Early on in a relationship, you might choose to keep certain information about yourself or your past to yourself as you get to know your partner better. But there are some things you should tell your partner within the first year of your relationship, according to experts. From your mental health history to your family dynamics, sharing certain information with your partner can help the relationship grow healthy and strong.
You definitely don't have to feel pressured to disclose everything about your past. Instead, you and your partner can decide what kind of information you want to share with each other. "You can wait to disclose (or do not have to disclose) how many sexual partners you have had in your past," Valentina Verani, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in yoga therapy, tells Bustle. "This is not important and may actually upset the other partner to know," she says. "You can also omit talking about past relationships unless both partners are open to having conversations about the past if they both feel it's necessary." You both know yourselves better than anyone else does, so you can make an informed decision about what aspects of your past are better kept private.
Here are some things you should disclose early on in a relationship, according to experts.
Whether You Want Children
Bringing up the topic of children in the first year of a relationship can feel intimidating, but it's really best to be upfront about your expectations. If you already have a child, that's something that you should disclose to your partner within the first year. But whether or not you have children or even want children, this is something that you and your partner should go ahead and talk about, Silvershein says. "Knowing that you want children but your partner does not value this can lead to much larger issues down the line versus having a fun 'what if' conversation over a bottle of wine," she says.
Everyone has a different idea of how their free time should be spent. For some, relaxing home with their partner is the ideal way to spend a night. For others, some alone time is necessary. Within the first year of your relationship, be sure to talk about your personal boundaries with regards to your time and friendships, Dr. Nicole Issa, PVD, a psychologist who specializes in relationships at PVD Psychological Associates, tells Bustle. If it's important to you that you have lots of quality friend time without your partner present or that you need to take regular self-care evenings to just relax with yourself, let them know. "If you and your partner cannot agree on these terms or if you find that one is regularly disregarding the other's boundaries then this would be highly problematic in the future," she says.
In the first year of a relationship, you probably haven't combined finances with your partner yet. But money can still play a major role in the relationship. "It’s important to be on the same page about your spending and savings style," Issa says. "If you are more frugal and your partner is likely to spend more, it is important to know this and see how you can seek resolution or a workable agreement once you share finances." For example, do you prefer to save money by cooking most meals at home? Does your partner choose to go out to new restaurants whenever they get the chance? This lifestyle difference can be surprisingly important.
Mental Health History
It's important for your partner to know your mental health history since they will be potentially sharing their life with you, Verani says. If you have a mental health diagnosis, opening up about that can help your partner support and understand you more fully. Don't feel pressured to discuss details, and when you choose to reveal this information is totally up to you. It can also be something that your therapist can help with. "I would suggest waiting three months to share your mental health history and the fact that you could potentially be on medication management in order for your partner to have had the chance to get to know you better," Verani says. That way, when you share your experience with them, they will have gotten to know you pretty well.
Important Sexual Information
Before being sexually active with someone, it's important to disclose any information about STIs, so that they can make informed decisions about their sexual health. But it's also wise to open up about deeper sexual information — like any fetishes or sexual desires — within the first year. "Sometimes people let that information wait for years, or never even tell their partner what they're really into," Lauren O'Connell, a licensed and marriage and family therapist specializing in relationships, tells Bustle. "This might not be something you front-load your first date with," she says, but by the end of the first year you and your partner should have taken the time to have a clear conversation about your turn-ons, turn-offs, and fantasies.
Whether or not your partner has already met your family, it's a good idea to sit down together and disclose any important information about the dynamics. Do you come from a family that's very close? Are you estranged from any family members? Is there a history of conflict that's still affecting you? "As the relationship progresses these issues will become bigger and bigger and it's important to discuss them with each other," O'Connell says. This can both help your partner understand the dynamics if they do meet your family and can help them know how to support you if you're struggling with your relationship with a family member.
Problems From Previous Relationships
You and your partner might have decided not to talk about former partners or sexual experiences, and that's definitely OK. But what can be really helpful is to disclose re-occurring problems you’ve had in prior long-term relationships. "We all have habits that are deeply engrained in ourselves and have a tendency to repeat themselves in relationships," Dr. Catalina Lawsin, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in sex, relationships, and health, tells Bustle. "By sharing this with your partner, you can explore how your current relationship may foster these behaviors and you can assert what support you may need to shift these so they don’t become problematic," she says. You can do this without speaking about any specific ex if you need to. Just be clear about general trends instead of specific scenarios.
The first year of a relationship can be absolutely magical. But it's also an important time to build a strong foundation for your future, so be sure to share important information with your partner.
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