When you're in a relationship, it can be tough to figure out which
thoughts you should share with your partner, and which ones are OK to keep private — especially when said thoughts are awkward, embarrassing, or super revealing. Do you have to come clean? Can you keep them a secret?
Well, the choice is up to you. "It’s perfectly fine to keep some things from your partner," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at
Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "If the incident has no relevance to your current relationship and doesn’t impact your partner, then it’s usually fine to keep it a secret."
It's also OK to keep important things private presently, with the goal of sharing them in the future, once you're ready. "Being vulnerable can help you feel closer to your partner, but if there are things in your life that you haven’t processed through yet, then you might not want to share these until you have a better handle on how you truly feel about what happened, what you learned from it, etc.,"
Heidi McBain, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.
All of that said, there are a few awkward
things you may want to share with your significant other as soon as possible, such as health concerns. As Bennett says, "If an issue is major, impacts your partner, or will be discovered eventually, then it’s best just to be upfront about it." Here are a few awkward things you might want to share with your partner, as well as a few things you can definitely keep private, according to experts. 1 Share: How You Like To Be Loved
It might feel awkward to sit down and have a conversation about your "love languages," as they are described by
Dr. Gary Chapman, but doing so really can make all the difference when it comes to the health of your relationship.
"We all feel love and give love in different ways,"
Carlos Cavazos, MA, LPC, a licensed professional counselor and certified sex coach, tells Bustle. "Knowing each other’s love language will let you show your partner that you love them in their own language… without a need for translation."
knowing which categories you and your partner fall into, and how you prefer to give and receive love, you can make sure you're there for each other in all the right ways. 2 Share: Any Sexual Health Concerns
Have you missed your period? Are you worried about a herpes flareup? "If something [...] is going on with your body, share your concerns with your partner so [...] they can support you until conclusive answers are available,"
Poppy and Geoff Spencer, LCPC, National Certified Relational Experts, tell Bustle. "If there is a medical appointment, they can even go with you and be another set of ears."
Talking about these things will probably feel awkward, but sharing allows your partner the opportunity to provide some support. Also, if
you're dealing with an STI, it's important to remember there is nothing to be ashamed of, and to let your partner know ASAP so you can both take steps to stay healthy. 3 Share: Old Relationship Baggage
While you don't have to go down the list of everything that happened in
your past relationships, you might consider telling your partner about anything upsetting that occurred — especially if you think it might affect your future.
"Even though you think you are keeping that past [...] memory tucked away, the energy of the thought will leach out into your relationship," the Spencers say. "Maybe your partner can’t tell exactly what’s up, but they will know something is different."
Whatever the issue may be, telling your partner about it will help them support you — and understand whenever something might be triggering. It's awkward, but that's what partners are for.
4 Share: Anxieties & Insecurities
If you're feeling anxious or insecure about the
current state of your relationship, it'll be helpful to let your partner know. "This is especially so during the so-called 'honeymoon stage' where it is easy to get our wires crossed, mistake our insecurity as an actual message about how our partner really feels about us, and convince ourselves that we are [...] at too much risk and, therefore, do something destructive to ourselves and the relationship (like break up)," author, psychologist, and psychoanalyst, Mark Borg Jr, PhD, tells Bustle. By talking about your worries, insecurities, and anxieties, you two can get on the same page, and avoid misunderstandings. 5 Share: Sexual Fantasies
One of your relationship goals might be eventually getting to the point where you
feel comfortable talking about sex — whether you're sharing fantasies, talking about a lack of desire, or simply being open about what's working for you and what isn't.
In terms of fantasies, "many times, people feel too embarrassed to discuss these with their partners out of fear of being judged," Cavazos says. But it's important to be open about them, as soon as the timing feels right, so that you can make sure you're both fulfilled.
Same goes for a lack of desire. If you're just not in the mood right now, let your partner know. (And encourage them to do the same.) Sexual desire waxes and wanes for all couples. But if you're able to support each other and remain understanding, it doesn't have to have a negative impact on your relationship.
6 Share: Ongoing Financial Worries
If you happen to be going through some financial difficulties — maybe you have a lot of debt, bad credit, etc. — it can be tough to admit it to your partner.
And yet, "if you two are planning a life together, it’s important to be upfront about your financial shortcomings," Bennett says. "It’s not fair to your partner to keep this a secret."
By coming clean to each other, you can start to
create a budget and a plan for the future. It might not be a fun convo, but it is one you should have. 7 Don't Have To Share: Your Sexual History
When it comes to talking to your partner about your past, you don't have to go into the nitty gritty details of your sexual history and experiences, if you don't want to.
As Bennett says, "You always want to share your sexual history as it relates to you and your partner’s health. However, you are under no obligation to share specific details of your sexual past with your partner."
It really doesn't matter how many people you've slept with, or what you did with them. If you'd prefer to to keep it all private, feel free.
8 Don't Have To Share: Past Slip Ups & Failures
It might be nice to chat with your partner about things that went wrong in your past, simply as a way of getting to know each other better. Doing so can also open the door to offering each other support, should similar issues crop up again. But you don't have to share, if you don't want to.
Think along the lines of "major failures that don't impact your present situation, like a failed business, flunking out of your first college, or similar things," Bennett says. "If they truly are water under the bridge and you've moved on there's no need to rehash it."
9 Don't Have To Share: Your Initial Thoughts About Your Partner
While you might feel bad that you weren't initially into your partner — and it might feel like something you should get off your chest — it's OK to keep that fact to yourself now that you're together.
"Attraction often grows after getting to know someone,"
therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, tells Bustle. "If you were not attracted to your partner when you first met they do not need to know this. This information is hurtful and now irrelevant. You are with them now for a reason so you do not need to share that the attraction eventually grew."
We all have awkward thoughts, and embarrassing moments. But not everything needs to be shared with our partners. While opening up can bring you and your partner closer together, it's OK to keep these things private if you're just
not ready to share.