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Are You Wondering When To Reveal Your Sexual Secrets?

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Are You Wondering When To Reveal Your Sexual Secrets?

All of us have secrets. And sexual secrets may be the hardest to reveal. Whether it’s talking about a particular act you love or revealing that you have an STD, talking about sex too early can be problematic.

And, an STD is one of the trickiest secrets of all.  As “Cleo” wrote me, “I’ve got a sexually transmitted disease.  It’s not life threatening, but it’s not curable either.  I just began dating someone I really like.  I don’t want to scare “Mark” away, but I also don’t want him to feel I’ve kept a secret from him.   I’m so confused about timing.”

Share your Secret too soon, and you’re eliminating candidates who are worthwhile; present it too late, and they’re eliminating you.

What to do?

Hold off on the nookie until you’ve had The Talk:

In a survey I conducted, respondents’ top advice  was ix-nay on the ex-say until after Cleo told Mark about her STI.  It’s the right thing to do—and it’s the law.

In my survey, folks said abstinence-until-disclosure was their #1 strategy.  It worked:  Not one of them was dumped for disclosing their secret.  I suspect it might be related to their second most-common advice:

No telling until you actually know each other (non-Biblically):

Wait to reveal all until you know your partner well, feel a connection, and see that the relationship is trending serious or exclusive.

Timing disclosure to match the actual level of intimacy and commitment protects your emotions–and you’re worth protecting.  

Abundant science proves that having sex too soon tends to short-circuit men’s bonding apparatus.  But whether you’re male or female, telling everything too soon, even without sex first, can make folks head for the hills.  So wait until you’re both in love, or at least heading that way.

Put your best foot forward:

Why can’t you just tell all immediately?  Because as many experiments show, humans are judge-y.  Our judgments are unconscious and rapid, and we especially hang onto what we learn first and worst.  It’s basic to human thinking.

So if Mark knows Cleo is funny, kind, warm, and beautiful, he’s wowed.  But add just one negative adjective—“herpes-positive”—and he’s cowed.  And the sooner the secret adjective appears, the more damaging for her rep.  Mark simply does not know enough about her yet for the good to outweigh that (or perhaps any) one secret.

Ultimately, we seek someone whose truth melds with ours.  It’s important to share our secrets at a time and pace that work for us.  Because love isn’t just for those without a past.  And we’re all more than the secrets we keep.

Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do, releasing on January 7, 2015.  You can get a free chapter and see more at http://www.lovefactually.co

Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do, coming in January, 2015. She also contributes at Psychology Today and teaches psychology at Austin-area universities. Get a free chapter of Love Factually!

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