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When and how do you reveal past mistakes to new romantic interests?

I've been active on dating apps lately. I have an especially colorful past because of my past fervent religious beliefs and the severe PTSD I had because of abuse. I'm doing so much better now and want to build a healthy relationship with someone.

One of the guys I like on a dating app started asking a lot of personal questions. He didn't come across as creepy or anything. He's been really nice and seems genuinely interested and concerned. But it ended up opening a whole can of worms that I don't know that I would have chosen to go into this early in a relationship.

Since I didn't really know how to deal with it, I ended up just spilling the beans. I think that probably wasn't the best idea. I'm wondering if you guys have any suggestions for better ways to deal with this sort of thing respectfully.

UpsideDownAgain 7 Sep 14

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You do not have to reveal all at once. Many things are best not revealed over internet or phone messaging. These are best revealed in person, once the other party has earned your trust. You do not have to speed in to a relationship. You can enter one at a slower pace and reveal things as time goes on. Things have a time and place, but not all at once. I can not emphasize how important it is for the other party to first earn your trust before revealing your deepest secrets. If they can not earn your trust, why tell them the deep secrets at all?


Spilling the beans is not a good idea. People say different but usually they want to use this to control you, and in cases where they cannot control you they use it against you. My youngest daughter has a live in who wants to be on her house note. He also wonders about cars at the neighbors house while he has cameras inside her house watching her. He claims that both of them should tell each other everything and wants to argue about the past or maybe 2 years ago. WTF? If you are angry in the present the anger most likely comes from the present. Do not be fooled.

I remember in Texas when myself and a woman became an item and she told me "now I need to know everyone you have had sex with." No, you don't. It is none of your business. You and I go about as far as when we entered each other's lives. Nothing before, and if you last as a couple maybe you can talk about many good things later.

@MissKathleen That and maybe more. He actually scares me with what he does. They separate but always go back together. One relative even beat him up once.


Spill them beans. Spill'em early and often. Confidence and authenticity are a lot more endearing than transactional maneuvering.

skado Level 8 Sep 14, 2020

I'm a big fan of bean-spilling, too. I figure that the ones who are scared off, probably weren't people I wanted to keep anyway. (Not that they're bad people or anything - just incompatible.)


I just tend to blurt them out, I'm neither a Republican or a Christian so I have no fear of the truth.

I'm laughing with you, not at you. Just wanted to make that clear. Good answer.


Your past is YOUR business.
Unless it's something that has a real chance of effecting their life in a real way, it's not their business, and you are under NO obligation to tell them anything.
Whatever you choose to divulge is your call.
How and when is also your call.

Never allow anyone to pressure you into revealing anything before you decide whether you even want to tell them.
You do not OWE anyone an explanation of your past mistakes.

Further, that "what's your number?" question is absolute bullshit. The ONLY answer to that is "none of your damned business".
Anyone who asks that and insists on an answer should be jettisoned posthaste.

Some people ask questions about your past and use your answers against you later on.
You owe no one anything.

👆 This 💯


Boundaries. Build some. If you've been abused in the past then your boundaries were smashed and you may need to talk out what are reasonable boundaries with a girl friend or professional. It's okay to say you've had problems in a particular area when you've built a bit of trust but it's a different thing to go into it in detail. That requires the development of a lot more trust.


I take them to the lonely clearing in the woods and show them the shallow graves.


If timing matters, then you don't have the relationship yet. When you have a relationship worth keeping then timing won't matter.

skado Level 8 Sep 14, 2020

Reminded me of the longest non marriage relationship in my life... 19 years... in the first date she realized I was emotionally unattached... 19 years later we are still dating... and I am still emotionally unattached. Reckon she wants to prove her point.


Until you are involved on a less superficial level, I would give few details beyond the fact that your previous relationship was abusive, and left you with some baggage you are navigating. Also, keep in mind that one of the ways a covert narcissist grooms his next victim is to feign interest in everything about you early on, especially that which makes you most vulnerable, so that he can use that information to manipulate you later. Beware of men who are too interested in all that too soon. They always seem "nice" and "concerned" while pumping you for information.

Deb57 Level 8 Sep 14, 2020

Works both ways..

@Redneckliberal she mentioned that she dates guys, as do I. We can make this about you in another conversation thread if you need that.


Keep it general, not all the details are relevant because you are different today. You can open the closet door but not everything in there needs to be revealed. Your past can be talked about but every "sin" need not be detailed.If someone pushes you for every detail they are just being a voyeur and probably will use the revelations to control you in the future.

You are SO right!!


The past belongs in the past. Of course, it helped shape who you are today, but it doesn’t define who you are today.

I know I’m a totally different person than I was when I too was experiencing my “colorful past.” That person is a stranger to me.

So, no, there’s no reason to “spill the beans” to anyone to satisfy their curiosity. No one needs to know every single secret from your past. They need to accept who you are today or move the heck on.


Just looking at this from the other side. I do consider a person's past to an extent, particularly on relationships because people exhibit patterns of behavior and those patterns will certainly repeat themselves over time. The comment somewhere here about a person "using past mistakes against you" if you open up has a point. That can happen and probably will if you've not actually dealt with issues and certain behaviors and or attitudes and that comes out during stressors in the relationship.

Unless you have really dealt with whatever issues you've developed and feel you're in a good place emotionally, I'd be sparse with my back ground until something comes up. You just don't know what could be triggers until they're pulled, lol.
And the person asking you, remember, they have a past too. Couples tend to make their own values in a relationship based on how you interact with each other and how you affect each other.

Take things slow. If that person bails out, they were not the right person for you. Good luck.

I do agree that patterns of behavior can be determined by learning about someone’s past. But I think it depends on how long ago such behavior took place. If someone is in their 40s or 50s, they should be able to move on past things that happened 20 years earlier, when they were, for all intents and purposes, a different person.

@Apunzelle While I agree for the most part, at age 55, I know lots of people that never get past stuff from their past. Interrogations and observations are in order. Time always tells. Always.


I just had a funny thought. You can have a bankruptcy, repossession, or foreclosure on your credit report. But then after 7–10 years, it’s wiped clean. Even creditors know old information doesn’t define who you are today — if your credit is good today, that’s what matters.

So I repeat my earlier comment: the past belongs in the past. 👍


Unless your past mistakes rise to the level of imprisonment, you don't need to be "that" honest about past mistakes...


I think a more relevant question would be "Why would you reveal past mistakes to new romantic interests".

Possibly in the interest of transparency. While I know what a huge red flag it appears to be, I am up front about the fact that I have been married and divorced four times. I believe anybody who might consider me as a potential partner has the right to know that fact up front. If that's something that scares them away, it's better for me to know that, too, before I make any kind of emotional investment.

@Deb57 Ah, I see. I wasn't thinking along the lines of "past relationships" as I don't consider them "mistakes", just the past.

@redbai one of the things I hear most from friends, family, etc. is the overused, sarcastic line, "Dear, you sure can pick 'em!" Well, most of them actually picked me, and probably elbowed a few nicer guys out of the way in the process, but I'm grown up enough to own the mistakes I made in not paying better attention to red flags. Won't ever happen again.


The time to share would be different for each person you meet. But...your story won't scare-off the right person. I encourage you to keep up with therapy, to help find the fine line between not enough and too much as each situation to disclose arises.


Unless it is public knowledge, why bother!!!

Seems everyone has failed in one form or another!!!

After all life is experimental is it not!!!

Success is built upon the failure of others!!!

Why expose what has made you who you are or are not!!!



I've been in the exact same position and I've tried to be truthful and have learned the hard way that's not the best policy. People tend to shy away from people they think are damaged goods. I have medical issues that prevent me from doing some things I like to do and that other people like to do. Every time I try to explain to someone they need to be patient with me it's pretty much over. I agree with the previous comment that you need to wait until the person has gained your trust, but I think it has to go further than that. It's more than just trust. You have to be sure that they know you and love you well enough to deal with whatever it is you tell them and support you. I'm pretty sure no one would ask you a direct question about your abuse but if they do you need to come up with a way to deflect it. Something like "the only thing that's important is our relationship." Perhaps an agreement that each of you'll pretend you never had relationships before and it's all brand new. Assuming you have a handle on your past and don't let it affect your current relationships you shouldn't have a problem. When you're sure that you have a solid relationship with this person and they know you and you know what kind of person they are, then it's okay to tell them because they will support you.

lerlo Level 8 Sep 14, 2020


I am really sorry about how you are feeling. As someone who has done lots and serious past mistakes, I could give you a piece of advice that worked for me.

Love, needs to be unconditional and accepting. The person that will choose to be with you, needs to heal you, mend you, and vise versa. They won't be able to do it if they don't really know you.

There is nothing in the world like the feeling of revealing to someone your ugly side and be accepted and be loved for who you are. You feel invisible.

That same philosophy is rhe rationale behind religious confession in the Catholic church. The church then mistakenly goes on the deliver absolute forgiveness, meaning it becomes used to make misdeeds acceptable.

@Petter Completely irrelevant

What utter rubbish and horse shit. No one heals or mends someone else. People heal and mend themselves. They don’t need someone else to come along and “fix” them. Change comes from within.

Every human being has a right to decide what to reveal, and to whom, and when ... and what to keep private for themselves only.

If you choose to tell absolutely everything, have fun with it, but it’s crap advice to give someone else — especially someone who might be harshly judged for things that happened a long time ago and no longer reflect who they are.


Unless your past is directly pertinent to your present, why would you need to disclose it? Even then, if your past does carry into your present, you shouldn't need to disclose until the issue effect that aspect of the relationship. If your mistake is financial, you shouldn't need to disclose until you begin to share expenses. In our culture, we value honesty, but we don't require anyone to wear a Scarlet Letter to announce the mistakes of their past. I believe we tend to be suspicious of those who are too eager go reveal their past mistakes. So be easy on yourself. If you feel you made a mistake in revealing too much, just kick yourself once - and ONLY once - and go on. You will be OK.

Wow, thanks!


It all boils down to the two rules of life:
Never rat on your friends.
And always keep your mouth shut!


Details are irrelevant to someone new. We have all had things to work on and get over and don't need to burden a new relationship with the past.

You're here and you're clear, so let's go forward. Later is time enough for reminiscences, and only if your partner's curious.


Have you had the opportunity to meet him in person? I think that if you haven't , it is not good idea to answer questions related to your past life. Give yourself the opportunity to meet him in person and the time and his attitude, actions will tell you if it is worth sharing your past with him.
Keep calm and maybe you will find the person who will come into your life to put a touch of peace and sweetness. Your safety comes first and beware of scammers.


I don't have any romantic interests so it makes for easy dreamin' and I wouldn't reveal a hell of a lot on the first few dates.
Nothing in my past bothers me anymore the present is another story. I'm between a rock and a hard place in a LOT of situations. It sucks, nothing is related to relationships-but at this point in my life he'd be heading for the hills not knowing the past. My life is fuckd.

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