Opening the kimono

kimonoWe’d been talking for a few weeks before meeting. I’m not fond of trying to kindle a relationship with someone living 1000 miles away, but he had certain rare attributes I’ve been looking for in a partner, but unable to find locally.

He arranged to stop in my city on his way home from a business trip. At dinner, he was as charming in person as on the phone and IM. We laughed and talked easily as we already knew a good deal about each other. He was a perfect gentleman, sharing his delight about our meeting and never trying to force more intimacy than a first meeting warranted.

I picked him up the next day and we visited some mutually interesting sites, had a leisurely walk, lunch, and got to know each other better. We both realized the face-to-face meeting shifts the interactions.

Mid-afternoon, he said, “I want to disclose certain things I think you should know.” He didn’t share anything shocking — no not-quite-complete divorce, no baby mamas, no incarceration, no major health issues, no deep indebtedness, no sex-change operation. His disclosures were reasonably normal — a small debt from co-signing a loan for a relative who defaulted, some frustration about growing his business, and a few personal foilables.

I was touched by his forthrightness. I interpreted his initiating sharing his situation as showing he cared and was intending our relationship to be long term. He wanted to put his cards on the table and let me see what I’d be getting into if we went forward.

Perhaps my appreciation for this man’s disclosures were a reaction to my last beau’s secrecy. Getting information about basic things like how he’d spent his day was always a struggle. This man shared freely.

I realize the sharing may be just the tip of the iceberg and there may be much, much more that has yet to be disclosed. I also realize it could all be made up, but there hasn’t been anything that didn’t gel. I know, too, that some men use such disclosures as a way to manipulate the woman into trusting them.

I felt none of that with this man. He didn’t press me to escalate our connection after he’d shared his information. It did make me feel a bit more fond of him, however.

Have you had someone disclose personal information quickly? If so, did you think it was suspicious or did you appreciate it?


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13 responses to “Opening the kimono”

  1. Beth Avatar

    I went out with a guy who, shortly after we began seeing each other, went on what I can only describe as a full-fledged rant about his financial situation. My first impression was that he was looking for someone who would take him in, give him a place to live, etc. You know… a sugar mama. I tried not to let that impression take over, but when he stopped talking to me for no apparently reason shortly after that rant, I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d found someone financially better off than I am.

  2. Karen Avatar

    Personally, unless it’s a “not quite divorce” or that he’s on parole, I think it’s TMI to reveal a lot until you know each other better.

    Another key exception before you have sex for the first time is dating history/STDs/if you’ve been tested recently.

    I also appreciate hearing early on if he’s been married more than once before, how many children he has and how old they are, and what his relationship is with his ex wife and the rest of his family (parents etc).

    But two men I’ve dated recently felt moved to share their prostate antigen levels on the 2nd date. Yes, I realized they were trying to be upfront & I gave them props for that, but the medical info and intimate medical history was a bit much that soon, and it freaked me out. Is this common when dating 50+ yr olds?

    Another thing I dislike is men who share on the 1st or 2nd date how much money they make. It seems really like they’re bragging, and it leaves the impression that they think I’m a gold-digger! Plus, I always assume they’re lying/exaggerating if they stress it too much, and that they probably value money above everything else (ie it’s a big turn 0ff). Ditto if they try to show off by leaving a HUUUGE tip–they look like financial losers/irresponsible. I like a man who is generous but grounded in reality.

    I do appreciate hearing significant medical info around the 10th-15th date or so, however. Among us middle aged people, it seems like everyone has kind of medical issue–it’s just a part of life! This includes problems with depression. And if someone’s going to judge me for taking SSRIs when I was going through my divorce, I’d rather find out sooner than later. And if he has high cholesterol/is watching his diet I’d like to know so I can cook appropriate things . I do find it reassuring to hear that a guy I’m dating takes his health seriously and is honest with me about it.

    I think sharing all your financial info should wait until you’ve been dating 6 months or more and are probably getting more serious. Otherwise you’d be sharing that private info with just too many people! I’d include co-signing a loan in this. Sharing this info too early seems like they’re really rushing things, like they’re already calculating your joint assets and thinking of marriage, when you haven’t even gotten to know each other.

  3. Samantha Avatar

    I take things on a case by case basis… I dont think there is a set formula. It’s like trying to herd cats. And if we were long distance, I would have an agenda, wondering if the guy has intimacy issues and wants an arm’s length relationship, and I would want to establish that one of us is willing to relocate in a reasonable amount of time, if it gets that far.

  4. Mitsy Avatar

    I think disclosing financial info is a no no. Like someone else said, it could be interpreted a couple ways. The guy could be seeing how his date’s financial situation measures up or he might be looking for someone to help him out. If a guy spilled that kind of info to me (even after several dates), I would think it would be a way of saying that he didn’t have the cash to take me to dinner. When I was with the alcoholic, he talked every so often about his debts and while I have some substantial credit card debt myself, I didn’t let that impact our dating relationship. I was willing to pick up the tab for meals about half the time, but he seemed to let money woes add to his stress which just made him drink more. It was a vicious cycle. Money cannot buy happiness, however, if a guy is deeply in debt, then I question why he is dating anyone. Too many guys want their cake and eat it too. They don’t want to do without a woman but they don’t want that woman to expect to be wined & dined too much because they have gotten themselves into financial straits. Likewise, I don’t feel obligated to tell a guy how much I owe on my house or on my credit cards. I think unless you are talking marriage, some things are really no one else’s business.

  5. Anna Avatar

    Yes I did have a few guys disclose information way too soon and it generally made me run for the hills. I just don’t see the need to know private information so soon into a dating / relationship. Also I would be suspicious of a man talking about loans and debt so early on, makes me wonder if there is an ulterior motive? Sorry to be cynical but I am going on experience. For me, talking about money woes is up there with bitching about the ex. Just not what I need to hear on a first, second or even third date. Too much too soon.

  6. Samantha Avatar

    The person I’ve been seeing for a year doesn’t know details about my finances, and vice-versa. He does know that the mortgage is a struggle for me, and I know he makes quite a bit more and is not struggling financially. At this point, that seems to be good enough for us. Since we aren’t married or living together, our lives aren’t joined in that way. Any discussions at this point would be more like sharing like friends would do – you listen but it doesn’t affect your personally… that kind of thing.

    May be starting a long distance relationship would force both to reveal or escalate things more quickly. The reason being someone is going to be forced to move fairly soon, and probably move in WITH, possibly more quickly than if you lived close to each other, maybe? The energy and money required to maintain long distance should be enough to want to make that decision to get in closer proximity. It’s like… are we doing long distance because we sorta want someone but want the option of leading separate lives, or are we willing to maybe move this forward more quickly than ‘normal’ because maintaining long distance is hard. I wouldn’t be happy to just enjoy long distance day by day. Sure, I would give it a couple of months to see how it goes, but then I might want to know if the time and energy I’m putting in has a reasonable chance of paying off, so, with that in mind I’d try to determine if he wants the same thing as I do. I think you have to also be logical. I think I’ve gone off topic. I’ve learned that by the time we reach middle age, people have all kinds of reasons for wanting to connect with someone. How deep a connection/what kind of connection they want takes time to know. Non-relationship ‘friendly’ habits are hard to break in 50-somethings!

  7. Shellbeth Avatar

    1,000 miles is worth it if you find the right man to have a serious relationship with you. As my great boyfriend (who lives far away) says, “At our age, a lot of people are out there dating for a reason” – in other words, a good one is hard to find. When you find him, becoming a frequent flier (at least for awhile) is not so bad.

  8. Jessica Avatar

    It’s definitely easier to disclose personal information when online… there’s less fear and no physical reaction to be awkward about. I’ve met guys who have been really honest with me and I’ve felt it to be genuine and others to be creepy. It’s a case by case issue for me.

  9. Peggy Avatar

    I have been in a profound extended email conversation with an old high school friend. The 45th reunion is on Saturday. I will be there. He won’t. We have so much in common that if he lived in the same town I would be ecstatic. But he is 2000 miles away. He is a professor, we’re both writers, I used to teach college. I have frequent flier miles and I would be happy to meet and see if there is a spark worth pursuing, but he has not even suggested it. I am reluctant to lean too hard. Should I insist? Just to determine for myself whether there is anything more than this writerly relationship, this affair in letters? I could stop on my way home from the reunion. Am I being foolish in this affair of letters between two writers? It is so much fun. But I long for a man who has arms and wants to hold me, not just a pen pal.

  10. Mark Avatar

    It’s 2009. Let the guy know how you feel. Don’t be shy or coy.

  11. Rosemary Avatar

    He knows where you live, right? You’ve been penpals for a while, right?

    If he doesn’t even suggest that he travel to see you, I suggest that you suspend your “writerly relationship.”

    Look for a local guy to hold you in his arms.

  12. Alain Avatar

    I think people searching for partner at 40 is not for fun they are searching partners for long time relations and are serious about it.

  13. Rose Avatar

    I dated some men in my past that were geographically undesireable…well I thought they were but really they were geographically desirable for me anyway. I didn’t want to really commit is what I found out about myself….
    One poster, Shellbeth said “they are out there for a reason” True! and I appraoched dating just like I do my occupation. I am a recruiter and you have to know your type and you fish in those ponds where they hang out and from there ask the right questions to figure out which one you want to make an “offer” to. Oh well, my strategy.