should say something, it is generally better to do so sooner rather than later. 



Debt & Financial Woes


Major financial struggles can certainly affect relationships. Debt, however, isn't an ideal topic for casual first date conversations. In general, debt should be discussed only if (or when) a relationship becomes more serious. If you and your date see a long-term relationship in your future, it is time to discuss your finances. When discussing your struggles, it is best to provide some context; this will help your partner to comprehend and, ideally, sympathize with your situation. If possible, tell your partner about your plans for repaying your debts. By framing your debt in a realistic context, you can decrease the odds of your debt becoming a deal-breaker. 



Other Major Topics


Most other topics won't need to be disclosed during the early days of dating. Discussing your crazy family or vengeful ex may be tempting, but these conversations rarely paint you in a good light. Instead, provide only the necessary facts about your present life, such as the ages of children or the timetable of a pending divorce, and leave it at that. Don't scare off potential dates by delving into personal drama. You are also not required to disclose details of your recovery from an addiction when first meeting a potential partner. Though the subject may come up in conversation, feel free to disclose this information when you feel most comfortable doing so. Though such details are important to share with a long-term partner, addiction is a touchy subject to address at the very beginning of a relationship. Once you and your date have a deeper understanding of one another you can more easily broach these difficult conversational topics. 



In Conclusion:


When in doubt, follow your date's lead regarding the disclosure of important personal information. Have empathy and make eye contact with your date. Listen to their personal challenges with an open heart. Know that these conversations, though difficult, have the potential to strengthen your relationship. Feel free to match your date's rate of disclosure, revealing more of your struggles as they do. There's never a perfect time to have an uncomfortable conversation. By reading each situation and disclosing information when it feels right, however, you can make the disclosure process as agreeable as possible.



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Editor, 07/21/2016