the micOne of the things that I discovered through various relationships and not just romantically, is that you can share information about yourself but as soon as it leaves your mouth, you have no control over how it will be perceived and what impact it will make on that relationship.

I remember a couple of exes telling me that because of my fraught relationship with my mother back then, that there must be something “wrong” with me. I told another ex all the things that bugged me about the previous ex and he adjusted his behaviour, something that to be fair, many people do when they’re eager to win over a partner but it can be quite manipulative if it crosses into a territory of being 1) deceptive and 2) covert abuse.

In lighter terms, the ‘adjusting’ is as simple as being on a date with someone and them telling you that they were always arguing, not getting enough sex, and feeling quite neglected with their ex. Next thing you know, you’re cautious about avoiding conflict, think you need to be riding them like a pony 24/7, and you’re in overdrive pandering to their every need. We forget then that although these issues may have been real, it doesn’t mean that they’re the true reasons that broke the relationship or that if you’re the polar opposite that you’ll ‘win’ them.

I’m frequently asked how to deal with sharing past experiences or ‘revealing’ insecurities – the healthiest type of information sharing is the type that doesn’t have the quiet agenda of generating a specific emotion or action out of a person. Whatever you impart, you’re comfortable with it, you’re at peace with it (or are on the way to being so), and it’s part of your emotional honesty.

There’s nothing wrong with talking about your past or even your insecurities (to a point) because it’s part of what broadens the depth of knowledge about one another, but if you share for misguided reasons it will backfire. Probably spectacularly.

In fact, in the wrong hands, this misguided sharing can be the equivalent of handing someone the blueprints to screw you over.

The key is to understand your motivations. Are you trying to draw sympathy? Are you trying to draw empathy but actually getting it mixed up and still trying to draw sympathy? Are you even being manipulative in that you hope that this new found knowledge will quietly coerce them into changing their position or even their behaviour/character? Are you trying to warn them?

Often when people ‘share’ their past, hurt or insecurity, it’s like “Please don’t hurt me!” or “You can’t or at least you shouldn’t hurt me because look what at what happened to me!”

From personal experience and listening to many stories, what we don’t realise when we ‘overshare’ is that somewhere we feel a need to impart this information because we suspect that we have reason to be cautious.

Rather than lay out all of your insecurities and pour out various ‘Hurt Stories’, it would be better to address the insecurities and make peace with the painful incidences so that when you do talk about these things, you’re talking about something that’s in the past. It’s very difficult to evaluate a relationship on its merits and know whether you’re dealing with a present or past insecurity or issue, when you’re carting your baggage from relationship to relationship. It’s like you’re together for a while and then one night, you show up with all of these extra bags. “What’s in there?” they ask. “Oh just some problems I need to make you aware of because I’d really like not to be hurt again so I’m going to tell you in the hope that if you were thinking about hurting me, you’ll change your mind” you reply.

We all have pasts and sometimes, they’re ones that we’re not proud of, that we have some regrets or embarrassment about, or that still impact us. That said, while your past experiences can contribute somewhat to who you are, they don’t represent all of who you are and can actually distort you.

They’re getting to know you. Anything you’re telling them should be done so organically and not the equivalent of vomiting out your insecurities and your past so you can get it out on the table before either of you get too comfy. I know I’ve been guilty of saying some stuff because it was like “OK they’re definitely going to turn into an asshole now that they know this”, as if I was trying to force the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Also never allow yourself to be coerced into sharing or find yourself having to apologise repeatedly for something you did ages ago because both overstep your boundaries and they cannot control the uncontrollable. You cannot ‘make it up to them’ for a past that they weren’t a part of.

How your past or insecurity comes out has a lot to do with where you are with it. A number of readers have said they’re embarrassed about being married a few times or being with a few jackasses. If you talk like you’re ashamed, you’re setting yourself up to fail. You’ll also find that we’ve all got at least one ghost of shady relationship past in our closet – I’ve practically got a little cemetery going on!

Instead of going into intricate detail about your exes (you shouldn’t be talking about them on the first 1-3 dates anyway as you have better things to talk about), the simple answer is “We wanted different things.” This is 100% true. This is a lot better than “They were a psycho” or pouring out your life story. Detail, where needed can be gradually added later. I’ve found that buffering what you disclose with contrasting who you were then with who you are now, also clarifies that you’ve moved on from it.

When I told the boyf about the guy with the girlfriend, I felt slightly embarrassed about it but more in a “I can’t believe how silly I was and what an awful mistake” way as opposed to “I’m so ashamed and I may not be good enough for you.”

Don’t Fast Forward unloading your past and insecurities – it’s best to establish a relationship, to gradually get to know one another, to gradually share, and to have positive, healthy experiences in the relationship that build your trust. You should obviously disclose anything of direct relevance to this relationship like a STD, convictions, that spouse you forgot to mention somewhere, etc. The rest comes out organically – you’ll always find out new things about one another. You will find that you can talk about your past or even your insecurities with more confidence when you have a secure footing in the relationship because you know each other enough for it not to impact.

That said – as I explained in the last post, don’t offload all of your insecurities as it makes for a very toxic atmosphere that will increase your insecurity. They’re your insecurities to address. Unless the insecurities are about them and related specifically to things that are currently happening in your relationship, you telling them that you’re insecure because an ex did something in 2005 will only tell them that you’re not over this situation. They can’t prove themselves to correct someone else’s eff up. You have to judge them on the merits of their own actions and the relationship.

They’re getting to know you. If you’re emotionally honest, authentic, and living congruently with your values so that words and actions match, they’ll ‘get you’ without you having to do the equivalent of doing the entire Dynasty boxset of your past and a Powerpoint presentation on your insecurities. Your past is a part of you, but not all of you.

Your thoughts?

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147 Responses to Disclosing Your Past and Insecurities

  1. Em says:

    And this is one of the reasons why rebound relationships are so hard :)

    A therapist once told me that in the first conversations with you where someone really opens up and tells you about themselves, they´ll subconsiously warn you against their dark sides. Sounds a bit too magical for me, but the guy who cheated on me told me that he cheated on his ex when he made me breakfast the morning after we first hooked up.

    I always feel like I should tell it all to a boyfriend, otherwise they won´t get me. A distant guy friend of mine who is a divorcee is so obsessed with being a divorcee (nasty divorce) that he thinks there´s no point in dating, because anyone who´d google him would immediately find the wedding page his ex-wife made (they´ve deleted it, but there are references to it on other sites outside their control). So what, I tell him, you ARE a divorcee, and whoever´s becoming your girlfriend will have to deal with that. At our age, a lot of people are. But he´s drowning in shame.

    There´s a difference between being genuine and honest and using your boyfriend as a therapist. Having told it all to my friend during the heavy rebound phase after the breakup (where he encouraged me to do so – we´re best pals, after all – and he did the same after his breakup) probably did a lot to keep us stuck in the friend zone. Perhaps some issues are better dealt with in other zones than the romantic one :)

    • Jessie says:

      “A therapist once told me that in the first conversations with you where someone really opens up and tells you about themselves, they´ll subconsiously warn you against their dark sides.”

      I believe it. The things we say about ourselves when we reveal all about past relationships I think we don’t even know we’ve said (or illustrated). I just got out of a relationship with a man recovering from a nasty divorce and he went on and on and ON about his ex (bg reason why I’m out of it) and after a few months of hearing all about how terrible she was and denying any responsibility for any of the breakdown, I started to piece together a big puzzle of *his* behavior and let’s just say I’m glad I had other red flags that got me to bow out because being married to him would have been hell. I can hardly blame his ex for anything she did. Point is, he didn’t even realize what he was showing me with all those stories. He thought he was making her look bad, but over time the balance tipped.

      • Artemisia says:

        Em,

        “they´ll subconsiously warn you against their dark sides”.

        Like when a guy tells you that he does not believe in love, just sex – he is not challenging you to prove him wrong, he does not want a committed loving relationship and he may at some point have to block you on his Facebook account because you are not able to play the game. And he may warn his next conquest that his last “ girlfriend” had to be blocked on Facebook because she did not get him. Lol.

    • NML says:

      Hi Em, the trouble is that when we lead with this ‘news’ it’s like declaring ‘I’m effed up’. It might not be what we intend but just like when they’re warning against their dark sides and you’re giving a don’t hurt me warning, you walk a fine line with justifying. If it truly isn’t an issue you don’t have to warn or justify.

      Also if you have to explain your past so much for someone to ‘get you’, the past is too present. Authenticity helps people get you.

      • Em says:

        Agreed. Also, if you have to explain a lot for people to get you, maybe they´re not the ones you should be with :)

      • Natasha says:

        “Also if you have to explain your past so much for someone to ‘get you’, the past is too present. Authenticity helps people get you.”

        So true! Let’s say that, after a past rife with EUMs/ACs, we work on ourselves, deal with any issues and are ready for a healthy relationship. If we meet someone, do we have to say right off the bat, “I used to have all kinds of dysfunctional relationships, but now I have dealt with my issues and can be a partner in a healthy relationship.”? Not really, because if we’re conducting the realtionship in a healthy way, they KNOW that we’re good to go for a great realtionship, because our actions are saying it loud and clear. I think it’s more important to show people who we are via our actions than to tell them!

        • Jasmine says:

          In an odd way, someone disclosing thier past, insecuirties, and issues right away can also be helpful at times.

          Ten minutes into first date, I’m not kidding:
          Online Site guy:
          “I used to have an issue with anger but I’m fine now. And I live with my mom.”
          Pre-BR Jasmine:
          “Check please!”

          IM Guy:
          “I think I need sex with women for validation, and I may be a sex addict.”
          Pre-BR Jasmine:
          “Really? Why is that?” (subconiously thinking- “I bet I could help you with that)

          In both cases these guys were letting me know what was going on with them. The funny thing is, Online Site guy thought he was showing me he was over something, that it was in the PAST… but it was revealed too soon. Say we had dated, gotten seriously, and after a few months he tells me, and I haven’t noticed any angry behaviour beforehand, then I might not have bounced. On the other hand, in my previously undiagnosed Florence mode, even though IM Guy was telling me what was an issue in the PRESENT, I ended up dating him.

          Up until a couple of years ago, I had some pretty shaky boundaries. Anger in a man who might one day hit me was an easy red flag. A guy who objectifies women but has a silver tongue was not as obvious to me, especially when he wants to “change” and “commit”. I think he disclosed it so that I would not be surpised when his eye began to wander. Eventually, though we were in a “committed” relationship, he began to talk about threesomes, only a few months into the relationship. I had never thought about it seriously before, but I was very uncomfortable, because I began to feel that it wasn’t for me. But he let me know, from day ONE!
          Anyhow, I do agree that its not a good idea not to be an open book to someone you have just met. A person is so much more than thier resolved/unresolved issues or insecurities… take the time to build trust before you open up!
          Jas

  2. colororange says:

    My tendency is to keep things to myself and share with those I’m closest to or already have experience that they’ll understand and not use it against me. Lately, I’ve been having some real stressers and about to blow. I’ve shared with two people something I’ve normally kept to myself. I hope it doesn’t come back to bite me, but it’s one of those things where I am tired of keeping it to myself. I’m very good at keeping things to myself especially if someone else has something to tell me. I always feel like I’m hiding. One of the people was an ex EUM (not the MM!!) and I have no feelings for him and don’t want a relationship. He’s sort of become a friend. Anyway, I’ve shared some things with him and I don’t think he’ll blab……I mean as far as he and I being completely incompatible romantically, for the few years I’ve known him, he’s always been able to keep stuff to himself as far as I could see. Hell it might turn out that he’ll say stuff about me, who knows but for now I made the choice to confide. Time will tell if that was a mistake. Time will tell if I said too much. Mustn’t beat myself over the head with a pan for this one.

    I’m still feeling around and seeing who I can talk to and who I can not. Honestly, I can not talk to a lot of people. I love where you said most people don’t know their arses from their elbows and that is so true. I find I am uneasy around a lot of folks and don’t trust them.

    “They’re getting to know you. Anything you’re telling them about you should be done so organically not the equivalent of vomiting out your insecurities and your past so you can get it out on the table before either of you get too comfy. ”

    Ohhh gosh. The long relationship I had..omg…the first date I showed him a poem I wrote about a screwed up ex. ::sigh:: and he still wanted to be with me. I’m so guilty of divulging too much too soon and always making myself look and sound worse than I was/am. I’m really not that terrible of a person I’m coming to find out.

    And I think my cemetery is right next door to yours Nat. :)

    • NML says:

      I couldn’t help but laugh Colororange about the ex poem! But what I really loved in this comment was that you said what I already know about you and only wish you would take even more to heart: “I’m really not that terrible of a person I’m coming to find out.” You’re far from being terrible. Keep striving. Keep moving.

  3. slow learner says:

    Very helpful! I am nowhere near being over one and ready to date, but will definitely remember this advice. Thank you!

  4. Jessie says:

    All good points, but this statement really is important:

    “In fact, in the wrong hands, this misguided sharing can be the equivalent of handing someone the blueprints to screw you over.”

    It’s really scary what you reveal of your vulnerabilities when you explain in detail how someone hurt you in the past. It’s hard to keep in perspective that the new, shiny, lovely man across the table isn’t someone you *truly* know, and they can get stuff out of you that really shouldn’t be shared yet by seeming really emotionally wise and having a lot of insight into relationships and being such a good listener and encouraging you to share and that’s hard to resist … but they may go on to use the information you’ve given them in terrible ways. Not necessarily as part of a big, bad plan, mind. But if they’re damaged, and I’m finding a lot of men over 35 who are single are, and have dysfunctional patterns of relating and communicating, you better believe they either subconsciously or consciously tuck away everything you’ve told them.

    Speaking of men who seem unusually wise/insightful re relationships in those early conversations — I’ve decided after my last two experiences that they are the LEAST likely to be good partners. They’re too busy thinking about people in the abstract and have rarely applied that lens to viewing themselves.

    • SM says:

      Right on Jesse, “they are too busy thinking in the abstract and rarely apply the lense to themselves”. I like to know someone I’m dating a while and feel comfortable with them before I share my past. But I’ve had guys overshare to me on the second date which then made me feel obligated to overshare my stuff which ended up backfiring. I remember one guy who shared an awful sexual addiction he went into recovery for 3 years earlier (and should have still been in, ‘hindsight’), that kept badgering me about something I did 20 years earlier that had never been done again and was nowhere near in comparison to his addiction. He even discussed it with one of his ‘harem’ and told me about it. Unbelievable, so anyway, then after that guy, I know undershare because I’m afraid of how it will be taken by the next person and this really is not a good thing. So I thank you Nat for writing this post and all your other posts because it really does force me to “apply the lense to myself” as Jesse points out.

    • NML says:

      “They’re too busy thinking about people in the abstract and have rarely applied that lens to viewing themselves.” Spot on Jessie. Unless I’m seeing someone put their wiseness into practice, they’re being very blue sky about it. All the jibber jabber without the application is of no use to you.

    • Tea Cozy says:

      Jessie, your comment about guys who seem to be unusually wise/insightful about relationships but turn out to be anything but…well, that rings so true with my experience.

      I’ve had go-nowhere relationships with several guys who it turns out were those type of abstract-thinkers. What they had in common was they spent a LOT of time online, were super-intellectual, and love-starved. They talked a really good talk from behind the screen, but became all elbows when it came down to being honest and open and intimate in real-time with a real-live person.

      Being a textbook Future Faker / Future Avoider myself, of course these guys were like catnip to me. They spun the fantasy, I stepped right into it, and landed flat on my face when it turned out to be nothing but pretty words and wishful thinking on both sides.

      Natalie, your blog and your book are true blessings. Thank you for the work you do. I learn so much from you, and the people who post here.

    • Donna L says:

      Holy Cow!!! Last sentence is soooo true!!!

  5. Michelle says:

    I have been guilty of unloading TMI too early. I think I did this more as a commiserating effort rather than to get sympathy. Like, ‘oh, my ex did this and that. What a drama that was! Oh yours did that to you. Maybe we can help each other out and be each other’s dream come true.’ I noticed after we were both done ‘unloading’ that we felt more like friends rather than romantic possibilities to each other.

    I think definitely better to save the details for when they know you better. People can jump to the wrong conclusions when they don’t know you.

    • NML says:

      That’s very true Michelle although I always caution people about ‘over empathy’ – you may think you have similar experiences and understand their position, but actually, you might not. It may then blind you to the reality of them because in feeling for yourself, you feel for them too. As you said, it can also kill the mojo. You can often share more detail earlier with friends (good ones not shady ones) because they don’t have to shag you or meet romantic expectations.

  6. Flower White says:

    For the last 18 months have been dating very lightly and with vetting, nothing serious, no kissing -I take this site to heart. I’m lonely and dream of having a boyfriend but I am not chasing men nor entertaining dyfunctionals.

    If I can prevent any one lady from making the same mistake that I make I would be happy!

    My last boyfriend ( I dumped him July 2010) told me, right when we started dating, that his ex “girlfriend” had been cheating on him, choked him, so he called the cops on “her” and made her move out immediately.

    Wow, I thought, poor guy.

    Ladies! After *I* confronted him he admitted the ex was a TRANNY yes, a man living as a woman taking hormones (still had a penis!!). See, he kept mentioning “her” so one day I googled and behold a man in a dress (very obvious). But he never told me “he” was a “she”… THEN, after I made the mistake of staying with him on the condition there be no bisexuality (this was a few months after my mom died, thus, truly, I was not in my right mind), I finally had enough of his short temper and alcoholism and broke up with him in couples therapy.

    Like I said, my mom had died and he was taking advantage of the fact I was vulnerable and shaky.After breaking up in a mature fashion, or so I though, we made arrangements with the therapist for me to visit the ex’s house one last time to clear stuff off his computer, etc.

    GUESS WHO CALLED THE POLICE ON ME, JUST LIKE HE DID TO HIS EX?
    Ladies, one minute I’m on the computer minding my own biz deleted files, the next he is shouting for me to leave and the next SECOND picked up the phone, asking for “a patrol car. my girlfriend is here causing trouble, please escort her out!”

    I was stunned. I looked him in the face and said, you’re crazy and you will never be alone in a room with me again I will never trust you again and fled, not waiting for police to show up.

    Yes he did the same thing to me that he did to his ex…his PATTERN.

    I did NC! I was hard, we had 2 cats together which he kept, I really suffered.

    And of course, every three months, like clockwork, he’d contact me with an email or phone call. So I blocked him and got a new phone number.

    STILL he got through, wanting to be friends, asking for forgiveness, saying he’s a nice guy, wanting to take me to dinner.

    NO.

    • ixnay says:

      flower —

      oh em gee!!

      That guy is INSANE. Good on you for clear statements and firm boundaries.

    • EllyB says:

      I hope it’s just a ridiculous coincidence, but my last (short-term) AC had two cats “left behind by a crazy ex”. He also drank too much, complained a lot about his exes and was generally… more than odd. And a bad person.

      Anyway, Flower White, your story sounds horrible. I’m so sorry you had to give up your cats. But at least YOU are safe now, as it seems!

      • Flower White says:

        @ixny thank you.

        EllyB…are you on the West Coast? And yes I am safe and have no relationship drama, my life is calm and somewhat ‘boring’ I’d rather have this than…that.

        • EllyB says:

          No, that was on the East Coast! I guess your ex had a clone there… an ass-clone maybe? Sorry, I’m being silly! But aren’t they all the same anyway (with cats or without)?

          • Flower White says:

            Its a pattern. If he demonizes the ex as crazy red flag. I vett men so hard, that if they even WRITE something bad in an email about their ex, I’m done.

            Speaking of on-line dating (heh) ladies, if the new guy mentions he went to a party, vacation, etc. ASK TO SEE PICS study everything including body language. A Keyboard Romeo just sent his Halloween pics…him dressed as a sex pervert, wearing gross male and female sexual genitalia.
            FLUSH.

            Again, I’d rather be alone than be with a new freak/lunatic.

    • NML says:

      Hi Flower White – I hope you miss the cats a hell of a lot more than you miss that crazy jackass?! Jaysus! Do not so much as give him the time of day. You are dealing with a pretty dangerous and disruptive person. They’re the type that are always taking people to court, making false claims, and probably have the po-lice rolling their eyes by now. How can one person need to call the police on so many women? He’s also the type that whatever you accuse him of, next thing, he’s accusing you of it. You should be reporting him for getting in touch with you! Here in the UK, two unwanted forms of contact is actually breaking the law. You’ve told him not to contact you – he needs to respect that and call the police on someone else.

      • Flower White says:

        Hi Nat, yes I have threatened to get a restraining order against him for contact, few months ago he was going overboard e-mailing to my new addy but now he has a ‘good corporate job’ with benefits, etc. and he won’t be putting that job in jeopardy thus I do not expect to hear from him till he gets fired-hope he stays there for years!

        Yes I missed the kittens like hell it was horrible. Thankfully you’ve helped enough that I have not gotten involved with one guy for almost 18 months. Thanks for all that you do.

    • AngelFace says:

      Flower White,
      Isn’t it amazing what these guys *FAIL* to tell us? The secrets, the lies, the manipulations of the truth. They are playing a tough game to get exactly what they want, and in my case, he was careless, had no empathy or concern for me at all.

      I’m getting past the abuse and pain. All of these articles on Baggage Reclaim are helping me. I am thankful that I am starting to forget him and the events of the past 14 months.

      On subject of disclosure, I will be discriminate in what I disclose to men. No more conversations off the top of my head for sake of conversation, because there are way too many sick people out there now. I think I am smart and talented enough to still hold good conversations – but will be a tad more aware of what & who I say things to.

      Regarding my past history, including sexual – that is my business and I don’t feel the need to ‘confess’ and tell-all to my next relationship. I will also be aware of any man I date who witholds information, keeps secrets, lies, distorts facts and events….my alarm will ring… I’ve paid the security company fee.

      • Flower White says:

        Angel Face he knew what he was doing…my intution felt a tingle on our first dates I asked him if he was bisexual and if he was I would not go further as I do not chose to date bi men. He lied! His ex, though a man in a dress is still a man.

        I love that your alarm will ring cause you have paid the security fee!

        I really would love a new boyfriend but with vetting its just not happening… things I would have excused 2 years ago don’t wash anymore…men who don’t call to confirm the date..FLUSH…men who have a gal/are separated FLUSH…men who can’t handle their liquor FLUSH..men who are passive aggressive and want me to chase/pursue them FLUSH. Dang!

        Oh well, while I’m keeping busy with life I made sure to look pretty and smile at men, flirt with my eyes and keep it positive. My future husband will do all the correct, healthy things so I’ll just keep being patient…and vetting and flushing, lol!

  7. ociana says:

    Oh my goodness! What a refreshing post. I saw the title of this entry and thought to myself, “Oh here we go. More advice about how we are to be open and vulnerable in order to have a ‘real’ relationship.” I am so glad that I read on.

    In an age of information overload and people vomiting out the intimate details of their lives on Twitter, FB and the like, it seems really strange to people to keep anything private!

    It is none of his business how many people you have slept with! Don’t tell him that you have been abused, because believe it or not, he may just take that as permission (on whatever level) to abuse you as well.

    Thank you, Natalie, for interjecting yet more Not-so-common sense into a sea of misinformation.

    I have always said (and yes, this will reveal what a bitter hen I am) that if a man finds out something negative about you, during the first fight that he feels he is not winning, he will pull out that red herring and whack you right up side your head!

    • NML says:

      Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamen Ociana! All this pouring out your past in a serious case of the emotional trots is bullshit. It’s not about being secretive – people who *need* this information are crossing boundaries. I know someone who was dating a man that would not take no for an answer when she said she didn’t feel like going into chapter and verse about why she wasn’t talking with certain family members. He would not stop. Told her it was critical for him to know. I told her to tell him to go eff himself and what does she do? It’s like she got the worst case of emotional trots and decided that he was someone that needed to know *everything*. So she poured it all out, not just about this family but her whole life in a panic. Do ya know what the mofo said? That he felt overwhelmed by what she was telling him and that he didn’t understand why she was going into the detail, blatantly omitting the fact that he pressured her. He has then used what he’s been told to mess with her head. “I have always said (and yes, this will reveal what a bitter hen I am) that if a man finds out something negative about you, during the first fight that he feels he is not winning, he will pull out that red herring and whack you right up side your head!” – yeah, a *dodgy* man.

      • jennynic says:

        Yep, last bf said to me, “I can see why your EX knocked you around.” Not only did he use my past to insult me, he made me feel responsible for the past abuse. We talked about our pasts early on and his was just as dysfunction as mine (even more so, ironically)……I thought that somehow that bridged us emotionally. Wrong. He didn’t see his past as dysfunctional at all, only that he was a victim. I was just another crazy woman, according to him. This guy talked about his EX’s too much in my opinion and I always felt like I was in their shadow. He still tries to contact me, asking to talk but I ignore him. Why sign up for more bull shit ? I don’t care what he thinks anymore. He can tell his new girl how crazy I am instead of me hearing about crazy the girl before me was.

        I’ve slowly been telling bits of my past to the new guy I’ve been dating and he has done exactly the same. We rarely talk about our ex’s which is nice. I don’t want to hear all about his ex and am relieved he doesn’t feel the need to talk about her all the time. But….a bit of his past he recently told me has me pondering a little if it’s an amber flag or not. But, I can see how my past might make him question me as well, like my pattern of ending up with abusive men. That might send a bad message about me. I can only say that I am trying doing to do the right thing this time around and come from a place of honesty and be who I am. If things don’t work out because who I am isn’t who he likes ( and vice versa) , it’s okay. If any sign of mistreatment appears because of what I’ve told him or my past is used against me in a malicious way, I won’t think twice about flushing. I am so serious about looking after myself this time, it isn’t even funny. My past tells a story of my experience but doesn’t define me. I define me by how I act in the present. The same can be said and applied to him. That said, parts of my past I want to share and should feel safe to share it with him. One day at a time, one story at a time.

        • grace says:

          jenny
          This is interesting to me, as I sometimes imagine what it would be like to start another relationship and WHAT WOULD I SAY about my past? I haven’t dated in over five years and it would seem so redundant to me to bring up something that’s happened years ago. I don’t talk about my past relationship to any of my friends. Even when they ask I just shrug and say “it was ages ago!” Most of them have no idea of any of it. Some of my family know about the abusive ex because I told them at the time of the breakup. We haven’t talked about it since. It’s just not important to me anymore and I don’t see a need to discuss it.
          Who, these days, hasn’t experienced a crappy relationship, failed marriage, job performance issue, sacking, financial problem, sexual harassment, bullying, family schism, or a beating? Or is that just me?! Do I need to tell everyone about it?
          I don’t think we should keep secrets from our nearest and dearest (and do these men fall into that category?) but like you say the past is past and we live in the present. I guess it’s finding the balance and it all becomes less fraught when WE are at peace with it.
          There’s a nice verse in the bible, which I’ve found helps me focus on what’s really important:
          “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, …. Think on these things”

          • jennynic says:

            Dwelling on the past keeps us there. Looking back and learning is good, but carrying around the bad things in your past is like a handicap. I too wasn’t sure how to approach this in my new relationship but I decided to keep more of my conflicted past to myself and reveal my past naturally in time, when it comes up and not as some kind of announcement, or warning. or disclaimer. We can talk about the good things in our past, but even with this, too much on all of our good stuff is like bragging or selling yourself. Moderation in both good and bad history stories is a good start.

  8. molly says:

    Especially in the beginning, sharing information about yourself should be on a need-to-know basis. Nobody needs to know on the first date how much money I make, how many exes I have, or even how much sex I’m having with other people. Even why you broke up with people isn’t necessary for people to know immediately.

    Many of the men I’ve dated have opened up quite a bit very early on and honestly it’s very off-putting. I’m not comfortable with it, and I think they picked up somewhere that this diarrhea of the soul is somehow attractive to women. Either that, or they are using you as a therapist!

    • NML says:

      Yep, very, very true Molly. I once went on a date where he told me that his brother was in prison for kidnapping someone, his dad was in prison for bank robbery, and his mother was a crackhead…within 5 minutes of the date starting and as I’m putting my bank card in the ATM. Now I didn’t judge him for crackerjack family behaviour beyond his control, but the trots did *not* stop and rather than warm me to him, it alienated me. I am empathetic and sympathetic to a point, but he was a very self-involved, mixed up man who actually used his behaviour to create self-fulfilling prophecies. I’m another one in his list of Misguided Black Women That Don’t Understand Me Because I’m a Doctor With a Past.

    • ThisIsWhereIStopAndUBegin says:

      I have found some men do talk too much about their past and their insecurities and fears and exes and blah blah blah and it is VERY off putting!! I have said on more than one occasion, “Why can’t we just BE and enjoy this moment.” These guys are very dangerous, as are we women who do this. Seeing this in other men has helped me deal with my own stuff. Next time I meet a man who does this, I’m hanging up the phone or leaving the date. Lesson learned. FINALLY.

  9. Flower White says:

    I wrote that I’d never trust him again, I’d never be in a room with him, I’d never be his friend so give it up, go get another lady!

    Fingers crossed, no contact from him since August of this year.

    Ladies if he tells you that he mistreated his ex, there but for the grace of the Goddess goes YOU. The ex told me he called the cops on his ex then he called the cops on me FOR NO REASON other than spite.

    If you hear that he mistreated his ex – RUN THE OTHER WAY.

    • Sugar and Spice says:

      Flower White,

      “Ladies if he tells you that he mistreated his ex, there but for the grace of the Goddess goes YOU.” So true!!!

      One ex told me about how he mistreated his wife and mistress 1 thru 4; I was focused on his positive traits, I almost allowed him to start messing with my mind. He was one of those guys who is really nice to you…extremely attentive, loving, caring…will wash your feet with rose petals, and then he calls you a name, tells you a bunch of lies, and starts messing with your head if you don’t do what he wants you to do. I remember not really wanting to leave because he was sooooo good to me in sooooo many ways; I’m just glad that I had enough sense to run like he&&. I have these childhood issues that tell me that someone can mistreat you and still love you, so it’s ok if you love them, besides forgiveness is a good thing, we are all only human, it’s easier to stay, etc. I had to consciously tell myself “you cannot be with him; I know he is good to you, but he is also bad to you–don’t call him–basically faking a boundary until I made it a real boundary, based on a new belief. I’m sad to say it took me a while to believe that, but I am happy to say that now I REALLY know that. :)

      Ohhhhh, if he shows himself to you, believe him! right here, right now!

      • Flower White says:

        Sugar and Spice
        you wrote “I have these childhood issues that tell me that someone can mistreat you and still love you, so it’s ok if you love them, besides forgiveness is a good thing”…me, too! That’s why I didn’t dump the alcohoholic bisexual for a few months. Never again in my life will I allow a man to mistreat me in any way. Do it once and I’m gone.

    • AngelFace says:

      He talked bad about several of his Xs, and he called them Crazy. Early in the relationship he told me event (his version of) that happened which made him unable to enter into Canada – he has a misdemeaner for assault in 4th degree. He picked up a woman and threw her off front porch of his house during argument. He is 6’6″. I’m glad he was convicted.

      Another woman who he ‘sexed-up’ so good showed up at his front door screaming “…I LOVE You, please talk to me…!” So, he got restraining order on her. (he keeps a harem, and tosses out women at about the 1-year point – when they start demanding more from him..)

      He was calling me Crazy… that’s what I heard in September. I’ve got him in No Contact & I’m sure he would like me to come after him so he could take a huge ego stroke, and put a restraining order on me… and brag that to the town, so that once again, he is at no fault or responsibility for anything in the relationship.

      I’d like to see a fast-forward version movie of his life, because I bet all this horrible and careless treatment of women will come back to bite him and cause him misery. I feel he is such a waste of a person – going about repeatedly hurting and causing people sorrow, problems and pain. I will be very aware, and not give a loser 14 months of my time (based on a weak handful of good points – my mistake).

      • Flower White says:

        AngelFace

        you and I have something in common -poor taste in men. We pick crazy men! He is six foot six and told you he got into trouble with the law for throwing a woman off of this porch??

        Keep no contact and if you need to whine or complain, come here or start a venting journal but you have to stop thinking about how his life will end up, as its really none of your biz. Take it from me-the ex and I were talking Marriage! But now, a year and a half later, I don’t give a F who he is with or what he is saying about me. As I know leopards don’t change their spots!!

  10. Elle says:

    This is one of those straight-to-the-core posts for me, Natalie. GUILTY! In my last relationship, I divulged way too much about the AC. The guy, I gathered, then became extremely nervous that he was going to screw me over, such that he kept things from me and was generally quite tense (which I then reacted to). His attitude was ‘I can’t hurt this girl after all she’s been through’, even though I actually began to feel more than OK about it all, and had originally mentioned it as a ‘getting to know you’ story (with some sympathy-seeking in there) more than a fable about my deepest fears (though, of course, open to Em’s therapist’s idea that I might well have been trying to say to him that I was not ready for full intimacy/ the risk of things not working out). I wanted to say, ”Member that AC stuff? Um. How about we pretend that was never mentioned by me…fifty times!’.

    Meanwhile, he gave me all sorts of directives via stories about his exes, like how he hates being unappreciated, hates when the eyes of women light up when men talk about their careers/property, finds women demanding, has had problems with women getting in the way of his work. The list went on. I used to think that none of his complaints were directly relevant to me – I am not that fusssed about status stuff, for instance, but it did change my behaviour. I then felt like I couldn’t talk about related things, pretties and the like, or ask him for support or disrupt him during work. Essentially, I stated second-guessing myself. Not a good scene.

    I really think this indirect way of telling people your rules and fears is pretty lame, not to mention unwise.

    Anyway, I am glad to be taking some time off men (and am very much enjoying it, I have to say!). Also been v good with saying ‘things just didn’t work’ to my nosy friends re. recent ex. It really isn’t that dramatic.

    This is an important post, NML! Thank you!

    • Lynda from L says:

      Hi Elle, I get you on the ‘second guessing’ my ex was the same…he’d make both specific and negative comments about ex girlfriends, usually justifying his behaviour and then came the generalisations about women..which I now think were an oblique way of giving me pointers.
      Life is too short for ‘second guessing’. Like you I felt it was a passive aggressive method of saying what he didn’t like.
      I did feel that I had to modify my behaviour for a while and these days I regret that.

    • NML says:

      Oh dear Elle. The more you tell me about this guy, the more it all makes sense. It’s the whole ‘Wow, I thought you were this smart, attractive, outgoing woman that would do as I expected but now that you’ve told me this stuff, I’m not only no longer sure about you but now I’m worried about having to think too much about you and be a conscientious person’. This is pretty much what used to happen in all of my previous relationships. They feel burdened by what you tell them – for an unavailable man that hasn’t necessarily revealed that he is this way, his nuts will start shriveling up and his internal panic alarm will start going off. It’s like you feel an ever so slight shift in temperature in the relationship that gradually increases and creeps up on you. They get blinded by whatever conclusions they’ve drawn so no matter what you say or do now , they now choose to attach meaning related to what you revealed. Then you express something that they construe as negative even if it’s not and they blame it on your past. Even worse, this information becomes a hook releaser – now, no matter what you say or do, he can decide that the problem is you because you’ve had some problems with an ex. Game, set, and match to him – you can’t win.

      • CHICA8 says:

        NML- You nailed it. This describes my ex perfectly. Horrifying, traumatizing, unbelieveably hurtful when someone uses information YOU gave them against you.

        • Elle says:

          Yeah, well I am happily on the practice courts, in between Pimms and cucumber sandwiches. Won’t put myself down for another tournament for a while… Thanks Nat. xxx

        • RadioGirl says:

          Yep, not only did my ex decide that I was screwed up from my previous relationship – he also blamed my previous partner (who he knew) for screwing me up, thus neatly exonerating himself from any responsibility whatsoever for the failure of our own relationship.

          • Lynda from L says:

            Hearing you Radio…my ex blamed my past relationship too, and any other past relationships that I might have had..and his ex wife was ‘a cold emotionless prison’ and ex girlfriends were promiscuous/left him high and dry without explanation/selfish, too pernickety
            Like with me, he had future faked madly with all of them and reset the relationships on a whim.
            When was he going to see himself as the friggin’common denominator??
            I do sometimes wonder how I will be referred to? Given his history he is running out of adjectives…

  11. Tinkerbell says:

    Because of so much “stuff” I’ve been through over the past 5 yrs, I’ve developed an overwhelming need to TALK about myself, my issues, etc. My ex flat out told me I was self-centered. That gave me food for thought. But he had me beat on that score–EUM, narcissist, you name it. I told a couple of very close friends some personal stuff re my relationship with him that I feel I should have kept to myself. Friends, don’t want to hear you talk about ONE THING incessantly, especially when you’re engaged in a pity party. It is overwhelming and boring. They have their own problems. Yes, they’re your friends but you should not use them as a therapist. I had my first visit today with a psychologist who accepts my insurance. This is a whole lot safer and smarter. Plus, you’re doing something positive for YOURSELF.

  12. Movedup says:

    Ah right on Nat! Part of discovery process… after that on a need to know basis.

  13. Madeleine says:

    I typically keep past relationships to myself because I want to put my focus on who is with me ‘in the room’. I just don’t think it’s fair to talk about someone else. The last guy I was casually dating brought up an ex within the first week but he did it indirectly by telling me how her family, treated him poorly on a vacation that they took together. Then during our 1 month together he would bring up some of the statements that they made to him at the oddest times; in bed, at dinner etc… At the time I didn’t it had anything to do with her b/c he never said anything bad about her but now that I’m reading this post I think he really wasn’t over her. Why would he keep bringing up a trip that was years ago if she wasn’t still on his mind? I’m learning to pay attention to what people say AND the actions that follow or don’t follow.

  14. Kay says:

    I think one must be cautious about what is disclosed – especially in early stages of a relationship. Case in point – people you don’t know well might say, “You can tell me everything, blah, blah, blah” then have an overeager amount of interest in who you’ve had sex with, etc., and it comes back to bite you. One of my good guy friends that I’d had a brief relationship with was dating someone new, several years later. Explaining to me that “We’re open about everything!!!” he told her he used to be involved with me and we’d slept together. WELL! So much much for that!! He was immediately forbidden to spend time with me (because, of course, once you have sex with someone you can NEVER control yourself around them again, LOL) and our friendship was on hiatus until he got his senses and left her. A guy I was dating kept asking me if I’d slept with a particular guy in our circle (hey, it was that same guy I just mentioned – he’s pretty hot), but I told him, it’s neither here nor there who I’ve slept with and I don’t wish to discuss it. Therefore, it did not pollute our connection, and he let this line of inquiry go. This stuff is all dumb but the way it works. I personally think if someone is that interested it’s going to come back against you in some way.

    Also, I would not want to talk about insecurities or other vulnerable things until I am sure I’m emotionally safe with a guy and we know what we have going on, and if it forwards our relationship to mention it. The exception is knowing where the guy is coming from before entering into a physical relationship with him.

    I definitely don’t like talking about the demise of relationships and don’t want to describe people as assholes even if they were – in the beginning stages of dating. And no, they don’t need to know how many guys I’ve been with!! Ha, ha. Thankful as I’m older that line of inquiry has died down.

    • SM says:

      Kay I would have to say that if a guy I just started dating divulged that he had previously slept with one of his friends, I would consider her part of his harem and bail. I wouldnt tell him to stop being friends with but in my BR googles now, I would not continue dating him. Especially since if it didnt mean anything to him anymore then why would he ‘divulge’ the information.

      • Kay says:

        I see what you are saying – though he said she asked him who he’d slept with, “in the spirit of open communication,” so in that sense, you have to be careful what you ask for….and he was forthcoming with his answer. He is attractive and a musician so maybe she wanted to scope on his perceived harem. But as you say – if I dated a guy who was volunteering who he’d slept with – yeah, total red flag. When the other guy I was dating asked me about the musician, I just made clear I did not want to go there, with whomever I’d been with, and that was that. My point being that when you disclose touchy stuff, even if someone pretends it is safe to disclose, it often has consequences. Not only should people be careful what they disclose on their behalf, I don’t believe people should ask questions if they don’t want to hear the person’s honest answer – best to let some things lie.

        • SM says:

          I agree with you. The guy asked you about it and you rightfully chose to keep the information to yourself because you knew the ramifications of it and I’m also guessing whatever went on with the friend and you has no baring on what you do now. Very mature.

  15. H says:

    Fantastic post! I am a major culprit of this inadvisable dating behaviour. I even did it today… over shared in front of a guy I took a shine to. I don’t see this guy as boyfriend material… I only met him briefly today, but it sort of proves how automatic this sort of thing can be doesn’t it! The first sign of attraction and there I go casually mentioning something pretty horrific from my past. Clearly I need to address this before I start confiding in all the hot men I come across! Unbelievable!! Gotta laugh at myself for that one!

    Also a guy I met and liked, who liked me but was not into a relationship with me started dropping into conversation a lot of bad stuff about his past, his family, etc. It was all mixed in with all the other attractive stuff he was saying over the course of the time we spent hanging out and getting to know each other. I felt like he had a fear of rejection and was trying to get it all out so I could reject him before he got attached. Plus I think he was trying to make a point that he was not boyfriend material.

  16. Kitty Momma says:

    I just recently found this blog and I LOVE IT!!!!
    I have been cruising through the archives and have found SO MANY helpful articles. Thank you NML!

  17. Natasha says:

    “Instead of going into intricate detail about your exes (you shouldn’t be talking about them on the first 1-3 dates anyway as you have better things to talk about), the simple answer is “We wanted different things.” This is 100% true. This is a lot better than “They were a psycho” or pouring out your life story. ”

    YUP! Personally, I’ve never really talked about exes for the simple reason that I really have no desire to hear anything about the guy’s exes. I’ve had a few dates in the past that have pressed me to talk about exes and even if the guy was an utter assclown, I just said, “It just didn’t work out.” I totally agree that early dates are supposed to be fun and being that EUMs/ACs are the very antithesis of fun, they have no place in the convo!

    I recently had a guy that I was platonic friends with years ago (he moved away and just moved back to my area) get in touch and ask me on a date. I’m not really into dating right now anyway, but even if I was, I would have turned him down. He told me that the last girl he dated was, “So crazy she should be in a straitjacket.” TURN. OFF. Even if he was the most perfect man around (in many cases when a man says “my ex was a psycho” it equates to “I am an assclown. No, really.”) and she was nuts…why would I want to hear about it? I really believe that it should be new person = new start.

    If I got into a serious relationship in the future, I would have no problem saying, “I really dated some fools back in the day. Boy am I glad I dropped the jerk habit and met you!” if the subject of past relationships came up. I wouldn’t worry too much about a decent guy judging me for that, because very, very few people go through life without dating a fool or two. Nat, I totally agree that we need to be less hard on ourselves about our pasts – everyone has a freakin’ past!

    • SM says:

      That right Natasha! I love the guys that say, ‘I dont want anymore drama’, because you just know ‘they’ were the ones causing the drama. Anytime I see or hear that, I turn tail and run the other way. One of my friends was dumped by her bf and his parting words were calling her a psycho because she dared to tell him off after he did some really awful things to her with no provocation. And the funny thing is, its been 8 months later and she is still hearing through the grapevine that he is telling people what a psycho she is. Unbelievable.

      • Natasha says:

        Oy, SM, your friend’s ex is an ass! It’s like, “Well, I know deep down my actions make me look like an asshole, even though I won’t admit it, so I’m going to spend eight months yacking that my ex is a psycho to convince others/possibly myself that I don’t suck as badly as I clearly do.” This is why I’m in full agreement that when a guy says this….Run Forrest, RUN.

      • Jasmine says:

        SM “I ‘m tired of drama” should be considered just as much of a red flag as “I have anger issues”! Seriously… I can’t even picture any of my well grounded male friends who are in committed relationships saying that. Unfortunately in dating that guy I had more drama than I ever thought I’d experience. I was pretty devastated for a while afterwards…

    • Karina says:

      I am so on that boat! My ex, his new gf and his buddies calling me a psycho for speaking my mind. And this whole time I thought I was the one with the problem! Hunh!

    • Kim says:

      Ive seen this expressed a lot on this blog…that when a man calls an ex gf a psycho, it means he is an assclown. I dont really understand…would you please expound on that?

      • grace says:

        Kim
        A woman can certainly genuinely be “at fault”. But a decent man would surely say something like “it didn’t work out between us” or “i loved her but I didn’t know how to deal with her gambling away the house/ having sex with all my friends/ plastic surgery addiction” or even “it didn’t work out between us” – after all doesn’t his ex have a right to privarcy? Rather than “she was crazy”. He usually means she flipped out at him because of his behaviour. My ex described his ex as “crazy”. Then, over the course of our relationship, I saw him drive his mother crazy, his own brother crazy and, of course, me. To look at him you wouldn’t think he was capable. I used to think he should be weaponized and used in warfare.

        • SM says:

          Thats hilarious Grace, did you ever suggest he offer himself up to the military? My brother is a crack addict and he always has girlfriends and they are all as unsavory as him. His current girlfriend tries to control his every move, not because she wants to be controlling but she’s trying to keep him away from drugs..it is crazy! She insists that she goes everywhere with him, even to work. He calls her crazy, which she is in her own way, but the reality is if she wasnt so controlling over him, he wouldnt have stayed out of jail so long this time. We are just glad that they live in another city and we dont have to be involved with them on a regular basis.

        • Natasha says:

          Well and hilariously said Grace! Whenever I hear “my ex was a psycho”, I shudder to think what the REAL story is. In the case of the dude I mentioned in my comment, I can remember him making little comments that I wasn’t crazy about when we were friendly years ago. He’s two or three years younger than I am and I recall him saying more than once, “Well, you’re old.” and “I don’t like to drink, because I like to watch other people get drunk and watch them make fools of themselves.” Shocking that I wasn’t chomping at the bit to accept a dinner invitation from him haha!

  18. Tanzanite says:

    Hi everyone

    This is a good post and I have been thinking a lot about this lately.

    I was reading a list of things that were odd but true and one of them really stuck out for me,it said.-

    ” To obtain a bank loan , you have got to prove that you don’t need one ”

    It’s similar with relationships,if you want a chance to succeed you have to keep you past hurts on a need to know basis otherwise they sometimes label you as-

    ” damaged goods ” .

    I come on this site for this reason,so I can be with people who understand and have been through the same.

    When I asked my ex why his past relationship failed he said-

    “we couldn’t make each other happy ”

    There was no answer to that,it sounded as if no one was to blame and he was balanced.

    Natalie has also said in the past –

    “just say you were incompatible “.That is what I say now.

    • SM says:

      A guy I dated would say “news at 11″, meaning he didnt feel like answering my questions now but would later, I assumed as he felt more comfortable. I thought it was a great line because I never felt cheated that I didnt get my answer and also felt a bit of respect for him not divulging info he wasnt ready to.

      • Linden says:

        As long as 11 o’clock does come sometime. I knew a man who refused to divulge information by saying, “We don’t know each other well enough yet.” That grew rather thin after I’d known him for two years.

        • SM says:

          Ha Linden, I bet it did. Yeah ‘news at 11′ never came for this guy we stopped seeing each other after 3 months. He threw out the friend card and for once I didnt bite.

  19. TRL says:

    Thank you for this post Natalie.It came at the perfect time for me because even though I’m in no way ready to date yet after the damaging effects of the MM , I’ve been thinking ahead into the future and what dating will look like. I don’t want to come off as “damaged goods” from a previous relationship to the next person I date, or feel like I have to divulge all that went wrong in previous relationship either. I don’t want to feel like I’m leaving myself vulnerable to future abuse either by telling them how someone hurt me, etc. At the same time, I don’t want to be completely emotionally closed off either. Again, I know I’m not ready to date yet, but I’m just trying to be hopeful for the future.

    • Complicated says:

      Hi TRL,

      I’m on Day 4 of NC and feel like the “damaged goods” you mentioned from also being with a MM. Natalie’s post hit home for me in a slightly different way….I left myself vulnerable by stating to my (now ex) MM how he had already hurt me in the past. I thought this would be a way of A. Protecting myself from this happening again AND B. If he knew how he had previously hurt me, he surely wouldn’t do it again. Not the case. Guess he would have to have a vested interest in my feelings to not want to hurt me the same exact way he has in the previous two years. Both years, he ignored me for 5 months then said he got tired of fighting the urge to communicate with me and the cycle began again. Now, I’m fighting the daily urge to contact him and I know he’s sitting back enjoying it just waiting to hear from me since I’ve always broken NC in the past. I didn’t want to seem emotionally closed off either. But now I think I would rather seem (and actually be) emotionally closed off to him! So here I sit day by day hoping, wishing, praying that I’ll receive some type of message or text response (yep, crumbs) from him to know he hasn’t forgotten about me and moved on so easily.

      • Magnolia says:

        Complicated –
        Good for you for being another 4 days in. You’re feeling the urges but you are still sitting on your hands which is great. Happy to see it and stay strong.

  20. brenda says:

    I have Verbal Diareah!!!OMG!!No more!!!!
    All I have to say!!
    Brenda

  21. ANewDay says:

    OK…this one is confusing for me because it makes me feel that I was unfair to my ex. You say not to disclose your past…especially if you’ve changed. My ex told me fairly early on about some rather unsavory sexual experiences he had. He told me he went to a “rub and tug” twice…and that he cheated on one of his ex-girlfriends when he was living away from her by having an escort delivered to his apartment. He never told his ex what he did, returned to their home and continued to be with her for a while before dumping her. He claimed that this was the worst thing he ever did…but that he never would have done it had he truly loved her. I actually took his “honesty” as a sign of repentance and growth.

    Telling me these things was the beginning of the end for us. Because it was in the past…I felt I had NO RIGHT to judge him. After all…I had done a few bad things before…well not as bad in my mind as paying for sex. It was like he had told me he had committed a murder…and the more I wanted to talk about it…the more irritated he got with me. He thought I had a mental problem for wanting to discuss what he told me. The ex he cheated on with the hooker was still coming around all in love with him…claiming what a wonderful man he is.
    I tried to forget about it…and concentrate on who he claimed to be now…and he fast forwarded me into having a baby with him. I had a terrible gut feeling that wouldn’t go away no matter how much I tried to silence it. I snooped one night…and found a MSN message history with my ex planning a trip to a brothel with his married buddy. The man I was now pregnant for was saying “I want a good clean regulated f***” and laughing about it. He went on that trip after we were supposedly committed to one another. When he got back, he told me a shady story about going to a strip club and falling asleep and getting charged $600 US by a lap dancer. None of it added up. All of it pointed to a guy that hadn’t just made a mistake in his past that he deeply regretted (he said repeatedly “That’s not who I am.”). It all pointed to a guy that still gets a thrill from prostitutes. I was 3 months pregnant at the time and went into major denial. However, he was no longer the person I thought he was. I was STUPID but I wanted the baby to have the happy family dream he sold me. What they disclose of their past really does seem to foreshadow the future. Even now, I still doubt myself some days, as I have no proof of what he did in Las Vegas during that boys trip. He may be the man of integrity he claims to be…but the stories from his past ruined my vision of him. None of it matters though…because he dumped me when the baby was only 5 1/2 months old. Threw me out of the house in the same fashion he did his ex-girlfriend. One of his proud stories from our early dating days now being repeated with me in the starring role.

    • Flower White says:

      @ANewDay, so sorry that you got dumped with a baby by a creep. You learned the hard way. Stop trying to convence yourself that he is good…you found out he went to a brothel…he has boys trips to Vegas. A man who throws a woman out of the house with a infant is cold hearted.

    • Magnolia says:

      Why do you feel like you were unfair? It sounds like this person lied to you, and you’re well rid of him.

      It sounds like you’re interpreting this post as though he shouldn’t have told you what he did, so that you wouldn’t have gotten curious. It wasn’t your curiosity that hurt your relationship, I don’t think. If you want to think about it from his vantage point, the idea is that if he really did make terrible mistakes in his past and they were his past, then yes, he should consider what the point is of telling you about it. And if he needed to tell you, because your relationship was getting really strong and he wanted to make sure he came clean and you didn’t have any surprises later on, that would be very different from the situation you describe.

      Even the situation NML describes here, where you tell someone all your ‘bad’ stories, of ACs and bad decisions, etc, can be motivated subconsciously by wanting to be relieved of responsibility. That is why she suggests not doing it. Sounds like your ex wanted to be make sure he wouldn’t feel like he misrepresented himself to you (“hey, she knew I was no saint”) if he ever decided to cheat again.

      • ANewDay says:

        He claimed that because he felt so strongly about me, he wanted to come clean with me and show me what an honest man he was. He said he would never do that to me, because he knew that he loved me. He never loved the girl he lived with for 5 years, and that was the big problem, according to him. I guess I bought into it having heard about so many men treating women shabbily until they met THE ONE. I did think his confession was good at first…but then I thought…shouldn’t he have admitted this to the girl he did this to, rather than a new girl he’s seducing with talk of forever? I should have realized that yes, he was being honest…but what he was being honest about was his capacity for DISHONESTY! BTW…he told me later that he confessed to the girl because he feared I would tell her first. He probably told her he cheated, but omitted the escort part. That would explain why she hates me to this day, and still thinks he’s Mr. Wonderful that I’ve done wrong.

        Part of the reason I accepted it was my own negative beliefs about men. After dating a few jerks, I started to believe that men view sex differently. Plus, he kept telling me that MOST guys have slept with a hooker, only they are not honest enough to tell you. His implication was that I should consider myself very lucky to be with such an honest man. His DREAM was to have three kids and spend the rest of his life with the woman he loved. I should have realized that this dream doesn’t really match the action of (at the very least) researching brothels online with a married buddy before their big boys trip to Las Vegas! They were sure to make sure the married guy’s wife didn’t use the computer before they continued their conversation about getting to choose a woman out of the lineup to scr**. If it was a big joke, they were certainly careful about hiding the humor from the wife!!! BTW…it was immature I know, but I was so angry at one point after he threw me out with our baby that I emailed the MSN brothel conversation to three of his friend’s wives. My ex took a hit there…but probably just used it to make me look psycho. At least now the women will think twice before allowing their husbands to take another trip to Vegas…I hope.

        • jupiter23 says:

          Maybe sending that email wasn’t the best thing to do but, in my humble opinion, hardly warrants a second thought from you.

    • NML says:

      ANewDay, reading your comment I know that you have some issues around being truthful with yourself which in turn are causing you to doubt a legitimate decision. You’re also looking for any reason, no matter how small to perpetuate that denial – this post is it.

      Let’s get the primary thing straight – I didn’t say don’t disclose your past. I said to be careful of who you share it with, your motivations for doing so and what you do with the information.

      Next thing: Whether he told you about his past hooker times or not, the fact remains that he is still sleeping with hookers, talking about sleeping with them on email, and then telling what can only be considered exceedingly pathetic lies. The *difference* is that if you 1) weren’t told or 2) hadn’t read what you did, you would be the woman who Fast Forwarded into pregnancy who doesn’t know that her guy is screwing hookers.

      Your doubts and queries about this tell me that you would rather be the latter. If you were the latter, it feels like more of a victimisation. With the current state of affairs, it can be difficult to digest that you were told information that was actually pertinent to your relationship that you ignored, you’ve then allowed yourself to be swept up in his grand plan, started listening to your spider senses, uncovered the truth, realised that he’s done to you what he did to his ex, been told some lies, and are still listening.

      Most guys don’t sleep with hookers behind their girlfriends backs. It takes a lot to go down that road when really, there’s plenty of free sex going around. It’s not even that you had to judge him for that but what you have failed to do is make the link between current and past actions and at *least* judge the situation. Stop lying to yourself for the sake of you and your unborn child.

    • grace says:

      ANewDay
      When we were discussing our insecurities, it seemed to be along the lines of:
      My mother was abusive
      I’ve been sexually abused
      I’ve been in abusive relationships
      I can be clingy
      I’ve been hurt
      I dumped someone who was nice to me, or even
      I’ve cheated in the past
      NOT
      I used prostitutes, I continue to use prostitutes, I’m going to impregnate you and then leave you homeless with a baby. I fail 100% to see how that can be interpreted as YOU being unfair to HIM.
      The person who is in an insecure position is YOU, not him.
      Please don’t feel sorry for this clown and do what is best for the baby – which may be getting child support and arranging extremely limited visitation if any at all.

      • ANewDay says:

        Hi all, thanks for your comments. I guess I’ve never encountered this level of manipulation before. Some more info for you. When I discovered the “brothel plans” when I was 3 months pregnant, I was horrified. I confronted him and he told me the conversation was just a joke…and that he never went through with it or intended to. I didn’t quite believe him as it didn’t look like a joke to me…and even if it was…he was joking about something with his buddy that he had made a FORBIDDEN topic to me. I was not allowed to bring it up as it “caused him too much pain to think about and it was IN THE PAST”. That’s why I felt so betrayed…he had me believing that he felt so bad about being with the escort that he couldn’t even discuss it. Because I didn’t just drop the subject…he threw me out of his place (that was the first time). He told me I was an awful person for making his character all about one incident in his life. He told his mom about what he did and his ex girlfriend that he cheated on. I took this all as signs of remorse and change. He also forwarded me an email between his mom and his ex girlfriend. It was all about how horrible I was for being so mean and ruining the happy family we were about to have by holding his past against him. His mom came to see me and told me her son admitted everything to her and this incident is totally out of character for him. Everyone seemed to think that he was a GOOD MAN and I was a horrible person with trust issues.

        He begged me to come back and to give him a chance to “honor and love me” the way he always dreamed about. I fell for it…

        Problem is…I still had unresolved issues about his behavior…and that trip to Las Vegas. I decided to believe his story that the brothel conversation was just a “fantasy between two boys” that happened before he met me (he wrote those plans 2 weeks before meeting me…but the trip came a couple of months afterwards).

        Then he started treating me shabbily in other ways. If I tried to talk to him about any of his inconsiderate ways, such as getting so drunk with the boys he’d pee in the closet for the fourth time, I just wanted to “focus on the negative”. His mom would come over and participate in the blame. According to her, the solution lay with me being more easygoing. Me being upset over his binge drinking became “You won’t let him have a drink”.

        Sometimes I think I must have imagined it all…it’s so nuts.

      • ANewDay says:

        PS I am getting child support and he sees the baby 50% of the time. He is very committed to her…though I’d say his mom cares for her more than he will admit. He has taken our baby girl 5 out of 7 nights a week. I have allowed this as it’s the only way he truly gets 50% time with her and I don’t want to stand between her and her dad. I have chosen to move in with my father and be a stay at home mom for a while. Luckily with the child support and savings I had, I am able to enjoy watching my little girl grow. His devotion to her and utter rejection of me made it all feel highly personal. But, his devotion to her is another reason it’s so hard to judge him….he behaves like this great responsible guy on one hand. People are all like, oh look at that devoted dad with his beautiful baby. I’m sure his new girlfriend is eating it up.

        • NML says:

          ANewDay, I don’t trust or respect any man who will allow his mother to run interference for him. I appreciate that she’s his mother but ganging up on you with him, being disrespectful, and trying to pitch his crummy behaviour at you is completely out of order. How offensive!

          An act of genuine remorse is not only saying that you feel bad and adapting your behaviour, but not then going and perpetuating the same behaviour again. His previous girlfriend doesn’t *know* the extent of his past – he told you instead of her! He and his mother are very abusive and manipulative. I am totally unsurprised at his behaviour because he never has to take responsibility for himself, he manipulates those around him to the point where he can tell his mother about hookers and get her on side – I feel sorry for them both.

          Being a good father and being a good boyfriend are two entirely different things. As I’ve had to explain to many a reader who has emailed me about wanting to stop their ex from seeing the child because he doesn’t want to have a relationship with her, the two relationships are separate and require different emotions. It is one thing if he is doing things that directly put the wellbeing of your child at risk, which may be more of an issue in the future, but you can’t judge a man is being a poor parent because he’s a lousy boyfriend, but you also don’t need to change your opinion of him because he’s a half decent person. No offence, but he’s *supposed* to take of his child! A child I might add that he Fast Forwarded you (and you went along) to have. The *least* he could do is show up and responsible for the child he has made so you don’t need to be clapping his back or seeing him as some sort of rehabilitated from a hooker habit person.

          Even if you cut out all the hooker and lies stuff, he has done plenty of things *without* that in the mix to have his arse bounced.

          And what trust issues? Imagine that you have gone to a new town where people speak an entirely new language with totally different norms. There, everyone speaks The Jackass Is Innocent language and has no issue with hookers, cheating, and manipulation. But if you leave that town and tell the same story to other people they’d be like “What? He slept with a hooker behind his exes back, told you, said he’d changed, pressured you to get knocked up and then planned on email to hook up with another hooker? OMG! How disgusting! And his mama is OKying all of this? What kinda hillbilly bullshit are you involved in? Run girl run!”

          • grace says:

            ANewDay
            You seem to be handling it well, good for you. Yep good parent does not equal good partner. And, as you say, his mom is doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. Babies are highly enjoyable if someone else is doing the sleepless nights, the nappy changing, the endless laundry!
            You know what you know, let his mom think he’s God’s gift, as long as she is being a good grandmother that’s all that matters to you.
            A teeny, tiny warning, which may come to nothing – sometimes it can turn sour with the EU dads when the children start growing up and answering back. Retain a healthy scepticism and don’t put him (or anyone) on a pedestal.
            Enjoy your baby. Be strong. Don’t blame yourself for his behaviour. Peeing in the closet?! That’s a first even on this blog!

          • ANewDay says:

            Thanks Natalie. It’s so good to hear validation…especially from you! At least I gave up long ago trying to get validation from him and his mom. I mourned two breakups. One with him, and then one with his mom. Up until a few weeks ago…where I finally told her where to go…she was trying to hang out with me. I politely refused SEVERAL times, and she responded by telling me I’m a grudge holder who refuses to forgive. I forgave her long ago…I just don’t want to be her buddy anymore and give her the opportunity to upset me. She wrote me long after I was kicked out telling me that she believed I was the woman for her son and to please let go and forgive him. Did she realize he was seeing another woman already? Probably. After I had the baby and our issues had less to do with hookers and more to do with alcohol…she told me I had Post Partum Depression and tried to convince me to go on antidepressants. Apparently that is how she currently deals with her own 40 year long emotionally abusive marriage. I was truly in Weirdo Town…and I’m still waking up to that reality over a year later. The emotional abuse is still on…as I see my ex daily during the baby’s exchange. Now if she doesn’t have a nap, it is an opportunity for him to email me telling me that I’m not looking out for the baby’s best interests. I could go on and on and on…but I guess it’s time to move on. Part of that is finally getting a written co-parenting agreement that sets out some rules of engagement and leaves me feeling more secure about the future of me and my little one. Even if it means I don’t have to see him twice daily as I have been over the past year…that alone will make it worth it!

  22. Wizzy says:

    I have done the TMI on the 2-4 dates too. In my dysfunctional mind, I was testing his staying capacity. It had never occurred to me that he was practically a stranger that I was trying to net with manipulation. I completely agree Natalie, coupled with my attraction to shady types, I ended up crying BIGTIME! I have been picking up these shady guys and giving the the blueprint….. How to be an assclown, shady, EUM for me!

    I also read an article by Martha Beck about emotional sluts. Basically they give out information to get information. I think I have been a total emotional slut with dire consequences. What ever relationship happenned, did so in an extremely imbalanced way. At least now I know better :-)

  23. Gina says:

    Natalie! Shame on you girl!!

    Why are you airing my dirty laundry all up and down BR streets for people to read? I had to learn the hard way that you don’t–as my grandmother and my aunt used to warn me–tell people all of yo’ business! All they’ll do is use it against you at a later date! Keep your mouths shut! And when you feel the urge to bare your soul, remember the Miranda Law: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say CAN and WILL be used against you…”

  24. Brad K. says:

    One very good reason to beware an impulse to relate a lot about the past, is that this can be a self-destructive tendency, and expression of low self-esteem. “Look at how I am, er, was. See? I am really not as good as you think, and this story proves I am not good enough.”

    I would think the right thing to do, if I recognize I am self-destructing, is to apologize and go home alone — because clearly I am not ready for any kind of relationship.

    (You have to love yourself before others will.
    You have to be healthy to have a healthy relationship.)

    Blessed be!

  25. Magnolia says:

    I have come a loooonnnng way on this one. Gosh, my history of childhood abuse used to be my opening banter. I thought I came off as a tough-as-nails-but-wounded scrappy girl, who just needed a good man to see through her abrasive exterior and touch the rawness inside. Well.

    As I said in the last post, the last two ACs cured me of that one. (Interacted with one of them tonight, btw, the master-blade-turner with his once-his-student-now-gf, at an event I co-organize. It’s amazing how non-threatening, even slight, he seems when I’m not in the dark hole of hoping for his capacity to love, and not letting conversation get past hello.)

    In the last few major dating scenarios, I vomited information when I got uncomfortable with the physical stuff. I would be making out with a guy, suddenly feel panicked, and then back off, he’d be all whoa wtf, and I’d spew shamed apologies about being “a little PTSD.” With both the last two ACs, they did not back away, they kind of tightened their grasp. I mistook that for caring, for being willing to work through my shit with me. I think a lot of my blurting may have been my attempts to control the physical interaction.

    To be honest, I’m not sure what will happen the next time I get physical with a guy. I think if I freak out, I will aim to not freak out about the freak out. I do think most of my blurting and dumping was a way of saying ‘don’t hurt me.’ I also think it was a way of saying: don’t expect me to be anything I can’t be sexually. I am terrified of disappointing a guy sexually. If I start out damaged and unable to really enjoy sex without the spectre of past abuse looming over every interaction, then I don’t have to worry about “performing” as a healthy female specimen.

    Performance anxiety? Is that what it boils down to?

    Huh. Light bulb moment going on over here. Actually, never in my whole life have I thought it possible to enter into a sexual relationship with someone without telling them the whole history. In fact, I sort of fantasized that the right guy would be the one I tell all the nightmares to, and together he and I would break the cycle.

    • Elle says:

      I loved your description of scrappy girl. I perceive myself or others perception of me in a similar way. Just a quick note – I do think healing comes through relationship as well as solitude, not always romantic (therapeutic being the most obvious). However, you have to be careful. You can turn on your lover-helper, once you feel better, as if they were somehow holding you back or are reminders of your sordid soul ; ). I am a bit stuck on this one – how much to sort out before or outside a relationship, and how much is legitimately OK. But I suspect, and I am proceeding on the basis, that if I keep on getting my sh*t sorted, giving myself a break and enjoying life, then a good guy will come – or not – and we’ll just make our way from there. I think you need to be fairly stable to attract a good guy (as distinct from saviour guy – who is good, but not precisely what we need, I don’t think.). Anyway, thanks for sharing your breakthroughs, Mags.

    • Lynda from L says:

      ‘Actually, never in my whole life have I thought it possible to enter into a sexual relationship with someone without telling them the whole history.’
      Wow Magnolia…this resonated with me albeit from a slightly different angle. My sharing would happen in the closeness that comes after sex… I would feel that I could trust them and that the sharing was part of the emotional exchange. I realise my vulnerability to this now. You’ve also made me think of how physical intimacy can be such a mocked up red herring to real intimacy with certain guys.
      One of the biggest revelations to going NC for a while for me is my feelings about getting physical…it will truly take me a while…
      I realise that I am only going to be receptive when boundaries have been consistently respected, likewise any important disclosures I will make. Thanks Magnolia.

    • grace says:

      magnolia
      If you love each other you may wish to share it at some point but there’s no need to put a man on notice because you may disappoint him. Men aren’t easily disappointed when it comes to sex, they’re just grateful. except for some ACs of course, but I don’t pretend to know what their problem is. I can only imagine that dealing with them is going to make you feel worse, not better. I think it’s beyond the ability of most laymen (or women for that matter) to be able to work through this with you, though they can be sympathetic.
      If past abuse is a current issue for you, there are plenty of resources out there. I haven’t read this book myself, but I did contact the author through her website and she was very kind and insightful:
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Shoes-Stepping-Shadow-Sexual/dp/0745955525/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321566872&sr=8-1
      Even though it’s aimed at those who have suffered sexual abuse as children, I think it applies to all kinds of abuse at all ages.
      I know someone who was raped when she was a virgin. I don’t look at her and think “you’ve been raped”. I only remember it now from reading your comment. She went on to marry and have children. It doesn’t have to ruin your future.

    • JadeSesame says:

      @Magnolia,
      I’ve grappled with similar issues– I tend to be uncomfortable with new partners because an ex in the past, was tyrannical and got belligerent with me over my failure to have an orgasm the first time and over the subsequent months, so physical intimacy and being relaxed tends to be quite problematic, getting an orgasm became really over-determined for me. We hope that honesty can lead to heightened understanding, but sometimes it can repel the other, or engender awkwardness. How can these issues be talked about organically? Might we ruin things too soon by pre-empting problems, constantly invoking ghosts from the past and therefore self-sabotaging? Should we cross the bridge when we come to it?

      I do believe that sexual healing and overcoming trauma can be done independently to an extent, and very powerfully, with the right partner who is sensitive, open and secure enough (takes someone with a healthy ego/self-esteem and an awareness of their own issues, not to be repelled or intimidated by “shit”). There won’t be barriers, there would be transformation, something quite emancipatory. So much about sharing hinges upon context, spirit, mutual maturity and readiness to listen and divulge, without fear, a readiness to freely admit and confront our own vulnerabilities without seeking validation, pity, or as a means to secure love.

    • Magnolia says:

      Elle, Lynda, Grace, Jade: Thanks :)

      Grace, you wrote “If past abuse is a current issue for you…” Like Elle, I wonder how much you can sort out outside a relationship. I mean, hey, the tendency to dissociate only happens when I let a guy I like touch me. As long as I don’t do that, there’s no current issue. So: go longer with no attempts at kissing anyone, maybe talk to a counsellor for yet another year? Or, keep trying to kiss and hope things don’t go to that place?

      Yeesh, it’s triggersville talking about this. The angry Magnolia is like, your friend was raped as a virgin? Only once? By only one person? Well, that explains how she was able to still have faith and have a relationship ….

      Whoooshh…..

      “So much about sharing hinges upon context, spirit, mutual maturity and readiness to listen.” That’s true. I’m in the phase of focusing on my maturity, recognizing how toxic my anger is to ME, and focusing on what’s good for me. I can’t really picture doing again what I did with the last two guys, who ended up both being psychologically cruel ACs, which was to share too quickly and then ignore that their lack of hesitation to step into the role of rescuer, and their enthusiastic pose of guy-who-knows-how-badly-other-guys-treat-women, actually creeped me out.

      That reminds me: any guy who introduces the topic of domestic abuse, sexual violence, etc into an early conversation with me, even, or especially in the guise of, yeah, I know, women get it so bad from so many guys, so many of my women friends have shitty boyfriends, etc. are immediately BOUNCED. I have gotten up and walked away from a guy whose friendly chat at a coffee shop suddenly veered that way. It is the hallmark of predators, and has been my misfortune, as a younger wounded woman, to open up to that ploy.

      Anyway, I meant to say that I have installed quite a few more boundaries between my deepest vulnerabilities and my initial attractions. I look at men now and ask myself if I could picture trusting myself with them; it gives me a sense of how well I know them, and how well I want to know someone. I feel confident that there are many ways a man can display his empathy, trustworthiness, respect, etc before I put myself in the position of being alone in a room with him, risking triggering, or risking … trust.

      • EllyB says:

        @Magnolia: My memories are still blurred, but I remember enough to be sure my parents sexually abused/molested me. That’s why I used to belive “I owed the world sex” as “payment for being alive”. I really thought my body had no right to be in this world (and breathe and eat, taking away air and food from other people!) if I didn’t let other people use it. I know it sounds crazy, but for an abused child this conclusion seems quite logical.

        That’s why I thought I was “evil” and “selfish” whenever I said “no” to sex. My parents told me I had a disease called “fear of tactile contact” because I didn’t like the stuff they did to me.

        During most of my adult years, I tried to prove I did not have that “disease” which meant (as I believed) I had to open myself up to more abuse. Most of the time, I said “no” anyway, but blamed myself for it and told myself I needed therapy to cure my “fear of tactile contact” and learn to say yes to abuse. How wrong I was.

        Because it’s completely okay to say “no”. I can say no forever if I want to. That’s absolutely okay. There is no “sex duty”. There is no “too much no”. Abusive parents and AC make us believe there is, but they are lying.

        And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to say no until I want to say yes without having to lie to myself in any way. I don’t care how long that takes. If it never happens, that’s okay too.

        Maybe there is some kind of therapy to teach people to want sex. But I doubt it. I think that kind of therapy would be abusive by itself.

  26. Fedup says:

    When you meet someone new I often wish you could meet all their exes too. Then you would get both sides of the story. It seems it of the time when someone says their ex is crazy/pyscho, it really means that their the nutjob not the exes!

    • AngelFace says:

      Fed Up,
      True, True. We would probably prefer to go have lunch with the exe girlfriends and save ourselves from wasting the time with the real crazy person/psycho – the guy!

  27. LTP says:

    Wow, this post has been a bit of a wake up call! I didn’t even realise that i’ve been doing this, and also it dodn’t occur to me that guys were doing this too. When i think if some of the stuff guys have disclosed in the past (always about stalker exes!) i should have run for the hills. I think i also tell people about the past in the hope that they will act differently, knowing how other men have acted with me. Seems so obvious now, but i didn’t see it at the time. I’m currently in the very early stages of a relationship that might no go anywhere, but i’ll be more aware of what i’m disclosing. As you say, we all have baggage of one sort or other, but it shouldn’t really matter, as you have to deal with the person in front of you, and not a past version of themselves. Hurrah for the guys who do disclose too much and give us an early warning sign though, i’m all for that, hahaha!

  28. grace says:

    I agree that it’s quite dangerous to share this stuff with ACs. They WILL use it against you. Mind you, it’s dangerous to be with them full stop so don’t beat yourself up for oversharing.
    Counselling really helped me – I went through it all and it does feel very much in the past now. I do sometimes feel the urge to dislcose but I ask myself WHY? Am I trying to justify myself? Get sympathy? Get someone to see her differently? More times than not I realise it’s not appropriate.
    That said quite a few people know about it, so it’s not longer a SECRET, which can be just as damaging as over-disclosure.

  29. Lynda from L says:

    ‘never allow yourself to be coerced into sharing or find yourself having to apologise repeatedly for something you did ages ago…’

    This article helped me understand some of the back-waves of disquiet I still feel about my last relationship. When I shared anything(and I did not share too soon..) it was cast up as a reason for the failure/my failure of our relationship. In fact, he used my disclosures as a regular excuse for good or ill.
    If I mentioned a good memory with my husband…then the EUM accused me of still wanting to be with him. If I disclosed a difficulty with a previous boyfriend then I was still emotionally stunted/suffering/incapable of love. I learned to shut up, such was the verbal ferocity of his reaction to anything in my past…but of course I was being stifled out of being wholly me.
    Hey he was a EUM, he was finding excuses anywhere not to commit and I was a EUW, lining them up for him like beer glasses on a bar!!
    Its not good to let go all memories to sustain a shady present!!
    I agree with the premises in the article…there is a time and place to share and after sharing you should, if you have shared for the right reasons only deepen intimacy and consistency of behaviour.
    I was guilty too of changing my behaviour in the face of his criticism(Always criticism!!)of his ex wife,girlfriends…(this is now a big code red for me in men..when they criticise ex partners) He told me they had been selfish,emotionally restricted and cold…so guess who was always warm, responsive, eager to listen??
    I am so settling into being me at the moment, warts and all, past and future intertwined that I ‘ve come to realise that being authentic to me is reflecting on past foibles…what I choose to share about my reflections is , however, absolutely my choice.

  30. Emotional says:

    nml..youve done it again, im just wondering how your are able to read my mind lol. Everypost is just what i need at the right moment! You are indeed gifted! but i too am guilty of oversharing, because i beleive in being open upfront and honest, my ex eum, used alot of what i told him in the beginning against me later in the relationship as trigger to keep me in line or the relationship under his control.. Now in retrosprect i realize maybe my honesty ..came off as wanting sympathy. And immediately, put me into that category as someone who was emotionally weak, and projected me as someone he could use,and use my own emotional baggage to manipulate me.. Just have learned that honesty is good to an extext, but it doesnt mean i have to divulge every peice of infomation about my ticks. Its like saying..”if you ever want to screw me over”,, & break me down emotional,.here are the steps.. I love this blog..

  31. Gina says:

    This may sound like a double standard, but the fact they a guy reveals TMI early on before I have become too emotionally invested can be a good thing because I can determine if there are red flags and bounce. I know myself, however, and know that I am a good person who has made some mistakes in the past. I have learned and grown from those mistakes and do not want to be judged for them; nor for growing up with wacko jack parents (we don’t choose our parents). Therefore, not revealing too much too soon is sage advice.

  32. sarah says:

    I had to think a bit about this post. I am definitely guilty of the “I have been hurt in the past, please don’t hurt me now’ syndrome, although I had never realized that it was a way of me telling myself there is a reason to worry. I know one thing – when the assclown began his litany of “all my exes hate me, they all slapped me as they left/none of them will ever talk to me again”, I should have seen it as the enormous red flag it was. INstead, I took it upon myself to try and be the exception to that rule (and you have had many great posts about what a dumb idea that is!)

    The best message from this post is clear – deal with your own baggage to the point it stops being baggage.

  33. Sheila says:

    Great article!!!

  34. Kimberly says:

    Natalie, Best. Post. Ever! I really needed to hear this today, as I have been guilty of doing this with my current bf, who, after the first month of our relationship, asked me NOT to tell him about my exes. I immediately stopped, and found that I could concentrate on “us.” It also made me realize that I am not over one of my exes, and may not be ready for a new man. Still, this is the first healthy relationship I have had for a very long time (read: ever), and feel reluctant to let it go just because I have baggage. Gradually, that old ghost is fading, especially when the new guy is so real! He has shared things about his past in appropriate ways, and I am encouraged to follow suit.

    This post also reminds me of something that Oprah said in one of her Life Classes (and I paraphrase): “When someone shows you who they really are, believe them.” Good stuff, Nat!

  35. ANewDay says:

    @grace – Thanks for your comments. And your warning doesn’t fall on deaf ears. When the baby wakes him in the night, he describes her as “torturing” him. If she naps, I’m applauded as a good mommy; he tells me that he has been pleased with her “pleasant demeanor” and it’s all because I’m taking his orders to ensure she naps EVERY SINGLE DAY. He thinks she is a little robot that we can program to act a certain way. It’s like his world is coming to an end if she is cranky or inconveniences him in any way, but most of all, it is MY fault somehow. I have reminded him that she is a normal toddler and parenting is hard work, but he retaliates by saying that toddlers are NOT unpredictable and that if I was a better mom (i.e. gave her a more strict routine), then she would be perfect. It’s a lot how he used to treat me actually. Everything was wonderful as long as I was butterflies and rainbows. I worry that his relationship with his daughter will change with time but then remind myself, that’s not my responsibility and I won’t take it on. I won’t cover for him. I’ll always be there to comfort my daughter though and let her know with my behavior that there is someone normal in her life that won’t leave her confused and ashamed of herself.

    • Jaydee says:

      ANewDay, I was reading your posts and I had to reply. I hope I am very, very wrong. Please be very careful around your ex and his Mum. My manipulation senses are on overdrive with what you wrote. The way they both keep setting you up about how wrong you are about how you parent your child, post partum depression etc smacks of a longer term plan with regard to your child. It sounds like they are trying to set you up as an unfit parent of unstable mind to be used against you at a later date.Actually they are very clearly telling you that. Please document, copy and print and keep 2 diaries of all interactions with regard to these people. One just for the little one to go back and forth every day, naps, food, activities, milestones, even if he doesn’t use it there is documented proof that you have. If he blames you for her being fractious because of her lack of nap, or being a bad parent in any way, address it immediately, tell him, and in writing through diary how she was wonderful (or not) with you all day, that she was put down for a nap, slept or not, etc, what she ate, activities you did together,her milestones, but write it down. Photocopy it every day in case it goes missing (and it may). The other diary more detailed,what support your family is, what you do in those nights where he has her, and above all what a good Mum you are and the reasons you have for him having your daughter of a night (so he can have time with her), study/work that you do? Even what you wrote about him being a good Dad, what a good gran she is. You may never need any of this information, and I hope you never do, but you must protect yourself. At worst, you have written proof, at best you establish boundaries in setting up how to parent your child together and a have a lovely record for your daughter. They have already both proved to you that neither can be trusted and they will use any techniques to get what they want and all of it is about blaming you and how “wrong” you are. He has shown you very clearly how he operates with back up from Mummy. If you are determined about the 50/50 set up you may want to change days/nights around so you both get days and nights over time. Whatever suits the 3 of you. Write out a plan together if you can. Seek legal advice and be very careful.

      • ANewDay says:

        Thanks Jaydee. I am now starting to initiate mediation with the goal of a co-parenting agreement with Family Justice Services. They sit us both down and help us write a co-parenting plan…with the help of an objective mediator. My lawyer told me that they don’t look at the “he said she said” nonsense in court…and it takes A LOT for a court to decide to keep a child away from either parent. Unless my ex can prove I’m a serial killer, my lawyer feels he won’t have much power that way. He does have me worried though and that’s why I’m getting a written agreement in place that will hopefully limit my contact with him, and put our daughter’s interests first and foremost. Most of all, it will offer me some protection from his daily whims. Many of our expectations will have to be set out on paper :-) Wish me luck…I’m really going to see this through. In my efforts to move on, I recently deleted all the emails between us. I will have to mention this to the mediator and see if I should have kept it all. Hopefully our worries will not come to fruition. But…even it they did Jaydee…my ex is no saint. His functioning alcoholic lifestyle, as well as his drug use and risque history could all come back to haunt him if he tries to say I’m an unfit mother.

      • cavewoman says:

        Jaydee,
        I was thinking what you were thinking and I hope you are wrong about ANewDay’s ex & his mother too, but your advice is sound for the type of situation you (as well as I) fear this might be evolving into. I will pass the notebook idea on to a friend who is dealing with a very controlling and hypercritical co-parent and we have the same dark suspicions about that. I’ve already suggested legal counsel and to save every email, doctor’s notices, school communications, etc. The diary may well be helpful in a practical way anyway. I used to have a nice nanny who kept one for me, and it was perfectly courteous and professional.
        ANewDay, I’d strongly encourage you to do the diary.
        Also, adult caregivers’ poor ability to tolerate a child’s emotional states correlates with abuse. The more detail you share about this doting father, the less endearing the picture is. I am all for children having both parents in their lives, but you cannot afford rosy colored glasses when it comes to your daughter. All the best to you!

        • Jaydee says:

          Keeping a diary can be used in court at least here in some parts of Australia. If you keep it matter of fact and to the point (the communication diary for your daughter), just what she has been up to, no telling him what to do etc, it helps. If he is a drug taking alcoholic seek legal advice with regard to your duties as a parent to limit contact if needed as while he may love his daughter etc etc, you sending her over can be perceived in the wrong way. Find out where you stand and voice your concerns to the mediator when you have your personal appointments. Back up with evidence if possible, request drug tests if allowed, but be prepared to have to go through it too. You have already proven that you are willing to go 50/50 so your daughter can have both parents, BUT that is really an ideal if both parents are clean and sober and not abusive.
          While he said/she said is not normally taking into account, if you have written proof of his tendencies to “loose it” if she cries etc, it can be used against him and if you can limit that for your daughters sake, all the better. It is not about blaming him or trying to reduce contact with your daughter, it is about doing the very best for her with the two parents she has. If one parent is not capable of giving her an abuse free environment, let the mediators have a say. I know here at least, you can request a family Consultant who interview both parents separately with the child and his/her report is used in court. Limiting your personal contact with him is a huge one for your recovery and healing from him. Keep it only about your child, record conversations at handover if legal and needed. Sometimes all that is needed is for the other party to realize they are being recorded and then they back off. Sometimes it can make the situation worse. Only you can judge this situation and with legal advice. Again it is not about blaming him, but accepting where he is at the moment with what he is showing you, it is only to protect yourself and your daughter and firmly establish boundaries with regard to parenting your child going forward. You do not have to put up with his verbal abuse going forward, limit it, you got out of the situation and with help you can keep it only about your daughter. I hear you want your daughter to have 50/50 time with both parents, but you have to also work out if that is the very best thing for…

          • Tasha says:

            Thanks :-) I’ll stop deleting his emails. I did delete every single one at one point in an effort to move on (and not keep reading them). I will mention to the mediator his past drug and alcohol issues as they were a big issue when we were together and after we had the baby. I think limiting my contact and keeping it about what is best for my daughter is going to be what is best for me too :-) I am ANewDay btw…

  36. Annie says:

    NML,

    “In fact, in the wrong hands, this misguided sharing can be the equivalent of handing someone the blueprints to screw you over.”

    i cannot tell you how much I have been burnt by the issue discussed in this post.
    I have an extremely colourful past … featuring parents divorce, death, violence in the home, abuse, pysch hospitals, self harm, suicide attempts, neglect … and I’m still very young.

    I made the very very poor decision to disclose all very quickly to my ex. we were friends for a little while beforehand and when we first started dating i got so excited about it the prospect of losing him scared me so much that i felt the need to tell him everything because i was afraid of him rejecting me later on down the line because of my past. i felt because we were friends first for even just a short time that he wud be ok with the info. My main insecurities in life relate to my past, that people wont accept it or be repelled by it.

    he seemed ok with it all, in fact it seemed like he admired me but it wasnt long before i felt as if he was exploiting me and weaknesses of mine. he would tell me that he ‘had me sussed’ but wouldn’t go into further depth about that. wasn’t long before he had started to use the info i gave him to make fun of me. its a major insecurity of mine that i once had to spend a few days at a mental health facility as a teen. i regretted telling him this because sometimes he’d call me insane and whatever which hurt me a lot. if he really thought that i was all this i dont understand why he stayed with me.

    it never occured to me that someone would do that to me. ever.

    Ive learnt never to share this info until further on down the line when some serious trust has been established. That a man that truely loves me wont leave me later down the line just because I have not been perfect in the past and because i may always a few issues with my past. i look forward to meeting that man.

    • Lynda from L says:

      Oh Annie, you are so right that a man who loves you will not leave you because of your past. This guy your were with was a toxic AC and you better off as far away from him as possible.
      I wanted to comment on the ‘ he said he had me sussed ‘ phrase he used. This was one of the repeat phrases my ex used to me. He said’he had me sussed’ ‘his kids had me sussed’ friends etc… I used to wonder what they had sussed? Made me awfully insecure.
      I believe that these guys use this to give them higher ground,wrong foot you,make you doubt yourself further…very bad behaviour indeed, when you consider how and what we might have already shared… This phrasing, choice of words is designed in my opinion, to further increase your doubts about yourself/ insecurity.
      For me it was sign that I had to get away from someone who would stoop to use such verbal abuse.
      I think you’ve made the right choice, noone is perfect inthe past..too true.

      • Annie says:

        thank you for your response @ Linda from L. yeah the ‘had me sussed’ thing bothered me a lot …. he used to make out as if he had this whole psychoanalysis on me that he knew exactly who i was … i didn’t even know who i was. :(

        Granted if he thought i was insane or whatever negative things he thought he should have just left. I would have been happy with honesty and for him to have enough decency to go. but he availed of the fringe benefits while treating me poorly until i developed the guts to tell him where to jump.

        sigh.

        • Magnolia says:

          Annie, when I refer to exACs being ‘psychologically cruel’ it is exactly that kind of behaviour that I’m referring to. Knowing my history, each of them both found ways to “joke”, or worse, worry aloud, about my instability, lack of touch with reality, poetic volatility (“honey, you’re an artist, most artists are a little crazy”), etc. It’s mindfuckery of the highest order.

          Just this weekend I mentioned to my 12-step group that the other day my supervisor was late to a meeting and showed up saying, “Oh, I thought, I better hurry or Magnolia will have a nervous breakdown.” I gave her a look; she said, “Oh, okay, you won’t” and that was that. My 12-step group was horrified. Nonetheless I find myself saying, well, she does it to everyone.

          I put the fact that there is any trace of that behaviour in my relationship with her down to my skills at picking at the time (she got picked around the same time I picked my last AC). She likes to make jokes about me being flustered and attention-seeking. Now I’m working to get out of this fortunately temporary situation.

          What I keep forgetting is that I think she KNOWS I struggled with mental health. (She was on my pro-tem during the suicide watch from previous AC episode, not that I announced my situation.) That makes all these little digs just that much more inappropriate.

          I let it roll because it’s a work relationship, but it IS wrong.

          Anyone who is good for you reflects your own sanity back to you, no matter what they know of your past. Even if you go to the psych ward, the docs reflect your own sanity back to you.

        • EllyB says:

          @Annie: “We have you sussed…” Yeah, my family used very similar words to tell me they “knew” what a bad person I was, how I was always harbouring bad intentions, plotting against them, and how I was generally rotten deep inside. I used to wonder how I could be mentally ill enough to not even see those horrible qualities in myself if they were that obvious to all of them???

          I still feel insecure whenever I remember those remarks. They are a very powerful weapon. Annie, I’m sorry you had to go through this (and through all those bad things in your childhood which weren’t your fault either!).

          • Annie says:

            thank you for your comments.

            @Magnolia thank you for your comment. what a rude woman to say that to you!!!! i’ve had the whole ‘oh she’s gone off to go crazy now’ kinda thing too. it’s completely inappropriate especially if they are even slightly privvy to your personal issues. :(

            @EllyB im so so sorry to hear your parents said all those horrible horrible things to you. that must have been so hard, how did you deal? hugs.

            The way i interpreted my exs way of saying ‘i have you sussed’ is that he was implying knew all my vunreabilities because sometimes he would make references to the issues he thought i had like he was some kind of mental health professional or expert (which felt patronising as someone whos had to deal with psychs most her life). he would also taunt at times too that i would never ever be able to ‘suss’ him out .. (to taunt like this to a girl you have already identified as ‘insecure’ or whatever is beyond my realm of understanding)..

            from now on my attitude is disclose my past where relevant, nessassary and appropriate AFTER trust has been established. if they don’t like my past (as its part of me) … then theres the door, they can choose to opt out. i respect those who have the decency and intergrity to do that and be honest … just sit down and tell me gently. i much prefer to be hurt this way.

            i just have a big problem with the ones that decide not to opt out and stay and either exploit or act badly until i decide to opt out out of fear of ‘not wanting to hurt’ by leaving … this is a LOT (x20) more hurtful.

  37. meagen19 says:

    I’ve been party to the flip side of this: I had one date with a gut I met on-line: 51, never marrried. His profile included that he didn’t want to “make the mistake” of revealing too much about himself to as that hadn’t worked out well for him in the past. I didn’t think too much of it. We exchanged a couple emails, his second one going into detail about the fact he needed to sit in the stadium seating of a movie, in the center row, X number of feet from the door, and HAD to watch all the pre movie commercials AND the credits thru the end. It seemed clear he was OCD. I was amused, and after a month consisting of 2 calls and a few more not terribly revealing emails, we met up. The first thing out of his mouth was “I haven’t dated anyone else off of the internet since we started talking because I didn’t think it would be fair to you”. Sirens went off and I was thinking “needy!! Clingy!! Pedestal guy!!”. As we talked, he kept edging closer (I don’t think he realized) and I kept backing up. Then he brought out…his resume and head shots… (he’s an extra). And thus began the spilling of too much information (his father’s chronic illness, his insecurities about his acting, about his inability to overcome his Queens accent when he acted, etc). I was panicking, literally fighting the urge to run, and thinking of any excuse to leave. I thought of one, went home, and later emailed that it was nice to meet him and I admired him for being so straightforward about who he was -which wasn’t a total lie- but I didn’t think there was any chemistry between us. He replied, but I’d already decided not to read it because I didn’t want to get into an exchange. Then I spent a couple days beating myself up thinking he was a nice guy and maybe I’m just EUW and using any excuse…the past few BR articles tho make me think this is not the case. All his actions were what we women are told NOT to do, Maybe if he’d held off, and he told me over the course of a few dates, I wouldn’t have been so freaked out. But now I can understand why telling all too soon will doom your dating life. (Although honestly, I still question myself about whether it was his revelations or my EUW AC/EUM radar on overdrive that made me freak out. My friends think it is.)

    • Josie says:

      Meagen 19,
      I met up with someone off an internet dating site. Withing the first hour he was sharing with me the fact he had suffered child abuse as a child. I thought after the first date that I didn’t really want to see him again for various reasons one of which was just compataibility. I told him this and somehow I was on a second date, and when I drove away from that one, I just knew that this man was just too damaged and I was NOT a miracle worker, I made the call and told him I didn’t think we had what it took to kmake a relationship. He responded by calling me 110 times in a day and saying he would kill himself. Yep, I changed my number. Yep, I listened to myself this man was seriously screwed up and whilst I have empathy for people who have issues, ITS NOT MY PROBLEM and a date or couple of dates are not a life long committment to sort out someone else’s stuff. I spent a weekend wondering if this man had killed himself. Needless to say when I called from an unknown number he answered the phone right as rain on Monday morning!
      Yep he wasn’t worth my angst
      Sometimes when we are nice people we give people with way too many issues a chance to get in! Right now I am protecting myself from serious mindbending. I don’t have to be open to looking after stray dogs and vampires who will bite me and suck my blood!

  38. Yoshizzle says:

    i’ve done the disclosing – in-order-to-warn – cuz if you do this i’m outta here-bit. I agree one only does it if they suspect the newfound love interest just might do the same thing in the future.
    That was a new-to-the-single-scene phase after a long term with kids relationship ., and as independence grows, the fear of someone turning out to be a jackass shrinks…if they do, ok, so what? I’m ok on my own. I don’t need to warn anybody plus going off about exes is just unattractive and a big red flag to anyone with their eyes open. I wouldn’t do it now, bcuz now I’m over it and don’t feel the need to. And really it’s just SO unappealing.
    Just like I would immediately exit if a man did the same thing…sorry, you ain’t over it, give me a call when you are.
    I think instead of having to TRY to behave appropriately, taking a good look at how you naturally are inclined to act speaks volumes. If you feel a need to over-share, warn, complain or rant about exes….just give yourself some more time as a single person enjoying life WITHOUT the presence of an assclown.
    another good article Nat well done

    • Yoshizzle says:

      PS> over-sharing also gives him ammo — if he wants a quick easy exit. he knows what to do …and then you’re left thinking you’re attracted to this “type” when he could be a whole other type of jerk who just did what he knew he had to , to get you to dump him.

    • grace says:

      Yosh
      I like that last para. That’s how I know I’ve dealt with my mother issues. I can talk about her without raging. I don’t feel the need to be validated in how I deal with her. I no longer feel guilty about not being the dutiful daughter.
      And from that, guess what, I voluntarily went to visit her last week and it was … okay. And I’m going again tomorrow. It feels, like you say, natural, rather than me forcing myself to be good. She is very physically poorly though, if she was still able to lunge at me and be mean I might skip it.
      Of course, I don’t recommend voluntary visits to ACs.
      Nor am I telling anyone they should do as I do. Friend of mine has zero to do with her mother and all power to her.
      But for sure, I will say what seems intractable (I’m 46 an have only jsut reached this point) can be overcome. I thought I would suffer it for my whole life.

  39. Tea Cozy says:

    This particular post really has my mind churning. Not in a bad way; it’s just caused me to really think about how to strike a balance in what to reveal, and what to keep to myself as I re-enter the dating scene.

    I’m by nature a private person, so the current climate of tell-all (Facebook culture) is very off-putting to me. I don’t have a Facebook or Google+ account (tried ‘em, didn’t care for ‘em), nor do I have much of an internet presence (by design). After my most recent breakup, I was thanking the heavens that I didn’t have to disentangle myself from the fella’s social networking pages, so I guess it’s a good thing.

    Anyway, I’m still trying to figure out what aspects of my past are need-to-know for suitors. For example, I had a serious drinking problem which I kicked to the curb a few years ago (yay!). I don’t have a problem being around alcohol, so I just state that I no longer drink, without going into any details. It’s behind me; it doesn’t really color my view of the world or relationships. So, this issue isn’t all that emotionally-charged for me, and I just let it come up naturally.

    The harder issue is my childhood in an incestuous family. I’ve done many years of therapy, and feel like my relations with those involved, and myself, are about as squared away as one can expect. But, in intimate relationships, I’m finding there is an extra level of care I need to exercise to make sure my boundaries remain in place, while at the same time I’m not being over-protective and defensive, and thus missing out on healthy intimacy.

    I’m aware of this process in myself, but am not at all sure how to explain this to partners, other than to be terribly vague. I feel I’m constantly taking my emotional temperature: “Am I OK? Is this safe? Am I being too protective?” Exhausting.

    I suppose really the only fair and sane approach is to emphasize that I prefer to take relationships slowly, without going into gory details. That’s a perfectly sane approach for any woman, regardless of her background. It gets trickier once physical intimacy enters the picture…I wish I could just relax vigilance and enjoy the experience.

  40. Karina says:

    WOW!!! Nat…you hit the nail on the head with this one. I am guilty as sin for oversharing. One thing though, I remember with the ex AC (the one dating the ex friend) when we were dating I was going through a tough time at work and wih him, so I decided to share my history of depression because I was falling down that same path again to what he answered “i feel like you’re making this up and telling me to get attention.” The blow that delivered to me was huge! I never felt so ridiculed and disrespected in my life. My insecurities there took a bigger blow as well because depression is as serious as any other illness to me and I found it so hard to come to grips with his reaction. After that, things were never the same. Which is why with my most recent ex, I decidedto share that info from the get go as I am still on antidepressants and not ashamed one bit. He was truly supportive, but I always had a lingering worry that he might think I was pycho if I even overreacted to anything he did wrong. I have to say that experience has left a deep wound in me and still healing from it as I do not fully trust a man and specially when it comes to my condition. I’ve come to the realization that depression is a part of me, not who I am, but if someone can’t understand it (specially someone who’s uncle ended his life by suicide, the ex AC’s uncle), then what’s thr point of being with that person. Which makes me think since his new gf has PTSD and dysthimia and she says he’s there for her. Makes me tgink there was certainaly something wrong with me. But all in all, after months of therapy, I’m finally learning to appreciate me for who and how I am and not overkill dudes with info aboit me unless I find it truly necessary and I feel like I can fully trust them.

    Thanks again Nat…this blog is def helping on my journey and I’ve shared ith with some friends having “love” issues.

  41. jennynic says:

    If I think about this honestly, in the past when I talked a lot about my past it was because I wasn’t really over it. Once I got past things, I didn’t talk about it much, or even think about it because I moved on. If our pasts’ come up on occasion or relate to a specific conversation, then it’s all good but constant referral to it, by me or my partner is cause for concern. The men in my past who went on and on about all the terrible things that happened to them turned out to be living in victim hood and behaved like wounded little animals who seemed to enjoy feeling for themselves (of course. FLorence stepped right in) . It was unhealthy and apparent they were still living in the past. On the flip side, the EX AC was very vague and cavalier about his past and seemed to have no emotion about it. He ended up being very vague and secretive in the relationship. Tell your past in small doses but let the present speak for who you are now.

  42. JadeSesame says:

    There’s no need for us to blurt out our insecurities or prematurely divulge information about ourselves, the spirit of sharing should be done really, as you said, without a hidden agenda. I like how you point out that over sharing can be an unconscious form of manipulation. I was on the receiving end of this– my ex-EUM started “confiding” in me right from the start about how nasty his divorce was, he seemed so eager for me to know him, declaring effusively, “you can ask me anything!”, “I’ll tell you every thing!”, “I feel I can really talk to you”. On hindsight all this was faux-sharing, faux-intimacy, to trick me into believing that he was ready, interested and open for an emotional connection with me.

    I’ll share a more uplifting story about the last relationship I had with someone I met on a dating website (we had to part because of physical logistics & my own admissions that I had emotional house-keeping to attend to, lingering unfinished business with that EUM). It progressed well, the interaction itself was healthy and mutually loving, with me admitting that I was still sorting out a lot (It’s ideal to think that we can straighten ourselves out before entering a relationship, most of the work should be done on our own, some in tandem with the right partner, often a lifetime’s work). Anyway, we corresponded via email for 2 months before meeting in person and by then, had exchanged quite a lot of information about our personal lives, interests, thoughts on a wide array of subjects, romantic pasts, my admission that I had abandonment issues (didn’t want to appear like cargo on an airport conveyor belt plastered with a glaring “FRAGILE handle with care”, but my instincts told me that he’d be mature enough to receive it in the right context. Turns out that he, as I discovered later on, was a male Florence Nightingale in his past relationships with a serious Messiah martyr complex, he mirrored my own tendencies. I often joked that I was messed up, just enough for his radar to pick up that I needed rescuing from an EUM. We did discuss this at length, were both striving to leave this behind, it was great that the relationship itself didn’t trigger off our respective neuroses, we related to each other as adults (while being aware of the “wounded child” in the other), there was mutual respect and appreciation, which was really precious.

  43. Sugar and Spice says:

    Great post and great comments!

    I think in the past I’ve either shared too much too soon, or decided not to share at all, and both have hurt the relationship…still working on this, but I’m finding it easier to say “none of your business.” And, when I want to share, it is a little easier….

    I will say that I’ve definitely learned that when a guy shows you who he is, you REALLY should believe him as the saying goes….

    I think that in the past I missed the red flags because I was thinking: Wow, he is really opening up to me…. I’m not going to judge him; …. It felt like real intimacy. Well, we were holding each other–all snuggled on the couch, and my head was on his chest, and he was speaking his truth, ever so softly, and he seemed remorseful, and he seemed determined to change….

    Ooopsey, I missed the part that he hadn’t changed yet…. Come to think of it, he never told me what he did to change? Oh, boy…foiled again…. :( Wait, come to think of it, I hadn’t changed either…. ;(

  44. Fedup says:

    I actually get dumped coz I apparently don’t disclose enough to people! Why Is this? I don’t feel the need to disclose my whole life story when I have just met someone. I think they should earn it.

    • Flower White says:

      @Fedup they dump you cause they can’t manipulate you they have no ammo to use for later. Smart girl!

  45. JadeSesame says:

    Will add something else here to the discussion of how much to tell, when to tell, to whom do we tell and why do we tell: I’m a bit of a sleuth and am generally interested in people’s pasts– not just the past per se, but more of how the person processes the past and to what extent it is manifested or transmuted, in the present context. Quite a lot can be gleaned about the character of the potential partner I think, in his/her own narration of ex-partners and there is a part of me that likes hearing about this, (are they spoken about with resentment? are they tarnished? Blamed entirely for the demise of the relationship?). I’d say that discretion has to be exercised both ways. In romantic relationships, the stakes and consequences seem to be higher. Too much information (and inappropriate stories) can render one an emotional pornographer, or give another party the leeway for manipulation.

  46. Autumn Rain says:

    Yep, I’ve absolutely done the oversharing thing way too early after meeting guys if we seemed to have some common ground. I am ESPECIALLY guilty of this over the past few years when I’ve dated old high school acquaintances that I’ve suddenly reconnected with on Facebook. It seemed like a fast way to bond with them but then the whole relationship became artificially on Fast Forward and just plain awkward. What’s even worse is then you have common friends and then your business ends up being exposed to mutual acquaintances when the “relationship” didn’t work out.

    Another thing that I’ve always been wondering is how and when to appropriately bring up that you have kids if you’re doing online dating? My preference is that the guys know right off the bat that I’m a single Mom and that they only know the ages and gender of my kids and leave out the details. At the same time, I’m always fishing to determine whether a guy would even consider a serious relationship down the road with single Moms in general. (I was very guilty as charged of NOT dating single Dads before I had my own kids LOL.) Otherwise, I would not even waste my time on date #1 with that person….would rather be home with the kids than waste time with someone who was just looking for a fun time. So how do you get that out of the guy without revealing your own details?

  47. Foxy Cleopatra says:

    Hookers and hillbillys..thats effin rich, NML. Serial though, this article and discussion thread have been intriguing and thought provoking. In an ironic way by NOT eagerly distributing your “baggage” and letting it get the best of you, do you get to actually reclaim it and work on being YOUR best instead.

    And that is Awesomesauce.

  48. Tulipa says:

    Sometimes it doesn’t matter when you share your history if you are with an AC.
    I had an ex ac who I shared quite a lot of my past with and it was at least a year into the relationship, if I’d known how much he would try and destroy me and all my relationships with the people involved I would have never said a word. To make it worse in his eyes my stuff was mild compared to his past so he had no empathy, nothing, just a will you get over it attitude.
    Yet every problem he pecieved me to have was because of my past. I couldn’t win.
    The next EUM came along and I didn’t say anything about my past, but something happened I can’t recall what exactly and he would not leave me alone to get some infomation out of me about my past, his questioning often ruined my mood on the date. So just to shut him up I gave him a quick run down of my past and sure enough it shut it up. I said it in a text too so the text was thank you for feeling you could share with me.
    I agree with above comments when you have dealt with issues you don’t need to talk about it. But what is not dealt with comes out somewhere in the relationship Im sure of it.
    Maybe Im just a skeptic and think most people aren’t interested in knowing your past and if they are it isn’t for your benefit anyway.

    • grace says:

      Tulipa
      Yep, we may be overthinking ourselves into a muddle. The topline data is HE IS AN AC. Whether you tell him, not tell him, tell him now, tell him later, he’s gonna be an AC. And eventually it will come out.
      There really is no point questioning whether we should do a, b or c, or analysing it all. We shouldn’t be there in the first place! In a relationship with a decent person it’s worth thinking about your contribution. But this is not the situation here. It’s like trying to hammer nails with a screwdriver – wrong tool for the job.
      I don’t think we can necessarily apply our experience with ACs to healthy relationships. We need a new toolbox. As Nat says in the post, it should be “organic”. Should I get into another relationship I’m going to trust that I’ve grown enough and will instinctively know what to do. If I feel the need to strategise that will be a warning to me.

      • Tulipa says:

        Thanks, Grace, you make a great point

        If I feel the need to strategise that will be a warning to me.
        I think I have spent my whole dating life using different strategies to get what I thought I wanted when really a relationship should just be one where natural growth occurs.
        I was unfortunately so messed up I didn’t even know anything about relationships, I didn’t even know who I was, so I was ripe for the picking.
        I will remember that if I’m making plans to stay in a relationship and using strategies I am bailing.

  49. Lessie says:

    Magnolia, Elly B and Tea Cozy,

    As some of you may have read in my posting on the previous topic, I had a terrible experience of divulging something from my past (self mutilation) to a separated EU MM I was involved with for a brief time.

    When I first told him this, he said it didn’t bother him at all, but later, as he was breaking up with me, he referred to it and said to me, making gestures to his arms, “You scare me, I don’t understand the cuttings, it bothers me” and…I was both shocked and saddened, not to mention incredibly angry that he would do this. It was such a betrayal and the physical sensation of being “hit” in the gut with this was so shocking to me, I couldn’t even stand up straight and had to sit down and catch my breath, it was absolutely horrid.

    I have also been sexually abused in my past and this has impacted my entire life, in terms of being able to really truly TRUST, both in friendships and relationships. It is something I still struggle with and do NOT reveal to most people; the few people who DO know are people that I know are worthy of this information; “worthy” meaning I know they will love and respect me and keep this information private and never use it against me and this in turn makes me value and cherish their presence in my life.

    It is such a delicate balance, learning “who” and “when” to trust. I also wish that I could cease this almost constant hyper vigilance that I have in all areas of my life, as it is very exhausting and draining. I am slowly learning to honor myself, in all ways and to give myself self love and to realize, that I AM worthy of that…and wow, it’s not easy at all but thankfully, I am starting to understand this.

    “Keep your cards close to your vest” as my grandmother would say, and I would add, “Until you feel it is safe to lay a few, at first, out on the table”…it’s a chance we all take but at least now I feel a bit more certain in doing so, or rather, not doing so, with people.

    Many hugs and good thoughts to you all and I am so glad that we can share our experiences and know that we are not alone :)

  50. Spinster says:

    This is an extreme example, but I think that it’s fitting for this topic:

    A former college roommate met a guy at a bar one night. When they met, she said that they talked for 5 hours and “We shared EVERYTHING! We had such a connection!” She slept with him in less than a week. He had a girlfriend (red flag #1). Their “connection” lasted maybe 2 months. Within that time, College Roommate wound up being diagnosed with a life-long STD. It was from him, the guy with whom she had “such a connection!”. He likely gave it to his girlfriend too.

    The only thing that has a good connection in MY life is my satellite dish to my TV provider. :-|

    Oversharing can literally put your (physical) health in danger. Don’t be like my college roommate.

    • Sugar and Spice says:

      Yes, Spinster,

      I remember that “CONNECTION” that I thought I had with two of my men…. They loved to talk and share, and we talked and shared a great deal in the beginning, and in both cases they both just wanted sex from me.

      I remember man #1 being angry when I wouldn’t give up my body after only knowing him for about a week, and man # 2 dumped me because he said he wasn’t attracted to me (We had never met in person, …online crap….).

      I ended the “friendship” with man # 1, and our alleged “emotional connection” did not get in the way of him shagging one of my co-workers about a week later, so I was happy to have dodged a bullet.

      But in the case of man #2, I was really attached to him, and I was really hurt, not because of the fact that he wasn’t physically attracted to me, but how his discovery impacted our relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for physical attraction for most people; it’s just, he threw me away licketee split, whereas I thought ok, we just won’t be lovers, but we can still be friends because that’s what I thought we were anyway, but NO, he wasn’t interested in being my friend anymore, and he took too long to offer friendship crumbs. This from a man that told me “I feel that bond between us, blah, blah, blah,” and we were both sharing our thoughts, dreams, pasts, etc, and we got along marvelously in writing, lol, but you know, I think we both fast forwarded the relationship in many ways; neither one of us was emotionally healthy…truth, we were both rebounding, and although I knew that, it just didn’t register because I was in fantasy land with my romantic prince. Ughhhhh, what a toxic mess…. :(

      I think in both cases I was sharing too much too soon because I wanted real intimacy, and so I was ok with rushing the process. Man #2 may have wanted real intimacy and real sex, lol, …. We probably were both trying to get back what we had with our ex’s from each other. Rebounding with a rebounder, not one of my finer moments,…. :)

  51. Gaby says:

    I have had some issues concerning my father who has “disappeared” on me, contact with him has been next to nothing the past 6-7 years (I’m 22).

    I talked about this to my holiday-fling MM with whom I had one week of bliss, then found out he had a girlfriend back home 8 months pregnant (this didn’t stop me from having a kind of email-relationship with the guy afterwards, hoping he would leave her) He used the information to be able to stay a “part” of my life without having to take any consequence of it. He told me that because I told him about my father, he would never be able to break up his own little family, because he saw how much pain it caused me. He told me that it would turn him into a bad person. I really don’t know how I could even question whether or not he was a good person after finding out about the pregnant girlfriend – because he is definitely not!

    Most importantly I am out of the fog now and have been NC for two months. Enjoying it! Don’t know if I would have been able to realize what a pointless, harmful I was doing to myself if it hadn’t been for BR. It really has helped me understanding my mechanisms.

  52. Artemisia says:

    On my commute work – home I sometimes hear the most intimate stories from people on their phone. It’s usually women over sharing, women telling their love problems using “right” as some sort of emphasis drives me loopy. (even if I love hearing these stories and learning from them) . People are writing so much revealing stuff on their Facebook wall, it scares me.

    I used to spill the beans quite easily on dates, too much info, I wanted to be an open book, be loved warts and all, well that was stupid and self- little indulgent. As I get older I like to be more mysterious, don’t like to make a rod for my own back and I don’t like to negate my power ( that took blood, sweat, tears and a hefty therapy bill) to be liked.

    Plus I am not the centre of the universe, many people have insecurities, some worse than mine.

  53. Story says:

    This one about perceptions and sharing really “hit home” with me. For all of my dating history(I am now taking a much-needed break, whew!), the men I dated would tell me the worst things about themselves before I was ready to hear these things. Like on the second date, or in the first month of the “relationship.” It scared me away from my first boyfriend, when I found out some of his deeper troubles(hey, I was 17 years old!)
    But then in the last relationship, I did the same thing the “boys” had done to me: put my cards on the table too soon. It didn’t scare him, because he responded with heavy cards as well, but each of us seemed to be looking for a way to outbluff the other.
    I like what Nat said about getting to know one another and learning these things “organically.” I used to think “cards on the table” was honest, but it’s not always. Sometimes it’s us looking for a way out!

  54. plumies says:

    my ex was very insucure he let me know at the beginning of the relationship , its funny now that i read this aricle i realized he was manipulated me with his insucurities. :)

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!