I can remember reading a man’s profile once and came across something that gave me pause. He answered the question “Are you an honorable person” by saying that he wasn’t an honorable person int he past but was “working on it.”
Oooooh. Dish, girlfriend. Intrigued by his “refreshing honesty” I emailed him and asked him what he meant by that statement. Of course he answered because, well, why else would he admit that in his dating profile? He said that he had cheated on pretty much every woman he’s ever dated. But he was committed to changing.
Oh. Well then.
When people make shocking admissions like this, be it in a profile or in conversation, it’s usually strategic. Sometimes they’re conscious and aware of what they are doing. Other times…not so much.
Here are some things you should reveal with caution. Or maybe not at all.
1. That one time, in band camp? - Yeah, leave those wild nights when you were in college or that time you pulled a train in the past. Sadly, thanks to advancements in technology, some young people’s bad decisions can haunt them all over the internet. The co-ed porn niche is extremely popular. Personally, it skeeves me out, because you just know those kids aren’t thinking clearly or are trusting the wrong people. Your experiences as you explored and expressed your sexuality are yours. Those choices might have made perfect sense to you and you might feel totally comfortable with them, but people will judge you. There are, of course, people out there who are not intimidated by such stories. At the very least, practice good judgment. You know what will make you sound shady or might imply that you have poor judgment. That’s the stuff you keep to yourself. You’re not obligated to share glimpses of your sexual history with your new partner. Nor do you owe anyone an explanation for your choices.
2. That you’ve been dumped/friend zoned a lot - Nobody wants to date someone that they know is constantly being tossed back into the water. You don’t want to plant seeds of doubt into anybody’s mind about your ability to function in a relationship. Nor do you want to make yourself sound unattractive. We want people who are desired by others. Remember that.
3. That a former employer was arrested/investigated/fled the country – A confession like this should come only when you and the other person have developed a baseline and a sense of each other’s character. Often times, an employee is oblivious to the shady dealings of their employer. But just as often, they are very aware of the illegal and nefarious activities that go on in that corner office.
4. That you cheated - Here’s the thing about hooking up with people with girlfriends or boyfriends. By doing so, they are telling you they don’t care what you think of them. In fact, they don’t really care about you at all most of the time. I know women LOVE to ask probing questions so that they can build faux intimacy with a man. If someone admits to infidelity or some other questionable behavior, don’t automatically assume that that kind of honesty is a positive thing. Some people are actually proud of being a douchebag.
5. That you were abused in some way- Again, this is something that should only be revealed once true intimacy and trust has been established. It sucks, but many people hear such things and immediately assume that survivor is damaged in some way. It’s a scary thing to admit, but it’s also unsettling to hear, as it makes you wonder how such abuse affected their relationship and interpersonal skills.
6. That you haven’t had a relationship in a long time - Sorry, kids, but this question is a total trap. Lie. Lie your face off if you’ve been out of a relationship for more than a couple years. Better yet, don’t ask this question. If you do, don’t judge. The new reality now, thanks to online dating, is that many if not most people have a spotty relationship history. The ‘”new normal” so to speak is to date someone for a handful of months here and there. Just because someone hasn’t been in a long term committed relationship in a few years is no longer a reflection on their ability to be in a long term relationship. Lots of people now are perfectly content with casually dating. By choice. Again, welcome to the “new normal.”
7. That you haven’t had sex in a long time – I know. You think it makes you sound discerning. But, let;s face it, people will wonder why you couldn’t get any for the last 9 months. Getting sex is far too easy nowadays. If you haven’t had sex in awhile, either you couldn’t find anybody to have sex with you, don’t have a solid sex drive, or have sexual hang ups. At least that is what many people will assume. On the same note, keep the fact that you just got laid a few recently to yourself as well. Here’s a good rule of thumb. Don’t talk about your sex life at all unless you’re in trusted company.
8. That you’re a recovering addict - We all assume, if someone says they never drink, that they are either a recovering alcoholic or a health nut. Sadly, people have preconceived ideas about recovery and sobriety and addiction. This is something you only reveal when you feel comfortable and know you won’t be shamed or judged. Always make your sobriety a priority.
9. That you’re a frequent drug or alcohol user - Keep the frequency in which you drink, smoke or take drugs to yourself. If you wouldn’t be public about that sort of thing on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t be putting it in a dating profile or revealing it to random strangers you meet.
10. That you had a messy break-up/divorce – Talk about foreshadowing. Keep any and all relationship/divorce drama off the table. Like, for good.
11. That you have a physical or mental illness of some kind – A close friend suffers from a manageable condition. He doesn’t typically tell anyone until he feels things are getting consistent or “serious.” Illness makes us appear weak. Unfortunately, many people are ignorant to most diseases and stigmas are alive and well. This is a revelation that should only come once trust and comfort is established.
12. That you’re unemployed - There are crafty ways to make it clear you are not steadily employed without telling people you don’t have a job. You can say you’re exploring a new field and are lucky to have the flexibility to do so. At our He Said/She Said event the other night, one man made it very clear would never date someone who didn’t have a job. Any job. He didn’t care if the person was supporting themselves through a savings or inheritance. They must, have. a . job. I;m not sure most people are that stringent. Though some are, apparently.