When to Have “The Talk” in a Dating Relationship


Nine months into a new relationship he feels betrayed and lied to when he learns that she has had cancer all along and didn’t tell him. Did she “lie”? When is the right time to share personal information with someone you’re dating?


Transcript: Welcome to Let’s Get Real! Today’s episode is about when to have “The Talk” in a new or dating relationship.

Tim from Amarillo writes: “I met this wonderful woman 9 months ago who just told me she has had cancer for the past year. I feel bad that she’s ill and upset that she has kept this from me the entire time. Honesty is important to me and she hasn’t been honest with me about something that affects us both. If she can lie about that, what else is there? I’m not sure what to think or do. I just can’t see myself continuing with this relationship. I don’t want to be seen as ‘abandoning’ someone who’s ill but I’m deeply affected by this recent revelation. What’s your take?”

Tim, we know you feel betrayed, but did she really “lie”? So, let’s get real about this situation Tim. Doing the math, she was diagnosed three months before meeting you. In our opinion, your relationship still qualifies as “new” and she was probably still adjusting to this shocking news. And perhaps she was hoping the diagnosis was wrong or would magically go away. We know you have your own feelings and your own needs in this situation, but let’s have some compassion for what she was and is going through. If you were experiencing this, would you immediately inform someone that you just met? People don’t usually reveal personal information when they first meet. There’s no set time for when people decide to disclose personal information, but for some people it may be in the second date, for others it might be nine months into the relationship. In that case, her timing is perfect! Your expectation of when to share intimate details appears to be sooner than hers.

So we recommend that you separate the facts from your feelings. And right now you feel lied to, but actually it might just be a difference in expectations. Relationships are complicated. If it was simple, we wouldn’t be doing this show!

So, what exactly is the status of your relationship? Are you an official exclusive couple? Are you recreationally dating?

Recreational Dating is where you’re just dating for fun. It’s like being friends and you’re not really exclusive, you’re not really a “couple.” Recreational Dating is for fun. There’s no exclusivity, there’s no commitment implied at all. And people would be less likely to share intimate details about their lives. And then there’s what we might call “Committed Dating.” This is where you want an exclusive relationship. You want to be with somebody, you know, just the two of you, long-term. You might be looking for your soul mate or the love of your life or the very least an exclusive long-term relationship. So, we call that “Committed Dating.”

And then to make it even more complicated, not only are there two kinds of dating but there’s different kinds of relationships. For example, a “Pre-committed” relationship is where you are an exclusive couple but you’re not yet committed. And then there’s a Committed Relationship, where you’ve made a formal commitment of some kind.

So, back to the question. What is the status, exactly, of this relationship, you know, nine months into it, and have you really talked about that? And actually Tim, this might be an indication that for your girlfriend, she may feel likes she’s ready to move into the next stage of relationship with you. So, this actually might be a good thing that now she’s finally feeling of more of a stronger bond with you. Right! She’s finally revealing something to you that she would only reveal to somebody who she considers a long-term prospect. So congratulations!

If you are an exclusive, official couple, when did that happen? Did that happen a week after you met, a month after you met, six months after you met? When did that happen and when that happened, did you have “The Talk”? Now, most couples have what we call “the talk”, at some point, and that’s where you sit down and you talk about the future of the relationship, and does it have a future and what you both want. And pretty much, you could put your cards on the table at some point, and we call that “The Talk”. We’ll talk more about that. We’ll talk more about “The Talk” in just a minute.

So here’s some strategies you might want to consider. The first is, how did you feel about her prior to her revealing the diagnosis? Were you happy with your relationship? Were you thinking about being with her for the long-term?

We recommend that you re-examine your belief that she lied to you. Yes, you feel lied to but you’re creating that interpretation based on your belief that she should have told you earlier, but she was operating off a different set of expectations and so did she really lie to you or are they just different expectations?

We also want you to examine how you feel about her diagnosis. If you were to adjust your belief that she lied to you, would you want to remain together? And also, what’s her prognosis? Will your decision about this relationship be different if she went into remission or she was terminal?

We totally get that you don’t want to abandon her. But in our opinion, it would be totally fine and okay to take the relationship a step back, be friends and support her as a friend in dealing with her health. There’s no hurry to make a decision and you can let your relationship journey with her evolve naturally. Our relationships are our teachers and chances are you found her and connected with her for a reason.

And to answer the question about when to have “The Talk”, it’s a personal decision and there’s no absolute rule. But we’re big advocates of Conscious Dating and conscious relationships, which means you would make a conscious decision about the status of your relationship and when to have “the talk”. It could be before having sex. Although a lot of people tend to do it after their first sexual experience when they realize that this relationship has just taken a step forward. Or it might be when you decide to transition from a non-exclusive recreational dating relationship to a more serious exclusive pre-committed relationship.

At some point though, you’ve got to have “The Talk” and it sounds like Tim you’re experiencing the consequences of not having “The Talk”.

So if you’re watching this and you have an idea, a suggestion or a comment for Tim, please enter it in the comment box below and let’s help him to figure out how to navigate the complications of a new relationship. And please do remember that telling the truth has consequences. It’s the only way to have a really fulfilling relationship but not all relationships can handle it truth. So, if this is your situation please do get the support you need from a qualified therapist, counselor or coach. No one is successful alone and just a little bit of support can go a long way in helping you lived happily ever after.

Thanks for watching and bye for now.

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