by Dr. Randy Gilchrist, LDS Psychologist
www.LDSdimension.com (FREE LDS online dating site)
Most LDS singles come to a new relationship having had some kind of notable challenge, pain, trauma, or trouble in life. Some may have involved their own poor choices, whereas other troubles involved being victimized by the abusive or neglectful treatment of others. Such choices may have involved abuse, sexual indiscretions, or addictions. Still others have simply had problems or struggles that didn't involve poor choices, but just involved extreme challenges or hardships in life, such as medical, parenting, or financial problems. Whatever combination of background "baggage", or "issues" a person brings to the table, an unavoidable challenge is deciding how when to disclose this baggage to a new significant other, and to what degree.
Rules of Thumb:
Whether or not you will disclose a sensitive element of your past (or present) is a very individual choice that often there will be no clear answer, just a judgment call. To assist you in your decision of what to disclose, when, and to what extent, these rules of thumb can help guide you in your decision:
*How much detail of my past is useful and helpful to share? (Usually, less is more: stay more general).
*Why (if at all) does the other person "deserve" or "need to know" this information? (Often they don't).
*If they don't know this information, why if at all will it matter? (Again, often, it won't).
*How much of my issues/problems are really in the past or are still going on right now? (If fully in the past, why is there a need to bring it up now?).
*How likely are my old problems to resurface in the present and future? (If not, why bring it up?).
*Have I already gone through a complete and thorough repentance process with my issues (as needed)? (If complete, why would you then also need to disclose it to this potential or new dating partner?).
*Would opening up about this issue be more because it would helpful and informative to myself or them? Said another way, would it hurt them too much, even if it would feel good personally to get it off my chest?
*Honestly, is it any of their business?
*What would I be hoping to make happen by disclosing this information to the other?
*Taking all of these factors into account, would disclosing this information (at this time to a certain degree) be more helpful and useful, or be more upsetting and problematic?
If, taking all of those factors into account, it seems that disclosing certain information to a certain degree would cause too much upset and problems, then lessen or eliminate disclosing your sensitive information. Conversely, if disclosing certain information to a certain degree would helpful and useful enough to be worth it, then disclose. When a correct decision to disclose has been made, the person hearing (or not hearing) the sensitive information will reveal with their reaction whether the decision to disclose was in fact useful and helpful enough, or not. If not, and if disclosing certain information causes excessive pain, problems, or burden, working through this reaction may require self-help, a consult with a bishop, and/or professional counseling/psychotherapy. All you can do is to make the best choice you can and then make the best of the outcome. And it is worth it.
Because "…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11).
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to email@example.com).