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New relationships are thrilling, stressful, joyful, anxious things and it can be impossible to know what you’re doing right and wrong.
Modern life and technology have made dating, in some ways, much more complicated. We share so much about ourselves through social media, open up frank conversations about our personal lives, politics, sex, and all sorts of topics, that it can be difficult to judge what counts as too much information anymore.
Dating doesn’t have set thresholds, and every relationship is different, so it can be difficult to decide when to start sharing certain kinds of information and when it’s appropriate to ask for your partner to do the same. Sometimes, this information can have serious consequences for a relationship if shared too early or too late.
This won’t be a set of rules, but some general guidelines about how and when to start getting personal in your new relationships!
The First Date
There’s rather a lot that would be considered TMI on the first date. If you can get into a deep conversation, that’s great! Remember, however, that this really isn’t the time for anything too personal. That’s fine, and it’s expected that you don’t share deep personal details — even important ones. That’s because you’re just getting to know each other and haven’t decided yet if you want to go on a second date!
You should probably avoid topics like sex, finances, your relationship needs, feelings about children, marriage, and those sorts of personal details. It might be a good time to discuss your dreams of the future about where you want to live, what you want to do, and other goals. But save the super personal details for another time.
When Things Start Getting Intimate
You’ve been on a few dates. You really like each other. There’s a chemistry and romance in the air between you and things are going well. Perhaps you expect things to get intimate soon.
While the idea of intimacy and sex happening all at once in a natural, spontaneous way is romantic, the reality of physical intimacy can be a little less magical.
In order to be as safe as possible, you might need to have a potentially uncomfortable conversation before the relationship becomes sexual. If you or your partner has an STD or STI, it’s in both of your best interest to talk about it. Regular testing is a prudent measure if you’re dating, but you should both have a conversation about your sexual health, especially if there’s an issue to talk about. In some states, it’s a criminal act to neglect to tell a sexual partner about an STD or STI.
This can be difficult to talk about, but it’s the time to start being painfully honest and communicating with 100 percent sincerity.
Once you’ve started exclusively and seriously dating, you can start to approach more serious life conversations. Once you’re properly dating and the “getting to know each other” stage is over, the environment is likely going to be much more comfortable for speculative conversations about serious life events. Kids and marriage open up as conversation topics, but keep the discussions very general. Don’t make plans, but it’s definitely the right time to talk about your desires and needs in a more long-term partner. When you feel like you want to start having kids and what kind of wedding you might want, these are approachable topics during this stage!
There are potentially difficult conversations that you need to have before you move in together. Moving in often involves an entangling of finances, and so before making this milestone decision, you need to talk about money.
When you move in, are you keeping finances separate? Will you open a joint account? Who will be responsible for which expenses?
Then there’s the unfortunate topic of debt. Prior to moving in is a very good time to discuss any debt either of you might have. If one person has a lot of debt, they may need assistance from the other partner for things like credit applications, apartment applications, and car loans. If you’re not planning on combining finances (most people usually don’t do this until they’re married), one person’s debt can still hurt the household if you’re not prepared for it.
Having the right conversations at the right time is one of the biggest ways to cultivate a strong and toxicity-free relationship. While some conversations should wait until you’re comfortable with one another, there are certain milestones, such as sex and moving in together, that you shouldn’t go into blind.