Dating gives people the chance to get to know each other with the goal of potentially creating a lifelong relationship. However, it can be difficult to know when to disclose certain personal information. Opening up about yourself should be based on gaging closeness within the relationship, factoring in emotional safety and setting appropriate boundaries with your potential partner.
First Through Third Date
The first few dates can be tricky. People are often nervous about what is appropriate to share, and that is completely normal. Early on, make sure you set some boundaries, and give yourself time to get to know your potential partner. Unfortunately not everyone you date will be a trustworthy, loving person, so be mindful when it comes to keeping yourself physically and emotionally safe. These early on dates are a great way to get to know if this person has similar interests, feels comfortable to be around, and has compatible dating goals.
Your Dating Status
In a recent survey by Zoosk, 70 percent of men and 62 percent of women said they want to know on a first date if you are seeing other people. Be upfront, open and honest when sharing your dating status. While some people date to find a life partner, others date for the fun of meeting new people. Sharing this information right away can help two people see if they are on the same page.
Political or Religious Views
It is appropriate to discuss political views and religion in general, without going into too much detail early on in a relationship. If your date shares different views, test the waters and ease into these conversations. It is not necessarily a bad thing to have differing views. In fact, it may make conversations even more interesting. You can always ask if they would feel comfortable discussing their religious preference and their political views if you feel uncertain. Discussing these topics early in a relationship can help both of you make informed choices about whether to move forward.
Discussing careers is a great way to break the ice with your date. It allows you to share your interests, your passions and your ultimate goals in terms of career, while also offering your date the opportunity to do the same. Conversations about your date's career can help you figure out what makes him tick, how he creative he is, and what he is like under pressure.
Finding common ground early on is a great indication that there is potential for a connection. Ask about what your date enjoys doing for fun during these first few dates, and note if you have any similar interests. If you continue dating, you may want to plan on doing some of these activities together.
Fourth Through Sixth Dates
Around this time, you should have a pretty clear indication if you would like to continue seeing this person and feel comfortable around them. Use your gut when it comes to delving into more intimate topics and make sure you feel completely confident in your decision to do so. If not, there is no harm in waiting a bit longer. Ask yourself these questions before moving on to sharing this more sensitive information:
- Do I feel emotionally safe around this person?
- Have they indicated through their behavior and verbal cues that they are trustworthy?
- Are they attentive when I speak and do they ask appropriate follow up questions?
- Have they indicated in any way that they violate boundaries? Examples of this include making several comments or jokes that make you feel uncomfortable despite being told to stop, being physically intimate too quickly, and getting too personal too quickly.
- Do I feel manipulated in any way?
If there are any red flags, hold off on sharing the following information, until you are with someone who you feel completely comfortable around.
Sex is a normal and healthy part of any romantic relationship. That being said, it is important to make your health and safety a priority. As you get to know a person, appropriate sexual comments or stories can give your date the hint that you are sexually attracted to them.
If you feel the relationship is moving toward sexual intimacy, this would be the ideal time to talk about any issues, preferences or concerns you have regarding sex. Having these discussions before you're in the act can prevent any additional awkwardness or anxiety.
Serious health problems can be difficult to share. You may not know how your partner will react, and if they will be open to discussing it in detail. Begin by asking if they would feel comfortable discussing a health related issue. If they do, then go ahead. Remember you can always give a more general description of your medical issues. Sharing this information can be a great bonding experience as you become more vulnerable with your date. It also gives you important information about how well they react to more serious topics. A few tips for how to share such sensitive information include:
- Plan Ahead - Think about how you could share the information before actually discussing it.
- Have Confidence - Approaching such a difficult topic can help others see your strength.
- Choose the Time and Place - Choose a more private place and share what you are comfortable with.
The Zoosk survey also found that approximately half of men and women seek to discuss past relationships at this point in dating. While talking about your exes can lead to difficult conversations, there are ways to share this information with a positive twist. The focus of any discussion about past relationships with a new partner can be about what you learned from the experience and why you decided to move on.
Marriage and Kids
You have made it through a few dates and are naturally progressing toward a potentially more serious relationship. At this point, disclosing your desires and goals in terms of future lifestyle can help both people decide if the relationship should move to the next level. If marriage and children are deal-breakers, that discussion needs to happen before making a serious commitment. Although you may like each other, differences of opinion on future plans and lifestyle may be difficult to reconcile once the relationship becomes serious.
Once you and your partner have decided to stop dating other people and focus on building your relationship, you have the opportunity to share more detailed personal information. This typically occurs after at least a few months of consistently dating each other when there is a high level of emotional closeness, openness to being vulnerable with each other, and support.
Couples in an exclusive relationship may be moving toward vacationing or even living together. Take the initiative to have serious discussions about salaries, debts, and whether you are a spender or a saver. There are many activities that can help couples start talking about finances in detailed.
- Buy a shared item and discuss who will pay how much and why.
- Plan a small dinner party together.
- Shop for a friend's wedding or birthday gift together.
- Start a vacation or date night fund jar where both people contribute toward saving for something fun.
When you enter into a committed relationship, your partner may want you to have more contact with their family. While you may have met some family members by this point, this is your chance to get filled in about any major relationship issues within the group. Every family has some problems; if yours are big enough to affect your partner, now is the time to disclose.
The next step after an exclusive relationship is typically some sort of commitment. Let your partner know any standards you hold about when to move in together, how long you prefer to be engaged, if and when you'd like to be married, and at what point you see children in your future. The point here is to share your ideal outcome without pressuring your partner. Sharing how you view the future allows you to see if you both hold similar visions.
Couples in serious relationships may be moving toward engagement or marriage. It is essential to discuss personal values and expectations about important issues like parenting, financial responsibilities, and lifestyle before making big decisions about your relationship. Typically, couples at this stage have been together for at least a year, and more often several years. Couples at this point know each other's typical habits, likes, dislikes, nuances, and overall reactions to a multitude of circumstances. These couples are usually able to maintain open communication, problem-solve difficult situations together and can see themselves having a happy future together.
If you haven't already, be sure to disclose your views on personal finance. There should be no secrets when it comes to how much you make, savings, debts, and any negative information that could affect your partner in the future. You owe it to each other to have a clear picture of where you stand on finances individually and as a couple. Take the conversation to the deepest level by discussing how you would plan to split expenses, whether you will open joint accounts, whose name will be on major purchases like a house, and what financial contributions you might like to make for your future children.
If you are planning to live together, you will need to decide where to live, how much you can afford to spend on living expenses, and how you will split the bills. It is important for each person to share their needs regarding location, amount of space, and financial responsibility.
If you are both interested in having children someday, this discussion should happen prior to conceiving. Ask difficult questions and discuss potential scenarios to gain a better understanding of what type of parents you will be. Starting conversations like this early gives you the chance to merge your styles or end the relationship if there are major disagreements. Remember how you choose to co-parent can greatly impact your future children.
General Guidelines for Disclosures
Sharing personal information with a date is important for relationship building, but can be problematic if not done properly. Date safely by sharing appropriate information with trusted individuals. Keep these tips in mind when sharing information at any stage of a dating relationship.
- Follow your instincts.
- Take cues from your date.
- Start by sharing bits of information to see how they are received.
- Be clear, concise, and honest.
Go With Your Gut
A general timeline for when to share information when dating can be helpful in better understanding what might be considered appropriate to disclose. It is important for you to feel comfortable with your partner before choosing to share certain information. Being mindful about when to share allows you to better connect with your potential partner and assess whether they are the right match for you.