If I asked you “do you tell your partner everything?”, what would your answer be? If your reply would be “no, not everything” and you sometimes wonder why your significant other isn’t a mind reader, perhaps you should stop and think about that for a while. How can they truly know you if you keep secrets? It never ceases to amaze me just how many people have things they reckon they can’t tell their partner. The person they’re in a long-term relationship with, sometimes living under the same roof and often the person they’ve made a public and legal commitment to. Surely that would be the one person who’d you’d share the good and bad stuff with?
Heterosexual relationships often suffer from a lifetime of society telling us that “boys aren’t interested in girl’s stuff” and vice versa, so men and women start to keep things from each other because they think their partner won’t understand. Why not try asking them for once? OK, so they might not be thrilled by every tiny detail of your life but, if they love you, they surely should be interested in the big stuff? Perhaps you hate your job but feel you can’t even mention it due to financial commitments. Explain that it’s making you sad and that you don’t want to quit right now, you just want to get stuff off your chest. It may be a small step, but it’s a start.
If you are too scared to mention that you might want a career change, fancy a threesome, or just need a night out with your friends more often, remember… you said this person is the love of your life. Don’t you owe it to them to at least try sharing something that’s weighing heavily on your mind? Once you’re ready to start sharing more, here are a few tips to get you started:
Pick your moment
Don’t pounce the moment they walk in the door after a hard day at work. Your partner won’t be in the best mood for listening when they’re stressed and just want to put their feet up. Keeping things casual is best too. If you schedule an important talk in the diary for next week, that’s just going to seem scarier than it really is. Also… if you want to talk about sex, please don’t do it while you’re having sex! Jezebel has some great tips for that particular social minefield.
Try to be constructive
If you have something negative to say, think of a better way to phrase it than your first response. Remember that “I feel…” sounds better than “you make me feel…” and remember to avoid exaggerating or assuming you already know what the other person is thinking. Many people will instantly go on the defensive if they think you are accusing them of something, so make sure it sounds like you are just expressing your own feelings and nothing more.
Listen without interrupting
Once you’ve said your piece, listen to their reply without butting in. I know it sounds tricky, but remember that listening shows that you care about their feelings and not just your own. Listen to each other fully before replying. Try active listening or even a little trick like the “talking stick“. It may sound dumb to say that, for example, only the person holding the remote control can speak, but it does help you get into the habit of not talking over each other!
It will take a while to get into the habit of sharing things openly, truly listening, and being unafraid of what the response might be, but it’ll definitely be worth it. After all, you don’t know until you ask, right?