“I’ve been dating someone for a few months and really like them. When do I tell them about my sexual struggle?” When Do I Tell My Significant Other?
We received an email from one of our podcast listeners asking when it’s the right time to tell someone you’re dating about your sexual struggles. This is such an important and good question.
By way of illustration, if you were inviting someone you care about on a trip, you’d want to give them a good sense of the landscape you’d be traveling. It would be uncaring to let them think you were inviting them on an afternoon stroll in the woods when actually you were taking them backpacking for three days in the arduous wilderness.
Likewise, when two people are developing a relationship and growing closer to one another, it is important for both people to be open and honest about what they’re each bringing to the relationship.
As far as when to share about sexual struggles, these five considerations can provide some direction.
- How emotionally invested is your boyfriend/girlfriend?
The more deeply you are becoming attached to one another, the more important it is for you to discuss your sexual history (both past and present). Each step forward you take, more and more of your lives are becoming connected. So being open about this part of your life is a matter of looking out for their heart, and your own.
- Is your silence communicating a false impression?
In most cases, it would be unwise to share about it with someone when you first meet them, so silence about this part of your life is appropriate at first. But over time, this same silence can become a kind of deception. When keeping your struggle hidden is creating an impression of you in your significant other’s mind that is not wholly true, it may be time to tell them about it.
- How trustworthy is your significant other?
Your heart matters in this process too. It is reasonable to look for character qualities like kindness, gentleness, trustworthiness, and compassion before entrusting someone with sensitive parts of your life. Pray, and look for these and similar qualities to help you discern. This is not about removing all risk of getting hurt when you open up, but it is about you deciding if this is the kind of person you want to be in a long-term relationship with, and if so, it is likely time to open up about your struggles.
- Are you ready for others to know?
Just as you need help with this part of your life, your significant other will too. It would not be fair of you to ask them to carry this new information alone. They will need at least one or two trustworthy people they can share with in order to process their thoughts and feelings about what you’ve shared. If your struggle is ongoing, you will both need ongoing support—trustworthy others to provide support and wisdom, and to look out for your individual hearts through whatever comes.
- What do those you already trust think?
Romance can be intoxicating, and many of us have a hard time knowing if we’re seeing things clearly or through rose-colored glasses. Likewise, it can be scary to open up about areas of sexual struggle, and many of us have a hard time knowing if we’re being prudent or just fearful, wise or selfishly self-protective. So as you’re considering these things, talk with the people in your life who already know you well to help you answer these five questions honestly.
There are never any guarantees how someone will respond when you tell them about sins and struggles in your life, but real relationships call for people to be real with each other. Although this is risky, there really is no other way to have a healthy, close, long-term relationship. And whether the other person ends up continuing with you or pulling away, Jesus is faithful and will never leave you nor forsake you.
If we can help you along the way, we’re here to help.
Question: When do you think a person in a dating relationship should tell their significant other about their past or present sexual struggles? What other considerations did I miss that should be included here?
Want to hear more this week? Check out the latest Becoming Whole podcast; 4 Reasons to Open Up About Your Sexual Past
Very good information to better decide direction
I think a sexual sin or struggle should be discussed if it is affecting intimacy in a relationship, even if both parties have decided to wait for sexual intimacy with each other. If one is (for example) looking at porn, and the other is being patient and waiting, it’s going to cause a rift eventually and tear each other apart.
I am impressed with your honesty. We all have secrets but when we find ourselves becoming deeply involved with another human being and we know that they also are becoming involved with us, it is definitely time to take the risk of telling them your secrets. Thank you Josh.