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Dating Maze #377: Too Much Information?
Dating Advice 377

Dating Maze #377: Too Much Information?

When I revealed personal information, he broke if off cold.


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I want to thank you for all your wisdom and advice. I now have a question of my own and hope you can help me out.

I recently dated a very nice guy who came from a divorced home. He was very sweet and our first two dates went very well. On the third date, he started to open up by telling me about his life and some of the hardships he went through growing up. His parents split up when he was young and his father has nothing to do with him.

I felt that the time was right for me to share something personal, so I told him about a discreet medical issue I have. He thanked me for letting him know, and after that communicated that he’d decided to stop seeing me.

I feel we left off very cold. I figure that relationships must be difficult for him, given how rejected he feels by his father. I was thinking it might be a good idea for me to write him a letter, to express my feelings that I think he’s a great guy and I'm not insulted and don't harbor any hard feelings about his decision. Or should I just let time go on and forget about it?

I’d greatly appreciate your advice.


Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

Rosie and Sherry's Answer:

Dear Jacqueline,

Given that many courtships end after a few dates, before the daters have developed even a fledgling relationship, it seems a bit unusual to write someone a letter at this juncture. Perhaps the reason you'd like to write to this man is to give yourself closure.

We can understand why you’re feeling this way, since things “left off very cold." Your first three dates seemed to be going well, and yet when you opened up a bit to each other, it was over. It's a little unsettling to have revealed personal information which is now "just hanging out there,” without the two of you having the opportunity to discuss it.

It will be helpful for you to process what happened, so that you can resolve your feelings and move on more easily. But we don't believe that you should do so by sending this man a letter. The steps you can take actually don't involve him at all.

Imagine what you would say in such a letter. Would you say something along the lines of, "I understand that the information I gave you about my medical condition was hard for you to digest, and I don't have any hard feelings toward you for not being able to handle it”? If this was the reason he decided to end things, does he really need to hear, "I forgive you?" The two of you may have gotten along nicely, but at these early stages you didn't yet have a relationship, and it's expected to decide whether or not to continue dating without having to give any explanations.

You can write a letter expressing your feelings – and not send it.

And yet, while he doesn't need your forgiveness, perhaps you have a need to forgive him. You may feel resentful, and telling him, "I'm not upset with you" can help you release any residual negative feelings you have toward him. If that's the case, you can accomplish the same by writing him a letter expressing these feelings – then not sending the letter.

It may also help to understand that your medical condition might not be the reason he decided to stop going out. It may have been his revelation about his difficult upbringing, rather than yours, which made him feel uncomfortable. Many people are embarrassed after revealing personal information and exposing emotional vulnerability before they’ve developed enough sense of trust. Perhaps that's why he decided to stop seeing you.

Promising courtships end for all sorts of reasons. He may have felt in general that he wasn't ready to have a deeper relationship with anyone at this point in his life. Or perhaps he thought the chemistry between you wasn't what he expected.

While it's puzzling and frustrating to be on the receiving end of a break-up, this is an unfortunate part of the dating process and he is not obligated to explain his reasons to you. You're also doing yourself a disservice by agonizing over why this ended and if any of it was your "fault."

If writing a letter (that you don’t send) helps you move forward, then write it. Or, you may be able to accomplish the same by talking your feelings over with a close, trusted friend.

Looking Forward

We can understand that this experience may make you hesitant to discuss your medical condition in the future. Unfortunately, this is probably something you can’t avoid – a partner’s health is a factor that everyone is entitled to take into consideration when making a decision about marriage. However, you do have leeway about when and how to discuss your medical history. You don’t need to reveal a “discreet” condition early in a courtship. This is private information that only people who seem to have potential need to know, so we suggest that you wait until at least several dates have taken place before opening up about it.

We also suggest that you explain your situation with a positive perspective. If you have a condition like diabetes, you might say:

“I have something important to tell you. It’s a little sensitive, and I was advised to wait until we’d dated a number of times before telling you about it. I hope you’ve been able to see that I live a full life, that I feel good, and that I take care of myself. Most people don’t know that I manage a medical condition relatively well. It’s called diabetes and it means that my body doesn’t produce enough of a hormone called insulin that helps me digest carbohydrates. I take medicine, watch my diet, and exercise, and that helps me stay as healthy as I can. I can explain further if you’d like me to.”

The idea is to let him know that you are managing your condition, give brief but concise information about it, and be willing to go into more detail and answer questions.

What about those daters on the receiving end of this information? It’s important to take some time to understand and absorb it. You can ask questions about how the condition affects the person’s life and what she does to manage it. But don’t give her the third degree. You can ask if the condition is hereditary, if it will affect her ability to have children, and if it may shorten her life-expectancy. But understand that answers to these questions depend on ever-changing medical advancements.

Learn more about the condition before deciding whether or not to continue dating.

If you’re a bit unsettled by your date’s revelation, learn more about the condition before deciding whether or not to continue dating. Do some online research, contact a medical information organization, or ask for permission to speak with her doctor. After all your questions have been answered, and the surprise of the information has worn off, you’ll be better able to consider whether you are comfortable enough to continue dating.

Finally, it seems that the most difficult aspect of the courtship you described was the vague way things ended. Many people find it difficult to break up “diplomatically” after going out three or more times. They often don’t want to state the real reason for the break-up, usually because they don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Even though they’re not obligated to say why they are stopping, it is still better to use some “generic explanation” and make clear that the courtship is over. For example:

  • “I did a lot of thinking about our dating, and I realized that we’re going in different directions in life.”
  • “Although I enjoyed getting to know you, you’re not what I’m looking for.”
  • “We’re good for each other on paper, but we aren’t making enough of a connection. I think we should stop seeing each other.”

Your date will feel better knowing that this was a considered decision rather than a hasty one, and understands clearly that things won’t be continuing.

We hope you will soon come to terms with this break-up and move confidently forward.

Rosie & Sherry

February 23, 2013

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 14

(11) Sonia, March 13, 2013 9:27 AM

In the realm of self confidence

Dating time is a vulnerable time and for good reason

getting married and Baruch HaShem having children

must by nature be done in season.

What matters is that the inner self can shine

and be appreciated with whatever date first, second, or third you happen to be on

When he is ready he will wed

whether you said this or that may not even be the reason - each in his season!

(10) SusanE, March 10, 2013 4:32 PM

This wasn't the time to Tell him

The girl got the timing wrong. After a few good dates, he talked about his childhood and parents divorce. The way I understand her letter is that at that time she decided to tell him somethig personal about herself. Did she listen to him when he was talking. Did she reply with kindness? I don't think her personal revelation was the reason he doesn't see her any longer. For example 3rd date. He: My childhood was very hard. She: Oh, that's too bad. I have colitis..

(9) Anonymous, March 6, 2013 10:34 PM

Again and again ...

I wish I had considered this topic before I found and lost someone very special to me when he asked a general question to me (after hours and days of talking before we actually met; we were matched by a shadchan on a dating site). I worried about answering, but I felt it would not be just to let our relationship continue without being candid. The thing is, there were LAYERS to my answer, which I also shared (having to do with abuse and safety and survival) which, I believe, pushed him away. And my own lack of confidence, due, in large part, I think, to my upbringing, brought out all kinds of unworthiness in myself when he rejected me. It's been years, and I realize that if I had processed ALL OF IT in relation to his question, it would not have been important to share that. Which doesn't mean I would be deceptive. It DOES mean that I would have taken as much care of myself as I tried to protect him. It was huge lesson ... and loss ... for me. I agree that whatever the sharing would concern may vary from person to person, however, I would advise others to know themselves. I fell apart with shame for what happened to me. And there is that saying that it's all in the delivery, right? Wishing this writer all the best in the future. I think the suggestions made here by Rosie and Sherrie will help you, and all of us who search and yearn for a lifelong love, to get to know ourselves better and approach such a dilemma with confidence and grace.

(8) Esty, March 6, 2013 12:33 PM

I can relate to this and have since kicked myself for years. I dated a very nice guy from a very nice family who confided in me he had diabetes. I promptly stopped all contact. Hes since gone on to marry and have 11 kids. Self employed. Super all round regular guy who was the ultimate catch. Next guy I dated admitted he had a long history of depression and panic attacks following his father dying whilst he was home alone. At times he was unable to leave the house but by time I meet him he was working, studying, and had a regular nice life style but still touched base with his therapist monthly. To say I am guilty ridden, ashamed and mortified now is an understatement. Those 2 experiences haunt me even 20 plus years later

(7) Anonymous, March 3, 2013 6:23 PM

not enough info here

I don't know what the condition was, so who knows why he broke it off. If it was diabetes or bipolar, both very serious conditions it's possible that this was the reason. Or if it was something minor maybe he freaked out at learning too much too soon. You will never know. are angry and you have a right to feel angry, even if it's nobody's fault. Writing a letter saying you're not angry is not honest and anybody would see through it in a minute. If I got such a letter I'd feel like I was being stalked. Do what The Rules suggest...take a day or two talking to friends etc saying how angry you are how unfair it is. "Then on day three you brush off a tear being careful not to smudge your mascara and say NEXT!" If this medical condition is going to be one unlike a hay fever allergy for instance, that is going to have lifelong far reaching consequences, you may get more of these. It stinks but it may happen. G-d willing you will find the one who can deal with it.

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