Coming Clean

When should you reveal your skeletons to a potential love match?’s dating expert explores the consequences of full disclosure.

By Sherry Amatenstein, LMSW
Patricia Covalt, author of What Smart Couples Know: The Secret to a Happy Relationship, elaborates, "It is important to know how strong the foundation is going to be before you tell all your secrets. Give things time. You cannot know each other on a deep level within a few weeks." What Smart Couples Know Cynthia Swanson waits until the third date to tell a man that the reason she always refuses wine is that she’s a recovering alcoholic of 10 years. The 48-year-old New York investment banker says, "I’ll only go on a third date if there’s a real connection and I want him to know about me."Which secrets can accompany you to the grave? A key yardstick: Is it something that still affects your life, or does it have absolutely no impact on the present? Debra Anthony, a 49-year-old Los Angeles casting director, has not now and will not ever disclose to her boyfriend of 10 months that her 36DDs aren’t natural. "Only my doctor and best girlfriend will ever know." She’s comfortable with her choice. And why not? Along with the right to keep a clandestine rainy day fund, every woman is entitled to having a few "harmless" secrets to call her own. Viva la difference!Do you have a tough question about dating or relationships?E-mail Sherry at and your question might be featured in an upcoming column.E-mail Sherry About Sherry AmatensteinSherry Amatenstein, LMSW, is the author of Love Lessons from Bad Breakups and Q&A Dating Book. She runs dating seminars around the country and does private coaching — not to help singles marry in 60 days, but to uncover their blocks. She has given relationship advice on the Early Show, Regis, Inside Edition, CBS News, VH1, BBC, and many other programs. Her philosophy is that the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself.Schedule a one-on-one coaching session with Sherry Buy Love Lessons from Bad Breakups Buy The Q&A Dating Book Originally published on, February 2008

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