When you first start a relationship with someone, you're typically still getting to know each other. And though couples progress at all different rates, with some couples moving quite quickly and others really taking their time, there are some general topics to avoid in the first year of a relationship that some relationship therapists suggest aren't broached until after your relationship has progressed to a certain point. Though some relationship experts don't think you should take any topic of conversation off the table entirely, particularly from a communication standpoint, others believe that there are topics that some couples shouldn't discuss too soon.
Every couple is different, so what might feel like an early-on topic for some might be a long-way-down-the-road conversation for another. "The amount of time they spend together and how fast the relationship progresses does impact what stage they are in," Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, a psychotherapist, relationship coach, and divorce mediator tells Romper by email. "What a couple discusses really should be connected to how fast their relationship has moved through the basic stages, and how ready they both feel for deeper commitment, otherwise they risk oversharing with someone they will not end up making a commitment to — and this can lead to blow back and regret."
Making certain topics off-limits and avoiding them isn't necessarily the same thing. Dr. Mimi Shagaga, PsyD, a clinical psychologist, tells Romper by email that she doesn't think any topic should be strictly off-limits, but notes that not all couples will want to disclose certain things early on in the relationship. There just might be some topics that you want to avoid early in the relationship, particularly if your relationship is moving fairly slowly. Otherwise, you may end up regretting sharing certain things with your partner too soon.
1. Your Partner's Relationship History
You might be surprised to hear that your new partner's dating and relationship history might not actually be something you want to spend a ton of time on early in your relationship.
"Now, I’m not suggesting that they definitely do not have bearing, but all too often people form opinions and judgments based on past relationship information and not often in a way that is helpful to learning about whether the person in front of you is actually a good partner for you," Erin K. Tierno, LCSW-R, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Romper by email. "Just because someone has not been ready for commitment in the past does not mean that they are incapable of developing a committed bond with you, just because someone’s relationship ended recently does not mean they are incapable of processing that loss while simultaneously and appropriately exploring whether a new relationship is a good fit, just because someone has never been in a long-term relationship does not mean there is something wrong with them, and the same goes for your own history, whatever that may be."
Yes, their dating history might tell you a little bit more about what you might want to expect, but talking about it could also potentially leave you questioning things unnecessarily.
2. Talk Of An Engagement
Many couples think about taking things to the next level after about a year, though it is, of course, different for everyone. But if you're still really getting to know someone, it might not be time to talk about an engagement. If you're not spending a significant amount of time with your partner, the time you've spent in a relationship isn't necessarily as influential a factor as if you're seeing each other really frequently, Coleman notes. And in that case, talking about getting engaged might not be something you should be doing.
"This is to avoid falling into rushing a relationship due to a potentially unhealthy need for more commitment [or] security," Coleman explains. "If they haven't yet discussed their general goals, values, future desires and needs — then moving in together or becoming engaged is premature."
3. Anything That Qualifies As Oversharing Or Dumping
It's good to talk to your partner about all kinds of different things and share information — that's how you get to know one another. But if you're sharing too much too soon, it might not have its intended effect.
"People often mistake 'dumping' for 'openness' in that first year," Tierno says. "The difference is that in dumping, a person impulsively reveals information for the purpose of provoking an emotional connection with their new partner. The person who is dumping has the false sense that if they share a dramatic emotional exchange with their new partner, that that connection and its intensity mean they are a good fit for each other. With genuine openness, however, a person consciously chooses what information to share and when, after careful consideration of the impact it may have or their motivation for sharing. This person is receptive to the gradual development of a bond that runs deep, rather than a fiery connection that is built on quicksand."
4. Moving In Together
Moving in together is also something that some couples consider after about a year, Coleman notes. Like with engagements, if you're not spending frequent time with your partner, considering a big life change, like moving in together, might not be such a great idea. Again, it's really dependent on where your relationship stands, she says.
5. Anything That You're Not Emotionally Ready To Share
Not everyone is ready to share things right away and many people don't feel exactly comfortable telling personal information to someone they don't fully know yet. "It is natural to withhold somewhat emotionally until a certain degree of intimacy and trust are built within the relationship," Shagaga says. Still, she also clarifies that healthy relationships are relationships in which communication is open and no topic is strictly off the table.
6. Past Intimate Relationships
Coleman says that intimate relationships are also something that you probably don't need to discuss with your new partner until your relationship has progressed and gotten serious. Even then, that's not something some couples ever really want to discuss or think impacts their relationship. But if you are going to talk about it or feel that it needs to be discussed, waiting until you're serious can be a good idea.
7. Difficult Family Situations
If your relationship is going to be serious and is going to last, it's likely that your family might be involved at some point. Though you might give them some general information — like how many siblings you have or the simple fact that your parents are divorced — early on in your relationship, you probably want to avoid going deep into difficult family situations or dynamics until your relationship is more established, Coleman says. If the relationship is already pretty serious, telling them these kinds of things might seem natural and necessary, but if you're still getting to know each other, it might not be the time quite yet.