In this week’s Love Essentially, published yesterday in Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press, I give dating advice to a woman worried about telling her dates she has an autistic child living with her.
The Benefits of Being Open and Honest With Your Dates by Jackie Pilossoph
Jackie, at what point in dating do you tell the other person you have an adult autistic child at home living with you?
One of the many stressful aspects of dating is the thought of sharing things we think others might find unappealing. Maybe you’re divorced and embarrassed about it. Perhaps you have a disability or an illness that you don’t want your date to see. Even telling someone your age might be stressful.
I’ve always been of the opinion that getting everything out on the table immediately is wise. Why wait? I say show your authentic self and if the person has an issue with it, they have two choices: embrace you unconditionally or walk away. It might seem scary to share, but the bottom line is, if you hold something back, the person will eventually find out anyhow, so why delay being open and honest?
I checked in with dating expert Barbie Adler, founder and president of Chicago-based matchmaking firm Selective Search to hear her thoughts on the topic of sharing. She agreed that being truthful and upfront with your dates sooner than later is wise.
“Why pretend to be perfect?” said Adler, who started Selective Search 15 years ago. “Whatever the situation is – whether you are a recovering alcoholic or you’re temporarily unemployed or you have an autistic child, everyone knows that life is complex and that everyone comes with challenges.”
Adler said the key to how your date will respond is in the way you present what you share. In other words, doom and gloom is unattractive. Finding and sharing the silver lining is appealing.
“It shouldn’t be the ‘I am a victim,‘ mentality, but rather ‘I have an autistic child who is beautiful and who has taught me the brilliance of patience and given me an appreciation for the little things in life. I’m so proud and I feel privileged to be her mom,'” Adler said.
Adler and I agree that men and women on dates don’t want to talk about the past but instead the present, and that dates shouldn’t be confused with therapy sessions or venting sessions with your friends and family.
“You’re sitting across from someone who you might want in your life and this person is connecting the dots, verbally and non-verbally,” Adler said. “As you’re peeling back the onion, it’s your job to position yourself as positive.”
What people are not OK with is if you lie or hold something back. Because, when they eventually find out – whether it’s through sharing later in the relationship or through friends and family, they will wonder what else you aren’t telling them.
Lastly, Adler recommended the possibility of bringing humor into sharing, keeping things light and funny.
“No one should be embarrassed about their blemishes. They are the things that make you you,” she said. “It’s all how you frame it. It’s how you work through the rain in your life.”
In closing, I want to give specific advice to my reader who is living with her autistic child… Click here to read the rest of the column, published yesterday in Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Includes Barbie’s list of behaviors that WON’T get you a second date!