We were on our first visit home to his parents’ house, so I knew things were starting to get serious.
The question of when to come clean to my new boyfriend about the uglier parts of my past had been on my mind for the past month.
Not telling him about that part of my life felt dishonest, like I wasn’t showing him everything about who I really was. If I hoped this man would love me for all of me—not just the illusion of a perfect girl—he had to actually know the truth about me.
I was afraid that the longer I waited, the harder it would be to tell him about it. So I took a deep breath and went for it.
I didn’t go into detail about my past exploits (what boyfriend wants to hear ALL the details?), but I willed myself to be honest about the big stuff.
I told him that I had lost my virginity at 18 and had been sexually active for a few years after that.
I told him about past boyfriends who had deeply hurt me in ways that took years to get over.
And I told him about my painful confusion over whether all of my sexual encounters during my hard partying days had truly been consensual.
It was a lot to unload on someone, and I imagined it presented a pretty stark contrast to the girl he thought he was dating. I had done a lot of soul-searching in the past few years and had worked hard to make a happier, healthier life for myself. He would never have guessed that his girlfriend had so many skeletons in her closet if I hadn’t told him.
I knew from previous conversations that Eric didn’t have the same kind of past experiences, and part of me wondered if he would be horrified by my past behavior and reject me. At the same time I knew he was hoping that our relationship would lead to marriage, so it seemed like an important conversation to have—no matter how uncomfortable it was for both of us.
I sat cross-legged on the floor and waited awkwardly for his reaction as he fumbled with his shoelaces. When he looked up, I was shocked to see tears in his eyes.
“I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry,” he murmured as he pulled me to his chest. He wrapped his arms around me, hugging me close in and letting me soak up the comfort and safety of it all. We sat there for a while and just rested in the honesty and vulnerability of the moment. I felt closer to him than ever before, and I could tell he felt the same about me.
He said he understood what a demonstration of trust it was for me to share my past with him, and he recognized the risk I was taking in confiding in him this way. He considered it an honor that I was willing to share so much with him.
His view of me hadn’t changed, he said, except maybe that he thought I was stronger and more beautiful than he had before.
A few months later, when he asked me to be his wife for the rest of our lives, Eric knew exactly who it was he was asking. And I, already having bared my soul, knew that the man I was saying yes to was ready to love all of me.