Should I tell my girlfriend about my nosejob?
April 27, 2010 12:03 PM   Subscribe

At what point should one disclose prior plastic surgery to a significant other even if never asked directly? Is it a breach of trust to not volunteer something material like that after a certain amount of time?

I am male and have a girlfriend of six months. We are both in our late 20's or early 30's. When I was around 13, I had a nose job and some other minor/moderate cosmetic surgery on my face to enhance my appearance (not to correct any medical conditions or injuries, purely cosmetic). The surgery was a huge success and is not readily apparent or visible today to a layman, nor is the difference necessarily obvious looking at childhood pictures of me.

Right before I met my girlfriend, she had very recently had a nose job and it was one of the first things she volunteered to me since it was still healing and was something notably recent in her life. She never enquired if I ever had plastic surgery and at that point I thought it was way too soon to mention something from so long ago, considering we were just getting to know each other.

Months later, things are starting to get serious, and I am starting to feel slight pangs of guilt over not telling her, but I am uncertain whether this is a breach of trust in our relationship (albeit minor), or if I am entitled to keep this secret? I feel like given the gender differences and the prevalence of such types of surgeries for women in general that her surgery was more commonplace and therefore less embarrassing or socially sensitive, i.e., most/all of her friends know, whereas I am still embarrassed and secretive about my surgery and no one else currently in my life knows except my immediate family.

I feel like if we ever decided to start a family, I would be inclined to share this with her in the spirit of full disclosure about my genetics, but until that point consider it an okay secret to keep. If she ever asked me directly, of course I would be honest about it.

I am wondering what the hive minds thinks about this, or if you would feel deceived by omission if you found out about something like this months (or years) into a relationship with your significant other?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you wore braces but don't now, would you feel compelled to tell her? If the act of keeping it secret will get in the way of your relationship, then by all means disclose it (behing honest with the reason you kept it from her in the first place), but a cosmetic procedure that's not going to be reversible (she won't wake up to see your toupee on the nightstand, for instance) isn't really a deep, dark secret, in my opinion.
posted by xingcat at 12:10 PM on April 27, 2010

I would think it's weird that you didn't just tell about it at some point. You should just tell her "hey, I realize this is a weird thing to bring up out of nowhere, and I don't know why I didn't mention it when you were recovering from your own surgery - maybe I felt embarassed or awkward or something - but I actually had a nose job, too, and I just thought I should get that out there, because it's not something that I really would try to hide or anything like that." Just do it casually, because there's nothing weird about having had a nose job.
posted by The World Famous at 12:10 PM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

I can't see how she could be offended either way. If you were transsexual and withheld that information, that might be construed as a pertinent lie of omission.

Your situation is more akin to, say, admitting that blond is not your natural hair color. Surgery is, obviously, more serious than a dye-job, but the comparison holds because cosmetic surgery doesn't a. obscure your true identity and personality in anyway, or b. raise questions of physical compatibility.

I dunno. Might as well tell her. She had it done too, she'll understand. You guys can swap stories and then have crazy sex about it.
posted by Darth Fedor at 12:10 PM on April 27, 2010

You're entitled to keep it to yourself, but you might want to be open about it anyhow.

You may learn that parents (and other family members in general) have an uncanny ability to embarrass their adult children. If the two of you are together long enough, your folks might bring this up in your GF's presence some day. Better that you controlled the disclosure.

On the scale of deep, dark secrets, this would rate as mild for me. I would be more befuddled that you felt the need to keep it a secret at all than resentful that you had kept it a secret.
posted by adamrice at 12:11 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

(Not meaning to imply that having surgery to become a transsexual obscures your personality or identity--as far as I can tell the goal of such surgery is to liberate personality and identity. I only meant that facial cosmetic surgery also does not do that blah blah blah.)
posted by Darth Fedor at 12:13 PM on April 27, 2010

It's an "okay" secret to keep in that you've done nothing wrong and I don't think there's anything to be embarrassed about, but it's not an "okay" secret in that it apparently causes you internal distress. She will pick up on this, and she's more likely to care about the distance between you than the fact of your surgery.

Personally, I wouldn't care at all if my husband told me that he'd had surgery before we met, but I would wonder why he hadn't trusted me enough to tell me until now.
posted by desjardins at 12:15 PM on April 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

You might as well tell her as soon as possible before she sees a pre-surgery photo of you or someone close to you slips. Because then she would probably think it was weird that you would keep that from her despite the fact that she told you about hers.

It's really common among my female friends and I to disclose and commiserate. I imagine it might be confusing that you didn't do that when she did it, and it might make you seem like you're managing information. It might make her trust for you recede a little, but, in the future, if you're really forthcoming, it won't be a problem. Or else, she might see that as you're lying to her when you could have said "me too" when she told you something personal.
posted by anniecat at 12:21 PM on April 27, 2010

Desjardins put it way better than I did.
posted by anniecat at 12:21 PM on April 27, 2010

I am starting to feel slight pangs of guilt over not telling her

This is the best reason to say something now. I think she wouldn't consider it a breach of trust... unless you left it to the point where the two of you are already thinking about children. It's not a big deal, Really, heck - she's already shared her own experience with you. You'll only make it in to a big deal if you don't say something as things get more serious.

It doesn't have to be a big confession, just tell her. Be aware that she may feel a slight breach of trust, as she's shared her own surgery and thereby given you a lot openings to share your history. Therefore be sure to tell her about the reasons that you didn't mention it earlier (that you felt it was socially sensitive, etc). In doing so, be careful that your own insecurities around it don't seem like a criticism of her own choices.
posted by ldthomps at 12:22 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think it was anything necessary to disclose but I would have disclosed it once she mentioned her nose job, it kind of seems strange that you wouldn't tell her then. Either way, it's not that big of a deal. Like someone else said, it would be a different story if you used to be a woman and had gender reassignment surgery and didn't disclose that but a nose job or a chin implant or whatever...not a big deal in my book. Of course, IANYGirlfriend, so I have no idea what might be a big deal to her. But I would still disclose it to get the monkey off your back, so to speak, and tell her honestly why you didn't already disclose it when you had the chance.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:26 PM on April 27, 2010

Tangential to desjardins, I think the weirdest part of your reaction to this is in *not* saying, "OMG ME TOO" when she told you about her nose job. It's not a big deal, but you totally passed up a bonding moment because of whatever feelings you have about your nosejobbedness. And it does appear you do have a conflicted relationship with your nasal history.

Genetics, really? "I'm sorry I didn't say anything before, but there's a chance our baby might come out with a schnoz."
posted by rhizome at 12:32 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

It might be a cool thing to share with you as a way to show her that you're comfortable with sharing something you didn't think you could, but it's your call. She fell in love with the you of today and what she sees is what she got.

But, honestly, keeping it from her actively is pretty silly.
posted by inturnaround at 12:37 PM on April 27, 2010

I would tell her, and explain as you did to us why you didn't mention it earlier.

My family is Jewish, and one of my siblings has the classic caricatured nose. I know he'd want to know if he were involved with someone who had been born with a similar schnozz and they planned on children.

I personally like a nose with character, and my brother and his hypothetical partner might feel that way too, but in general it enhances trust to know about your partner's genetics.

To give a less cosmetically oriented example, I'll add that my husband and I considered his family's history of cancer and alcoholism when we thought about having kids.
posted by bearwife at 12:45 PM on April 27, 2010

It's not as personal as revealing you're a transsexual. It's more personal than revealing you used to have braces. Most importantly, it's clearly important and personal to you.

You passed up the perfect opportunity to let her know, but you can still tell her. I agree with The World Famous's advice -- she's going to wonder why you didn't reveal this as soon as you found out about her surgery, so just blatantly admit you were embarrassed about it.

Your point about how the social significance of plastic surgery can differ based on gender is clever in a Metafilter-ish, overly analytical kind of way. But come on -- why rationalize a double standard when you know that it would have made more sense to just admit it at the first natural opportunity?

It's important to you; it's on your mind; you want to tell her. So tell her.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:47 PM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think that as someone who has had cosmetic surgery (and the exact same surgery as you, to boot), your girlfriend will probably be understanding about your reluctance to disclose your surgery ten years after the fact. When you met, she told you (and probably everyone else) right away because she was still healing and it was obvious, so hiding it would have been futile. Now, six months later, I'd wager she's dealing with feelings of not wanting to tell people anymore. Not necessarily because she's ashamed, but because after a certain point it gets tiresome and you want to fully embrace what you look like now, not the changes you had to make in order to get there.

Is it weird you didn't tell her about your nose job when she brought up hers? Maybe a little. But again--even if she doesn't have the same feelings of wanting to hide her surgery, and might never actually have them, I think she'll be sympathetic that some people do have those feelings.

You should tell her. Not because you're hiding anything from her, but because it's clearly bothering you not to. If you couch it in such a way to express that you feel awkward you didn't tell her earlier but it's something you don't share with anyone, she'll probably be flattered that you chose to share it with her.
posted by cosmic osmo at 1:35 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like telling her will bring you two closer. Especially since the topic came up and you withheld it. Otherwise I'm with those who say that this is the kind of detail one generally has no obligation to tell.
posted by applemeat at 1:49 PM on April 27, 2010

You guys can swap stories and then have crazy sex about it.

That sounds like an ideal candidate for one of those "I'll tell you a secret if you tell me one too" games that you can have in the middle of the night, cuddled up under the covers. I don't know if that sort of thing would feel fun and natural to you, but lots of people have odd but not too serious secrets that might be fun to whisper into each others ears.
Followed by awesome sex, of course!
posted by Omnomnom at 2:01 PM on April 27, 2010

So now you just find a cozy moment to tell her that her new nose turned out as pretty as can be, and then you say, "So guess what?" It's not so much that you were keeping it from her , as it was just not something you were into sharing until now.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 3:22 PM on April 27, 2010

You need to tell her because eventually it will come out with a third party and she will feel like not knowing made her look like an idiot. You want to prevent this.
posted by Morrigan at 3:47 PM on April 27, 2010

Bring it up in context some time when she mentions her nose job. GF: Is my incision still visible? You: No, you're just sensitive about it. I was too. GF: Umm, what? You: I told you about my nose job, didn't I?
posted by theora55 at 4:45 PM on April 27, 2010

Just casually bring up already. Not good to keep things on your chest, and this is bothering you enough that you took the trouble of asking this question.
posted by Neekee at 6:22 PM on April 27, 2010

I agree that you should tell her yourself, rather than waiting and worrying about it.

It might be hard to pull off if you're feeling very guilty about not having told her already, but, could you drop it into a conversation casually, as in, "Hey, I can't remember - did I ever tell you that I'd had cosmetic surgery too?" If you have any old photo albums around, maybe mention it while flipping through the album, as if that's what jogged your memory? And then when/if she asks why you didn't tell her about it before, just admit what you said above about finding it embarrassing, and that it's something you don't like to think about?

I've had cosmetic/reconstructive surgery, but I did it as an adult, so, I found the whole thing fascinating, and will show my before & after pictures at the drop of a hat (seriously. I will knock the hat off your head myself. It's a compulsion.) But you had your operation at 13, which is an awkward age for most people, so is it possible that your feelings about the surgery are mixed up with your feelings about the general miseries of puberty? I mean, I bet there are a lot of women who had nose jobs at 13 who are equally secretive about it, it might not be as much of a gender thing as you think.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:24 PM on April 27, 2010

If you are considering starting a family, there's probably going to be some time well before that where she would be the go-to person if you ended up unconscious in the hospital. She might need to know about your medical history, especially if you have any metal in your face from the surgery.

I think it's pretty common for people to not have things that happened when they were that young top of mind. You can always tell here that you were reading something on the internet about people getting nose jobs as teenagers and it jogged your memory.
posted by yohko at 8:03 PM on April 27, 2010

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