The Question: I’ve been seeing a girl for 4 months. We were serious but she started teaching and wanted to take it down a notch because she is under so much stress from the internship and she has anxiety attacks and is on medication for them. I found out today that another reason she can’t be serious with me is that I get mad at things she thinks I shouldn’t.
During the 4 months we have been seeing each other I’ve kept it a secret that I have anger issues from a head injury I got a couple of years ago. This injury left me with small lesions that affected my mood, memory, and some motor and thinking skills. Even though I’ve been through therapy for it and have gotten somewhat better, I hate telling girls, or anyone else, because I don’t want to use it as a crutch or a sympathy card.
I got so worried after tonight that she was seriously going to dump me that I sent her an email telling her of my ailment. The last girl I dated and told her about it kinda disappeared, so I’m a bit scared what she will do because I really like this girl. I just couldn’t let her keep thinking that I’m a jerk when my anger is only so much in my control.
Should I have told her about the lesions and how they affect me or should I have kept my mouth shut?
Whether you should have told her or not doesn’t really matter since you already told her. What’s done is done. As a rule I never regret absolutely anything. You can choose to learn from all your choices and experiences and do something different next time, but stay away from regret and self doubt. They only hurt you and lead to uncertainty, which leads to more regrets.
But keep this in mind for the future… You should always talk about a serious or emotional topic in person, never on the phone or via email. In an emotional situation like this, if you really need to get it off your chest, type up that email and then save it in draft or delete it all together. You’ll feel better and will still have the opportunity to let things cool and have a calm chat in person.
From my perspective, full disclosure is a must if you’re considering a long term committed relationship with someone. Otherwise, secrets (small or large) seem to create a heaviness over the relationship because you’re always wondering if the other person will find out. Most likely, your partner will find out anyway because secrets have a way of coming out eventually.
It is however a good idea to wait to share certain intimate details until it looks like the relationship is actually going somewhere. Picture going on a first date with someone and you both go through a laundry list of countless little things that "the other person should know". Most of those are completely irrelevant if you don’t build a relationship. Unless you have a firm foundation and you truly want to be together, none of that stuff really matters… and it could torpedo your chances of getting to know each other.
Regardless of any disability, she was attracted to the person you are today, and the person you’ve been for those four months. Period.
Your best chance to salvage the relationship and keep her is to confront the anger problem aggressively. Start a new anger management therapy program, or whatever else you think will work, and include her. But definitely take action to make it better. That way she’ll see that you truly care for her and you’re serious about making her happy and being with her.