Should Couples Keep Secrets From Each Other?

How Do I Make My Boyfriend Want to Talk About Next Steps in Our Relationship
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I have been seeing a man I like and it’s getting serious. Then I encountered a vlog by a married woman saying you shouldn’t have any secrets between spouses and the disclosure should happen long before engagement. What’s your opinion on this, Evan? Should spouses have no secrets? What sort of things do you think should be disclosed? I could think of sexual past, nose job…anything else? If so, at what point should this happen? How should the topic be brought up? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated. 

-EM

In theory, there shouldn’t be any secrets between spouses.

In theory, you should be able to bare your soul and know that you’ll be accepted and loved unconditionally, no matter what lurks in your past. 

Indeed, I have a marriage in which I have absolutely no secrets. I can (and do) share all my thoughts with my wife. Our relationship is based on full honesty and full trust. 

I also know that I am not necessarily a representative sample of the population. Not everyone shares my values of openness and self-expression. I went out with hundreds of women; I married the only one who could actually accept me in full. 

So when I say there’s a difference between theory and practice, all you have to do is read this blog and search your feelings to determine if honesty is the best policy.

You say you want honesty – but then flip out if he doesn’t think she’s the hottest woman on the planet, or if he admits to watching porn, or if he looks at other women. 

“The RIGHT guy WOULDN’T do any of these things.”

On one hand, you can say “The RIGHT guy WOULDN’T do any of these things.” On the other hand, lots of normal, caring, devoted men do these things. These are just a few examples.

So do you really want to know if he’s been in prison before? Or if he had an open relationship before? Or if he had inpatient mental health care before? 

Of course, you do!

Would it behoove a man to tell you this or would it make you second guess him, think less of him, and consider leaving the relationship?

This is why people keep secrets; because other people will be judgmental of the truth.

Flip the genders around and it’s the same thing. 

Do you really want to tell him about the 50 men you’ve slept with? Or that you had a 3-month first marriage when you were 21? Or that you had two abortions that you still think about to this day?

Some people just can’t handle the truth. I don’t LIKE those people (and they don’t like me) but they are a significant portion of the population.

I’ve got a married friend who absolutely refuses to talk about past relationships with his wife. That’s their promise to each other. It’s like they were virgins when they met at 40. To me, that’s ridiculous. I want to be known and seen and accepted, in full, and my wife knows ALL of my stories (and I know hers). To other women reading this right now, hearing about a guy’s past is way too much information that she can’t get out of her head and will continue to ruminate and harp on (mostly out of her own insecurity).

My take: secure people can handle the truth. Insecure ones can’t. I wouldn’t want to marry anybody insecure, but most people ARE insecure. Where does that leave you, EM? That depends on how much you value truth, honesty, and self-expression. 
As to your question about how to bring up touchy subjects, this piece on how to talk about herpes is a decent start. Long story short: wait until he’s invested in you, bring it up organically, and don’t make a big deal about it. If you have your situation and emotions under control, he’ll be fine. If you’re freaked out about telling him, he’ll probably freak out upon hearing it.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    54rueplumet

    I’m a longtime reader and recently married, but never posted before. I gave this question a lot of thought in my relationship, and came up with a rule of thumb about what needs to be shared. Here’s the question I ask: Is the “secret” likely to affect my current life with my partner? If I had a communicable disease or a large amount of debt, I would feel bound by ethics to let them know.

    If I had X number of partners from the past, but never contacted them now and was not hung up on them, this type of “secret” wouldn’t affect my current life with my partner. I wouldn’t bring up intimate details from the past for this reason, though I might mention a person I had dated in the past if something we had experienced together still resonated in my life.

    A tougher call would be whether to share past life experiences that still weigh heavily on me, but don’t have much potential to affect my current partner. An example might be if I had survived an illness as a child but was healthy now. I don’t think there is an ethical duty to disclose this kind of “secret,” but talking about it might make me feel closer to my partner.

    The key question, as always, with “big secret” revelations is when they should be disclosed. This will probably depend, as Evan said, on how open the partners are generally (open with one another, and just generally as a personality trait). For me, the right time to share secrets was at the point of serious commitment. Before getting engaged, I wanted to make disclosures of any “secrets” that might affect my partner, and I expected him also to tell me if he had anything on his mind that might affect me.

    It would have been ok to talk about some of these things earlier, but not before we knew each other extremely well. These are conversations for a serious relationship- though the timing may vary, most people will want to wait until well past the first or second date.

    1. 1.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Thoughtful answer to kick us off. Thanks, 54.

  2. 2
    Jeremy

    I think this issue is a muddy one. No one wants a partner from whom they feel they must keep secrets…and no one wants a partner who demands they reveal every last private thought and emotion. Frankly, no one would want a partner who did reveal every last thought and emotion. These are 2 extremes that obviously don’t work, but the middle-ground between them is so broad…where is the sweet spot?

    When I first began thinking about this, I wrote and then erased a comment much like yours above, 54rueplumet. A statement that the line between what should be said and what need not be said is defined by what would affect the relationship. But….I eventually erased that comment because I’m not sure how to define “things that would affect the relationship.”

    Some things are obvious – she has tens of thousands of dollars of debt, he has herpes, she wants 8 children, he doesn’t want any. But what about sexual history? How many people have stated (on this site) that a person’s sexual history should be irrelevant? Yet how many other people don’t feel that way, want to know? Want to know because they feel it is a useful predictor for some aspect of the relationship that is important to them. When his desire to know about sexual history clashes with her desire for privacy, whose desire wins?

    How about porn? He uses it occasionally as a masturbatory aid, has since his youth. She finds it repugnant. She wants to know about his solo habits to judge him; he doesn’t want to talk about them, they are none of her business in his opinion. Whose opinion wins? We can say that his habits are none of her business….but if she one day walks in on him, we can’t say it won’t affect their relationship.

    So…..which one wins? Are we willing to say that if one person believes something will affect the relationship, the other one must reveal it? Are we willing to say that if one person does NOT believe that something should affect their relationship then they have the right to maintain privacy regardless of how the other feels? Are we willing to call a relationship between two such people a mis-match? I’d hesitate before doing so. You’d end up calling most marriages in the world mismatches.

    I don’t know where the line is. I don’t know how to reconcile such things in a way that will satisfy both partners.

    1. 2.1
      Emily, to

      Hi Jeremy,
      “How many people have stated (on this site) that a person’s sexual history should be irrelevant? Yet how many other people don’t feel that way, want to know?”
      How many men do you think want to know that much about their wife’s sexual history? I’m asking. I don’t know. And then in how much detail? Numbers? Stuff done with whom? A rating of he quality? Would hearing she had a great time with another man bother the husband? What if she was willing to try something with someone else she won’t with the husband?

      1. 2.1.1
        Jeremy

        I think it’s a matter of degree. I don’t think emotionally healthy people want to know the details of their partners former relationships. But on the other hand, remember the story of the husband who discovered the gangbang video that his now frigid wife had filmed before they’d met? That’s the kind of thing that…. I’d have liked to know about before the wedding. Yet I also understand why she’d concealed it – harder to find a husband when you’re open about that. Just like it’s harder to find a wife when you’re open about a porn habit. So whose desire wins?

        I don’t know what “should” happen in such cases, but I do know what does happen. The one who believes they should conceal a fact will do so. And the other will be hurt when they discover it. And the former will believe it’s none of the latter’s business…. while also knowing on some level that they were less than honest about something that matters to their partner. Messy. Common.

        1. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “But on the other hand, remember the story of the husband who discovered the gangbang video that his now frigid wife had filmed before they’d met? That’s the kind of thing that…. I’d have liked to know about before the wedding.”
          Yes, I remember that post. But I think that’s an extreme example. I was reading “The Dying Animal” by Phillip Roth (I bet you LOVE him :)), and it’s a story about a 62-year-old professor who has a relationship with a 24-year-old student (once she was no longer in his class). Now, 5 years later, does this young woman’s age-appropriate fiancee need to know about this previous relationship given the age gap? The professor writes about how this student loved him but never really wanted him. Does that make a difference? She wasn’t jonesing for him physically.

        2. Bbq

          Emily, to

          Uh, if that were me I’d want to know. A young student who’s that impressed by her much older professor is someone a lot of men her age would think twice about before wifing up. That says way more about a woman at that age than banging around does.

        3. Emily, to

          Bbq,
          “A young student who’s that impressed by her much older professor is someone a lot of men her age would think twice about before wifing up.”
          Why? I had a thing for a much-older professor (the only much-older man I’ve ever been interested in) when I was in my 20s. I wasn’t impressed with him, though. He was just one of the sexiest men I’ve ever met. Everybody wanted him.

        4. Bbq

          Emily, too

          I guess it’s less about the age and more about being attracted to him/impressed by him because he’s a professor. Don’t get me wrong, if he’s actually impressive then fine, however when I was at uni I remember seeing a lot of young students out to lunch with one particular philosophy professor (he was quite a bit younger than 62 tho, maybe 40) who I considerd a total blowhard with absolutely nothing to say, staring at him like he was incredible (have you ever seen the scene in Indiana Jones with all the young female students gawking at him? Lol)

          Maybe I was triggered by them not fawning over me in the same way (maybe, definitely), but still I thought they were idiots to be so easily impressed/turned on by such a lame authority/idol figure. (He wore hipster suspenders ffs)

        5. Emily, to

          BBQ,
          “but still I thought they were idiots to be so easily impressed/turned on by such a lame authority/idol figure.”
          Well, I have found that it usually makes no sense to men why women find another man appealing. But if a bunch of women found him appealing, he probably had something. It’s the same for women. When I used to ask guys at work who they would pick — Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie — for a no-strings one-nighter, almost all picked Aniston. Made no sense to me.

        6. Bbq

          Emily, to

          He did have something, he was a professor who taught their classes and an intellectual who made them feel Intellectual and flattered by paying individual attention to them. I understand it, I just think it’s dumb on an intellectual level to be impressed by that and (and this is kinda harsh) kinda pathetic. So I guess I would judge them differently if I knew they had a tendency to do that.

          Im guessing the Angie and Jen thing for a casual relationship is probably because Jen seems nicer. Angies always been incredible looking of course, but even in the old days she had those crazy eyes, the eyes that said – someday I’m going to rip Brad Pitts heart and balls out and pan fry them like Expensive Tofu.

        7. Emily, to

          BBq,
          “He did have something, he was a professor …”
          I was on the long-term, several-colleges plan before I finally got an undergrad degree. I also went to grad school. My point is that I’ve had many profressors, and I can guarantee you that few had a harem of young women hanging around them. I’m at a loss to think of more than a couple. This guy had something that went beyond the power dynamic and intellectualism of being a professor.
          “Im guessing the Angie and Jen thing for a casual relationship is probably because Jen seems nicer …”
          I didn’t say casual relationship. I said an hour-long, do-whatever-you-want encounter. So why on earth would you pick nice for that?
          “… the eyes that said – someday I’m going to rip Brad Pitts heart and balls out and pan fry them like Expensive Tofu …”
          That’s exactly what I thought. They’re afraid of her. 🙂

        8. Bbq

          Emily, to

          I wish I could find a video or course of this guy so I could prove it to you lol. But barring that I’ll leave that there.

          As for Jolie – Yeah, their afraid of her lol. Not enough to turn her down of course, but enough to pick Jen over her. After all, someone your afraid of might be more picky about “doing whatever YOU want”, ya know? (Oh and she might take a vial of your blood while you sleep)

          Given a choice would you choose a feast with bones? Would a tiger choose prey with spikes? Would a killer choose an armed victim?

          Lol, given a choice for a one night stand most men really want a feast, prey and a victim rolled into one. Oh, and they want her to be happy about being that. But if Angelina was all that was on offer, I guess we could talk ourselves into that too.

        9. Emily, to

          Bbq,
          “Yeah, their afraid of her lol. Not enough to turn her down of course,”
          Yeah. That’s probably how it usually happens for her. She has to come on to the guy because she probably makes nervous.
          “(Oh and she might take a vial of your blood while you sleep)”
          Geez Louise … you aren’t sleeping over! It’s AN HOURLONG ENOUNTER.
          “Given a choice would you choose a feast with bones? Would a tiger choose prey with spikes? Would a killer choose an armed victim?”
          I don’t know. I find a little bit of fear ratchets up the encounter … a situation where you aren’t quite sure what the other person is going to do. 🙂

        10. Mrs Happy

          Emily the really sad part of this whole imaginary set up is, for many men, an hour would be much too long, and there would be sleep involved. Sigh.

          I’m not sure, personally, about fear improving the encounter. Fear wouldn’t do it for me. I am intrigued by people I can’t work out though. Once I’ve worked them out and they’re predictable, I’m a little bored. Bored and frustrated often.

          The professor clearly had IT. You can explain IT till you are blue in the face, but if the person hasn’t experienced the huge attraction and sweeping fascination that comes with IT, they won’t understand, and will insist that IT isn’t important or doesn’t exist or is something else. Emily, just smile to yourself as you recall the IT. It’s so lovely, and sadly, so rare. All who have experienced IT should count our blessings really; our world has been the brighter for it.

        11. Emily, to

          Hi Mrs. H.,
          “Fear wouldn’t do it for me.”
          Fear is why women love Marlon Brando in Streetcar. 🙂
          “I am intrigued by people I can’t work out though. Once I’ve worked them out and they’re predictable, I’m a little bored.”
          Yes. Agree completely.
          “The professor clearly had IT. You can explain IT till you are blue in the face, but if the person hasn’t experienced the huge attraction and sweeping fascination that comes with IT, they won’t understand, and will insist that IT isn’t important or doesn’t exist or is something else. ”
          You explained it perfectly. Sweeping fascination. There are people who think “it” all has to do with appearance. That is so wrong … That one professor I mentioned … he intrigued the s**t out of me. 🙂

        12. Bbq

          Emily, to

          I just assumed she would drug me at some point and I’d fall asleep – so she could collect the vial as a trophy and get another vial of the other stuff to give to one of the hundreds of surrogate women in her organisation. Like outsourcing for a queen bee ya know?

          And anyway, if the situation allows for it, a woman who isn’t sweet enough to let me sleep over after an hourlong encounter (or quicker mrs happy lol) if I can’t be bothered driving or want to relax and chill out after ain’t my 1st choice for the type of girl I like for casual sex. (most of the time)

        13. Bbq

          Mrs Happy

          Perhaps your right and he did have a whole lot of charisma that was invisible to me. But I tend to think he was simply a relatively good looking, relatively young (for a professor), guy who was already named (by virtue of being their professor) as an expert in something those first year young women were interested in. And apparently a lot of women find respected mentor or authority types attractive. Oh, and he asked a lot of them on coffee dates.

          Now maybe those things combined equaled IT in those womens eyes, but I doubt this guy was wowing the same women with his natural charm if he were stepping of the back of a garbage truck. But perhaps I’m wrong.

          Another thing, most men don’t get bored of women they understand.

        14. Jeremy

          Who is denying that IT exists? That people feel it, that it makes things exciting, amplifies feelings like a magnifying glass. Scientists try to quantify it, to measure it as spikes of dopamine for seeking/pleasure and norepinephrine for single-minded obsession. IT exists, IT feels great, and IT fades – demonstrably, every single time, with familiarity. Because in time, each of us will always figure the other one out – je-ne-sais-quoi becomes je sais. And then what are we left with, when what we wanted was IT?

          My problem when seeking a partner, was never with the people that any given woman had dated in her past. It was her attraction to IT, her need for it, the extent to which it led her to act. Because there’s every difference in the world between crushing on a professor versus actually having a relationship with one. Women with histories of seeking IT don’t tend to make good wives to men from the I.T. department, ironically.

        15. Emily, to

          BBQ,
          “And anyway, if the situation allows for it, a woman who isn’t sweet enough to let me sleep over after an hourlong encounter … if I can’t be bothered driving or want to relax and chill out after ain’t my 1st choice for the type of girl I like for casual sex. (most of the time)”
          Oh … you want to cuddle. That’s sweet. 🙂 It’s telling that in a FANTASY situation you pick … the type of girl you are probably already dating. I just don’t see how the words “sweet” and “nice” enter into a fantasy, but that’s me. I have a guy friend whose fantasy is Madonna. And before you get all verkplempted, I mean a young Madonna. The slutty street urchin. Now that’s an interesting choice. 🙂
          :… I doubt this guy was wowing the same women with his natural charm if he were stepping of the back of a garbage truck.”
          Don’t knock the garbage truck guys. Some women are really turned on by a masculine, downtown man.

        16. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “Women with histories of seeking IT don’t tend to make good wives to men from the I.T. department, ironically.”
          No irony there. 🙂

        17. Bbq

          Emily, to

          Yeah ya got me. Like many other people I like to f the type of person I’m dating. I have no idea why that idea is triggering to you or what your arguing about at this point. Though If you’re attracted to types you consider “mysterious”, but lose attraction once you’ve worked them out, maybe it makes sense..

          For me I guess I don’t see supposedly edgy types like Madonna or Angelina Jolie as particularly mysterious. Why? What’s so fascinating about either of them? Do they really have anything going on that makes an hour long encounter with them any better than with any other reasonably attractive woman you could pick off the street? Not to me.

          Oh, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but is Brando as Stanley Kawalski actually mysterious? Or just a good looking a hole? Based on what I remember of the movie the character is a simple dumbass.

        18. Emily, to

          Bbq,
          “For me I guess I don’t see supposedly edgy types like Madonna or Angelina Jolie as particularly mysterious.”
          I didn’t say they were mysterious.
          “Do they really have anything going on that makes an hour long encounter with them any better than with any other reasonably attractive woman you could pick off the street? Not to me.”
          I think they give off a vibe (at least Jolie in her younger days before she rebranded herself a saint) that she’d throw you around the room a little and you’d be begging for mercy! 🙂 Jennifer Aniston gives off that she doesn’t want to mess her hair up. And we’re talking fantasy here. This is not someone you are going to date. But I do think that a man’s celebrity crush says a lot about him. Is yours Taylor Swift? 🙂
          “Oh, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but is Brando as Stanley Kawalski actually mysterious?”
          No, not mysterious. But he gives off a wild sexual energy.

        19. Bbq

          Emily, to

          Again with the little digs (Taylor Swift), like I said, I have no idea why you’re triggered over this.
          I never said I liked Aniston, tbh I didn’t watch friends and wasn’t old enough to follow her when she was a mainstream celeb, so I don’t really know much about her. My answer to that question (Jolie or Aniston) was more about not choosing Angelina.

          I wouldn’t say I have a celebrity crush, although since you asked I have been watching a lot of old movies in lockdown – 40’s and 50’s noir (just watched Double Indemnity for the first time on my projecter and it was great) and Hitchcock, and if I have to choose women with “edge” I’d go for the shit talking mystery types in those more than 90’s bad girl (which I’d say was Angie at her most desirable before she let her whole crazy lose). Ya know, the character types that drive the hero to throw them around the room, yet somehow it’s him who’s begging for mercy .

          I think your overrating the significance of celebrities men want. For most it could be a different type each time. Although not many want to be thrown around the room by them, unless it’s mutually wild.

          But anyway, tell me what all that says about me? I’m curious now.

        20. Emily, to

          BBQ,
          “Again with the little digs (Taylor Swift), like I said, I have no idea why you’re triggered over this.”
          I just picked her because I thought she was closer to your age and I’m not super familiar with younger female celebrties. Aniston and Jolie represtent to very broad types of women who are easily recognizable. And I’m not so much triggered as baffled. Makes no sense to me that a guy could have any woman on the planet (hypothetical scenario) and he picks 18 shades of beige.
          “I wouldn’t say I have a celebrity crush, although since you asked I have been watching a lot of old movies in lockdown – 40’s and 50’s noir (just watched Double Indemnity for the first time on my projecter and it was great) and Hitchcock ..”
          Double Idemnity is fantastic. And I love the tough-talking dame type that Barbara Stanwyck plays. Hitchcock women don’t really have edge. They’re pretty and proper and very icy.
          “I think your overrating the significance of celebrities men want. For most it could be a different type each time.”
          Not really. Not with the guy friends I’ve talked to. One always picks the sweet girl and he is the most risk-averse person I’ve ever met
          “But anyway, tell me what all that says about me? I’m curious now.”
          Actually, the Double Indemnity is an interesting choice. Maybe there’s hope for you yet. 🙂

  3. 3
    Debbie

    If you are truly in a loving relationship, past relationships should not matter. Each relationship has a different dynamic and the past does not necessarily predict the future. So, if previous relationships are truly behind you, then why waste time talking about them?If you find your partner asking personal questions about past relationships I would ask him why he wants to know. I would just assure him that the past is far behind you and that he is the one you care about. If he insists that you are hiding things from him, offer to answer any question that has a bearing on your current situation I am of he opinion that each person deserves to have some things that they want to keep to themself. If you think that something in the past is pertinent to your present relationship, then mention it when the time is right. And, if your partner insists that everything MUST be discussed, then ask yourself why. It may be that he’s just curious. But, insecurity is a relationship killer and can lead to controlling behavior.

  4. 4
    another EM

    Evan, I want to ask about your advice to “wait until he’s invested in you” before you uncover the truth. Do you feel that this is sort of dating under false pretenses to secure investment first? I understand why you recommend this, and indeed it is probably the best strategy to get what you want (both the relationship AND the full mutual honesty). But the reluctance to let people become invested before knowing possible deal-breaking secrets is why, for example, in your other post, people put their herpes+ status in their dating profiles. That seems honorably upfront to me, even if it is likely to turn people off.

    1. 4.1
      Jeremy

      I think there is a happy medium to be had here. I know a woman who got engaged to a man and waited until their wedding day to tell him she had epilepsy. I mean, I kind of understand why she was reluctant to tell him – it’s a big deal, after all – but I can also understand why he called off the wedding. Not so much because of the epilepsy, but because of the dishonesty. She really should have told him earlier. But….should she have told him on their first date? Likely not. She likely wouldn’t get many first dates if she’d posted “Epilepsy here” on her dating profile. A few dates in, once he decides he likes her, is somewhat “invested” in her emotionally – in the sense that he likes her, not that he’s committed to her in any real way – might improve the chances that he’ll overlook it in light of all the other excellent qualities that she’s demonstrated thus far.

      That’s my 2 cents. You can’t wait until real commitment to reveal important secrets. And while being upfront might be honorable, is it the best strategy? In light of your goal, what WORKS the best?

      1. 4.1.1
        Cathalei

        OK, I’ll chime in here since I’m in autistic spectrum and yes, to many that’s a big deal. But frankly, there are some things to navigate on our part as well. The focus is usually on the NT people to “handle” other person’s autism, but rarely is that given to the autistic person’s adaptation to the relationship. Then again, they will realize after several dates so not talking about it is not dishonesty. For me, (and most of the autistic people) honesty is even a bigger deal; I can forgive many things that would commonly be considered unforgivable, but dishonesty is extremely personal to me. Considering how we have a (sometimes irritating) tendency to say things as it is, a disregard for this would come off as an insult. If I had epilepsy, I would not have told it on the first date either as it would probably not even come up, but when we got in our feet in getting to know each other; I would be open about it. Not only for their sake, but also for my own. I wouldn’t want to spend time with someone who saw me as a burden because of this. Obviously, she should have told earlier. It sounds like mocking when she waits until that day.

  5. 5
    Cathalei

    Emily, to
    Yes, it’s something I would want to know. Just because she liked someone of that age once doesn’t mean she will seek out men of that age exclusively and honesty about that could very well signal it. If they have hidden me from this and I find out somehow, I’d think they’re still hung upon either this man and/or a man of that age for a relationships and they were using me to pass time and that would not have sat well with me.

    1. 5.1
      Emily, to

      Cathalei
      “If they have hidden me from this and I find out somehow, I’d think they’re still hung upon either this man and/or a man of that age for a relationships and they were using me to pass time and that would not have sat well with me.”
      Why? Maybe they aren’t hiding it but didn’t bring it up because they are totally over it and it doesn’t affect them. I usually talk about stuff if it still bothers me. If I don’t bring it up, I just don’t care about it anymore.

      1. 5.1.1
        Jeremy

        Sometimes people don’t talk about things because they are non-issues. Other times, it’s because they have absolutely zero insight into them, into their own histories, motivations, and the inter-connectivity of these things.

        1. Emily, to

          Yeah, but you can’t quiz someone on every person they dated, and if they have zero insight, them telling you they are over the person means nothing. I just know from my female friends that they talk a lot abou a guy after a breakup. Once they stop talking about him, they’ve moved on.

      2. 5.1.2
        Cathalei

        It’s not like I would question them over it particularly. While in a conversation, your outlook on relationships would eventually come up. That shows that they are open to dating someone quite older than they are, which I have no problem with, but if they skip this and I find out somehow; I’d ask myself why they felt the need to hide that. I’m bisexual myself and it’s not as if I tell it on first date (depending on whether I go on a date with someone of opposite sex or same sex, of course) but when the topic of dating comes up, I’m quite open about it. Not only for their sake, but for mine as well. Some exclusively like older wo/men but they pass time with their peers until an opportunity comes about. Similarly, some marry a person who is with adult children (or worse!) due to their attraction to the said children but they cover it up by marrying the parent. That’s why they never tell anything about their past relationships with such an age gap. I don’t judge as I am currently interested in someone who is way older than me, but acting coy about that sends the wrong signals when the topic comes up.

        1. Emily, to

          Cathelei,
          ” Similarly, some marry a person who is with adult children (or worse!) due to their attraction to the said children but they cover it up by marrying the parent. ”
          Do people really do that? That sounds like the plot of a movie … Oh wait. It was. A film called “Damage.” Only the Juliette Binoche character, a woman in her 30s, marries the age-appropriate son so she can continue to have access to his father, with whom she has been having an affair. And the father is played by Jeremy Irons at his decadent, slithery best. 🙂

    2. 5.2
      Jeremy

      I’d want to know about it too. Not so much because of the age difference, but because she’d had no problem being with a man whom she did not desire, but with whom she wanted a relationship for other reasons. Big red flag for any man considering marriage with her. Doesn’t mean that’s how she feels about her new fiancee, but I’d seek clarification of I was him.

      It’s funny to me how we’re all forgiving of the things we hope to be forgiven for, but less forgiving of the things that don’t apply to us. Men with porn habits don’t generally mind if their wives look at porn. Women with promiscuous sexual histories don’t mind husbands with same. People who have cheated are more forgiving of partners who’ve cheated. But people who’ve done A are not more understanding of people who’ve done B.

      1. 5.2.1
        Emily, to

        Jeremy,
        “I’d want to know about it too. Not so much because of the age difference, but because she’d had no problem being with a man whom she did not desire, but with whom she wanted a relationship for other reasons. ”
        I guess I assumed it was because the professor was so much older. But it’s really difficult to filter for exactly why someone wants to be with you or to get them to want you for the same reasons you want them or for the reasons you’ve prescribed. It just doesnt work that way. Human beings are too complicated.

  6. 6
    Mrs Happy

    To each their own. I appreciate Evan gives the advice to hold off on communicating negative or serious facts until the other person feels for you, because he is a dating coach invested in outcome, and really this is the best way to have the other person not walk as soon as they hear the negative fact, but such behaviour doesn’t sit well with me. I think it’s slightly dishonourable to make someone invested in you then drop a bombshell. I wouldn’t want that done to one of my children when they get older and date; I’d think very poorly of their partner for being so self-interested and hiding the information until it was almost too late.

    And I think there are shades of grey here; Evan isn’t suggesting dishonesty, and he is so open I can imagine him sharing everything fairly early, and he is trying to give advice to women some of whom talk so much about such personal things so early in a relationship, he has to give some sort of instruction.

    We all have our different things we’d be concerned with for sure. Until I read Bbq’s and Cathalei’s comments upthread I wouldn’t have imagined a man would particularly care about the age of past love interests. Gosh if I had to count all the teachers, lecturers, supervisors and mentors I’ve crushed on it would be a long night, and I’m sure I’m not an unusual woman in this regard. Similarly I’m sure some of the things I really want to know about in partners would have others shrugging and not fussed with at all.

    But I will say I wouldn’t enjoy being married hiding big secrets. I like being my open direct self at home, with no mask. To be otherwise would exhaust me.

    1. 6.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Agreed.

      1. 6.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        Evan I’m worried about YAG given where he lives and his age and covid. Do you know if he is ok?

    2. 6.2
      Jeremy

      I agree also…to an extent. I think that we all like being open at home, with no masks. Yet I think we ALL wear masks of varying thicknesses. We, none of us, tell our partners everything. If we’re good spouses, we tell them the things that are important – things we think should be relevant to them, and things we want to tell them. Yet we don’t tend to tell them the things that we don’t think SHOULD be relevant to them, yet know (in our heart of hearts) would be relevant if they knew them. For instance, my guess is that you might have told your husband about your history with “G,” but that you likely did not tell him that G was, by orders of magnitude, better than any lover you’ve had before and since, including him. My guess is that you didn’t tell him that because you judged it should not be relevant to him….and knew (on some level) that knowing it would indeed be relevant to him, if not to you. Would provoke a primal and irrational jealousy that your marriage could do without. That’s my guess, anyway, could be wrong.

      We all wear the masks of our “shoulds”, to protect our partners from negativity, and in so doing protect ourselves and our relationships. And while something within me rebels against this thought, I find it inescapable: Sometimes, the best thing we can do in the context of a relationship, the thing that shows the utmost caring to our partner – IS TO LIE. Remember when you bought that lemon dessert at the bakery and briefly considered telling your husband you’d bought it for him? And then you decided against it because you’d really bought it for yourself and didn’t want to lie? Decided that the thing that mattered most was your authenticity? Look at the decision-tree – you remain authentic, do things for yourself, and so expect your husband to do the same. Versus, you say you bought it for him, he feels warm lovey feelings, does something for you to reciprocate that makes you feel good and lovey feelings, and sets up a positive feedback cycle that is genuine, regardless of what it was built upon. I find it inescapable – the best thing to have done in that situation would have been to lie. A small lie, a white lie, a lie whose consequence is negligible, the consequence of discovery also negligible.

      The line, though, is so blurry. Blurry between being the person you want to be so as to have self-esteem – open, honest, keeping nothing back from your partner that you’d not want kept back from yourself in kind – versus considering the consequences of truth vs white lie and measuring the optimal result. No wise man ever told his wife that her jeans made her ass look fat.

  7. 7
    Mrs Happy

    Not telling your partner every thought in your mind, is not the same as either lying or wearing a mask. I don’t even think the definition of a good spouse involves telling them things that are important, though I appreciate you do, and that fits with your idea of marriage.

    I wouldn’t tell the lie about the lemon dessert because subterfuge involves effort and is wearing a mask. I don’t want the extra work of the mask or the lie in my home life. Had it before in previous homes, not worth the excessive mental bandwidth and suffering.

    And because I am somewhat selfish and my husband knows that, and knew that going into our marriage and weighed that in the balance, I don’t have to hide my selfishness with lies. This is the absolute beauty of being your true self while courting. No mask necessary for the rest of your marriage/life.

    Saturday night I ate half of my husband’s Easter eggs (he doesn’t like milk chocolate much, I worship it) and I started to think of a long imaginary story to explain this act, then decided not to bother, much easier just to cop to the act. He didn’t care less. I suspect he was surprised I’d left him half.

    I mainly think it’s important to be kind. I’d not eat my husband’s dark chocolate, or drink his good gin, or tell him x had a larger penis or was a better lover, because that’s not kind behaviour (and I don’t want to).

    JJ, you’re really hung up on being this ideal husband. (Maybe read the play.) It seems a lot of extra work for questionable reward. You’re so reluctant to be who you want to be (instead of who you think you should be) and let the chips fall where they may. The chips would largely stay in place you know. I realise your religion is playing a huge role in this ideal you have; to an outsider it’s so constricting, and burdening you so, that it is a bizarre buy in.

    1. 7.1
      Jeremy

      It’s not about the chips, though – I agree they’d stay in place regardless. When things were bad for me, I thought that by acting properly I’d set an example of how one should behave in a marriage. That my wife would look at my behavior, look at hers, see the disparity, and amend her course of action. Didn’t play out that way, and I realized it very quickly. Because when you behave in a giving, loving way regardless of what your partner does, all it does is make your partner believe that that’s the norm. That you’ll be good no matter how she behaves. Reinforces the pattern rather than disrupts it….in a person not sensitive to balances. That took me a few months to realize because I am sensitive to balances. Had the situation been reversed, it would not have played out the same way.

      No, it’s not about “chips,” it’s about self-esteem. About what we invest our ego into. It’s not that I am reluctant to be who I want to be (instead of who I think I should be). It’s that I want to be who I think I should be, not who I am. Regardless of chips, irrespective of where they fall. It’s not about the chips, it’s about me. And sometimes what I want conflicts with the other things I want, and so I need to set a balance, and hopefully I can construct the balance of a crystal, not a house of cards. Strong, resonant, enduring. Doing what I want and being clandestine about it would be so easy, so natural to who I am……but that is not the person I want to be and so I fight it.

      But yours is an interesting dichotomy – likely as interesting to me as is mine to you. On the one hand, extolling the virtues of chivalry in male behavior. On the other, advising men to let the chips fall where they may. One for the short-term and the other for the long? On the one hand, ego-investing in your own selfishness….and on the other hand ego-investing in the 33 things you do for others every day before lunchtime. I am not the only person on this site with dyad conflict, with conflict between the person one is and the person one wants to be, with conflicting wants. I fear being the person I was born as – looking in the mirror and seeing my mother, my father, my grandfather, my brother or my sister. I fear looking at my marriage and seeing my parents’, looking at my parenting history and seeing a repetition of the way I was parented. I’m not the only one, eh?

      1. 7.1.1
        Emily, to

        Jeremy,
        “I’d set an example of how one should behave in a marriage. That my wife would look at my behavior, look at hers, see the disparity, and amend her course of action. Didn’t play out that way … in a person not sensitive to balances. That took me a few months to realize because I am sensitive to balances. ”
        So what do you do in these instances? Where the relationship isn’t one you can easily extricate yourself from? If I feel I’m giving quite a bit more in any relationship, I put up some boundaries in terms of what I’m willing to do for that person. I know you don’t like that word. If the disparity is bad enough, I walk.

        1. Jeremy

          The first thing to do is to ask yourself the hard question : “Am I REALLY doing more for my partner than vice versa?” Am I actually doing more, or am I not seeing what my partner is doing? And if I am doing more, am I really doing it for my partner…. or for myself? And that’s a hard question to answer for most people, because it requires a level of introspection that most don’t have.

          For example, it is currently Passover, and we have several food restrictions that limit what we can eat. My kids are somewhat picky about food, and my wife has been expending lots of energy trying new recipes for them. The other day she spent hours making quiche and quinoa pancakes and all sorts of other unfamiliar foods beginning with the letter Q. And after hours of cooking, the kids took a sniff and wouldn’t touch them. And my wife was terribly frustrated. “I spent hours cooking for you guys and you won’t even taste it? That’s the thanks I get? You have no appreciation!”

          Hmmm. But were the hours of preparation really for the kids? Yes and no. The kids would have been fine with melted cheese on matzah, which would have taken 2 minutes start to finish. Have they ever eaten quiche before? Did you really expect them to? Or did you have a pipe dream that you’d spend hours preparing, the kids would love the food and sing your praise, and you’d go on Instagram with hundreds of followers who ask want your advice on how to be the best mom, supplanting Vivian? Was the frustration because the kids didn’t eat, or because of the broken dream? It’s like the woman who tells her husband that she’s spent all day cooking and cleaning for him… Was that what he wanted her to do, or what she valued having done? – and if so, for whom did she do it?

          I’ll tell you, Emily, having a spouse who does so much more for the other than vice versa is rarer than people think. Whereas having one spouse who simply does more for their own priorities is very common. In such a case, what good is putting up boundaries?

        2. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “I’ll tell you, Emily, having a spouse who does so much more for the other than vice versa is rarer than people think. Whereas having one spouse who simply does more for their own priorities is very common.”
          Well, I’m not married but I do have a few relatives who will, in their minds, “provide support” by emailing articles on how to buy food online during the quarantine. This means something to them but almost nothing to me. I’d really like them to call me up and ask how I am doing. But they’ve never once asked what I need because in their minds they are being helpful. Of course, their intentions are good but I don’t feel particularly supported. It feels emotionally hollow. But what does one do about the disconnect?

        3. Jeremy

          I’d love to tell you that the disconnect is resolvable through the power of communication and patience. But…life and experience has taught me that it isn’t. That if you’re dealing with a person who can’t understand high-level theory-of-mind on their own, they’ll likely never understand it because you explained it to them.

          It’s not that people can’t understand that others don’t necessarily share their priorities or their enjoyments – they can understand that when they expend the effort to think about it. But not understand it intuitively, effortlessly, when thinking of other things instead of concentrating on it. And I’m guilty of this as much as anyone. I’ll tell you, when I see my wife all stressed out, the thought that most often goes through my head is that she looks like she needs to get laid. Cause that’s likely what I’d want. But it isn’t what she wants, not even close. Isn’t what she needs to de-stress, isn’t what she wants me to offer at such times. I understand it….when I think about it…but what occurs to me intuitively doesn’t match my thoughtful understanding. And most people lack the thoughtful understanding too.

          What do you do about it? You either learn to live with it or you don’t. If you DO learn to live with it, you learn to accept it for what it is. Accept the love in the action, even if the action isn’t what you wanted. Try to appreciate it for what it was intended to be, try not to get frustrated with the fact that it indicates that your partner doesn’t really understand you that well. Or you don’t accept it, and look for someone who does get you intuitively…..and accept all the negatives that come along with those people, because they’ve just got different negatives. I wanted a woman who was the antithesis of my mother. Who’d show up on time to pick up our children, who’d make sure they were fed, clothed, and loved. Who’d create a social life for our family, who’d take care of the concrete details that elude me. And a person oriented to the concrete is, by definition, not oriented to the abstract. Someone oriented to goals is not oriented to ideals. Someone oriented to intense experience is not oriented to family values. Etc.

        4. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “Try to appreciate it for what it was intended to be, try not to get frustrated with the fact that it indicates that your partner doesn’t really understand you that well. ”
          It is a family member. Not a partner. I’ve never had a family member who understood me. And you know how idealists are about being understood. 🙂 Seriously, though, I start to check out a little bit if I feel the other person and I are talking on two different wavelenghts. I give up a bit.

        5. Mrs Happy

          ETO: “So what do you do in these instances? Where the relationship isn’t one you can easily extricate yourself from? If I feel I’m giving quite a bit more in any relationship, I put up some boundaries in terms of what I’m willing to do for that person. I know you don’t like that word. If the disparity is bad enough, I walk.”

          Emily, what I observe people do, is the following.

          The ones who stay coupled up, gradually, over years and numerous cumulative disappointments, reset their expectation of what their spouse can or will do for them. They continually adjust it down. Also, over time, they themselves stop doing quite so much for their spouse. Each does a little less, year by year.
          It’s why at the beginning she’ll initially move city and uproot her whole life to support his work career progression, but after 20 years she won’t pick up his dirty socks. Why he’ll travel hours and skip nights out with friends to see her at the start, but 20 years in, happily stay back late at work then go out for drinks with colleagues.

          The ones who don’t or can’t adjust their expectations down over time end up less likely to survive in long-term relationships I think.

          It becomes a balance. Each of us has things we will and won’t tolerate in a relationship. People in relationships generally seem, on average, more tolerant. How many times have you heard a bunch of single women listening to a story of one woman’s boyfriend and advising her to leave the relationship? Married women don’t seem to advise like that in my experience. They tolerate a lot more beige-ness and lost hope. Perhaps they are more able to adjust to changing circumstances including disappointment, though I’m not sure about that one.

        6. Mrs Happy

          J,
          why are you eating the matzah? And restricting other foods?
          (I’m not interested in the superficial explanation.)

        7. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          “How many times have you heard a bunch of single women listening to a story of one woman’s boyfriend and advising her to leave the relationship? Married women don’t seem to advise like that in my experience.”
          Because I think at some point you have to decide you’re going to make it work. Whether it’s a relationship or a job or whatever. Or else you’ll be jumping from thing to thing.

        8. Jeremy

          I assume you’re asking less about the custom in general and more about my own reasons in spite of my agnosticism, Mrs H? In no particular order:

          – To connect me with a story that forms the basis of historical peoplehood. A story whose moral I think is still relevant today, that forms the basis of how people treat each other. Remember, before you have too much pride, before you treat others poorly, remember that you too were a slave in Egypt. Think of how you’d have wanted to be treated when you were the downtrodden one.

          – To connect me with a community. A community who follows the same customs, a community that supports each other automatically and effortlessly, that fulfills the “R” in the PERMA principle that would otherwise be left to me to fulfill and would fall through the cracks, given my tendencies.

          – To connect me with my own personal history on a visceral level. The memories evoked by a taste or a smell are of a different sort than regular memories. Sharper, more real. I experience the tastes and smells of the holiday and suddenly I’m standing in front of 2 opposing mirrors, gazing into infinite iterations of my past self. My Passover last year, and the year before, and the year before, all the way down four and a half decades. Memories of my childhood, memories for my own children to build of their childhood with their family. My present self faces those past iterations and remembers them, before turning 180 degrees and becoming the most recent iteration for my future self to remember when it eats the matzah next year and remembers.

          -To mark the passage of time in such a way that the days and weeks don’t simply blur into each other. The time has come to eat matzah, or to build a sukkah, or to dip apples in honey,or to fast, or to light candles, or to put down our phones and screens and focus on each other and our community, on the Meaning and Relationships aspect of PERMA that too often fall through the cracks in our society. Each holiday is a marker of the year, a reminder to stop and take stock of where we are and what we’re doing.

          These are my reasons, in spite of my agnosticism, for valuing these customs. They might not speak to you at all. I answered your question here because I think my answer is relevant to this particular blog post – a post about Truth – the value of truth in relationships. When I was in university, I questioned the truth of religion, and my questions were valid….but ultimately sophomoric (IMHO). What is the truth? Is the truth that you bought the lemon dessert for yourself, or for your husband? If you’d told yourself you’d bought it for him, told him the same, and let it be a common belief between you, what would it matter if you’d really, in your heart of hearts, bought it for yourself? EVERYTHING we do for others is ultimately for ourselves in some way. I focus on motivations, but not for the motivations themselves, but for the results, the actions, the consequences. Just as the veracity of the actual Exodus story is far less relevant to me than the consequence of the commonality of that story, the veracity of your bakery-purchase-motivations is equally less relevant than the results IMHO. Should one keep secrets in a relationship, or should one reveal the truth about everything? What RESULTS does one want? What story does one want to share with one’s partner to form belief, memory, commonality, community?

        9. Mrs Happy

          Great answer, JJ. Thank you.

      2. 7.1.2
        Mrs Happy

        CB,
        Less ego-investing, than statements of fact, in my circumstance. But I agree with your overarching point. And that memory for things I wrote years ago … it has to be the second most annoying thing about you, JJ.

        1. Jeremy

          Do you really think it’s a statement of fact rather than an ego-investment?

          Years ago, while my wife was on her 2 month summer vacation, I came home from work early and found her having coffee with her friend, a SAHM whose kids were off at camp. They were caught up in their talk and didn’t know I’d come home, so I eavesdropped. They were laughing about the fact that their husbands both love pie, but never get any pie. “The poor baby,” said the one, “he so loves pie, but whenever I go to the bakery I never get him any.” “I know,” replied the other with a smile, “the poor deprived man! My husband’s the same way.” “I went to the bakery this morning,” said the other, “saw the pie counter, thought about it, but didn’t want any.” “That’s ok,” said the other, “he’ll get some on his birthday, I’m sure.”

          I heard this talk from these 2 women, Mrs H, these 2 women who were both relaxing on vacation at their husbands’ expense, whose husbands give them everything….and my blood boiled. I thought, for a brief time, that these women, my wife included, were the absolute worst people on the earth. How easy would it have been to just buy the damn pie, the pie you know your husband wants, the pie you can easily get for him being at the bakery as you are, that costs you nothing – he’s even paying for it. Why the hell wouldn’t you just DO it?

          ….And then, I realized something. The reason they aren’t buying the pie, the reason they don’t think they should have to, is because they feel like THEY are the ones at a power disadvantage in their relationships. In spite of their vacation, their being supported, they feel that all the things they do during the day more than make up the balance. That buying pie for their husbands would set them at a disadvantage, make their husbands see them as pushovers, make them see themselves as “little women”, “wives” in the old-fashioned sense – and they don’t want to see themselves that way. They don’t want to buy pie because they think they’ve already done enough. Their selflessness with everyone else – their kids, their family, their friends, their work – the 33 things they do for others before lunch – becomes their excuse for being selfish specifically toward their husbands, the selfishness that part of them WANTS to extend toward their husbands. Because that selfishness maintains the power balance, prevents them from seeing themselves and being seen as…powerless.

          I’ve been accused of thinking too much about power, Mrs H. But it’s not because I like think about power. It’s because I wanted to understand why….others….act the way they do. How to resolve the paradox between a person who is selfless in every domain except the one that matters. It’s an ego-investment and it’s about power. Specifically, not feeling powerless.

        2. Mrs Happy

          Dear J,
          Yours is an interesting interpretation. In my opinion, not buying the pie had nothing to do with power at all. JJ you are obsessed about power and imagine power struggles everywhere. If I had to list the top 100 most likely reasons pie wasn’t bought, I wouldn’t have thought about power once. My 33 point list of old wasn’t about power, it was about exasperation, an unfair unacknowledged workload, and stress because something serious happened that day.

          Yes it’s absolutely more statement of fact than ego-investing when I mention my selfishness. I don’t admire my selfishness, it’s just a part of me. I actually doubt I’m any more selfish than the average person, in fact on a worldwide scale I estimate I’d be more altruistic than about 80-90% of the population.

          I mainly publicly owned my selfishness to try to show you it’s possible to free yourself a little and accept your negatives and stop fighting against them so much. Letting the chips fall meant the people who like you for the real, not-lying, not-faking you, who like your neshamah, will still be there at the end, after you own your selfishness and talk about your weird fish and sit in your basement. And the people who aren’t still around, weren’t going to contribute to your life being meaningful or genuine anyway, so no great loss. I write about my negatives to illustrate you do not have to bind yourself up in being someone you’re not. I doubt you’d have the confidence I do though, and I think you’ll stay constricted, forever chasing an imaginary ideal others fashion. I think you feel safer subsuming the real you.

          Re your sneaky experience: Now my youngest has been at school for over a year I’ve redefined SAHMs in my mind. I now regard them as chronically unemployed people, who often have at least some of the frequent limitations of such people. I realise it’s social-political dynamite to write or say this, and there are exceptions, in fact one of the most interesting and thoughtful people I know is long, long-term unemployed.
          However, once all your kids are out of the house all week, attending school and extra-curriculars for 30-40+ hours/week, if you still aren’t in paid work, you’re not a SAHM in my eyes, you’re unemployed, given there is no-one to stay at home and mother. You may have arranged to live your life with someone else paying your way, but you still have all the disadvantages of entrenched unemployment, including, for many people, an ever-increasingly narrow mind, and restricted worldview. I’ve actually largely taken to avoiding most of these people now, because I find them much like you did when you eavesdropped.

          But on the flip side, if you want to have numerous kids, and be free to work and develop your career, without concern for mentally and physically tracking those kids daily and all their accompanying household chores, you either marry a partner who will work less or not at all and do your half share of those jobs for you, even though it means yes they will probably become confined and status-less, or you pay lots of staff (and then manage them). It must be a hard choice for men to make. Especially since sometimes the initial choice isn’t theirs.

          Because I have surrounded myself with genuine people I like, and not people someone else or a religion says I should, I do not know anyone who would not have bought the pie for their spouse. Not a single person. Now that’s happiness, my dear boy. You are chasing the wrong butterfly. You’re not even on the right oval, running around in circles over there.

        3. Jeremy

          I don’t mean to pick on your comments. I enjoy talking with you because I value your opinion, and it’s fun. And so…

          First, where did you learn “neshamah”? Do you have a Hebrew-speaking friend, or have you been watching “Covert Affairs” on Netflix? I’ll have to reciprocate, though my Latin is a bit rusty. 🙂

          Second, I understand what you were trying to do by showcasing your selfishness. Trying to behave a certain way to show others that it’s both ok and preferred to behave that way. That’s sort of my jam. I’d agree, based on what I know of you from within these walls, that you’re less selfish than most. Though it still bewilders me how you continue to write that your list had nothing to do with power, just “unfairness and unacknowledged workload.” “No, damnit, it had nothing to do with raisins, just with those damn dried grapes!” It’s not that I’m obsessed with power, Mrs H, it’s that I put a name to the phenomenon that is pervasive and unacknowledged, like your workload.

          I actually agree with you regarding SAHMs. This particular friend is actually the only woman I know in her generation who doesn’t work at all. Most of the women in our circles have professional degrees and work at least part-time. And when I think of this particular woman, I mostly feel pity for her. Because she has anxiety and low self-opinion, and she doesn’t really have a chance to improve her self-opinion because she has no goals to attain, challenges to overcome. She is simultaneously grateful to and resentful of her husband, who facilitated her choice not to work by supporting her. She feels that he’s the one who gets to make the financial decisions, he’s the one who gets to leave the house and have interesting experiences….he’s the one with all the power. Her 10 year old daughter aspires to be just like mommy. Like watching a slow-motion trainwreck.

          I agree with you completely about not trying to be someone you aren’t for the benefit of others, to win love or friendship. Such love is not love, such friendship is not friendship. It is a slavery of sorts, even if an unsolicited one. But there is a difference between trying to be different for someone else versus trying to be the person you, yourself, aspire to be. If my natural proclivity is to be selfish and I don’t want to be that guy, it is not being false to overcome my selfishness. And it’s not about chips, because I agree – chips will fall how they fall regardless. In fact, being selfish might even get me better chips, hence the discussion about “good” men vs “real” men in that other thread. Your writing thank-you cards for wedding gifts 10 years after the fact will not give you any chips, will it? That’s not why you’re doing it…

          Finally, you wrote, ” I do not know anyone who would not have bought the pie for their spouse. Not a single person.” You know, it’s funny, my wife would say the exact same thing, as would her friend. Again, the reason they didn’t buy the pie was because they perceive themselves as ALWAYS buying proverbial pies. They rarely take a hard look at the past year and realize that they only bought pie twice and the rest of the time it was the chocolate biscotti that they themselves prefer…

        4. Jeremy

          Still… Credit where it’s due. It is nice to still be liked after talking about one’s weird fish and sitting in one’s basement. Even nicer to have one remember those things and be interested enough to intuit and accept them. Not at all annoying.

          I stopped trying to twist myself into knots to be better liked years ago. My wife is always trying to get me to behave in more socially appropriate ways, but ultimately I am who I am. A friend of ours who is a vice principal at a religious school recently sent me a text: “Well, I can now cross ‘discuss masturbation with a group of religious schoolteachers’ off my bucket list.” To which I replied, “Dispense with the talk and onward to the action, eh?” He thought it was funny, but cautioned me to be careful because there are children around. I replied that I thought that was the point…

        5. Mrs Happy

          “First, where did you learn “neshamah”?”
          Oh I know lots of words JJ.
          Yesterday on my daily constitutional bushwalk, which far from being its usual isolated 3 hours is now crowded as (well, crowded for this country, which means I saw 4 people, but 2 were lost so I had to get near them to show them my map. Luckily our new daily cases nationwide are sometimes in single figures now), I listened to our ABC Conversations podcast, a recent of which interviewed Lori Gottlieb including in her role as a therapist. She spoke of her own therapist liking her, not for the qualities she wanted to be appreciated for, but for her neshamah. But yes there are a number of Hebrew-speaking people I interact with regularly.

          It is a statement of the bleeding obvious to say you don’t mean to pick on my comments, so no need. The appropriateness of the forum does concern me is all.

  8. 8
    LOL

    Dude are you fucking mental or what? You’re comparing apples to oranges in your article. If she’s had 2 abortions then yes I have a right to know, and I have a right to decide if her being capable of something like that is a deal breaker for me. Yes I have a right to know if she was in a mental institution and if that’s a deal breaker for me. Her finding out I’ve watched porn or look at other women’s asses is night and day compared to that shit bro. Likewise she has the right to my disclosure over my relationship history, what my childhood was like, sexual history things like that make absolute sense to me. In my eyes its a felony to withhold such critical information about yourself. Yes if she did some crazy shit that landed her in a mental institution, I need to know so that I don’t just happen to wake up with my balls cut off because she has a relapse. why are you advocating for openly lying to your partner dude I thought you were a man of integrity who supported healthy and honest relationships? Let people who are “Secure” date other “Secure” people who have done all kinds of fuckery and have no issue with having done so. Let people who are “Insecure” date other “Insecure” people who don’t have criminal history, haven’t had multiple abortions, haven’t been in a mental institution, don’t have stds, the list goes on. No I’m not saying your partner has to be pristine, but you have another thing coming if you think advocating lying is a good thing. Cuz see here’s the thing knowing that there are men and women who are like this, all this does is encourage playing relationship poker, not showing your cards until the other person is invested, just like you advocate right now. Relationships are not supposed to be a poker game, that’s not what love is about. If I have something I’m ashamed of fine, but I have no right to hold back something that is a moral issue and that imposes on the other person’s human rights and free will. May as well tell people not to tell their partner that they married them for emotional security while cheating on them every week, and that some things are a need to know basis. What’s wrong with you? This isn’t a matter of secure people can handle the truth. It’s a matter of people have a right to do with the truth what they will, even if it doesn’t benefit you personally. Yes I have a right to want a partner who isn’t willing to do shit that lands her in prison. No I don’t care what her childhood was like because unless she’s a top 1% of abusive households, mine was worse, and I have no history of violent crime, nor do I have a history of reckless sexual encounters, nor have I landed myself in a mental institution.

    Seriously, what were you thinking writing this? Trying to sound as mature as possible and to appeal to people who know they’ve fucked up and ashamed to own up to it? That’s why most relationships suck is people are too chickenshit to own up to themselves. Are you selling out or what? Don’t give people bullshit about lying to their partner hoping to get them invested before breaking the news, or keeping crazy shit they’ve done to themselves. You know it’s wrong on a fundamental, moral level. Don’t sell your soul to make a buck dude it’s below you.

    1. 8.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Tell me how you really feel. This time, without the personal insults.

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