In recent articles we have introduced the importance of maintaining authenticity in our romantic relationships. In this article we will expand on the theme by exploring some of the excuses we use for not being open and honest with our partners – but first we offer two important disclaimers:
First, openness and authenticity does not give us a right to hurt people in the name of transparency. We must think about what we are saying, why we are saying it, to whom, and when. When in doubt we can first ask a trusting friend, a therapist, a sponsor, or a close family member to review with us whatever it is we want to discuss with our partner.
Second, we do not get to share information with our partner that he or she chooses not to hear. So ask permission. Then ask for feedback when you are done sharing so that he or she can teach us how to improve for next time. It is important to remember that while this article is going to challenge you to be more vulnerable, it should never be done through the threatening of safety.
Once we have established that it is safe to share, and we have obtained our partner’s permission, many of us will still back away from the opportunity. Here are two of the common excuses partners use for not being open and honest with each other:
“This will be too hurtful to my partner.”
This excuse keeps many of us from opening up about who we are and how we really feel. Emotions build within us, gathering strength, regardless of what we do to dismiss them as wrong or inappropriate. If we remain emotionally disconnected in our relationship, our partnership will become brittle and fail to be a source of strength for either of us. Hiding who we really are will most likely harm the relationship rather than protect it.
“Our relationship is not ready for such honesty.”
When we use this argument we are perhaps really intending to say that I am not ready to feel the discomfort that may accompany honest self disclosure. Through our life experiences, we may have learned that it is easier to avoid a serious commitment with another than it is to risk emotional discomfort. In our effort to protect ourselves, we create emotional barriers and designed escape-hatches that prevent true intimacy. We think these obstacles will prevent hurt, but they often backfire.
In review, these arguments are really only meant to protect ourselves – not our partner – and in the long run we are not protecting even ourselves. When we withhold information from our partner and lie by omission we are slowly losing our authenticity. We tell ourselves too many lies and we show the world too many faces.
So instead of running, let us remember that love is a decision…
…and if we love truly, there will be moments in our romance when we will hurt. However, if the relationship is of a Higher Purpose, one of connectedness, commitment, and selflessness, we will get through our hurt and we will grow stronger.
Instead of hiding from each other in the name of safety, you can invite your mate to be a part of your healing process through the exchange of love. The greatest healing comes from the giving of love to another. The opportunities to love unconditionally are endless—do not waste any.
Please share with us HERE some of the ways in which your own relationship has grown – or struggled – in the areas of being honest and transparent with each other. What are some effective tips that work for you or for someone you have helped in the past? What have been the rewards?
This article was written by John & Elaine Leadem, senior supervisors of the Leadem Counseling & Consulting offices in Toms River, NJ and East Brunswick, NJ. The content of this article is based on their book “One in the Spirit: Meditation Course for Recovering Couples.”
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Last reviewed: 13 Feb 2014