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Wedding Woes

Be who you are.

Dear Prudence,

I’m looking for advice on when and how to disclose past trauma in a romantic relationship. At 16, I was in a car accident. My injuries were severe enough that I required emergency brain surgery and used a wheelchair for several months. I maintained excellent grades after the accident and am currently working as a scientist, but I also developed anxiety, depression, and a serious eating disorder, and the mental health effects still linger 10 years later. I survived those years thanks to some amazing therapy, but my young adulthood is defined by sadness in my memory. I’ve recently started dating again and have found that matches tend to use common high school and college experiences as a way to try and connect. Should I lie and play along? Do I pretend to be “the chill girl”?

—Not Sure Whether to Share

Re: Be who you are.

  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    If LW works as a scientist, they must have attended college and while they may not have been a "typical" experience, they can still talk to their date about it.  "I attended X college and focused my studies on Y.  I wasn't a partying college kid, I really focused my energy on studying."  End of story.  No need to talk about the accident or mental health after effects.  As LW gets to know the person better and feels ready to share, I do think they should be open about their past.  LW should not lie or play along.
    charlotte989875short+sassyei34OurWildKingdom
  • If LW works as a scientist, they must have attended college and while they may not have been a "typical" experience, they can still talk to their date about it.  "I attended X college and focused my studies on Y.  I wasn't a partying college kid, I really focused my energy on studying."  End of story.  No need to talk about the accident or mental health after effects.  As LW gets to know the person better and feels ready to share, I do think they should be open about their past.  LW should not lie or play along.
    I really agree with this.  Although it's been a long time since I was on the dating scene, lol.  I remember the past might come up a little bit in very broad and general strokes, ie where did you grow up/what college did you go to/what did you major in, but most conversations were naturally more focused on the present.  Because of the trauma she suffered and it is something she is worried about it, I think she is blowing up the questions about her past into something bigger than they are.  Short and casual answers are fine.

    As an aside, this was a funny cultural difference when I first moved to New Orleans from CA.  When you meet someone for the first time out here, one of the first questions they'll ask is, "Where did you go to school?"  But they aren't talking about college.  They're talking about high school.  Because the public education is abysmal here, there are a TON of private schools all over the place.  Including all boys and all girls schools, even for high schools.  Which was so bizarre and such a foreign concept to me.

    My first b/f out here told me had gone to an all boys school.  I totally misunderstood and assumed it was one of those "alternative" high schools where kids who get into a lot of trouble go, lol.  I said something like, "Oh wow!  That must have been HORRIBLE!  What happened that you had to be sent to an all boys school?"  Oops.  Apparently it is a pretty prestigious school, lmao.

    These were the typical opener conversations I had, until I understood people were talking about high school, lol:

    New Friend:  "Where did you go to school?"

    Me:  "Cal State San Marcos.  I was a business major."

    New Friend:  "Oh cool! But I meant, what high school did you go to?"

    Me:  "Oh!  San Clemente High.  But I grew up in CA, not out here, so I know that doesn't mean anything to you (haha)."  And we both laugh.
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    charlotte989875ei34OurWildKingdom
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