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Why I don’t believe in divulging too much about my past when dating

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Cerith Gardiner - published on 03/12/23

Some people want to share every sordid detail of their previous relationships, but here's why I won't.

The beginnings of a new relationship are very exciting: Getting to know that special someone, and envisioning a possible life together. But recently I’ve questioned what intricate details of our past lives a new couple should share with each other — and when.

After discussing this topic with friends, I came to the conclusion that in a culture where many of us readily share the minutiae of our daily lives for all to see, a little bit of mystery is not such a bad thing. Let me explain…

After many experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today, I’ve returned to the dating scene in my late 40s. Do I like all the aspects of my past? Absolutely not. Would I want to share all the details with someone I’d like to forge a future with? Again, that’s a no.

It’s not that I’m trying to conceal my past — it’s really not that interesting. But I’d like to build a relationship based on the person I am today, and more importantly, the person I’m trying to be. And maybe the person I’m dating, with his own sordid past, might feel the same way.

Now, it’s not a question of lying, or even being economical with the truth. It’s more a desire to leave past miseries behind and to be careful about how quickly to share them. After all, if someone asked me what went wrong with a previous relationship, it would be so easy to give my version of events, even years after the facts. And what I might interpret as being the reason for the breakup, could possibly just be a contributing factor, and perhaps my memory has brushed over, or is unaware of, the real causes.

Having experienced painful breakups, there are definitely red flags that I would look out for in the early stages of a relationship. But if we have our wits about us, it’s quite easy to discern if someone is a good parent, is genuinely kind, is respectful of others, etc.

And this is where I’m letting my age and experience take over. I want to focus on what two people, with their own sets of “baggage” (although I do hate that term), can create. And then, in time, sharing details of our past that may help us move forward as a couple.

I appreciate that my approach may differ vastly to other people’s, but it’s one I feel is built on respect — respect for past relationships, respect for my children, and respect for myself.

And of course there’s my Christian education that reminds me that we’re called to forgive, and to forgive ourselves, to have faith in God that He’ll lead us on the path we’re meant to be on. So perhaps that’s what allows me to consider that our histories are something to move on from, with hope and forgiveness in our hearts.

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