Everyone has secrets – those of us with disabilities often have more than their fair share – and while dating, most people strive to share their secrets to cultivate an open and honest relationship. Secrets range from the quaint and cute – crying at the ends of romantic movies – to the seriously important – suffering from a chronic disease – to the potentially embarrassing – enjoying a certain kink in bed. Still, to maintain a healthy bond with a significant other, you must be willing to tell all.
However, online matchmaking often has a different dynamic than traditional dating, and many online daters can easily become confused about when, where, and how they should reveal all to their prospective matches. If you want to avoid sharing too much too fast – or allowing the connection to whither due to being closed as tight as a clamshell – read on.
Understand Your Own Feelings
Before you can even try to communicate your secret with your match, you must evaluate your own thoughts and feelings on the matter. Your match will take emotional cues from you, and if you do not understand your true reactions, you may not appreciate your potential partner’s. Secrets are kept hidden for any number of reasons; the memories may be painful, scary, shameful, or a complex amalgam that leaves you reeling. However, you must sort through these emotions before you can hope to explain the situation to someone you care about. Then, you will know why you are telling your match your secrets, and you will be better prepared to handle the result.
Evaluate the Immediacy
Different dating sites usually engender different expectations among matches, which means it is crucial that you find the right dating site for you before you start spilling your darkest truths all over the Web. Still, though users on sites that usually provide uncomplicated hookups will be more than disconcerted by your deep revelations, even users on more serious matchmaking sites might be put off if your big secrets come out too soon.
Thus, you must weigh how important your secret is to who you currently are. For example, you would be wise to disclose your disability early in the relationship, especially if it affects your day-to-day life. However, you can probably delay explaining a transgression you made years ago, like a teenage misdemeanor that has since been wiped from your record. More likely than not, a long-distant secret isn’t going to greatly impact your match’s impression of you, so you can wait longer to let it out.
Be Courteous With Your Disclosure
Revealing your secret takes planning and deliberation; blurting out your deepest truth without the proper context can be absolutely disastrous. Fortunately, there is a simple formula you can follow that should yield positive results:
- Step one: Get comfortable. You should never reveal your secret during a tense or awkward situation. Instead, easy conversation during dinner or drinks is best.
- Step two:Compliment your match. By leading with a positive, you can diminish the effect of your secret.
- Step three:Tell the truth. You should be as clear as possible when you finally reveal your secret. You should avoid vague or hedging language at all costs.
- Step four: Mitigate fears. If your potential partner gets nervous, you should address his or her fears with further clarification. Likely, you will need to explain how your secret will or will not impact him or her and your potential future relationship.
Give Time and Space
You might feel a sense of relief flood over you after you finally get your secret off your chest, but your potential partner might feel the opposite. Instead of badgering him or her for more contact straight away, you might want to step back and allow them to digest your truth alone. You can consider this period to be a test: If he or she comes back, you know you’ve found a winner.
Reciprocate as Necessary
Everyone has secrets, and because you demonstrated trust and devotion by revealing yours, your online match may very well want to share his or her secrets with you. It is likely that your secrets are not equal in terms of gravity; you may believe your secrets to be deeper and darker, or it may be the other way around. No matter what his or her secrets are, you must be respectful and kind — just as you hoped your match would be when you disclosed your truths. By being honest with one another and responding with understanding and assistance, you will build a strong foundation that will take your relationship off the Web and into the future.