You’ve been seeing a great guy, and he asks you on a nice dinner date downtown. Everything seems to be going well, and you really want to continue seeing him. Maybe even become serious. Yet at the dinner table, he starts to ask questions.
“What have your previous relationships been like? Any good or bad experiences?”
You freeze. You’ve had an abortion (or multiple abortions) in the past. Should you speak up?
Discussing a past abortion with a potential new boyfriend (or fiancé /husband ) can seem extremely daunting. Just when is the right time to discuss past abortions with your partner?
Do you know his character?
John Van Epp, relationship counselor and author of “How to Avoid Falling in Love With a Jerk,” proposes a “90 day rule”— that it takes a minimum of 90 days for the “best foot forward” and “good behavior” stage of a new relationship to pass. Getting to know the person means spending time together and watching how he interacts with others. How does he treat his family? Friends? Coworkers/employers? Does he respect and care for them? These are usually good indicators of how he may treat you down the road.
Trust in your partner begins to develop after you really get to know him. If you don’t know your partner well enough to trust him, then don’t share about previous abortions, especially if you can’t be certain that information won’t be used to hurt you or spread to others.
How long of a wait is too long?
Imagine if you finally find “The One.” You’ve been serious for a while and are talking about rings, but you’ve never talked to your partner about your past abortions. If you wait until now to talk about your past, you might hear “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” Your partner may feel hurt that you didn’t trust him with that information, or he might lose a sense of trust in you. Bitterness and anger could follow.
Think about when you would want to hear significant but possibly difficult information about your partner. It’s understandable that he would keep something private until you know him well, but at a certain point it will be hard to understand him if you don’t know about the challenges he has faced. When would you feel would be too late for a revelation from him?
Relationships develop differently. People have varying levels of trust and openness. So there is no “one size fits all” answer for the perfect time to discuss something as complex as a painful past. In general, however, look for a sweet spot between “I trust him” and “we’re serious” when you can share your experience comfortably.
If you’d like to discuss sharing your abortion experience with a partner, please call Restore After Abortion for more information. Our caring services are completely confidential.