9 Private Thoughts You're Not Obligated To Share With Your Partner
While you should definitely try to create a relationship where you both feel comfortable opening up to each other, if you are wondering what things you should tell your partner, the answer is it doesn't have to be everything. Whether it's a secret from your past that you're just not ready to talk about, or an observation that might hurt your partner's feelings, it's always a good idea to use good judgment before spillin' the beans.
"A lot of times when we get into a relationship we assume that real closeness means we share everything with our partner, but this is not always the right or the healthiest thing to do," Louise Head, an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, tells Bustle. "Before sharing something that you think may hurt your partner, ask yourself: Am I sharing this to make myself feel better or do I actually want to discuss change and transformation in our relationship?"
If the former is true, it be something best kept to yourself. As Head says, "If you are not actively looking to address that thought within your relationship, it's healthier to deal with it on your own or with a trusted friend who can support you emotionally." If the latter is true, go ahead and discuss. As Head says, "If the negative consequences of not telling your partner something could spell the end of your relationship or something similarly catastrophic, you may want to find a way to share it with them."
Here are a few things experts say you don't have to tell your partner about, if you don't want to.
1. The Fact You Have An Innocent Crush
If you have a crush on a coworker, or if you're daydreaming about the barista at your coffeeshop, don't assume it's something that must be revealed to your partner. "You are human, and you will be attracted to other people in the world," Raffi Bilek, marriage counselor and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Bustle. So unless it's looking like it'll affect your relationship, feel free to keep it to yourself.
"Honesty is a best policy, but you don't have to take out that policy for every thought that crosses your mind," Bilek says. "Spare your relationship and keep your feelings of attraction to yourself." As long as it's an innocent crush that you aren't acting on or pursuing behind your partner's back, then it's probably not something they need to know. Revealing your crush will likely only hurt their feelings and cause them to needlessly worry.
2. Something Quirky You've Noticed About Them
When you're spending a lot of time with someone, you're likely going to notice a few quirky and potentially unappealing things about them. Maybe they pee on the toilet seat. Maybe they have really bad breath in the morning. But again, these aren't things that need to be shared.
"[Your partner is] probably holding back a few similar thoughts about you that you'd rather not hear," Heather Ebert, a relationship expert at first-date site WhatsYourPrice, tells Bustle. So give them the same courtesy - we're all human, and we all have our own quirks and habits.
3. Flaws That Can't Be Changed
Part of being in a relationship is helping your partner better themselves as a person, and vice versa. You two are a team, and that might mean being honest about your shortcomings, and working together to improve them.
That doesn't, however, mean your relationship should be a free-for-all of pointing out flaws that can't be changed. "If your partner has certain flaws, it doesn’t automatically mean you have to accept them," Jonathan Bennett, certified counselor and co-founder of Double Trust Dating and Relationships, tells Bustle. "Everyone should change and grow as a person. However, if your partner has a 'flaw' that can’t be changed ... then there’s no value in bringing it up. It will only create negative feelings." Unless this flaw is a dealbreaker, consider whether or not bringing it up will actually help better your relationship.
4. What You Really Think About Their Friends
In a perfect world, partners would love and appreciate the other's friends and family. But life doesn't always work out that neatly, "and it is OK if you don't totally love all of these people," Head says.
That doesn't mean, however, that you should necessarily share these thoughts with your partner. "If your partner expects you to spend a lot of time with a friend you dislike or you have issues with a certain family member that you have to see a lot, it's OK to discuss how to minimize the time you personally have to spend with that person or figure out ways to adjust the relationship," Head says. But if you just don't like these folks, it may better to keep it to yourself, be polite, and spend less time with them.
5. How You Feel About An Ex
Most people need a while to get over an ex, even after they're in a new relationship. There's often baggage and hurt feelings and a sense of loss, and that can stick around for months — or even years.
But does that mean your partner needs to know about it? Unless your hangups are directly impacting your current relationship, the answer is usually no. "Healthy relationships require respect, the ability to solve problems as a couple (without the involvement of outsiders), and the ability to know that both partners [have] agreed to commit to the relationship without the fear that [their] partner harbors feelings for an ex or the anxiety of having to deal with jealousy in the relationship," Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford, PhD, MFT, CRS, CMFSW, founder & CEO of Family Matters Counseling Group, PLLC, tells Bustle.
If you think revealing these thoughts to your partner might make them uncomfortable or upset, it's OK to keep them private.
6. What You Liked Better About An Ex
Going off of that, it's almost never a good idea to compare your current partner to someone from your past. It may seem super obvious, but we've all had that moment where we say something like, "My ex did it this way..." And before you know it, your partner feels like they don't measure up.
"Whenever you make such comments, it feels insulting and puts your partner in a defensive, one-down position," QuaVaundra Perry, PhD, of Perry Psychological & Consultation Services, PLLC, tells Bustle. "This not only refers to sexual comparisons but also with respect to factors such as finances, education level, cooking, and physical appearance."
So, tread lightly. "Instead, try telling [them] your likes/needs/preferences in a manner that feels supportive and encourages understanding (e.g. 'I really appreciate you taking the time to cook for me. Next time, would you mind putting less salt or what if we cooked a meal together?')."
7. Sex Stories & Your Sexual History
Not everyone is bothered by what their partner did, pre-relationship. And some people even find stories about past sexual encounters kinda hot. But do think twice about sharing if your partner is someone who feels insecure, or worries about the state of your relationship.
"You are with your current partner because you love them. There are reasons you are not with past partners in the present, and this is something you don't need to bring into a relationship," Lindsay Ryan, LMFT, MT-BC, a Marriage and Family Therapist, tells Bustle. "If there is a medical condition you have due to a relationship in the past, feel free to disclose this, however, no need to bring numbers into the equation. Sharing how many people you have slept with does not help improve a relationship and is not something a person should require a partner to disclose."
8. What Others Think Of Your Partner
Unless it's 100 percent necessary for them to know, you might want to keep what other people think of your partner to yourself. As long as you're happy, and in a healthy relationship, it doesn't really matter if your friend "thinks you could do better" or your aunt thinks your partner "is weird."
"Often, this type of thought is a clear lose-lose, and no good can come of you sharing it," Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "Use discretion and judgement if you do share." Will it benefit your partner to know? Will it improve your relationship? If not, then it's OK to keep to yourself.
9. Little Things That Get On Your Nerves
Part of being in a relationship is putting up with the little, daily, irksome habits. As Bennett says, "Everyone can get on your nerves from time to time, even those people you love. However, in many cases, calling out their actions isn't worth hurting their feelings or starting a fight."
Does your partner make the kitchen super messy when they're cooking? Do they always forget to water the plants? "If you can live with a minor annoyance or quirk, it’s best just to let it go," Bennett says. If it's something big, that may affect your relationship, only then you should bring it up.
"In most cases, you have to weigh if your total honesty will serve a purpose in the relationship," Bennett says. "If sharing a thought is going to cause more problems than it solves or hurt your partner’s feelings, then it’s probably best to keep quiet." While you should be able to comfortably share most things with your partner, that doesn't mean everything.