I was in a relationship with a man but we ended up parting ways as we had different expectations and couldn't come to a compromise. However, we remained friends, purely platonic, who would call each other from time to time, offer encouragement, hang out, and give support in other areas of our lives. I eventually met someone else who sees this man as my great friend, sort of brother-like, but he doesn't know we were once closer than friends. I think that what he doesn't know won't hurt him, but some people say I should still let him know to prevent issues down the line should he find out and feel betrayed. What's your take?
There are some people who hold the view that complete disclosure is unnecessary in a relationship and that undisclosed information from the past is of little value to the effective functioning of the present relationship. The idea behind this view is that the hidden data may create tension in the relationship if it is revealed, and so whatever is in the closet should remain there.
Whereas on the surface this posture appears logical, it does have some loopholes that can result in issues to do with mistrust. The person you just met believes you and the guy you dated are just platonic friends with no historical romantic connections and so he will have no reason to feel uncomfortable when you are in the presence of your once-closer friend.
In today's world, in which social media is the mirror of the world, you can never tell when a picture from the past with you and the once-closer friend in a more than platonic friends pose will appear in someone's photo album that your current partner happens to come across. How would you explain that when he confronts you?
Or worse yet, we live in a small world. Imagine the once-closer friend shares a mutual acquaintance who is aware of the former relationship and unintentionally spills the beans? Can you imagine how shocked and embarrassed the new guy would be? Again, how would you manoeuvre this awkward situation if you were present when the revelation was made?
The point is, it is better to come clean from the outset and stand in the 'something to declare' line voluntarily and avoid any embarrassing moments.
It is true that sometimes disclosing certain information may mean that you may lose out on an opportunity for a relationship, but it is better to share the information and declare your honesty at the onset than to have to prove your honesty after the fact months or years later.
The latter would be more difficult to manoeuvre as you would then have to engage in a trust-rebuilding exercise which can be painstaking and emotionally draining.
So you are right that what he may not know now will not hurt him, but if and when he finds out he will certainly be hurt.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.