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Full Disclosure, Part 2

by The 4-Way Panel

Dear 4-Way,

About three years ago, I was diagnosed with stage two ovarian cancer. Luckily, my doctor caught it early and thankfully, I’m now in remission. Unfortunately, I can’t have children. I just started dating again about four months ago and I’ve been completely confused about whether to tell people about the cancer, and if so, when. On one hand, I think it’s better to disclose it early, so that I don’t waste anyone’s time if he knows he absolutely wants his own children and isn’t interested in adopting. But on the other hand, I feel like cancer is a heavy thing to drop on someone who’s in the very early stages of dating. I don’t want to freak people out and push them away. When do you guys think it’s appropriate to mention this to someone?—AN

Rebecca    The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown

Congrats, AN, on being in remission, and also for braving the dating world and getting back out there. I think you’re lovely to have such a compassionate eye toward your fellow daters, but I’d stop worrying about them and focus more on what’s comfortable for you.

Right now, you’re worried about how your dates will react when they hear your news. Recognize that they might have some personal bombs of their own to drop, too. I’m not pointing this out so that you can rejoice in other peoples’ pain, but I think it’s important to remember that everybody has their stuff. But when we like someone and we’ve established trust with that person, many times we accept that stuff.

That said, dating can be harsh. Sometimes even the tiniest piece of information can cause the nicest, most normal person to write you off if it’s delivered too early. (And if that’s the case, then good riddance.) That doesn’t mean you weave a web of deception; just let someone get to know you a little before you throw down anything heavy. I once went out with a guy who I think never called me again because I admitted to liking country music, for the love of god.

Don’t forget: This whole relationship thing isn’t just about what they want. You have a huge say in this, too. Give yourself enough time to get a real sense of the kind of person he is beyond dating small talk. You need to decide you like him enough to deem him worthy of hearing your very personal and private information.

I’m not sure there’s a magic number as far as how many dates you should go on before you bring it up. I think it’s more important to decide that you like this person enough to envision a potential future, and feel comfortable talking to him about it. Just listen to your gut. Good luck, AN. I hope you find a great one.

Check in tomorrow for the straight man's perspective by Chris Kennedy.

The 4-Way is published monthly. If you have a question for our 4-Way panel, please send it to them in care of the editor at rbrown@realgirlsmedia.com. To read more of The 4-Way columns or to listen to our podcasts, visit The 4-Way now.