It seems so difficult today to find someone you really like to the point that, when you do, you are tempted to rush the connection by telling too much too quickly about yourself.  But don't act on this impulse.  Here are the dangers of moving too hastily and how to handle revealing details about your past.

Dangers of Telling Too Much Too Soon

  • You might regret spilling the beans to someone who turns out to be judgmental, untrustworthy or troubled.
  • The relationship burns out as fast as it began, and now someone who truly doesn't know you blames you for the break up or tells others about your past.
  • You give a skewed impression of yourself that the other person can't get past.
  • Telling all too soon reinforces your insecurities about yourself.  People who tend to reveal their complete history quickly have intense needs to be loved.  They tell all in order to say to themselves, "Look, I turned over every rock about myself, and this person still likes me."  But relationships happen in the present, and your behavior now--far more than the details of your past--will determine whether you find love and acceptance.

How to Handle Revealing Details about Yourself

1. Learn to "float" with your anxiety about not being fully known or accepted.  Real love requires time to develop a relationship track record of good communication, patterns, problem-solving and shared interests, values, commitment and passion.

2. Accept that you can be honest without telling the whole truth of your past. Give a generalization and not specifics until you know each other better.  Tell the person that after you know each other better, you'll talk more about it.  In the beginning, try these approaches:

  • When asked about your family, say something such as, "They were very immature people who really shouldn't have been together," rather than, "They were abusive."
  • Or, when asked about your past relationships, you could say, "I had a few serious relationships, but we didn't share the same goals" instead of "I've been burned repeatedly and don't trust love."
  • If you are a single parent, and it's obvious that you've been divorced or always a single parent, you can say a few general comments that sum up your past situation.  For example, you could say, "We grew apart."  Or, "He turned out not to be a family man."  

3. Think about what worries you the most about not being accepted by your date or new partner.  For example, are you worried that the person won't accept someone with a history of substance abuse or depression?  Test your partner's views ahead of time. In your discussions, as soon as the conversation even slimly allows you to raise your issue, you could refer to it and see your partner's reactions.   Here are some methods that my clients have used to test the emotional waters:

  •  A woman was worried about her date's attitude about depression.  When the conversation turned to a discussion about whacky family members, she said:  "I know what you mean.  I have a cousin whom everyone thought was crazy, but she turned out to be bipolar.  She takes medication now and is really terrific and accomplished."  Her date began to reveal his view that people shouldn't take medication and blame their problems on their brain.  She knew not to see him again.  She was taking medication for depression, and she wanted a supportive partner.
  • A man was reluctant to reveal that he lost his house in a foreclosure.  He was now in a stable job and was out of debt.  When he was on a third date with a woman he liked very much, he asked her if she would like to help him pick out a car to lease.  She said, "I just leased my car, too.  I'm learning to be smarter about my money.  My brother lost his home two years ago, and I really admire how he's rebounded."  A few weeks later the man felt comfortable telling her about his past.  They have been together for over a year.

You can be smart, too. Take your time and learn to curb your desire to tell all at once!