The thought of past substance use being a topic of discussion in your love life can be stressful and a little intimidating, especially when it comes time to open up about the past with a new partner. Everyone has things in their past that may be difficult to bring up in a conversation, but when it comes to past substance use, here are some tips to follow when it comes to talking through this important info:
When the Time is Right
There is no set time frame for bringing up past substance use issues. It would be difficult to say after a week, a month, a year since every relationship is different. While there is no perfect timing, there are important things to consider before bring up the topic:
- Time together – While there is no set length of time to be dating before bringing up past substance use, the first or second date is probably not the best time. However, you don’t want to wait so long that it’s difficult to bring up or creates an awkward feeling. A good time to bring it up is when the relationship begins to get serious – whatever that means to you.
- Trust and security – Before bringing up past substance use, there should be a mutual sense of trust and established security between you and the person you are dating. Revealing the past without mutual trust may cause additional problems.
- The subject comes up – If the subject comes up in the midst of another conversation, it may be a good time to bring it up. Even if it is early on in the relationship, it is better to discuss it if the topic comes up rather than be dishonest or ignore it altogether.
- Taking it to the next level – If no other time presented itself with an opportunity to bring up your past substance use, do so before advancing the relationship from casual dating to a more serious and exclusive level.
Bringing up the Past
Although it may be difficult to bring up, past substance use is a subject that needs to be discussed at some point in the relationship Randomly blurting out that you have had issues with past substance use may cause more confusion and concern in the relationship than it will help. Easing in to the conversation is likely to get a better response from your partner and be more effective.
- Partner reveals the past – After your partner reveals information or past experiences, you can continue the conversation by discussing your own past. It’s the perfect way to bring it up since you are both already discussing past experiences.
- Topic comes up casually – The subject of substance use may come up casually in a conversation based on something from the news or in another conversation. If you and your partner are alone and can have a private conversation, it provides a good way to mention your past.
- Set a date to talk – If no other opportunity presents itself, set a private date with your partner to discuss your past substance use. Let your partner know ahead of time there are things about your past that you would like to talk about and set a time the two of you can talk without other distractions or interference.
Be aware that your partner may need some time to consider the information you reveal, how they feel, and how they perceive it may affect your relationship moving forward. Give careful, nonjudgmental consideration of information your partner reveals and expect the same. If your partner feels uncomfortable, set up a time to discuss the situation further when they have had time to assimilate your news. If your past is a deal breaker for your partner, better to know sooner rather than later. If it’s not, you will both definitely feel more comfortable getting this information out in the open and more fully enjoy the process of discovering your new partner as your relationship develops.