Whether you’d like to shout about your amazing new relationship from the rooftops or bellyache about a romance that’s gone wrong, it can be very tough to keep your trap shut about your love life. It’s on your mind anyway, and we can all agree that it’s much more interesting to chat about a horrible date than a summer heat wave or the state of our economy. “People who are dating often spend too much time discussing their new relationships with everyone except for the person they are with,” says Dylan Thrasher, relationship coach and author of How to Find and Create Lasting Love: Preparing your Foundation, Selecting the Right Partner and Ensuring Success in Your Relationship. “They should focus on opening up and deepening their relationship with the other half involved with it, rather than people in general.”
Even if you’re sure that sharing your latest relationship angst will lead to instantly bonding and shared laughter with someone, it’s not always good idea to bring it up. Ultimately, you risk looking like a flake and/or getting bad advice instead of getting the desired result. Here, then, is a short list of those who should be kept in the dark about both your crushes and your heartbreaks:
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1. Your coworkers
“Do not discuss [your] love life with coworkers,” advises Maryann Reid, lifestyle expert and author of Every Man for Herself. “It can become a breeding ground for jealousy and bad advice.” This might seem like obvious advice, but it bears repeating. As people continue to spend more and more hours of the day at their jobs, it can sometimes be tough to maintain personal boundaries that would’ve seemed obvious 15 or 20 years ago. So, resist the urge to spill your guts in the break room or over a long lunch.
“I shared a story from my personal life with a coworker, and she sent out an email telling people my story,” warns Judi Mason, a life and business strategist in Atlanta and author of The Relationship Chronicles: Straight Talk, Real Love, No Drama. “She shared it with people in our office and with people I didn’t know at satellite offices.” While this is an extreme example of how things can go wrong, it’s an important reminder that being professional will serve you well in the long run — and treating your office like a high school hallway will not.
Nils Parker, editor for such best-selling authors as Tucker Max, puts in the final word on over-sharing in the workplace: “Talking about your love life at work also opens the door for unwelcome romantic advances, which hold the potential for following you long after you’ve left that job.” Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?
2. Your ex
“One person you should never discuss your love life with is your ex,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Julie Gurner. “Whether you share children (and thus have regular contact) or just chat on Facebook, talking with your ex about your love life is setting up your current relationship for difficulties and complications.”
Lori Freson, M.A., MFT, a family therapist practicing in Encino, CA, agrees: “Yes, I know, your intentions are good…you are trying to still be ‘friends.’ Even though you believe you have both moved on, in all likelihood, the emotions are still raw (even if you aren’t aware of it).” Even if your ex asks directly about your current relationship, be vague and change the subject. It can be tough to be evasive with someone who knows you quite well, but if you stick to your guns, your ex will get the hint. It also wouldn’t hurt to say that you’d appreciate it if this person returned the favor by keeping the ups and downs of his or her own love life private.
Think of the bad advice Bridget Jones’ friends offered up and try to go with your gut instead of manufacturing drama with your over-thinking pals. “Especially at the beginning of new romances, other people’s opinions can have a strong influence on yours,” says House. “I have decided not to pursue really great guys because of a ‘red flag’ my friend [mentioned] that wasn’t a red flag for me. A few weeks later, I still couldn’t get the guy out of my head and I tried to get him back. He was already dating someone else.”
4. Your father
“If you’re a woman, don’t talk to your father about your love life,” says Johanna Lyman, a motivational speaker and relationship coach in Cupertino, CA. “No matter how great your relationship is with your dad, he doesn’t want to think of you as a grown woman having sex.” Try to be vague when you talk about your relationships with your father. He’s naturally protective, and even a hint of problems on the romance front will make him dislike your partner. “Don’t bad-mouth your lover to your mother, sister, or best friend unless you are 100% sure the relationship is over,” Lyman advises. “They’ll remember all the bad stuff.”
5. Your mother
“I’d say ‘mom,’ but the person I really am defining is [someone] who knows you super-well and has been around for a long time,” adds Claudine D. Hanani, a branding expert, business owner and lifestyle writer based in Southern California. “We all have this person somewhere in the rearview mirror — the one who’s pretty much open to listen, readily shares, genuinely cares for us — but lacks one key ingredient: the ability to see who you are now and where you’re going.”
It’s not helpful to get relationship advice from an individual who still sees you as a teenager or child. The same applies to your lifelong friends; they might remember hearing that you wanted four kids when you were 22 and base all of their advice today on that long-expired goal. That’s not to say that old friends (and even mothers) can’t give good advice — but be sure they see you as you are now before you spill everything and ask for some input.
6. Your in-laws
“I think the worst people to share details of your love life with are your parents or in-laws,” says Tel Aviv-based copywriter and corporate blogger Will Blesch. “I made the mistake of speaking with my mother-in-law about some love-life issues concerning my ex. I thought that since she was my ex’s mother, she would have great advice on how I should deal with a particular problem. Boy, was I wrong! Everything I said got turned around and the conversation turned into a huge, emotionally supercharged misunderstanding.”