We've all heard that being open about your feelings is necessary for a healthy relationship. But too often, we decide it's easier to just keep things to ourselves than to risk bringing them up and getting an unfavorable response. That's why there are so many things people don't tell their partners but should.
"Closeness and connection to a romantic partner essentially involves setting your heart down on a block, and then hoping your partner will pick it up and cradle it lovingly rather than squish it underfoot," Holly Parker, PhD, author of If We're Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?, tells Bustle. "And because it’s so human to want to self-protect, the temptation to don armor around that heart can be irresistible, even in a solidly committed relationship. And yet, the act of letting that guard down and allowing our partner to see more of who we are is linked to happiness in a relationship."
In fact, the things that are scariest to tell your partner are often the most rewarding things to talk about. When we share personal things with people, we feel closer to them and develop more trust in them. Here are some things couples tend to hide from each other but could benefit from divulging.
1What's Making You Upset
Most conflicts between couples involve anger. But if you look behind the surface, anger is usually the result of another emotion, like sadness or fear, says Parker. These feelings can leave us in a more vulnerable position than anger, but by admitting to them rather than just expressing anger, we're able to address the real issue. Plus, we're less likely to make our partners defensive that way.
2What You Need
We often hold our needs back from our partners because we're scared they won't be able to meet them, and then we're left with the impossible decision of leaving them or remaining unsatisfied. But if you keep your needs to yourself, you'll probably end up unsatisfied anyway. Parker recommends telling your partner, for example, when you need emotional support or validation of their feelings for you. "The act of kindly and gently revealing these deeper tenderhearted longings can also help bring couples closer," she says.
3What You Want In Bed
Since we're taught sex isn't a subject for polite company, many end up settling for what their partner wants in bed or what's considered "normal" instead of voicing what they want. When couples do this, they can go their whole lives without ever really learning to please each other — which also means they miss out on emotional connection. "Revealing preferences around sex and physical intimacy predicts heightened sexual fulfillment," says Parker.
4What You're Grateful For
We'll usually thank our partners for major favors, but we might dismiss voicing appreciation for small or more abstract things as overly sentimental. This is a shame because a sense of gratitude can accomplish so much, says Parker. "When people are willing to recognize their partners' contributions and share their appreciation with their partners, they’re more likely to be happier in their relationship."
It's OK to keep some things from your partner, like personal decisions that are none of their business or thoughts about your ex. But in general, the more you can share with them, the closer you'll become.