11 Things You Don't Actually Have To Discuss With Your Partner If You Don't Want To
While it's always a good idea to be open and honest with your significant other — all in the name of creating a trusting, supportive, and solid relationship — there are definitely a few conversations not to have with your partner, not only for the sake of their mental health, but also for the stability of your relationship.
Of course, it's smart to talk about everything at least once — especially if it's something that's bothering you — since doing so can mean building a solid relationship. As Carla Romo, a dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle, "It is super important to be open and vulnerable with your partner because it creates a deep sense of connection."
But, depending on the topic, there can be a limit to exactly what you say, and how often you say it if you notice it's having a negative impact on your relationship. You might not, for example, want to drone on and on about your ex or go into explicit detail about past sexual experiences, since both of these things can lead to an arguments or feelings of insecurity.
"It is important for the relationship to keep in mind that both people should have boundaries of how detailed they go into discussing topics," Romo says. "Sometimes it is key to avoid depth and details of certain topics and keep it minimal out of mutual respect for your relationship." Here are a few conversations experts say are better off avoided, as well as a few topics you should both let slide, for the sake of your relationship.
1. Convos About Your Exes
While it's certainly fine to occasionally talk about your exes, what they were like, and what you might have learned from those relationships, it's not a good idea to rehash the past over and over again — especially in the early days of your relationship.
"Yes, it is important to understand why your ex and their ex are no longer together but avoid discussing it in detail," Romo says. "Bringing up intimate details of their past with you can ... trigger insecurities that you may project onto your partner."
Of course, there may come a time when you both feel more comfortable talking about exes, or making light of past experiences. But make sure you're both to that point, and feel secure, before you do.
2. Your History Of Cheating
If you cheated on an ex or two, it may be a good idea to talk about it with your current partner, to ensure that it doesn't happen again. Why did you cheat? What pushed you to that point? Sharing these things can certainly make for a healthy convo.
And yet, this is another topic you may not want to go on and on about. "Talking about cheating can trigger you or your partner and it can quickly become an intense conversational topic," Romo says. "Keep it light and honest because going into the details can create mistrust, judgments, and projections from you or your partner ... If you or your partner acknowledges it was something you learned from and that moving forward you no longer will behave that way, then leave it at that."
3. Things You Don't Like About Your Partner's Family
We can't help where we come from, so if your partner has a difficult family, keep in mind that bashing them may not be helpful. You should share with your partner if their family is putting you down in some way, but simply bringing up how you dislike them can make things even more difficult on your partner.
"Sure, maybe your partner's family drives you nuts. But sometimes it is important to allow your partner to do the venting and be supportive of them through it," Romo says. "Their family is always going to be there so it is important to find boundaries around how you want to interact with them. It can cause potential harm to the relationship to tell your partner how much you disapprove of their family."
4. Intimate Details Of Past Sexual Experiences
Every couple is different, so if you two enjoy sharing details of your past sexual encounters, then go for it. But for some couples, this type of conversation can wind up being one that's too painful to bring up on the regular.
"The problem with knowing those details is that it leaves people constantly comparing themselves to the prior partner," Hilary Cobb, LCSW, owner and therapist at Still Waters Behavioral Health, tells Bustle. And these comparisons can create insecurities that might crop up after a fight, Cobb says, and potentially damage your connection over time.
The most necessary time to talk about sexual history is when talking about STIs, so you get the info you need to stay healthy. "But simple things like how often you had sex," Cobb says, may be a topic you should avoid.
5. Harmless Crushes
It's not always possible to go through life without developing a few tiny, harmless crushes. You might get the hots for your barista, your funny coworker, or that intriguing stranger you always see at the gym. But even though you may find it thrilling, that doesn't necessarily mean your partner needs to hear about it.
Not only will it be painful for them to hear — and possibly cause them to worry, needlessly — but there's something to be said for keeping certain things to yourself. "We all have a right to some privacy and, no, you are not lying or selfish to keep these things to yourself," Kerry Lusignan, founder of the Northamptom Center for Couples Therapy, tells Bustle. "In fact, I'd argue that to keep some things private is an act of care and tenderness. It can protect your partner's vulnerable heart from your uncensored self."
6. Past Traumas
While you certainly want to be there for your partner, and be the person they can lean on for support, that doesn't mean you need to talk about past traumas casually, or ask your partner to give details if they're not comfortable. Similarly, if you experienced trauma and you do not feel comfortable sharing those memories, you do not have to.
"If your partner has had trauma or serious issues in the past, you need to be very careful trying to 'address' it," Jonathan Bennett, certified counselor and co-founder of Double Trust Dating and Relationships, tells Bustle. "Even talking about some of these events could trigger panic attacks or cause your partner to shut down emotionally. These are issues best approached on your partner’s time with someone qualified (like a therapist)." And the same goes for you if the situation is reversed — let your partner know that discussing this topic could trigger you, and ask them to respect your boundaries.
7. Each Other's Shortcomings
It can be helpful, to a degree, to be honest with each other about your shortcomings, quirks, and eccentricities. That doesn't, however, mean you both have license to simply open up and let your "constructive criticisms" rip.
"If your partner has areas where [they] could make improvements like health, employment status, etc. it can sometimes be best to avoid coming out and discussing it," Bennett says. "Unless your partner has shown a willingness to ask for your help, you’ll probably just bring out defensiveness. Be a good example for your partner, but be warned that conversations about change typically go nowhere."
8. Old Arguments
The longer you two are together, the more history you'll have, and the more tempting it might be to rehash old arguments. But doing so is almost never helpful.
"If you’ve talked to your partner about certain issues multiple times in the past and [they have] never meaningfully changed behaviors," take note, Bennett says. "You’ll have to accept that your partner isn’t ready to change and act accordingly." You can work on yourself in the meantime, or come up with a plan to better cope with these shortcomings. But fighting about the same thing for the 100th time? Definitely not worth it.
9. Things You Can't Change About Them
Going off that, it may be smart to stay away from having certain conversations when it comes to things you can't change about each other, such as one of you being an extrovert while the other is an introvert.
"This is another topic to stay away from," clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow, host of The Web Radio Show, tells Bustle. "They need to be out and about, you don’t — it is that simple. You can discuss compatibility, you can discuss ways to be together, but trying to turn them into something they are not is not worth the argument."
10. Money Issues
While finances are surely something you can and should talk about with your partner, there's a huge difference between making a plan and creating a budget together, and turning money into something you fight about all the time.
"Money is an extremely emotional thing," therapist Mary K. Tatum, LMHC tells Bustle. For many people, they grew up in a family that had financial struggles, and thus struggle with it themselves as an adult. So tread lightly here, as any talk about cash or credit may lead to arguments.
And, be ready to discuss more than just money whenever you bring it up. "Was money a source of great conflict or fear in your childhood home? If so, explore this to avoid bringing any fear based decision-making into your current relationship," Tatum says. "Money is still the number one reason for divorce." So the more compassionate you can be with each other, the better.
11. What Friends & Family Think About Your Relationship
Just like you can't change your partner's family, you can't necessarily change what others think of your relationship. If friends and/or family disapprove, for whatever reason, your partner doesn't really need to hear about it — at least in gritty detail. And you shouldn't stand for hearing about it, either.
"It may be important that you get along with people important to your partner but you cannot control what others think of you," therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, tells Bustle. Sometimes it's best to simply realize that you can't win 'em all, and that your relationship is nobody else's business but your own.
All you can do is make an effort to keep things as healthy as possible for you and your partner. And yes, that does mean having difficult conversations from time to time. "However, harmony exists in relationship when conflict is balanced," Dr. Klapow says. "So knowing what is OK to let go, knowing what is OK to not address, and knowing how to let your partner be an individual is critical." If you can find that balance, and pick your battles, you're likely to keep the peace, and have a healthier relationship.