Nine times out of 10, you're going to want to be open with your partner and let them know what you're thinking, feeling, hoping for, and so on. Communication is, after all, one of the most important factors in maintaining a relationship. But that certainly doesn't mean you have to tell your partner everything.
In fact, keeping a few thoughts to yourself can be beneficial, at times, especially if they won't contribute to your relationship in a positive way. "Total honesty isn’t always the best policy," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. If revealing this information will serve no real purpose, or if it will cause hurt feelings, he says, then it may be something worth keeping to yourself.
It'll be up to you to judge what needs to be said and what's OK to keep quiet. You may find that "some things are best kept private in order to spare others pain and keep peace in the relationship," Bennett says.
Of course, that's not to say you shouldn't discuss tough subjects or have deep conversations about whatever's going on in your relationship — but that you may want to avoid some of the topics listed below, in the interest of maintaining a harmonious connection.
1. Small Quirks You Find Annoying
"When you’re around someone all the time, it’s easy to notice that person’s flaws and imperfections," Bennett says. You might feel irritated by little things your partner does throughout the day, or zero in on their small quirks.
"But, if you’re happy and the relationship is solid, it’s not worth focusing on the little things that bother you," he says. "It’s better to keep them a secret than to make your partner feel insecure or hurt," by pointing them out.
You can try to bring up certain issues in a positive way, especially if the quirk is causing problems. But the reality is everyone has a "flaw" or two, and many can't be helped or changed.
2. Leftover Feelings You Have For An Ex
"Complicated feelings for exes are normal," Bennett says. You might still be recovering from the end of that previous relationship. Or you might wonder, for brief moments, what your ex is up to.
But is that something you need to say out loud to your current partner? Maybe not. "Even in the most secure of relationships, it is not always necessary to make your ex present in the room," Dr. Racine Henry, PhD, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Sankofa Marriage and Family Therapy, tells Bustle. "That person is from your past and you can discuss their new job/marriage/haircut with your close friends who will be better able to keep things in perspective."
3. How You Feel About Their Family
Unless the family is creating some sort of toxic situation — in which case you should speak up, and let your partner know — there's really no need to share minor things you dislike about your partner's loved ones.
After all, "getting into a serious relationship with another person means you also enter into their world," Bennett says. And that includes spending time with potentially annoying little cousins, or aunts who always say the wrong thing.
"For the sake of a peaceful relationship, unless the family causes a major issue, it’s best to keep your thoughts to yourself," Bennett says. You can joke and laugh about it with your partner, but may not want to say anything insulting.
4. That You Find A Friend Attractive
"Having an attraction towards another person is a normal human response and is nothing to be ashamed of," Michelle Fraley, MA, WPCC, psychologist, relationship expert, and professional matchmaker, tells Bustle. "However, telling your partner about this attraction will most likely only result in hurt feelings, jealousy, insecurity, and awkwardness."
If you happen to have a little mini crush, that's fine. Just don't tell your partner. As long as you aren't acting on your thoughts, and they aren't impacting your partner in any way, you may be better off keeping them to yourself.
5. That You Have Doubts About Your Relationship
"Words are powerful weapons and once they are said they cannot be taken back," Fraley says. So unless you really and truly mean it, never say out loud that you're having doubts about the relationship.
In fact, "throughout a relationship, it is normal to have thoughts and feelings about your connection and longevity," Fraley says. "These thoughts may be fleeting, so it would be wise to sit on them and do some internal work before sharing such powerful (and potentially hurtful) thoughts with your partner."
And you'll never want to say anything like this in the heat of of the moment during an argument. While you may be angry and upset, saying aloud that you're having doubts can be a tough thing to recover from.
6. Opinions About Their Friends
As with family, it's not always wise to share exactly what you're thinking about your partner's friends. "Unless this person is doing something to you that is offensive, you should keep your opinions [...] to yourself," Henry says.
You can also be perfectly honest about things you don't like, without it going down a toxic road. For example, "if your partner asks your thoughts about their friendships and/or familial relationships, tread lightly and do more listening than speaking," Henry says.
7. How You Feel About Their Goals
Sharing your life with someone means you get to talk about each other's plans for the future, including goals and how it all might impact you as a couple. And yet, that doesn't mean you get to rush each other.
"There is nothing wrong with holding them accountable if they are receptive to your involvement but overall, working towards one's goals is a personal and often vulnerable journey,' Henry says. "You can be supportive while also respecting their individual process, even if it seems like they are doing things the hard way."
8. Your Family's Opinion About Your Partner
"In an ideal world, our family and friends would feel positively about our partners and see them in the same light as we do," Henry says. "Realistically, that doesn't always happen."
Even if your family has a thing or two to say, that doesn't mean it needs to get back to your partner, especially since these words can be difficult to forget, and may stick around long after the dynamics of the family changed.
"The people in your life should always respect your partner and your decision to be with them," Henry says. So while you're busy shielding your partner, you may also want to stand up for your partner, too.
9. Things You Miss About Old Relationships
"Our minds work 24/7 at processing our lives, and this includes previous partners, comparisons with your current relationship, etc., especially in newer relationships," Jorge Fernandez, LCSW, an individual and family psychotherapist, tells Bustle. "This is absolutely normal, and doesn't indicate any sort of dissatisfaction with your current partner."
And yet, as you might have guessed, these aren't things you'll necessarily want to say out loud to your partner. Instead, try to find a way to incorporate anything you miss — like traditions — into your current life. And if you're still hung up on the past, Fernandez suggest talking to a therapist.
You don't have to divulge every thought in order to have a strong relationship, especially when that thought might do more harm than good. So take your partner and your connection into consideration, and know that it's always OK to keep a few things to yourself.