I talk too much. It’s been the mantra of my life from elementary school teachers, my mother and more often, my internal judge. I lean towards openness and I have this fabulous
flaw habit of speaking without thinking it through completely. Often the words just fly out before I’ve given thought to their potential impact.
Of course, I exaggerate just a little.
I have made that fatal flaw of saying too much on a first date. I think it’s why I failed the marriage interview. Timing is important when you’re just getting to know a person. The first date is not the place to disclose major issues unless you want to gauge your date’s ability to deal with shocking disclosures.
I recently received a letter from a reader wanting advice. Part of my response is over at A Woman’s Page–the part that deals with erectile dysfunction. Go read–Let Me Play The Sex Expert, Just For a Day– as you’ll feel incomplete without the whole story!
Jonathan’s question (as I’ve never dated a Jonathan that’s a safe name) is a two-part one. He’s wondering how soon in the dating game he should tell a woman about his sexually-related issues. He worries his ED will cause women to automatically reject him. It’s a great question. All the more so because it deals with S-E-X, something we have such ambivalent feelings about in the early stages of dating.
If he shared that information with me on the first date, I’d take note that he was doing the “TMI” thing. And, I’d have an honest conversation about what our potential sex life would be like (I’m probably more open about sex than the average 58 year old woman). If I had any initial reservations about him as a potential partner, I’d probably use his disclosure to support my possible lack of interest and we’d be finished. Before we even started.
How Do You Know What To Share and When?
I don’t have an absolute answer for Jonathan. It depends. It depends on:
- How much initial conversation you’ve had before meeting.
- How the first date is going so far.
- The nature of what you want to share–5 marriages, dying of cancer, how much you love football, custody of a 2-year-old ?
- What her last dating experience was like.
Get the point? There are so many factors that you can’t possibly predict. If her last date didn’t tell her something important and she found out months later she may be holding on to residual frustrations. If she seems timid or uncomfortable on the first date you might want to wait before talking about anything sexually related.
One big factor is how you’re feeling about her so far. If you’re neutral you have nothing to lose. If you think she’s great and want to see her again and again, then you might want to take your time and set the stage for your revelation.
Exactly What Is Too Much Information?
Some people will tell you to steer clear of sharing any personal information on a first date. I disagree. You can’t really get to know someone if all you talk about is the weather, hobbies and the last movie you watched. Sharing details about your life is the way to share the essence of who you are.
But, there is a fine line to be walked.
Ask yourself a few questions first.
- Do I like this person enough to want a second date?
- Is there something happening soon that needs to be shared? i.e., you have knee surgery next Tuesday.
- Would I be lying if I didn’t tell her/him about ________?
- Is it relevant to our having 2-4 more dates?
This should give you some clue as to how to move forward.
Jonathan has an intimate, emotionally-charged issue to share. He has erectile dysfunction that does not respond to ED medications. He worries that this might be a deal-breaker for some women even though he’s exploring the possibility of getting a penile implant. Should he tell his date? And, how soon?
The Diva’s Advice On Sharing Your Personal Stuff
I suggest Jonathan wait before sharing his story. Just don’t wait til you’re undressing each other to casually do a ‘by the way, I …” Use the issue as a way to begin discussing how you want to take the relationship to the next level. So often we rush into sex before we’ve had enough time to build the necessary intimacy. Sex can become awkward and if things don’t go well you don’t have the basis of a strong connection to help you handle the issue.
This would be the time for Jonathan to say something like, “I feel a strong attraction to you and think we should talk about how we want to approach having sex. I want to share with you that I have issues with ED. Here’s what that means for me and how it would affect our lovemaking.” Then he and his partner can talk about the issue and frame it as a way of exploring their mutual desire for each other. I’ve shared more about erectile dysfunction in the A Woman’s Page article (link above).
If you bring up sensitive topics too early there is the risk of alienating your date. He or she may think you’re being too forward or inappropriate. Or maybe they have some history that you’re unaware of, which makes it hard for them to deal with your particular issue. Once you’ve been with someone a few times you get a better sense of who they are and how they might deal with what you want to share. If the connection isn’t there, you risk having your date say something insensitive and hurtful (intentional or not).
I strive for a mixture of honesty and discretion. I don’t typically tell a first date that my ex-husband is in a nursing home and I’m his caregiver (it has freaked guys out). I do share that I am divorced and have had two somewhat long-term relationships, if the conversation swings to past partners (I’ll ask him about his past as well). I talk about my interests and my work. I don’t share how important a good sexual relationship is for me (gives guys the wrong impression and changes the atmosphere–quickly).
A few last thoughts….
Is this person open to hearing what you need to say? Do you care about them enough to want their involvement? Are you prepared to have your revelation fall flat or used as an excuse to walk away?
It’s a risk you have to take at some point–but only if you think that other person is worth it. This is as much about taking care of yourself as it is about revealing information to a potential partner. Err on the side of caution when discussing really difficult topics.
And lastly, Jonathan, thank you for trusting me to give you what I hope has been useful advice. Good luck with your dating experiences, she’s out there somewhere.
Readers, do you have stories to share about how you handle sharing on a first or second date?
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