How do you keep a secret these days? Your girlfriend has all the wonders of modern technology and a network of gossipy gal pals. She can uncover your dirty laundry with just a mouse click or phone call (you know, that missing “weekend with the boys” or that diamond ring’s worth of credit card debt). A pre-emptive confession might be called for. Here’s your three-part guide to dredging up the past without driving her away.
What Should You Confess?
“Ask yourself two questions,” says Dr Evan Imber- Black, author of The Secret Life of Families. “First, is this relevant information that your mate has a right to know? Second, will spilling it strengthen the relationship?” Examples: STDs are highly relevant, as are bankruptcies to a couple buying a house. Others include jail time, therapy or rehab, failed engagements or marriages and any live-in lover of six months or more.
“Tell her you were not proud of these things,” says clinical sexologist Martha Lee. “Say you wish they did not happen, but they did and that you want to be honest with her. For bonus points, say you’re doing this because she’s important and you see yourself being with her for a long time.”
When’s The Best Time To Tell Her?
Come clean when your relationship is smooth sailing. “It’s ill-advised to tell all during rocky times,” says Imber-Black. “But don’t wait so long that the other person whines: ‘Why haven’t you told me about this before?’” says Dr Katherine Macie, a Virginia-based behavioural psychologist. Examples: An idle Saturday in bed after a fight-free month is good. Right before guests arrive for your ROM? Not so good. The best time: right after your partner reveals her most intimate secrets. Of course, when your hand is forced, start talking.
What Not To Tell Her
Relationships aren’t built on spotless sexual resumes. But relationship troubles are often caused by sexual history, says Dr Marilyn A. Fithian, a researcher with the Center for Marital and Sexual Studies. The number of partners you’ve had, or where you learned that sexual position? Forget it. “The more specific you are, the easier it is for her to visualise your kinky affairs and the more damage you’ll do,” says Dr Fithian. If you must divulge something, keep it general. Otherwise, adds Dr Fithian, “She’ll think, ‘I’m not adequate. I don’t measure up. Where did he learn that?’ The less said, the better.”