Meet Steve. Steve is a character in the TV show “Shameless” that my girlfriend and I have been enjoying recently. He’s a charming dude, and it takes about half an episode for the main character of the show, Fiona, to fall for him. He’s mysterious: always has a lot of money, but never tells his partner where he’s getting it from. Fiona never gets to meet his family, or understand where he’s going, or … well, she doesn’t really learn anything about him, or his story.
Oh, and there’s another major caveat: his name isn’t actually Steve. It’s Jimmy, and he has a lot more to hide.
Needless to say, the relationship eventually falters. How couldn’t it? How are you supposed to date someone that you don’t even know?
Another thing: does this story sound familiar? A girl brings her boyfriend of over a year back home, and they go to dinner with her best friends. Her friends, as good friends would do, started sharing stories about their college times, about the good old days.
That is, until the girl gets really angry at her friends: “why are you telling these stories? I don’t want my boyfriend to hear all this.”
Excuse me — what?!
Jimmy and Fiona didn’t work out, because the mystery was too much to bear — and you cannot live your life a lie the whole time.
Long-term dating only works if you’re completely upfront and honest with your partner. A relationship cannot be real if there’s things unsaid. And that’s totally fine, because you should be dating a partner who’s comfortable with all side of you, not just the ones you like to show.
Look — I’ve done plenty of stupid shit in my college days. But it was also 2014, and I’ve changed since then. My girlfriend know about that, and she’s perfectly fine with it — just as I am with her life in the past.
So when you’re saying “I don’t want my boyfriend to hear all this”, what you’re really saying is “I don’t feel comfortable around him to be completely open and honest about my past, and I’m afraid he might judge and/or leave me if he learns about my past.”
And you’re saying: “I’m afraid to share who I really am.”
I’m no relationship expert, but I don’t need a certification to tell you that that’s not right.
Your story is what makes you you.
All these little details about your past shape who you are in the present. To fully understand someone, you need to understand their story — and that’s hard to do if you’re not willing to share what yours is.
Up until I was 13 or 14, I was a fat kid. Not chubby, but fat. That originally started with my piano teacher, an elderly Japanese lady, secretly feeding me tons of candy when I was 6. I was getting fatter and fatter, and my parents had no idea why. Hey, Mrs. Shiba, I appreciate it — because that, like it or not, turned me into the person that I am today.
I’m still not a talented athlete, but I’ve made progress, playing Lacrosse on the highest level in Germany, gotten down to around 8% body fat percentage and I’m more athletic than the vast majority of my peers at age 25. And why? Because I used to be fat, and I don’t ever want to go back to that feeling. That feeling of insecurity, of being overlooked by girls, of being picked last in gym class — I don’t ever want to experience that again. Which is why I work as hard as I do.
But you wouldn’t understand this drive if you don’t know about my past.
Why am I putting all this up publicly on the internet? Because I’m not ashamed of my story. I’m proud of it. My story is why I am who I am today, and I’m very happy with who am I today.
It wasn’t always pretty, but through the good and the bad times, I learned a lot and made experiences that I won’t forget. And I made friends throughout all these parts of my life. To deny that my past happened also would mean to deny my friends, who knew me back then. And my friends are (besides my family and my girlfriend) the most valuable thing that I have.
So, next time you’re dating someone of whom you’re afraid to share your past with, ask yourself: do I really want to be in a relationship where I cannot be myself?
Because that means that you’re dating someone who won’t accept you for who you are, only for who you pretend to be. And that’s not healthy.
In short: don’t be a Jimmy. Be yourself, be proud of who you are, and be proud of how you get there.
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