I’m the queen of TMI and I’ve had to learn the hard way that you shouldn’t divulge everything about yourself–not to anyone, but especially not to the person you’re interested in. Eventually you’ll disclose personal things, but not all at once and definitely not too soon. Here’s what to keep in the safe and why, from I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To.
There are many downsides to being too open about yourself. Talking about mistakes from the past can give people the wrong impression about who you are now. Maybe you had a promiscuous period of your life, or you used to shoplift or get a little loose with the nose candy, or someone knows what you did last summer. If that’s not you anymore, why subject yourself to irrelevant value judgments? Do you think he will like you more because you had a fucked-up childhood? Don’t wear your story. Everybody deserves a second chance, but if you really are over what you did in the past, there isn’t really any need to bring it up. At least not right away. Let your partner get to know who you are right now first.
You might also be tempted to detail your past accomplishments (business, career, or financial success; mastery of some complicated subject; fame; your high IQ; that cool thing you invented and patented), but that’s just obnoxious. Let your stellar qualities unfold naturally, so he can continue to be ever more impressed with who you are. And you won’t sound braggy. Besides, men don’t care how much money you make, unless you make more than they do, in which case you could intimidate them. They don’t care about all your other so-called fantastic accomplishments, either.
It’s also a bad idea to talk about your past relationships, whether it’s the rich boyfriend who gave you all that cool stuff or took you on those jet-setter weekends or the psycho ex-husband who hired a PI to follow you around after the divorce. Either way, it will only reflect badly on you and your choices. Some guys might like a damsel in distress. They might want to sweep in and save you. But is that what you want in a relationship? To be chosen for your weaknesses and problems? Other guys will be scared away by this kind of information.
It’s better to let information trickle out in bits and pieces here and there, good and bad and neutral, so you are a puzzle, a mystery to decipher, a challenge. Don’t show your whole hand right away. What’s sexy about a girl who blabs about everything? Even if it’s clear that whatever you are revealing is in your past, it doesn’t help you to lay all your cards on the table. A girlfriend might think such disclosures mean you are intimate friends. To a guy, it’s TMI.
Sometimes they will ask, though, just to see what you say. They may be trying to figure out if they like you, or they are testing you, or they genuinely want to know more about you because you haven’t revealed very much. A guy I was dating recently asked me whether I was ever pregnant aside from Bryn. I felt safe with him and I was just about to launch into a story about a past pregnancy… but then some instinct kicked in and told me to just sit there and let it breathe. There was no reason to reveal that intimate detail of my life right there and then. What good would it do? Would it move our relationship forward? Would I be proud of myself for admitting it? No and no. He didn’t press the topic. When I didn’t answer, we just changed the subject. Men are so ADD, he totally forgot he ever asked and it hasn’t come up since, and I feel better about having kept something to myself for once. If he ever reads this, he probably won’t even know what I’m talking about. And considering how guys are usually pretty selfish, I doubt he’ll ever read this anyway.