By Melanie Mar

You all have experiences in life that are so private that you choose to only reveal them to a small group of close confidents. But when you start a new relationship, one of the dilemmas you’ll face is: When is the right time to share your personal secrets with a new love? Sharing your private life can be somewhat anxiety-inducing, whether it regards a previous relationship, a health issue, or a family problem. It takes a lot of guts to share your secrets with your partner with the hope that they are trustworthy enough to embrace what you’re telling them with an open heart and no judgement. Below are four things to consider before disclosing yourself:

1. Take your time: Get to know the person and observe how they react to others. Are they compassionate towards friends, co-workers, and family? When faced with a challenge, how do they handle it? You want to know that what you share is in a safe zone; does your new partner tell you secrets of others that should not have been repeated? When you feel comfortable, start by sharing smaller, less impactful parts of your private life and tread lightly. How did they handle this information? Were they emotionally mature and supportive? Do not reveal more until all of these questions are answered in a positive way.

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2. Maintain boundaries: However close you’re feeling to your new parter, you do not “owe it to them” to share things until you are completely comfortable. Sharing your private life prematurely can lead to regret if the relationship fails a few months later. Do not feel the need to disclose every specific thing that occurred with previous relationships and only give information that is truly for the benefit of your new relationship. Maintain boundaries for yourself and understand your reasoning for implementing this trickle effect; this step will assist you in refraining from dragging your skeletons out of the closet before the relationship has a deep, solid foundation.

3. Build a trustworthy record: Trustworthiness and honesty are the backbones of any successful relationship, but while you’re establishing yourselves as a couple, withholding certain information is not particularly a bad thing. If asked something directly that you do not wish to answer, gently steer the direction of conversation to another subject. If that fails, simply state that you would prefer to discuss it later as your relationship progresses. Initially, keep it light when it comes to your discussions with your new significant other. Keeping a few secrets may be in everyone’s best interest. You’re not pretending to be someone you’re not; you’re just revealing things about yourself in small doses and at appropriate times.

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4. Know that some secrets are healthy: Not all secrets are bad! There’s something to be said for the curiosity that can come from being with someone you don’t know absolutely everything about. Withholding tidbits of information about yourself can add a sense of mystery that will keep the relationship fresh and exciting when your partner learns something new about you.

Remember personal information is sacred. It should not be disclosed without great contemplation. You have to decide if the things you’re withholding will significantly alter the a new and vulnerable relationship. Still, know that in a long-term, committed relationship, secrets should be kept to an absolute minimum.

Melanie Mar is a celebrity relationship specialist, matchmaker and life coach.