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.

  20. 21

    Kiki 20 – you said it “potentially”.  She has only known him a month.  I think I’d wait a while before jumping to conclusions.
    What if he is now better? What help is it to her if he has to dig into his past with her? (Unless it is relevant to their future?)

  21. 22

    The OP appears to be concerned with the fact that he hasn’t told her about the anti-depressants, and not because of the potential impact on her sex life.  In reality, what kind of medicine he’s taking is none of her business after only one month.

  22. 23

    As I comprehend the situation, both of you have children from prior relationships, he’s going to be the main breadwinner and you will be the traditional ‘housewife’. You appear to be concerned about why he did not disclose that he is depressed and is taking medication and worry this could be the tip of an iceberg. You also seem to be somewhat annoyed that he did not tell you about this party that you weren’t invited to.
    Since you said” I don’t want to stay with someone who is going to lie to me…” and NOT “how can I help him with his depression…”,
    please allow me the indulgence to flip the tables and ask whether you or your children have any chronic medical conditions that are difficult and/or expensive to treat? If so, have you disclosed this to him, and if not, why are you expecting him to do something that you are not willing to do yourself?
    Also allow me to ask you, in your ideal world, when should he have disclosed this to you? And suppose he did disclose this within the first three dates, would you with all honesty given him a chance to learn more about him?
    If you want honesty with men then first you must encourage and reward truth-telling even if he tells you something you don’t necessarily want to hear. This does sound obvious, but quite a few commentators here have difficulty accepting the premise that men react and respond to (dis)/incentives for certain behavior. The same goes with the party, if he told you about the invite like you wanted him to beforehand, would you with all sincerity be happy about this or would you have told him, ‘fine’? Seeing he’s had prior relationships before, I wouldn’t blame him one bit.
    Unless your ex-husband/baby daddy had uncontrolled mental conditions that contributed to the demise of your prior relationship, I doubt he is maliciously deceiving you. In the current legal climate, a man in his situation has far more to lose than you do. The fact that even though he’s been burnt before, and yet he allowed you to stay in his house so soon proves he thinks you are very special indeed to him.
    If you have taken up on Evan’s $1 deal, I strongly urge you to have a good talk with him about what were the factors that lead to your demise of your prior marriage and what you can do to try and not allow history to repeat itself.

  23. 24

    @FormerNiceGuy 23
    “If you want honesty with men you need to first encourage and reward truth-telling?” Really? I would think that truth telling is the default mode of decent people, both men and women.

  24. 25
    Karl R

    Kiki said: (#24)
    “I would think that truth telling is the default mode of decent people, both men and women.”
    You might want to read this study:
    According to the study, 60% of the people lied at least once during a 10 minute conversation. The quantity of lying did not differ between men and women, though the content did.
    People lie a lot more than anyone realizes … including the people telling the lies.
    Quoting the researcher:
    “We teach our children that honesty is the best policy, but we also tell them it’s polite to pretend they like a birthday gift they’ve been given. Kids get a very mixed message regarding the practical aspects of lying, and it has an impact on how they behave as adults.”
    Telling the truth can have negative consequences. We learn that as children and have it reinforced throughout our lives.
    Ronelda said: (original letter)
    “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.”
    At some point this boyfriend is going to lie to Ronelda. He probably has already. At some point Ronelda is going to lie to this boyfriend. She probably has already. If one lie is a deal-breaker, Ronelda should just give up on relationships.
    Even more problematic, the boyfriend didn’t lie to her about his depression/medication. He just kept his mouth shut.
    I’ve seen a lot of conflicts start because one person accuses another of lying, and that person didn’t actually lie. The person may have forgotten to mention something. The person may have deliberately chosen to remain silent on a particular topic. The person may have just been mistaken when they made a statement.
    Not only has Ronelda expressed a zero-tolerance of lying, she’s also willing to call privacy (and perhaps forgetfulness/mistakes) lying as well. Unless she can change her attitude, she’s screwed.
    FormerNiceGuy said: (#23)
    “If you want honesty with men then first you must encourage and reward truth-telling even if he tells you something you don’t necessarily want to hear.”
    The burden is not necessarily on the woman in this case.
    If my wife asks me a question, she’s going to get a truthful answer. She didn’t have to convince me that it was going to be rewarded before I started telling her the truth. I told her the truth from the start … which allowed me to discover whether she was the kind of person who preferred hearing the truth more than lies.
    I don’t necessarily offer unsolicited opinions (particularly if they’re negative), but I don’t feel like I have to lie in order to keep peace in the relationship.
    Try starting your relationships by telling the truth. It will allow you to weed out the women who require a steady stream of lies.

  25. 26

    Karl R,
    I agree with your assessment of honesty.  Is complete honesty still right if it will needlessly hurt someone’s feelings? If it will get someone into trouble who is just having a really bad day? If the other person doesn’t have a right to the information?
    I think most of us start off by telling the truth, but quickly find that in a number of grey-area situations, it isn’t always the best policy. Where someone reacts out of all proportion to the situation and it causes negative consequences for others, we learn to be circumspect.  Many of us tell lies quite often, with not impure motives. Much depends on the ability of the other person to handle the truth, and also on the weightiness of the situation.

  26. 27

    @ Karl 25 & others
    I think we’ve got to really define what we mean by truth and lying first. Here’s my take on it. If I ask your opinion directly, I expect to hear the truth. If I don’t ask, and what you say isn’t going to be productive or helpful, you may want to keep your opinion to yourself. It’s your subjective opinion that may be far from the objective truth anyway, so why would I want to know? If you have information that will affect me and my close ones, I need to know that thing. (IMO Ronelda’s man’s antidepressant use falls into this category if they’re in a serious relationship.)
    Here’s my pet peeve: if you’re not happy or satisfied with something in our relationship, bring it up. Don’t keep quiet about it, and definitely don’t tell me that everything is great, when you think it’s not. I gave my husband plenty of warning before I hired a divorce lawyer and moved out. (Of course, he still told all mutual friends it was “out of the blue”.) My recent bf gave me zero warning. Everything was fine, everything was great, then one day he comes to a date night with all my things from his apartment packed in a bag, surprise! I did not appreciate it. That’s not how I operate in relationships. I understand that each of us had a right to end things at any minute for any reason, or no reason, but personally I wouldn’t respect myself if I did that to my SO.

  27. 28

    Karl 25 – yes I’ve also seen (and experienced) difficulties when I have not told all about myself. 
    Time will tell.  Today, a woman opened up to me about a serious problem in her marriage.  We’ve known each other easily 2 years. 
    Isn’t it more about timing?
    I find it a dignity issue too.  If someone asked me if I was taking anti-depressants, if I’d been AIDS tested etc. too early on in the relationship, the relationship would not take off at all.
    It’s invasive for some people to ask too many questions.  For other persons, it is exciting.  It’s knowing which category you belong to that you have to find out.  OR????

  28. 29
    Peter 61

    We are all sinners and sinned against. If we started our relationships with a list of our failings and problems who would ever engage with another human being. There is a time and place for revaluation.  The harshness with which some of those present judge mere internet profiles suggests that falling away from perfect physical and psychological health would condemn the faller to total rejection.  All in good time. See the balanced person, not just the red flags. 

  29. 30

    @ Goldie 27
    Agree with every word you say 100%. I would add that if you give me your opinion on something (like does my ass look big in this dress), I don’t bother to think whether you are honest or not. It is what you say that matters and what you think in your head is your separate sacred right. But when I ask about factual information (like did you pay a bill) I expect to hear the truth.
    When someone is consistently hiding the truth (and here he/she may be not actively liying, but rather omitting important information) you have no way to know their truth and no way to respond adequately. Or, you are responding to false information. Nothing good comes out of that.

    Also, consistently telling and receiving the truth is the basis for building trust and closeness. I get shivers just from thinking about what it would be like to date someone who a) needs to be rewarded for telling the truth, or b) thinks that ANY woman REQUIRES a steady stream of lies.

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