If you ask a professional spy what he’s up to or where he’s headed, his half-joking reply might be: “If I tell you that, I’ll either have to kill you or take you with me.”
That’s because he knows information is powerful stuff, often the difference between mission success and failure. During World War II, that fact was driven home on public posters and pamphlets that proclaimed, “Loose lips sink ships.”
What’s that got to do with dating and romance, you might wonder?
Well, when it comes to divulging sensitive personal information too freely, some people could sink a whole armada. That is never truer than when we begin a new romantic relationship. In our eagerness to be open and honest, we may rush to bare our souls, while expecting potential partners to do the same. It is true that most people do not possess high-stakes, life-or-death secrets. But there is plenty about who we are and what we’ve experienced that should be ladled out judiciously rather than dumped out hastily.
At what point should a dating partner know intimate things about you? That’s a judgment call we each have to make, depending upon the comfort level and sense of trust as a relationship unfolds. Obviously, by the time you are ready to make a binding commitment to each other, there should not be huge secrets left under wraps. But early on, there is rarely a compelling reason to stretch your vulnerability to the point of uneasiness. After all, there is no guarantee this person will become a permanent part of your life. Why reveal things you may later regret sharing?
Here are three types of information you should feel in no rush to discuss too readily:
Your deepest, darkest secrets.
Everyone has something lurking in their past they are not proud of, ranging from merely embarrassing to possibly incriminating. It is tempting, in the first euphoric weeks of dating, to play relationship “Truth or Dare,” to demonstrate your seriousness or transparency. It is advisable to save those incendiary revelations for safer times down the road when you know each other better.
Your romantic history.
Eventually, you both could have a legitimate claim to details like why past relationships ended or if you’ve been engaged before. But until you are ready to move the relationship toward greater exclusivity and commitment, beware of the potential for misunderstanding and other unintended consequences if you reveal too much.
Your money matters.
Many people in our society draw conclusions about others based on their income, investments, family wealth (or poverty), and so on. You want to be evaluated on who you are—your personality, beliefs, ambitions—not your income-generating potential. Sometime later, when your relationship is further along, you and your partner will likely talk openly about finances. But in the early stages, use discretion.
The point here is not to be secretive or evasive with those you are dating—indeed, authenticity is a highly attractive quality. But there is a proper time to disclose sensitive information about yourself. Pacing is important: as a relationship grows and develops so can your degree of openness. By the time you are ready to marry, your life can and should be an open book, to be read by the person you love and trust most.