When is the right time to share one’s baggage with a girlfriend or spouse?
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I believe I set a record for the all time shortest first (blind) date in recorded history. I picked up my date and we were on our way to go out to eat. Four minutes later I was turning my car around and bringing her back. She was furious with me.
What did I do to make her so angry? Did I insult her in anyway? Au contraire, I was nothing but complimentary to her. What did I do? Why I spent about thirty seconds ragging on myself, of course. “Bad boyfriend material” were the words that came out of my mouth that bothered her most.
What’s my point here? No, I’m not actually looking to get into Guinness for the world’s shortest date, nor am I trying to get in for the most boorish, inappropriate or inane first date behavior either. My point is I have this dilemma – when is it appropriate, or morally necessary, to share one’s baggage, issues, or faults with a girlfriend or spouse?
My confusion over the issue is only compounded by the fact that sometimes I actually listen to women to try and figure out what is the right thing to do based what they say. For example, in talking to my date on the phone before we went out she shared that 1) her husband of many years was abusive (which he wasn’t at first) and 2) she went out with a man for a year before she discovered he was an alcoholic. That, she said, was a “deal breaker.”
And in talking to other married women (or women in long term relationships) the top complaint they have is “My husband (or boyfriend) isn’t the man he was when I first met him. He’s isn't romantic anymore, he's less considerate; he gets angry with me easily, he's a control freak…” They accuse their husbands of pulling the old bait and switch. Invariably, I’m finding divorced women, or women whose long term relationships have ended badly, are extremely bitter about the time, money, support and love they wasted on their deceitful men. My ex-wife says that I pulled the old bait-and-switch too when we got married. She says I became very unaffectionate over time.
I don’t want to go down this road again. I don't want to add to my list of growing sins that I wasted a portion of another woman's life by misrepresenting myself initially to her, and so I'm trying as best as possible to be up front with potential girlfriends regarding my issues. Yet, I’m finding out that in trying to be honest with women right away with any potential snags...well that doesn't really work either. Either they don’t want to hear, or be warned, about any issues I have, or they thank me for my candidness as they exit stage left. It seems what they want is for a man to be perfect and issue free right from the get-go, and then also remain perfect and issue free for the duration of their romantic involvement. Is that too much to ask?
What I want is to be able to tell of all my faults, issues and baggage to a potential girlfriend right away. I want said woman to accept all of these things unconditionally and completely, thereby absolving me of any guilt when future infractions occur. And then down the road, if my girlfriend has the audacity to complain about my bad behavior she was forewarned about, I want to be able to tell her, “I told you so” with sickening smugness. Is that too much to ask?
I know; this does seem to be a little too much to expect, and so I’m still wrestling with all this. Anyway, I came up with a Top Ten list of times a guy could reveal his baggage to a girlfriend (or potential girlfriend) or wife. Get back to me with what you think is the best one and I'll tabulate the results. "Enjoy.”
Top Ten Best Times to Reveal your Faults to a Girlfriend or Wife.
10) Don’t plan it out - let her discover them as they occur. Surprise!
9) Right after you’ve had sex.
8) Apparently not seconds into your first date.
7) If it’s by text, anytime will do nicely.
6) By the baggage carousel at the airport. It makes for a nice segue.
5) Right after you’ve had sex for the first time.
4) While the ink is still drying on your marriage certificate OR,
3) You can ad lib them into your wedding vows (Ex: In sickness and in mental sickness).
2) No need to do the doctor’s job for him, let him inform her what she got from you.
1) If your license is suspended you could tell her as you hit her up for a ride to your AA meeting.
I asked a friend of mine when her husband shared his baggage with her. She said he shared it on their third date and she approved of his timing; it wasn’t too soon and it wasn’t too late. So that’s what I think I’m going to do; I'm going hold off a while before I tell a woman I just met I wear women's underwear, lick the toilet seats in Wal-Mart and such, but let me tell you when that third date rolls around, it's going to be a long one.
It's funny because just the other day I was listening to a woman who was complaining her husband isn't the man she married. Who was this woman? Why it's the friend I just mentioned whose husband shared his baggage on their third date. Hmmm, isn't that interesting?
Do me a favor and let me run this by you; I have mocked up a scenario of a possible third date where I share my issues with a potential girlfriend. Tell me what you think of it, because if you like it I'm going to use it. Here goes.
"...so in WWII when the Polish soldiers threw their grenades at them, the German soldiers pulled the pins out and threw them back. Mind if I change the subject?" I ask.
"Please do," replies my lovely date.
"I know you're already unconsciously beginning to fall in love with me, but let me warn you - some time down the road you're going to realize I'm not the same charming, attentive, affirming and effervescent man you see before you."
"Well because right now I'm very happy, for one."
"Fair enough. Actually that reminds me of something I want to share with you. I'm really enjoying your companionship and, if all goes well, after a few more dates you're going to score. We're going to have a pretty good sex life for quite a while, but eventually that's going to drop off almost completely."
"Why?" I reply.
"Well, you aren't going to be the same charming, attentive, affirming, and effervescent man I see before me, of course."
"Touche, well put."
"It's all a vicious cycle, you know?"
"I'm not following you," I say.
"The whole affection and sex thing. The less affectionate you are with me, the less I'm going to feel like having sex with you. As I begin to reject you sexually more, the more your resentment of me you're going to increase. That's only going to make you even less affectionate towards me. Round and round it goes. You get it?"
"I do. That's an interesting behavioral insight. You're so smart. Hey, how's your food by the way?"
"Delicious, thanks for asking. How's your meal."
"It's OK, but what I'm really enjoying most is the beautiful view."
"Really? You made me sit over here just so that I could have window seat and see the river. All you can see is the wall."
"Ummm, not exactly. All I can see is the wall and you. It's an absolutely gorgeous view, way better than yours."
"Awww, thank you. You are being so sweet and romantic with me tonight."
"Enjoy it while it lasts."
audra_branson wrote a very nice review of this piece, and she noted that "during sex" might also be a very appropriate time to share one's issues with a paramour. Anyway, I thought this such a brilliant suggestion/addition to list, I've made note of it down here. There you go dear readers, now you have a bonus #11 to use. Hmmm, maybe it's new #1 suggestion. Just watch your timing if you utilize it, as it may be your last time.