How To Air Your Dirty Laundry And 2 Topics You Have To Discuss

Women's Dating

How to Air Your Dirty Laundry (And 2 Topics You HAVE to Discuss)

Rachel Dack

Written by: Rachel Dack

Rachel Dack

Rachel Dack is a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) and relationship coach specializing in individual and couples psychotherapy. Rachel's areas of expertise include relationships, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and self-esteem.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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There are several facts of life that are unavoidable:

  • We all have a past.
  • We all have experienced great pain.
  • We all have intimate details about ourselves that are difficult to share with others.
  • We all have made mistakes and had moments we were not proud of.

These essential truths may equate to what some commonly call “dirty laundry” in the dating and relationship world.  The expression “airing your dirty laundry” generally refers to revealing issues that are meant to be private or sharing secrets with others who are uninvolved.

Your dirty laundry might more specifically refer to romantic or sexual experiences with other men or boyfriends, medical or health issues pertaining to being a female, fighting with your partner in public and a variety of other topics.

If honesty is generally the best method in creating genuine connection with your new guy, knowing where it is appropriate to draw the line between healthy sharing and over-sharing can be delicate to navigate.

Everyone has baggage and an imperfect past

However, how you handle your struggles and hardships and grow from them matter most to the quality of your present relationships.

How you choose to communicate your personal issues is just as important to the health of your new relationship.It is important to be honest but selective about what you share and when.

It is particularly helpful to analyze your reasons for sharing or not sharing to assess what is important (and not important) for your new guy to know.

While assessing your purpose in bringing topics up, use the following questions as guidelines:

  • Is the information important in present time?
  • Is it hurtful? Is it helpful?
  • Will it increase understanding between you and your partner?
  • What is there to gain in telling him? What are the potential consequences of sharing versus not sharing?
  • How would you feel if someone else spilled the information or secret prior to you telling him yourself?

Answering the above questions is essential to healthy sharing because these questions stop you from blurting out hurtful or impulsive comments, such as “I hate your brother” or “My ex-boyfriend did the same thing.”

The topics of STDs and past relationships often stir up confusion about what to share and what to withhold. If you are wondering how much to share with your new boyfriend, here are a few points to consider:

1. Past relationships/sexual experiences

Some information that is relevant to your relationship is important to share and might actually help him be a better boyfriend to you in the present, such as a brief account of your breakup, what went well and did not go well in other relationships, etc.

Aside from the basics about your relationship history, it is problematic to over-share about ex-boyfriends or lovers, especially in a sexual way.

Your timing also is an important factor. Avoid heavy discussions about your past relationships early on in the dating process and allow this dialogue to develop naturally as you solidify your bond and move toward commitment.

Most importantly, avoid comparing him to your exes or past sexual partners, as it will breed insecurity in him.

If he really likes you, it makes sense he would not want to hear juicy details about you in bed with other men or your past experiences of love. Allow him to feel he is your number one guy (isn’t he?) by focusing on him and your developing relationship now.

2. STDs

If you are becoming sexually intimate with your new partner, it is important to bring up any STDs or medical issues that might be contagious, affect his health and well-being or interfere with your ability to be comfortable with him in the bedroom.

It is only natural you will feel embarrassed to share these intimate details. You also might fear being abandoned or freaking out your guy if you share that you have an STD.

However, there are steps you can take to make it go as smoothly as possible.

1. Make sure your timing is just right.

Make sure you are in a private place with enough time to openly discuss and process any concerns. Don’t wait until you are in bed, naked or about to take your relationship to the next level sexually.

2. Script what to say and what your intention is for sharing.

It can be helpful to practice or role play with a trusted source or friend to ensure you are conveying your message clearly.

3. Be careful about the words you use prior to disclosing.

For example, if you go on and on for several minutes about how you need to talk to him about something unsettling and difficult, he is going to go into worry mode. Be genuine, straightforward and calm, knowing it is absolutely natural to be nervous.

4. Gather information about the STD.

And be prepared for him to ask questions. Welcome his response and allow him to have time to think after you open up to him. Work to create a dialogue while understanding he might need or want time to process his feelings.

You also might wonder what is appropriate to share pertaining to other medical or mental health conditions.

If you suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD or other mental health conditions as many people do, it will be important for your partner to know at some point. The steps laid out above also can serve as guidelines about sharing these topics.

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