Secrets. We all have them or have had them at some point in our lives, and they can make certain relationships or situations complicated, to say the least. When we’re in the process of dating someone, our goal is usually to get to know each other, thus becoming more intimate. But what happens when there’s something we’re holding back? Whether we’re keeping a family secret, health issue or past situation from our partner, this can certainly weigh heavily on us, stopping us from becoming fully emotionally intimate and keeping the relationship in a holding pattern. So when we’re at that crossroads where we feel we have to tell the secret but we’re afraid of the possible rejection in might cause, what can we do to make the situation better for both parties involved?
Tips for Revealing a Secret to Your Partner
1. Make sure you’re okay with the secret. It’s important that on some level, we’re ok with the secret we’re going to tell. If you’re still wrestling feelings of shame, embarrassment, or guilt, then you may want to work through these feelings a little more before sharing your secret. If you’re rejected in this state, it’s only going to compound your negative feelings even more, which will not help you in the long-run. Talk to trusted friends, family members or a counsellor to help you gain a positive perspective on your secret.
2. Let them get to know you a bit first. Don’t tell your secret on a first date no matter how comfortable you may feel – this could lead to you being defined before they get a chance to know you. When things start, (repeat, start), to get serious, is when you should tell.
3. Think before you say it. Spend some time rehearsing what to say, and plan when to say it. Blurting it out spur-of-the-moment when you’re not mentally prepared or emotionally calm will not make the situation any easier.
4. Be confident and casual. If you act like this is the most awful thing that has ever happened, chances are some of that energy will get projected back onto you, and onto your secret. By acting confident and matter-of-fact, it shows your partner that it isn’t such a big deal on your end, which will hopefully show them there’s not much to worry about.
5. Know how to give them space. It will be somewhat stressful to gauge how your partner feels about it all – your immediate reaction might be to hover over them and make sure they’re not turning away. However, it’s at precisely this time that you need to offer them space to process it all on their own. You can’t control how they feel about it, but the way you handle the after-effects will be very telling of your character in general. When people need space, there’s no two ways about it – we have to give them the courtesy of backing off.
6. Don’t take rejection personally. Just because someone can’t handle your secret, doesn’t make you or them a bad person, it means you’re not compatible. There are things that people can’t handle in life all the time, and it’s their choice. The person who will be in your life long-term will be there no matter what.