Ask Kari: How Much Do I Need to Tell My New Boyfriend?

Dear Kari,

I am dating someone new and we get along great. We have been together for four months and I feel like I know him really well, but I have not been completely honest with him. I told him that I have never been married before and I have. It was a brief marriage for less than a year. I really don’t even count it because right after we got married, we only lived together for three months before I moved out. Do you think I need to tell my new boyfriend about the marriage or just keep it to myself?

--Keeping it to Myself

Dear Keeping it to Myself,

I highly suggest that you tell your new boyfriend about your previous marriage for many reasons. First, starting a new relationship with lies never goes well. Never. Second, your marriage is recorded in government systems, which could show up again in the future even if you never disclose the marriage to others. Also, your partner deserves to know the truth, as they may make their decision to remain with you based on this fact. I know that is hard to hear, but they deserve to know if the relationship continues and leads to a marriage, that it is their first one and your second one. Lastly, I am sure that there are family and friends who know about the marriage and they may reveal it at any time, even if you attempt to keep this lie going. Jump in, reveal the truth. It is best in the long run for all involved to not begin a relationship on secrets.


As published in the March 2020 issue of Connections.

About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and the owner and Clinical Director of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group (IHCG), which is now Kari O’Neill Counseling.

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