So, this is kind of an awkward and personal question, but I used to hurt myself pretty badly. Thankfully I stopped and I’m so much happier now. However, I have a boyfriend, and it’s a pretty serious relationship. Should I tell him? I think he suspects something from my (faint, but slightly visible) scars, but I’m really uncomfortable with anyone finding out. How would you feel if your girlfriend were in my situation?
First, let me thank you for writing in – you’re certainly not alone, as I know of quite a few girls who have also grappled with how to bare their past traumas to others. It takes a lot of courage to share any story of abuse, loss, or self-harm—whether with a stranger or a loved one.
I think the decision to tell your boyfriend about your own history is really quite a personal one. Obviously such information doesn’t quite make for great first date conversation, but you should absolutely be able to share such deeper things with someone you know you can trust—especially because it likely now informs a large part of who you are. If you’re at a point in the relationship where you feel like giving him that backstory will help him get to know you better, and you can confide in him with confidence, then you should go for it.
On the other hand, you may feel that, since you’re much happier now, your scars represent a past struggle which isn’t as relevant to your life now. In that case, I don’t think you need to tell him about their origins merely because he suspects something.
Your question reminds me of a girl who wanted to know when to tell her boyfriend that she loves him. My answer to you is similar in that you should only tell your boyfriend about your past when you feel like you need to. Then, if he can’t handle the truth, you’ll simply know that he wasn’t right for you in the first place. But more than likely, if he’s as into you as he sounds, hearing about your past issues won’t cause him to run away – he’ll only feel glad and relieved that you’re so much better off now.
Ethan Fixell is a writer and comedian from New York City best known as one half of comic “dating coach” duo Dave and Ethan. He is also the creator and editor of ActualConversation.com. For more on Ethan, visit EthanFixell.com…or call his mom, Robin.