Folk Wisdom: When to tell our secrets to a new partner?  

Dear Duana,

I’ve got a sexually transmitted disease.  It’s not life-threatening, but it’s not curable either.  I just began dating someone I really like.  I don’t want to scare Mark away, but I also don’t want him to feel I’ve kept a secret from him.   I’m so confused about timing.  Please help. 



Dear Cleo, 

If I had a nickel for every time I got the “When do I tell my secret?” question, I’d have more than $2.35.  

And that’d be genuine nickels, not wooden.  Most of us have personal issues that are important to our sense of self as well as the development of a relationship.  We don’t want to lie by omission to someone who might be Right for us, possibly alienating them or running afoul of our own moral compass.  But neither do we want to tell all too soon and be rejected, humiliated, denigrated or have our secret blabbed to others by someone who later turns out to be Wrong. 

Plus, the ick factor can run high when we realize that many now-irrelevant-to-us others possess information we want kept as private as possible. 


For instance, I’ve heard from many who want to know when to discuss their:  

—chronic condition or serious health history, including STD’s/STI’s; diabetes;  cancer; MS; fibromyalgia; hepatitis; ongoing mental illness; or sexual dysfunction

—history of sexual abuse or trauma

—numerous trips to the altar/divorce attorney

—infidelity a time or two

—prison sentence/professional relationship with a parole officer


So why haven’t I answered the question on-site before? Because—and I truly dislike saying this—I don’t know.  Although social scientists have been gathering information about our love lives for over 60 years, many of the important questions haven’t been addressed yet. 

Yours is such a question.  I have some scientific basis for an answer, but not enough for the complete response I want to give you.


So I hope you won’t mind my asking our Wise Readers for their help.  This week, there’s a brief 6-item questionnaire posted; it will be available until this coming Sunday, and here’s the link:


Wise Readers, will you assist? 

Thank you~ and I’ll see you here next week with what you, they, and science have to say. 





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All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., 2011


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Reader Comments (1)

One has no business to be in a foreign bed for the first time without showing a clean bill of health passport first.

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlouisemarie Sykora
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