Hax: The right person will be glad to know your past

The Washington PostMarch 29, 2014 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Carolyn: I am starting a new relationship with a woman I am excited about. One problem that I am not eager to address is that within the past few years, I broke off an engagement to a woman who was, at times, abusive.

I feel like I would not be dating unless I was over this ex, but I am apprehensive about how this new person might feel about this part of my past. If I were in her place, for example, I might wonder about a person who breaks off an engagement or about a person who was with an abusive person.

Any suggestions on how to broach the subject?

TOUCHY SUBJECT

The right person for you will not only roll with your past, but also be grateful to you for sharing it. Look for someone who listens, who is comfortable in her own skin and with her own failings.

Be patient with this woman you're excited about. Then, when you get to the point where you want her to know this about you, then trust that and share.

Even if the worst happens and she judges you harshly for it, then you'll at least have learned this relationship wasn't going anywhere good - and it's still better to find out via Band-Aid rip than slowly, incrementally, and after you've committed to each other.

Re: Touchy Subject: I had a brief first marriage to an abuser, and when I was getting serious with the man who is now my husband, I worried that when he learned this it might make him think less of me, that I had bad judgment or was too much trouble to take on.

When I felt the time was right, I shared that part of my past, and it felt like a huge weight was lifted. My now-husband could not have been more accepting, and it was like turning on the light to see there is no monster under your bed.

ANONYMOUS

Or, to see that there is a monster. I love that image, thanks - memorable and apt.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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