If He Loves Me, Why Is He Withholding Personal Information?

If He Loves Me, Why Is He Withholding Personal Information?

Firstly, thanks for all the great advice. I find every newsletter and blog you write very helpful. I do have quite a unique problem at the moment that I hope you can assist me with. I have been seeing this man that I met on a dating site for a month now. He is an excellent father, successful businessman and to be honest, quite a looker. He’s also very attentive and romantic towards me….I think mostly because I am feminine and true to myself. We seem to “fit” in every single aspect of life and when we are together it is calm and tranquil, as well as exciting. We decided together to take things slow. We developed a plan which entails: Step 1: exclusive dating, Step 2: committed relationship, Step 3: integrating of our households, Step 4: engagement and Step 5: Marriage.

Now since then, we have both deleted our online profiles and we have been spending as much time together as possible. It has been really great! This past weekend, however, he had plans with friends for a birthday party that he had made before he met me and it was at a venue that was pre booked. This implies that he could not take me which was not a problem, except that he didn’t tell me prior to the evening. So he went out, had a good time and called me the next day. I reacted by allowing him his time alone and being sweet to him when he called…then we spent the rest of the weekend together. However, he left me at home while going to a meeting and while I was brushing my teeth I came across some very strong depression medication. I noticed also that apart from being the perfect “boyfriend” to me, he does have a tendency to forget certain things I’ve told him.

He is already including me and my children in all of his plans and talking about the future all the time…he has however, not told me about his depression and as I said, he sometimes forgets important details I’ve told him. He is quite busy at work and, I have spent evenings with him when he was working at home and seen first-hand the workload and pressure it puts him under, especially since he’s raising his children alone and doing an excellent job.

My question is, can his depression cause these lapses in memory, and do you think he is scared of telling me about it in fear of losing me? He has told me very deep secrets and I could actually “feel” his relief when I told him that I liked him for who he is now and not what he had done before.

You’ve got the cart way before the horse. In fact, I’m not even sure you have a horse.

I hope you can shed some light on this for me. I don’t want to overreact and lose him but at the same time, I don’t want to stay with someone who is going to lie to me…although, I don’t know how someone can “fake” this kind of attentiveness and commitment.


So many questions, so little space. Since I’ve been writing for four hours today, I’m going to give you the bullet point version of my normally flowing prose.

1. You’ve been dating for a month — and you already have a five-step plan that leads to marriage? How about you watch Casablanca together, plan a four-day getaway to Cabo or try a different sexual position?

You’ve got the cart way before the horse. In fact, I’m not even sure you have a horse.

2. You’ve deleted your online profiles. You’re spending a lot of time together. This means you have a boyfriend. It also means you have TWO TO THREE YEARS to figure out whether marriage is right for you.

Seriously, give yourself a break and try to enjoy the moment, instead of obsessing about the future.

3. He takes medication for depression. He didn’t tell you. Yeah, that’s not one of the things that I suggest people blurt out on date 1, 2, or 3. Confessions like this are for already-established relationships where both parties are already bought in and can withstand a dose of this kind of truth. But since you were already out tasting wedding cakes, I suppose that one month in is long enough for him to keep a secret.

You really have to just take a deep breath and participate in the relationship instead of trying to negotiate a future.

Does he know that you know about his depression? If not, you should tell him you know. He should be allowed to keep secrets until he’s ready, but since you have discovered the truth, you might as well come clean and use this as an opportunity to get closer. Unless, of course, “I came across his medication” is code for “I looked through his medicine cabinet and read the labels out of insatiable curiosity.”

4. Yes, depression (and probably depression medication) can cause lapses in memory, but that’s neither here nor there. You think he forgot to tell you about this party; I think he had plans from before he met you and he decided to go without you. That doesn’t mean he’s memory impaired. Nor does it mean that he’s “faking” his attentiveness. It means that he’s human, he’s got shit to do, and he either forgot or didn’t care.

So you really have to just take a deep breath and participate in the relationship instead of trying to negotiate a future.

Time will tell if you are meant to be married for the rest of your lives. But if you keep snooping on his stuff, and questioning where this relationship is headed, I predict that he will conclude on his own that you’re incompatible — and it might not even take the rest of the month.

For the rest of you, be sure and come back tomorrow to take advantage of my 5th anniversary special offer: $1000 of dating coaching for $1!

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  1. 1
    Karl R

    Ronelda said: (original letter)
    “We decided together to take things slow.”
    If you’re taking things slow, you have plenty of time to wait and see how things transpire. You don’t need to make any hasty decisions.
    When I was dating, I had decided that I was in no rush. Therefore, I decided that I had the luxury of staying in a relationship for a few months even if it seemed rather uncertain.
    Ronelda asked:  (original letter)
    “My question is, can his depression cause these lapses in memory”
    Yes. Three of the seven most common causes of forgetfulness are medication (including some antidepressants), depression and stress.
    Ronelda asked:  (original letter)
    “do you think he is scared of telling me about it in fear of losing me?”
    More likely, he’s waiting until you know each other well enough. I dated a woman who suffered from moderate to severe depression, and she waited a while to tell me about it. (I forget how long.) People with normal boundaries don’t spill all their secrets immediately. They wait until they know you better.
    But I agree with Evan. As long as you stumbled across the medication by accident (and not by snooping), you can mention that you ran across it.

  2. 2

    Ronelda, taking anti-depressants is not a crime.  
    It’s not the sort of thing you would tell a woman first thing, is it? Consider this, I had a gynaecological problem – would I tell a man that on a first date? How would he have perceived this? That I had medical issues – that I was ill??
    Would you like a man to know all your medical stuff early on?
    Just take it slowly.   He may spontaneously talk about it.

  3. 4
    Lucy Van Pelt

    Going way too fast, and that contributes why she is concerned.   Can you imagine in a normally paced relationship if one of the dating partners would be upset that she was being left at home while he went to a pre-dating arranged party four weeks after the first date?

    Yes, she is upset, or she would not have mentioned it and then written in some detail her rationalization:

    had plans with friends for a birthday party that he had made before he met me and it was at a venue that was pre booked. This implies that he could not take me which was not a problem.”  

    Implies?   So this was a conclusion she drew on her own and he did not explicitly say, yet it is a central part of her explaining this event. She did not talk to him about this and thought about “why” until she came up with an explanation that suited her.

    Now, I don’t think his going or not mentioning it earlier is a big deal;   he might not have mentioned it because he felt badly about not being able to take her and did not want to face it. He might have forgotten. Her level of concern IS a problem and that she has not felt comfortable resolving it with him is a problem too.

    Evan is spot on about the depression thing, and again the OP is worried about something way too soon.  

    It is hard to say if the OP is jumpy in general or if her fears are a consequence of a fast moving relationship without enough time apart from her partner to process, digest and develop internal comfort with where the relationship is as it deepens each week.

    There may be the nugget of a strong relationship here, however if steps are not taken to increase the OPs comfort, either by slowing things down and/or some serious one on one talks, maybe with a counselor if that does not feel safe (how crazy is that in a 1 monther? Still, in a relationship where one person is fearful, communication is not complete and the fearful person does not appear comfortable with direct communication is when you go to a third party for help.)

    This relationship can be salvaged, but is heading for a rocky and possibly terminal period.

  4. 5

    Dear Letter Writer, I’m all for being purposeful in dating, so I find essential to make sure that both parties are on the same page early on, and paying attention to important data points early on is very wise.
    But! Creating a 5-step plan after ONE month? Being anxious about not being invited to join at a party after ONE month? Involving your children after ONE month? And expecting knowing all about his vulnerabilities after ONE month? If this is your definition of going slow, I’m wondering how things would look like if you were trying to go fast!
    Letter Writer, please realize that you’re under the High Chemistry Spell. Enjoy it, but remember: When it looks too good to be true, it usually is. Do not assume that you’re going to reach Step 5 with this man for sure. As you can see, the truth is only starting to come out.
    Regarding your concern about him not having talked about his depression yet, I’d find perfectly reasonnable to get more relationship time under one’s belt before sharing most sensitive information. However, I’d say that by 6 months, all potential deal-breakers should have been revealed. Now you have two options: 1. either you ask about it and observe how he reacts/discusses it, or 2. you do nothing and simply wait until he feels comfortable sharing the information. For the longer-term, you’ll have to evaluate how he functions in life with his mental health challenge, and make a decision about whether you can live (and have your children live) with someone clinically depressed.
    There is a way to be purposeful while also letting the relationship develop organically. You can encourage progress, but it’s unwise to force it.

  5. 6

    Yeah, this sounds like a recipe for disaster. You don’t get married because you turn a certain age and just get married. It sounds like you only care about your goal. I would step back a bit and just enjoy being in the moment.

  6. 7
    Karl S

    I was in a serious relationship with a girl who used to notice every time I forgot something she told me. She actually convinced me I had some kind of attention disorder – something nobody else thought I had. It became a source of anxiety and guilt for me just because I wasn’t retaining every little piece of info that was related to me.

    I don’t know the extent of your partner’s forgetfulness, but if it’s only an occasional thing I wouldn’t worry about it.

  7. 8

    @Karl S,
    your post reminded me of a time my (male) best friend was dating this all-around unappealing woman (well, he wasn’t really “dating” her, she just wouldn’t leave him alone, and he was too polite to decline her advances), and when seeing his lukewarm reaction she didn’t take it personally, oh no. She decided he must have Asperger’s – since obviously that’s the only possible explanation why a guy might not be crazy about her.
    Anyway, this OP sounds exhausting. I was cringing when reading this letter. The amount of effort and investment she expects from the poor guy after only a month would have set me running in the opposite direction if it were me. The only advice that can be given here is something along the lines of “earth to Ronelda”, but alas, we all know it will not be heard.

  8. 9

    Wow, I wish these were the only flaws I ever had to worry about in a man. He went to a party on his own and forgot to tell you?
    He takes medication for depression and hasn’t told you about it yet?
    My mind hurts when I think of all the obsessing and overthinking this woman must have done in the last month to be worrying and writing to Evan, despite her resolution to “take it slow”.
    A month is hardly any time at all! Wow! Let things unfold. Give it time, give it space. You’ll be so much happier.

  9. 10

    “I don’t want to overreact and lose him but at the same time, I don’t want to stay with someone who is going to lie to me…
    I don’t see where he’s lying. He didn’t tell you about an event he’d been invited to before you met. So? My guess is he didn’t think it was that important, given he’s only known you a month, and given he spent the rest of the weekend with you. What makes you think he’s lying?
    He hasn’t yet told you he takes depression meds. Again, he’s only known you a month. Mental/emotional conditions still carry a stigma for some people and  those who have them are often reluctant to discuss them with people they don’t know well for that reason.   When you found his medication while brushing teeth, why didn’t you just ask him about it matter-of-factly when he returned from  his meeting? What are YOU afraid of?
    I believe relationships set their own pace. Some move faster than others. But having a 5 Step Plan with someone you didn’t even know a month ago strikes me as bizaare. What’s the rush?   You’ve had a great few weeks getting to know each other, hopefully that will continue. I think you might be letting your expectations – and accompaning anxieties – get the better of you. Try to reign them in lest you self-sabotage this relationship. If the two of you aren’t a match after all you will find that out soon enough.

  10. 11

    In my friendship group it takes a few months before partners start turning up regularly at gatherings. From the letter it sounds like you feel you had a “right” to be there. Yet you’ve only been there for all of a new York minute.   

  11. 12

    The most glaring problem I see with this is the fact that he is looking for someone else to help raise his kids with.   Even if you were to get married to this man, there needs to be more conversation about the practical side of this. It’s a little weird to play family only after a month…caution is needed.   There must be a reason why he is rushing so much.

  12. 13
    Peter 62

    Engagements were a good idea.   The minimum recommended time was one year.   If he is as committed as you to the chemical buzz, then drop the idea of engagement into the conversation.   I fyo don’t think that you can then it’s way too soon to worry about his lapses of memory which may just be about a stressful high pressure life.   A man with depression may find interest shown by a women to be overwhelming positive.   He may be hitting the accelerator too fast as well.   OTOH, I have seen people bind to each other the first time they met (had sex together within the hour) and they are still together 40 years later, happy as far as I can tell.   That is nt a common story which is why you need a coach.

  13. 14

    Peter 62 post 13 – I think that’s a good point to make that a man who has depression might show interest in a woman too soon.  
    THAT, Rinalda, is well worth thinking about.   Certainly engagements were a fabulous idea – if you can wait a while for the engagement to see how you feel, then marriage is built on a solid base.

  14. 15

    Peter @62: good point.   I have struggled with depression and was rejected by several women for coming on too strong too fast. If I were Rinalda, I would be wondering why I LIKE a guy coming on so strong so fast.   Am I insecure?  Trying to find a father figure for my kids?   Trying to find someone to help with the bills?   Exhausted by the demands of being a single mom?   Maybe  this guy is totally amazing and  she wants to tie him down ASAP.   But if he really is so  amazing, why is HE willing to be tied down so fast?  

  15. 16

    Agree with Judy and Scott- when a person is making future plans and committments soon it is a guarantee that they aren’t committing to *you*, cause they don’t know you. They often have an image in their head that they believe you fit but watch out if you find, after some time, that you don’t. Try to enjoy the getting to know you process without pressure- easier said than done, but quite worth it.

  16. 17

    Sounds like this man is stressed out by the demands of his job and single parenting, and is looking for someone to help him out. Perhaps those challenges are contributing to his depression and forgetfulness? Maybe the OP has similar life stresses. But you can’t rush getting to know someone. Not only that, but kids are involved as well, and combining two families is complicated. Developing some 5-step “plan” is no guarantee of compatibility or even real commitment. At this stage, it’s probably a sign of neediness more than anything else.

  17. 18

    From what I know, antidepression medication influences a man’s libido, the effect ranging  from lack of desire to inability to orgasm, depending on the person and the medication.
    So, the OP’s concern is not  unfounded.

  18. 19

    Kiki 18 – yes, if all you want from the man is sex, which is fine, but maybe, the lady wants other things too in a relationship? And, of course, him too.

  19. 20

    depression and the effect of it (including the side effects of the medication) are potentially a huge problem if you are trying to have a relationship with someone.  
    The OP is very right to be concerned at one month, before she is heavily invested with him.

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