Social Question

nikipedia's avatar

At what point in a relationship is it appropriate to reveal non-apparent flaws?

Asked by nikipedia (27300 points ) November 17th, 2010

Let me ask this both generally and specifically. Suppose there’s something about you that some people might consider a negative quality, like a predisposition to a serious genetic disease, a criminal record from long ago, or financial problems.

Someone who was just getting to you know you would have no way of finding these things out unless you told him/her. So at what point is it appropriate to reveal them?

I ask because, more specifically, I find myself feeling sort of embarrassed about my financial situation. I am dating someone new who is a couple years older but leaps and bounds more financially secure than I am. I have a huge amount of debt from college and, perhaps foolishly, when I had a job I spent all my available money paying off that debt rather than saving. I took a pay cut of more than 50% to go back to school, so now I make just enough to get by. Each time I manage to save even a little, it seems like some catastrophe shows up (e.g. death in the family). So I am in a position where I usually can’t even offer to pick up the check when we go out to dinner, and he is a responsible grownup who has alluded to having a good deal of money saved.

So have you ever been in a similar situation, in which you felt like you needed to disclose something but weren’t sure how or when to bring it up? What about the money thing? Have you had relationships that were wildly imbalanced, and if so, how did you manage it?

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18 Answers

marinelife's avatar

It would speak well of you if you brought it up after say the third or fourth date.

I would not be embarrassed by your financial situation. i would just say that because of extended schooling and student loans, you are not yet as financially secure as you would want to be.

In your case, your future earning potential is quite high.

tedd's avatar

Honestly, being a boy… I would almost feel like… I dunno like I could help you? I mean don’t take his money or anything or borrow from him if you’re not comfortable.. But you may make him feel more “manly” knowing that he’s “rescuing” you from debt or something. He’ll be all the more willing to pick up dinner tabs I’ll bet.

Coloma's avatar

One is under no obligation to reveal their past unless they so desire.

Previous relationships, sexual experiences, mistakes, etc. are nobody elses business.

Your financial situation is what it is and it too is not relevant to any disclosure in the early weeks and months of a dating situation.

I think that a casual mentioning of being on a budget and discussion of what activities you can afford is good enough at this time.

No one is talking marriage yet, all in good time.

I recently had a person I was dating mention that he would be concerend that my cats and birds would not blend with his two German Shepherds, I immediately told him ‘Whoa, slow down you’re getting waaay ahead of things.’ lol

Sheesh…we have barely gotten to know each other and you’re planning out how to blend the pet children….dude! hahaha

wundayatta's avatar

I think it’s a good idea to reveal them right up front. If someone were to like me enough to keep on going with me, that’s a good sign. I’d hate to wait to reveal them after I started to really like them and then find them utterly uninterested once I’d revealed my hand.

Right up front means when it starts becoming clear that something stronger than just dating or friendship is starting to happen. My assumption would be that when they do find out, they’ll use that as an excuse to break things off. I would rather it ended sooner, before anyone’s serious emotions were involved.

I think some people believe that they make the sale first, and then reveal the flaws. The other person is already invested in them, so they still like them despite their flaws.

I don’t like that approach. I think people should know what they are getting into and not feel trapped into it. I also believe in selling something honestly. This is what it does well, and these are its drawbacks. I found I’ve had a lot of success with this approach, but then again, my pay doesn’t depend on sales volume. Maybe I’d change if I were working for commissions.

If I were selling Wundayatta, I’d point out all his flaws first. I’d want to get ahead of the problem because they could read stuff about me and they’d know all about me. Of course, this is one good reason for being anonymous. I can reveal my flaws and they won’t be spread throughout my friend and family lists.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If it’s someone I know I want to seriously date and feel they think the same of me then I’ll reveal my own financial situation. It’s been as gentle as saying I really appreciate the invitations and would like to be in a position to reciprocate but cannot by circumstances.
After comes an explanation of my situation and what I’m trying to accomplish.

I hate talking about money but since people say it’s one of the most deadly relationship killers then I bite the bullet and have out with it. One partner chose to let me go because he didn’t want to take me on as a responsibility to the lifestyle he wanted. My current partner accepts my situation but initially I had to steel myself that he’d back off once he knew what was on my plate.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t think it should be too big a deal. He has maybe guessed already. I think it is good to be honest in a relationship. You sound as though you are careful with money and the reasons why you are in debt should be perfectly understandable. It is not as if you are in debt because you can’t control your spending. Most students these days have huge amounts of debt hanging over them. I don’t think this is fair but that’s another issue.

Zyx's avatar

Whenever feels right/related.

And I consider it the womans responsibility to find out the worst about a man, feminism and all.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It’s hard for me to keep much of myself under wraps. I don’t think there is anything negative about me but I do feel hesitatent to tell partners about my gender identity, because how they act after might reveal them as people that I don’t want to be with and I don’t want to kill the fantasy.

zenvelo's avatar

My girlfriend is in a similar situation. She mentioned on our second date (dinner and a movie) that she would pay for the movie if I got dinner, but that she could not afford both. And as I have gotten to know her, we are pretty open about our financial situations. But it was being upfront with me at the beginning that let her talk to me when she had similar emergencies to what you’ve run into.

Hey, if he’s the right guy, he should fall in love with you, not your wallet.

Besides, if it does look long term promising, better to start out talking easily and non threateningly about money now; keep it from being “an issue” later.

harple's avatar

I just wanted to say that paying off debt as opposed to saving is not foolish at all! Generally speaking, debt costs far more than you would gain in interest on your savings, so paying off debt was a very mature thing to do. And going back to school is too, so I don’t think you should have any issues with the reasons behind your financial situation.

To answer your question, I’ve previously been married (I married quite young, and was also divorced relatively young – many of my peers hadn’t even got into a serious relationship by the time mine had ended) and I worry about how to bring it up in new relationships. If they have had no experience of it, it can be both surprising and a little off-putting for them. It’s a huge relief for me if they’ve been married before too – I’ve discovered that a marriage breakdown does not seem to be one of those things easily understood if you haven’t been through it yourself. At least that’s what I’ve found from people I’ve dated who have no experience of it.

But either way, it’s also a great relief to get it off my chest, no matter how they react. The likelihood is he’ll react better than you imagine (don’t we always imagine the worst?!) and you will be able to relax so much the better once it’s said…. I say this, because it’s obviously on your mind and you want to deal with it. I also agree with some of the other comments here that say you are under no obligation to share your financial situation with anyone, at least until you are in a situation where your finances and his impact upon each other.

YARNLADY's avatar

Maybe around the time you decide to become engaged.

charliecompany34's avatar

never. go to your grave with it if you can.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The fact that you are living within your means even though you are, as they say, “poor as a church mouse” at the moment, speaks to fiscal conservancy. What would be bad would be if you were running up debt trying to make yourself appear more solvent than you are. So he takes you out to dinner, you cook at home for him. He asks you what you want to do, you suggest something that doesn’t cost a lot of money. For a lot of guys, this is both charming, refreshing and honorable.

funkdaddy's avatar

A couple things

First and foremost… You’re awesome, don’t be embarrassed.

Second, I’d guess you’re worrying about it more than he is. Unless money IS his joy instead of a tool for joy and freedom this isn’t even a consideration until way way down the line. Grad student doesn’t exactly scream “money bags” (at least not right now, while still in school), and he’s probably not gold digging at the local colleges.

Third, in the wider sense, I think you let people know this sort of stuff when it affects your decisions or might affect theirs. You start hurting people when they make decisions based on bad or incomplete information, they’ll feel you’ve hidden something.

If you have to be home by 10 because of the conditions of your parole, you should let him know before you get to the party, if you snore in a bad way, joke with him about it before someone stays over, etc.

You could let him know about your financial situation easily if he suggests an expensive meal, a vacation, or anything that makes you uncomfortable with the amount of money you’d be spending. Or, if you feel it’s bothering you and making you hold back, I’d just throw it out there like you did here…

“Hey, you seem to have your finances in order and that’s downright impressive (no one hates getting a compliment). I’m not quite there yet and I just don’t want there to be any hard feelings if I’m not picking up tabs when we go out or don’t seem excited to grab steaks every Friday. I’m really working on keeping within my means and eventually working on these damn student loans…”

I wouldn’t mention numbers or anything but nothing wrong with letting him know where your focus is.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Holy moly, if you are not planningon ever moving in with each other but just being advance friends with exlusive benefits it need not come up unless the finacial problem manifest itself in a planned activity such as a cruise or trip where each is expected to bare part of the cost. Then you would have to expose it otherwise if you are just in it for the boinking and companionship and there is nothing planned 3 years out or longer fugedabadet.

casheroo's avatar

@YARNLADY That seems quite a while away though, for a couple who just started dating (I believe) and are getting to know each other, and see if they like each other.
I knew about my husbands pretty early on. He had owed student loans, and debt to the county. I also owed quite a bit in student loans, and some on credit.
When we moved in together, and discussed sharing finances, is when it came up. When we decided on blending money we went over all our debt and how to pay it off together.

For your situation, you probably want to explain yourself as to why you don’t chip in on dates, correct? I think the remedy to that is to have dates that you don’t pay for. Like, make a picnic, or research free events to attend. And if he invites you to dinner, then he can pay. And once you feel more comfortable sharing, then I’d tell him.

flo's avatar

”...relationships that were wildly imbalanced” doesn’t sound comfortable. It is best to go with what your gut tells you. Is there anything that makes it look like you are from a rich family, but who doesn’t want to lean on family?

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