About the Author

Honey's main interests are online dating, long distance dating, and long term relationships. She met her boyfriend on MySpace and they have been exclusive since their first date over three years ago. Currently they live in Tempe, Arizona. Honey graduated with her PhD in Composition and Rhetoric in May 2009. You can contact Honey via email here or online here.

When Do You Have “The Talk”?

No, I don’t necessarily mean the talk as in, the “where is this relationship going” talk that every gal is desperate to have and every guy is desperate to avoid (at least that’s how the stereotype goes…when I was actively dating it seemed to me that every guy wanted to be exclusive by date three and I was like, um…).

No.  I’m talking about your talk.  It seems to me that for everyone, there is something about themselves that, for one reason or another, they do not feel comfortable revealing to just anyone.  Usually this discomfort stems from the fact that whatever the “secret” is, it has the potential to negatively influence someone’s decision about whether or not you are long-term material.  I’m talking about that something you don’t feel comfortable revealing until you’ve been dating for awhile so it’s like you are telling a friend who will stay with you through it all…but that you feel dishonest for not revealing sooner because it is like you are tricking the other person, or at least manipulating them by waiting until they feel attached to you before springing the trap.

For me, it is the fact that I stand a 50% chance of becoming quadriplegic by the time I am in my forties.

This issue came up tangentially in the comments to my latest post, when I said that my mother died of a dominantly inherited degenerative neurological disorder, and DD mentioned that she had a genetic issue that led her to feel that if she ever had kids, she would probably prefer adoption.

Now, I am not going to give advice on this issue, partly because I don’t remember when the BF and I talked about this for the first time and partly because it’s asinine to ever say that you could be an expert on things like this.  In fact, I always feel like I’m horrible at “breaking the news” because my mom died when I was in college and I was in a sorority, so…I told one person why I was leaving and by the time I came back, every single person I knew had heard about it, including my professors (one of my sorority sisters went around to all of my classes to clear my absence with my professors).

But it’s something I used to think a lot about because almost everyone wants kids, and of those that want them, almost everyone wants their own.  So this means that for me, when I was dating some guy, I not only had some sort of obligation to discuss my potential medical issues with them, but also to potentially crush their dream of having their own kids.  A-w-k-w-a-r-d.

Yet above and beyond the fact that my potential medical problems are an issue in the “will I become a parent” department and the “will I die before you” department, my mother’s illness and death is a huge part of what makes me who I am.  The real reason I am a type A personality is because by the time I was in high school I did all the budgeting, bill paying, cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping for a family of four.  Beyond that, I fed my mother, took her to the bathroom, moved her from the bed to the wheelchair to the La-Z-Boy, gave her her medicines, and well, everything that goes along with taking care of someone who can’t take care of themselves.

While everyone else I knew was deciding whether to go to college and which schools were the party schools, I was getting straight A’s and participating in every after-school activity under the sun – partly so I wouldn’t have to go home, but also because we didn’t have health insurance and my dad hadn’t set anything aside for me and my sister to go to college, so the only way I would get out – the only way I could ever escape – was if I paid for everything myself.

When I was applying to colleges, my dad said that he would buy me a car, a computer, whatever I wanted – if I would stay at home and go to community college.  My mom told me to get as far away as I could and leave her behind.  So I was salutatorian, president of the math club, on the dance team, academic team, Fidessa service club, National Merit Finalist, you name it – and I moved away.  I went home again the summer after my freshman year and she died the week before classes started.  My dad once again offered to buy me whatever I wanted if I’d stay home a semester with him, but I went back to school after a week.

When I started college, everyone I met was freaking out because they had to take care of themselves.  All I could do was walk around campus, going anywhere I wanted, anytime I wanted, without asking permission, and think, the only person I have to take care of is myself! Yet I was scarred because my first college boyfriend (of Was Losing My Virginity Worth It? fame) said to me, among many other emotionally abusive things, that while he was willing to keep fucking me, he’d never marry me because he didn’t want to take care of me…and if he wouldn’t marry me, no one else ever would.  I was convinced, completely and 100% convinced, that he was right about this and for most of my dating life believed that if I ever opened up and told anyone the truth, they’d remove themselves from my life immediately.

It wasn’t until my two best friends separately revealed that if I ever became ill that they would take care of me, that I started to think that maybe people would think I was worth having in their lives even if something happened to me.

So what is your secret?  What does “the talk” mean to you?

After you’ve left your comment, check out the following posts:

  • http://20-forty.com lisaq

    That’s a very heavy load to bear. Shame on that college boyfriend. What a douchebag! For me, it’s the number of times that I have been married. In the past I felt like men would think that I was good enough to get in the sack, but not good enough for a relationship. But, like you, I’ve realized that without that, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And who I am today is just pretty damn cool. I think the key is to present it with a positive spin. Rather than dwelling on the negative aspects of it, focus on the positive…what you’ve learned, how it’s helped you grow, etc.

    lisaq´s last blog post…How to Introduce Sex Toys Into Your Relationship

  • http://www.runningleap.wordpress.com C

    I have a list of these things; things that are deal breakers for many. I won’t get serious with a guy if he seems like the type who won’t be able to handle it, and I bring them up as soon as I think I’m falling in love. I hate getting my heart broken, and I try to avoid it. lol

    I’ve had decent luck sharing these secrets, and I’m always surprised. My blog is now on the list, since I have to get that out there and avoid them feeling later like I was possibly writing about them on my blog without thei permission. It’s both a courtesy issue, and an attempt at full-disclosure. I even recently blogged about this issue (Full Blog Disclosure) because I was so nervous about it.

    C´s last blog post…Best Birthday Ever!

  • http://simonandcole.com Simon

    Inspiring as usual, Honey. I don’t know what to say other than I am dually impressed, especially considering my own relatively hardship-free past.

    I salute you and anyone who has been given the difficult task of providing for yourself and others around. You did it in high school for your entire family and I can’t even imagine taking care of a girlfriend right now.

    Simon´s last blog post…Attraction, Rejection, And A Shotgun by Simon

  • http://www.worklovelife.com Holly Hoffman

    It used to be the 3rd date, then it was the 2nd, and now I just pretty much do it right up front if it looks promising.

    I’m an alcoholic. I’ve been in recovery for 2 years. I will *never* have a glass of wine with you. I will *never* sit on a beach & drink a beer with you. I will *never* be completely normal. I will always go to 12-step meetings. And it will be awkward at parties & dinners for the first few months as our friends offer me drinks over and over again that I refuse. Our potential children may inherit this genetic disorder & we may have to save for both college *and* rehab.

    The sooner, the better. The ick guys bolt. The good ones find my story interesting, and think my strength is a plus.

    And the good ones always realize that they have their “talk” too. And I always listen without judgment & with a deep sense of empathy.

    Great post, lady.

    Holly Hoffman´s last blog post…Buying the puppy: Learning from mistakes & failures

  • http://dadshouseblog.com dadshouse

    I agree, shame on the college boyfriend. And good for your friends who will be there for you!

    I used to have “the talk” about a few things in my life with women I started dating. I no longer do that. Anything I’d say has more to do with past issues than the future, so I just keep quiet.

    I think “the talk” can be hard for some to handle, especially when there’s serious issues involved. Maybe it’s best saved for when two people are very close. But every situation is unique! So giving blanket advice does no good.

    dadshouse´s last blog post…Do Divorced Dads Need to Have More Kids to Find Love?

  • http://www.thedateabledork.com The Dateable Dork

    Honey – This is a really touching and powerful post. I’m extremely impressed that you handled so much as a child/teenager – I really can’t imagine going through that myself. I admire you.

    On the topic of having “the talk,” clearly the BF is (a) an upstanding guy, and (b) absolutely crazy about you, because it takes both of those qualities and more to fully embrace someone for everything that they are. Both my sister-in-law and a good friend have MS, and they both say that “breaking the news” to their husbands (then-boyfriends, one of which is my brother) wasn’t nearly as bad as they feared because both guys were already crazy about them and accepted them completely and enthusiastically. I think if you find the right person, having “the talk” can be a very liberating experience and one which bonds the couple even more than they were already.

    Fortunately, I don’t have any serious news to break to potential boyfriends, but, like everyone, I have personal information that I don’t just lay out on the table on date #1. Sometimes it goes over relatively well, but sometimes the guy flips out and never wants to see me again (which is what happened last fall when I shut down the blog after he stumbled upon it). If I feel comfortable with the guy and think he can handle it, I tell him. Sadly, most guys don’t fit this criteria!

    I’ve also been on the other side of the table when I guy I had been dating for about a month had his “talk” with me, and although the news came as quite an uncomfortable surprise, I definitely think that it made us a lot closer, and we wound up dating for another six months or so, breaking up for a completely unrelated reason.

    Sorry for such a long-winded comment, but this is such an interesting topic. Thanks for writing about it and being so honest with us.

    The Dateable Dork´s last blog post…My Craigslist missed connection: the Subway Adonis

  • http://evilwoobie.com evilwoobie

    Hi, Honey, thanks for making me start my day right by reading this post. I think your independence is awesome and your dedication to your mother even more.

    Here’s my “talk”

    “I’m considered weird by some people, even by friends. First, I prevent them from doing things because of a dream I had the other night. If you can deal with having a pagan altar in our house, and the smell of aromatic herbs daily, we can live together.”

  • http://casualencounters.com/blog/ Janak

    Nice call to action.

    Mine is that I will get bored of you and leave within two years.

    Janak´s last blog post…Paid adult dating site review – ALT.com

  • http://theconfidenceguyonline.com Steve Errey – The Confidence Guy

    Having had a safe and ‘conventional’ upbringing I can’t imagine what it’s like to have all that responsibility at such a young age.

    It’s obviously worked wonders for you in more ways than I can count, and a guy who puts your “50% chance of something happening in the future” thing ahead of who you are right now is missing the point.

    Keep doing what you’re doing.

    Steve Errey – The Confidence Guy´s last blog post…Dating Without Confidence Will Never Work

  • http://ptlawmom.com PT-LawMom

    I do it at the point where I know that my heart will break if I stay in the relationship any longer and it goes south if I break the news later. So for me that usually means early on to protect my heart. Not sure if that’s the best plan, but it helps me know he’s in it for real. I probably cannot have more biological children either due to medical issues. That is definitely a problem for some men. But the RIGHT man will love me (and yours you) regardless.

    PT-LawMom´s last blog post…36 Days In and the Ultimate Walk of Shame

  • http://honeyandlance.com Honey

    @Lisaq, I think who you are today is pretty awesome, too!

    @C, I’ve been surprised by how supportive people have been, too. And I get you about the blog – I run some things by the BF before posting, even now.

    @Simon, thanks! But I have to wonder – why do you feel like you’d need to “take care of” a girlfriend? The trick is to find someone as strong as you are and then take care of each other. One of the hardest lessons I learned as a result of my experience was not to pick people whose lives were disasters. I can slip into managing other people’s lives almost without noticing, it’s so automatic – so I picked a lot of downward spirals in college.

    @Holly, I hear ya, sister. And thanks for the compliment :-)

    @dadshouse, yes there are plenty of other things I used to share that no longer feel particularly relevant. The fact that my first college boyfriend was a huge douche, for example! It comes up eventually but doesn’t really matter as far as how I interact with people now.

    @DD – thanks. I think it is tough for people who have gone through things like I have to think of themselves as strong or compassionate, because you certainly don’t feel that way inside a lot of the time. And I’ve been on the other side of “the talk,” too – and I should blog about it sometime because I definitely let my own empathy for his situation cloud my judgment of his character in other regards. Weird!

    @evilwoobie, aromatic herbs sound all right to me!

    @Janak – has anyone ever lasted longer?

    @PT-LawMom, protecting your heart is wise – and, as you say, you will find it is all unnecessary when you finally find someone strong enough to be with you.

    Honey´s last blog post…When Do You Have “The Talk”?

  • http://casualencounters.com/blog/ Janak

    @Honey Yes, but only due to my self-esteem issues at the time. If I recall correctly, I never even wanted to pursue the relationship, but I rolled over in bed 5 years later, and there she was.

    Kind of a *shake fist at sky* *vow never to make that mistake again* *lightning, thunder, radioactive spider bite* deal.

    Janak´s last blog post…Paid adult dating site review – ALT.com

  • http://honeyandlance.com Lance

    Ouch, this is some heavy shit here. I’m going to have to come back to this.

  • Steve

    I could relate to so much of what you posted.

    My mother came down with multiple sclerosis when I was about 11. My parents were also mismatched so they fought hard and nasty all of the time.

    In high school I watched my mothers health deteriorate and my older sister change from the pressures of taking care of us.

    When I got to college I didn’t complain about the quality of the dorms. I was just happy to be someplace without vitriolic fighting