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. 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?)

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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????

  9. 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.  

  10. 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.

  11. 31

    @Goldie #27 and Kiki #30:

    What would you do if you were in his shoes? Would you just come out and tell her that you are on anti-depressants after you’ve only been dating her for one month? More importantly, what would you do if you learned that she was snooping around behind your back and found-oops, I mean “stumbled upon”-your anti-depressants? Would you appreciate it?

    Goldie: I agree with you that she needs to know if he’s on anti-depressants once they’re in a serious relationship, but I would say that it’s practically impossible to truly be in a serious relationship after only one month. All of their talk about the future, at this point, is just that: talk.

    Also, in an effort to help everyone understand men a little more: most men are keenly aware that their attractiveness to women is almost entirely determined by their ability to carry themselves through life with strength and confidence. My guess is that he is also fully aware of this, and that he’s quite reluctant to disclose the fact that he’s on anti-depressants because he will be perceived as being weak, which is a trait that virtually all women find unattractive. His reasons for withholding this information are likely not as sinister as “thinking that his woman requires a steady stream of lies”, and are more likely due to mere self-preservation.

    My advice to the OP, if she really likes this man, is to forgot that she ever saw the anti-depressants because I can’t imagine a scenario where he would be pleased to find out that she, uh, “stumbled”, upon his medicine .

  12. 32

    I have a prescription for depression/anxiety. It’s a LOW DOSE, and I take it occasionally. My last bottle lasted me about 5 months. Should I disclose that in one month of dating?
    How do you know he takes his medication for depression? Maybe he takes it for anxiety. Maybe it was a brief episode. Sounds like he has a typical stressful modern life, and it would not be unusual to take something for stress. And please, why did you read the label on his prescription bottle? That was NOT accidental.

    My ex bf went in my medicine cabinet, saw a medication I take for my eyes. He is on the same medication and asked me why I take it. I thought it was presumptuous of him to snoop.

    Which of you came up with this life plan? You or him? Clearly you are not happy you were not invited to the party. But you held back from telling him that.

    All in all, not a good start.

  13. 33

    Most of our secrets are way more important to us than they are to other people. I recently read EMK’s newsletter post: ==> “When You Should Tell Him Your Deep Dark Secret?” and thought about the closing scene in the film 1959 Billy Wilder film “Some Like It Hot” LOL Relationships can handle a lot of exposed secrets…

    Hmm, maybe that should be “When should you tell him your deep dark secret?” Doesn’t matter, same thing.

  14. 34

    I had a similar situation.   I found ADHD medication when it fell out of my them boyfriends bag while he was showering at my place.   I genuinely was not snooping it was on the floor and I thought the pill bottle was mine.   I knew what the meds were for they were generic adderall.   We had been dating for a month.   I thought about it and decided to keep it to myself and give him some time to tell me on his own.   It was early enough that I did not expect he would have to tell me and I also recognized that as a man it may be something he was embarrassed about.    A week later he told me over dinner and   I acted like I had no clue.   I felt good that he trusted me.    I commended him for seeking help which many men did not do.    Now if three months had gone by I may have brought it up but one month is   not bad.    It did explain a lot of his behavior forgetfulness lateness perceived inattentiveness.    I do not think you mans behavior is odd this early on or caused by depression.   But one thing I think Evan misses is are you okay with dating someone with depression?    Is it acute or chronic?    I mean did a family member just die or will he need to take this forever.    Some people will not date people with mental illnesses right or wrong and this is usually better to figure out early on for both parties. Mental illness including depression depending on how bad it is can cause serious strain on a relationship.    I chose to give my guy a chance but the ADR was so bad it ended   up being our downfall.    So I say unless you are 100% against dating a guy with depression give it a month or two and see if he mentions it if not bring it up.   This is very hard for people to discuss.    It still has a stigma associated with it.

  15. 35
    Carol w

    It’s a new relationship. It seems to be going smoothly yes it maybe concerning to you but since it is so new go with the flow. Don’t try to force or rush it. Depression has some negative conatations with some people so maybe hes afraid to tell you how you’ll react. Be patient with him let him tell you in time trust and love will happen in due time. To force him won’t be good.

    That’s how I feel and currently an doing with my my situation just a couple of months. He was definately trying to be with me things have been wonderful we talked all the time, seen each other a couple of months had wondeeful communication. T:hen some major fanily situation very ill family in his life happened. He has apoligized we havint seen each other in weeks he needs to try to   call more again. I told hom i understand and i dure do. Honestly I gave him space let him come to me when he’s ready he’s spread way too thin all this sweet man needs is someone trying to push him at this moment. I’ve been understanding and patient that’s what he needs. He’s working alot too to cover time he had to take off so a relationship which e had 100 wanted with me is on the back burner. Its hard to continue does it hurt my feelings a lil yeah do u   wonder why the hell isnt he calling it only takes a couple of seconds to send a text but I know he’s exhausted. I told him in a text the other day i did want to really see him i miss him  I can hear it in his voice. We talked a couple days   ago it went good i hope we will see each other this weekend. A couple girlfriends gave me advice to get his attention 2 versions of a text to send. I did so with advice but after I wish I had not. I dont want to push him away. I   tryly hope i didnt i cqre so much for him. I want this to work but a man needs a supportive lady. I’ve sure been

    Take your time give him space in time trust will be built and he will come to you.

    My advice to you go with the flow

  16. 36

    This one month affair and girlish fantasy reminds me of the opening of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in which Mr. Bennett declares that ‘a ladies imagination is very rapid…” . It is a very famous opening line – Jane was on the money with this one. If someone pulled this on me I’d run. She has: (a) concocted a ridiculous five-step Master Plan ending in marriage after a few meetups/sex-ups, (b) snooped (‘stumbled upon’ – gimme a break, please) in his bathroom violating his medical privacy, (c) accused him of lying, (d) got pissed because he had plans other than her for one night, (e) was 100% certain she’d be momma to his kids. You appear un-empathetic in that you do not seem to care about potential-hubby’s depression – it’s just a nuisance factor which makes him forget something you said. Look, serious, monumental hurts reside inside someone who has depression and there is pain and suffering he has no intent of showing to the world – much less to his hook-up!

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