When should I tell someone I’m dating about my past trauma?

Someone from our community wrote me an email about when she should bring up a traumatic experience that she’s had in her life.

She was raped awhile back. She had some really rough times afterwards but is doing well now and recovering. She wants to know when to bring this up because she has some potential triggers about the issue when she gets intimate with someone. Plus she wants to be upfront and this is a part of who she is now.

As you can imagine, trauma like this is a very delicate subject. The first thing you need to know isn’t WHEN to bring this type of thing up but WHO to bring it up with. Let me explain…

Certain aspects of American culture (and most western cultures around the world) tell us to live in a state of dualities… things are black and white, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable.

This perspective tells us that we should show off this perfect side of ourselves and hide any flaws that we have. And this duality has created what Carl Jung calls, “The Shadow.”

The shadow is the part of ourselves that we hide. It’s the part of ourselves that we find unacceptable, wrong, or evil… EVERYONE has a shadow. But in most westernized societies, people are afraid to talk about these parts of ourselves.

People want to pretend like life is perfect and hide anything that could be considered bad, challenging, or disruptive to their perfectly fake lives. They want to hide their true selves… the vulnerable, damaged self.

The reason you have to ask, “Who should I tell this to” first is because most people will get scared off when you talk to them about anything deep… let alone past trauma like rape. So if you’re afraid you’re going to scare a guy off, don’t be.

Most guys will certainly be scared off by this. The only ones who won’t be scared off are the ones who are willing to get deep and talk about real subjects with you. If he isn’t willing to talk about deep subjects or acts uncomfortable having them, something like rape will almost certainly freak him out.

To answer the question of “when to tell him,” it comes to a matter of degree. Unless you’re in a community which welcomes conversation like that, I wouldn’t start off a first date talking about it.

But if you’re at a point where you’ve gotten deep with a guy and you’ve discussed vulnerable parts of yourselves, a conversation about your trauma would be a level or degree of depth in that conversation.

The time would be before getting intimate in a way that could trigger something but after he’s already sold on how awesome you are. And make sure that it’s an appropriate time to talk about it… as in you’re in a situation and scenario that would dictate this being a part of the conversation.

If you’re having problems figuring out when this would be, create a situation. Tell him that you need to tell him something important so that you can create a space where talking about it is the focus of what you’re saying.

And you may lose some guys who aren’t in a place in their lives where they can handle your past right now. That’s okay. It’s better to lose some guys than not being able to talk about it.

Most people have baggage and trauma in their past of some kind. How serious it is depends subjectively on the person who experienced it. I have all kinds of crazy things in my past.

One of the ways I figured out when it was appropriate to talk about was just by making it relevant to conversations and talking about it with people. The more healing you’ve done around your trauma, the better the reaction will be from anyone you tell it to.

It’s pretty easy for people to differentiate between a woman who has gone through recovery and healing and someone who isn’t willing to deal with it. And men are no different.

I hope this helps.

What do you think? When should you tell a guy about past trauma? Comment below and let me know what you think.

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Matthew Coast

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5 Comments

  • Marietjie

    Reply Reply March 27, 2015

    I agree, it also depends on the subject of past traumas, mistakes and anything that might have an influence on the future of the relationships. Example religion and THE CRAFT. Not telling and having it come out at a later stage may also end or strengthen the relationship. I think it depends on the degree of commitment.

  • Sandra,

    Reply Reply May 26, 2015

    Thank You Matthewe, yes it dose help,
    I agree that if the man is interested enough in you he will be willing to listen and understand what you went throne and help you to come to
    Turems with it,

  • Nancy Burba

    Reply Reply August 30, 2015

    I would want to get to know someone better first to see if this is necessary to tell him and why would I tell him. I know some nosey men that just want all kind of details about everything but that does not mean they care.

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