Weighing the Rewards and Dangers of Self-Disclosure
You may wish to try out weighing the rewards and dangers of self-disclosure using the suggestions offered here and respond to the following brief cases. In making your decision, consider such questions as these: Will the selfdisclosure help accomplish what the person wishes to accomplish? Is the selfdisclosure appropriate? To the listener? To the speakerlistener relationship? (For example, in situation B, Tom wants to disclose on the telephone. Is this appropriate?)
Mary and Jim have been married for 12 years. Mary has been honest about most things and has selfdisclosed a great deal to Jimabout her past romantic encounters, her fears, her insecurities, her ambitions, and so on. Yet Jim doesnt reciprocate. He almost never shares his feelings and has told Mary almost nothing about his life before they met. Mary wonders whether she should continue to selfdisclose or whether she should begin to limit her disclosures.
Sara has been living in a romantic relationship with another woman for the past several years. Sara wants to tell her parents, with whom she has been very close throughout her life, but cant seem to get up the courage to do so. She decides to tell them in a long letter.
A mother of two teenage children (one boy, one girl) has been feeling guilty for the past year over a romantic affair she had with her brotherinlaw while her husband was in prison. She and her husband have been divorced for the last few months. She wants to selfdisclose this affair and her guilt to her children.
Martin, a college student, recently found out he is HIV positive. Although he has sought the support of various groups, he wonders if he should tell his parents. His parents are in their 70s and relatively uneducated; they know little about the problems associated with HIV infection. He wants to tell them, but he fears that they will be unable to deal effectively with the news. He also fears that they will reject him, perhaps out of fear, or perhaps out of their belief that AIDS is a disease that good people dont get.
Tom wants to break up his engagement with Cathy. Tom has since fallen in love with another woman and wants to end his relationship with Cathy. Tom wants to call Cathy on the phone, break his engagement, and disclose his new relationship.