Few people on earth don’t have a skeleton or two in their closet—and sometimes enough to fill several “secret” closets. Whether these skeletons represent mistakes we’ve made or hurts we’ve endured, we’re none too eager to pull them out and rattle them around in public. And while we might be willing to talk about them with a confidant or counselor, just the thought of sharing them with a potential love interest can evoke feelings of dread and even panic.
If you’re in this situation, here are four things to keep in mind:
You’re not alone.
Other people have experienced the exact (or similar) hurts or wounds you have. And you know that awful mistake you made? It’s been made before—probably countless times. As for folks who haven’t suffered the same traumas or had the same lapses in judgment you have . . . well, they’ve got their own secrets hidden away. Finding the strength and wisdom to deal with episodes—even entire chapters—from our personal histories that we wish we could rewrite is an unavoidable part of the human experience. Every person you meet is somewhere on his or her own journey of figuring out how to resolve the tension between the what-ifs and the yes-buts that are an inescapable facet of life.
Your potential partner is the only person who knows what deal breakers might jeopardize your relationship.
Deal breakers exist for any budding relationship, but there’s no use trying to guess ahead of time if these will involve one of your “secrets.” Sure, it’s possible your particular skeleton might send the other person scurrying for the exit, but it might as easily be overlooked, shrugged off, or graciously accepted. Don’t try to predict the future. It’s a skill none of us are very good at anyway. All you can do—all anyone can ever do—is walk boldly into each new day with integrity, confidence, and a healthy measure of faith.
Acceptance—from any source—is healing.
If you are living in fear of rejection by someone you’re dating, perhaps it’s because you have yet to experience acceptance from yourself or from another person who knows your deepest, darkest secret. Have you discussed your past with a wise and trusted friend, therapist, or pastor—someone who loves and accepts you despite the trauma or mistake that haunts you? Do you love and accept yourself? Until you do, you may find it difficult to receive love and acceptance from a dating partner, even one who would never dream of rejecting you.
Bemoaning mistakes from your past can create mistakes in your future.
Shame, regret, and fear of rejection are heavy emotions you don’t need dragging down your psyche as you go about the important business of choosing a life partner. Unknown to you, these unresolved emotions can work in your subconscious, undermining your efforts to make healthy choices. Your fear of rejection can cause you to break up with someone who may be right for you just to “beat them to the punch.” It can also cause you to gravitate toward unworthy partners because, at some level, you think they are the only ones who will overlook your past.
The good news is that “deadly secrets” don’t have to be either deadly or secret. No matter what you have experienced in your past, you deserve love and acceptance from a partner. You also deserve it from yourself.
Can you ever be too honest? Find out!