Dear Joan Actually,
I am a month in with a really nice woman. I am excited because in addition to having tons of fun on our dates she is trusting me with info that is a little more serious too. During our last date she told me about her brother and his bout with depression—and that he saw a shrink. Lots of people get therapy for lots of reasons, and I feel like I need to tell her that I saw a shrink after my last breakup. What do I do? I don’t want her to think I AM crazy or that I WAS crazy. The truth is I saw the psychiatrist because I was dealing with some baggage from a women who mistreated me. I was also prescribed some medicine (anti-depressants) to help me cope. I still take the meds, and I’m in a much better place now. I think I should bring this up. When is the best time?
Ahh to tell or not to tell? Divulging your personal details is tricky, because you risk opening yourself up to judgment or criticism. There is one way to mitigate the risk, though: establish trust before sharing your personal details.
As for the right time to discuss, Robert Weiss, LCSW and published relationship author, recommends taking it slow. “Openness and honesty go a long way, but don’t rush to discuss your personal issues,” says Robert. “Bringing up your therapy right away may cause the other person to think you have major issues or that you are looking for sympathy or a rescue.” Although you are simply trying to share and build intimacy, the other person won’t know this until you know each other better. “If you’ve had several dates and the person is beginning to feel important to you, that that’s probably the right time to stop keeping secrets,” says Robert.
If you’re thinking of avoiding the subject altogether, Robert advises you to reconsider: “I would definitely not wait until you are already a committed couple before springing this information. Not telling the other person at all (perhaps because you are keeping secrets to “look good”) does not bode well for the long-term health of your relationship.”
When you are ready to have a conversation about serious things, let your date’s body language help you determine how much or how little to say. If your date is fidgeting or avoiding eye contact, a high level summary should suffice. If your date is asking questions and trying to understand, you have the green light to provide more details. Like all serious conversations, your partner’s response will shape the way you grow together and, as Robert adds, “seeing how this deeply personal information is received will tell you a lot about who you are dating and what that person is really like.”