Getting to know your partner, and thus creating a better relationship, requires a healthy dose of honesty. And occasionally, that means sharing an embarrassing story or two. Whether it's coming clean regarding an incident in your past, or turning to your SO with a current issue, letting them see the real you is super important.
That's not to say, however, that you need to tell each other everything. You should feel free to keep some private things private. But certain issues and topics need to be shared — especially if it'll affect the two of you.
Sharing may feel difficult at first, but once you get past the embarrassment and open up, you'll reap all sorts of amazing benefits. "Being open with your partner builds a connection between you and it allows you to be your authentic self," relationship expert Kryss Shane, BS, MS, MSW, LSW, LMSW, tells Bustle. "While it may feel scary to let them see who you are without your physical or emotional metaphoric makeup, it's a sign that you are allowing this person to know you differently than others know you and it shows an interest in letting them feel open about sharing their secrets with you."
Below, a few issues and topics that might be embarrassing to talk about, but should definitely be discussed at some point, if you'd like to have a closer relationship.
1. Your Sexual Fantasies
It's often embarrassing enough to admit your deepest, darkest sexual fantasies to yourself — let alone a partner. But if you want to have a healthy and fun sex life, it's perfectly OK to share them with your SO, all in the name of getting a convo going about what you'd both like to do (or not do) in bed.
2. Your History Of Mental Illness
If you've ever struggled with anxiety, depression, OCD, or another mental health issue, the thought of telling anyone might make your blood run cold. But it's definitely something you should consider sharing with your partner — even though you may not want to, due to the stigma surrounding such things.
That's totally understandable, but keep in mind that mental health issues are pretty common, and telling your SO can make really take a weight off your shoulders. "It helps alert your partner when experiences might re-activate depression for you, and also can reduce stigma," says neuroscience and licensed psychologist Nicole Prause, PhD. "Even if you never experience active mental health problems with your partner, they can learn about these common problems, including that recovery is possible in their interactions with others in the future."
3. Your STDs
OK, so you probably already know this, but here's your friendly reminder to always disclose any and all STDs with your partner, even if it feels like the last thing you'd like to do. There's a lot of stigma surrounding sexually transmitted diseases, so talking about them can really make you blush. But it's important to remember that they're an incredibly common thing to deal with, and thus something that's totally OK (and healthy) to discuss.
"While this can feel embarrassing, it is essential to start a relationship with honesty and transparency," psychologist Elizabeth Cohen, PhD, tells Bustle. Do you have herpes? Or another STD? Sharing this news with your partner (before you have sex) will help keep you both safe, but it can also start a conversation about how you'd like to stay healthy moving forward.
4. Your Yeast Infection
It makes sense to talk about things like herpes. But did you know seemingly benign yeast infections can spread during sex, too? If you're feeling itchy or have some discharge going on, informing your partner can keep it from spreading, while also turning them into your yeast infection ally.
"Telling your partner not only helps them stay alert for symptoms, but also may help you discover if something you two are doing together is triggering them," Prause says.
5. Your Dreams For The Future
If you have some lofty or out-of-the-ordinary goals for the future, it can be kinda embarrassing to talk about them — especially if you're worried about being judged. But spilling the beans is a good idea, as it can make it easier for your partner to help you along the way.
As Lisa MacQueen, managing director of Queen & Co, says, "It's important to routinely discuss happiness in terms of career goals and aspirations." Doing so, she tells me, will also keep you both on the same page, so neither one of you is blindsided by career changes down the road.
6. Your Little White Lies
If you've been telling little white lies, or faking your way through certain situations — like, maybe you've been playing up how much you're enjoying sex — now may be the perfect time to come clean.
"Faking it takes a lot of energy, creates a wall between you and your partner, and adds to your stress level," says sex educator Kait Scalisi, MPH. "As hard as it may be to fess up, it often allows you to have deeper and more open communication, and therefore a stronger connection. Plus, if it's something that you need support, advice, or empathy around, they're now in a position to offer that."
7. Your History Of Trauma
Have you experienced some dark or traumatizing situations in the past? If so, it can be difficult to talk about them, and it may even feel a bit embarrassing to admit. But, whenever you can, you should consider telling your SO what happened.
"This may mean confessing to a sexual assault or a previous abusive relationship. Some feel shame about this as it is very common for victims to feel responsible," says Shane. "Sharing this with a partner not only builds trust and intimacy, it prevents them accidentally triggering you through their actions."
8. Your Debt And/Or Money Issues
Nobody likes to talk money. And yet, keeping your debt or money issues a secret is not a good idea. So start sharing that info, ASAP, and try to be open as you move forward with your relationship.
"Partners should talk about debt," Cohen says. "How we relate to money has a lot to do with how we feel about ourselves. This can be a window in to someone's true internal feelings of themselves." And it might even help prevent problems in the future.
9. Your Truest, Comfiest Self
If your idea of the perfect night involves climbing into bed, accumulating crumbs in your covers, and falling asleep in a bowl of chips, I totally understand why you might hide that fact at first. But do show this side of yourself, at some point.
Same goes for hanging out with each other in sweatpants, without makeup on, or while you're sick — all situations that can feel "embarrassing," because you're not at your best. "Whatever it is, don't try to hide it forever," Shane says. "Your partner would far rather you be comfortable."
10. Your Pet Peeves
In the beginning of a relationship, it can be tempting to play it cool and act like you're a huge fan of everything and anything. But eventually you'll want to share your pet peeves, likes and dislikes, and even your embarrassing fears.
"Whether it's a hatred of spicy food [or] a fear of clowns, if this person is going to be in your life long-term, they'll want to get to know the real you," Shane says. "Plus, sharing may just mean that you find out about their fear of spiders, their love of prunes, or you may just find out that they, too, hate spicy food!"
11. Your Secret Bathroom Issues
Let's say you have irritable bowel syndrome, or a problem with bladder leakage (which is a common issue for ladies, especially if you've had a kid). You can either live your life shuffling off the bathroom, pretending nothing's wrong. Or, you can fess up.
"If your partner loves you for you, then a little thing like this isn't going to change that," LA & NYC Dating Coach and Always Discreet Boutique partner, Tracey Steinberg tells Bustle. "In fact, it may inspire your partner to feel safe sharing their truth as well and your relationship can deepen." And what could be better than that?