Letting the Skeletons Out of Your Relationship Closet

On the few dates you've had with your new sweetie, you've shared your love of sci-fi movies, your dislike of fried onions and your steadfast belief that Sean Connery made the best James Bond. But as the conversations have been getting deeper, you've gotten a little nervous about how this new potential partner will react to a few of the skeletons you've got stashed away in your closet.

Here's how to tell them when...

You've Been Married/Have Kids

It's always a good idea to get the potential date-breaker news out in the first three months of your relationship, when you're still in the getting-to-know-you stages. What's really important, though, is how you sound when you talk about your previous marriage. Your date will immediately wonder how much baggage you're bringing into your new relationship, so show you're positive - not resentful - about the breakup, by stressing what you've learned from the experience.

You've Got an STD

Bring this topic up before you're naked and horizontal. You'll have to be blunt - sexually transmitted diseases will rarely come up in casual conversation. Be clear about the risks to your new partner, but stress how you plan to handle it safely for both of you. Then be patient while your new lover comes to terms with it.

You've Got a Wild, Wild Past

You'll be tempted, but unless it's a really big issue, or will affect him or her, keep your mouth shut. If you must blab - for example, you think they'll hear something from someone else - start small, with the condensed version of your experiences (i.e. "I did some experimenting in college"). Avoid exact names or numbers and be prepared for a little jealousy on your date's part. Once he or she starts thinking about you doing your entire high school debate team, they'll drive themselves crazy wondering how they measure up.

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