He Said/She Said: Transparency- Should I Say or Should I Go?

By on July 25, 2016
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What is a ‘healthy’ level of transparency in a romantic relationship!? – Kelley.

Sara Says…

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As I think about this question, I’m on a bus from Houston to Austin, watching fields roll by outside the window. There’s music playing in my headphones and some guy I don’t know sitting beside me. I’m wondering if I should say hello. Should I have told you any of this?  I’m thinking through the question as I type it.

 

What’s a healthy level of transparency in any relationship?

Do I tell you, dear readers, about…

  • what I had for breakfast?
  • my judgments and imaginings of you (you must have great relationships that you want to maintain; you’re struggling in relationship, you’re probably single; you’re a relational geek who reads Wabi and Elephant Journal every day)?
  • Do I tell you all my judgments of myself?

 

And how do I tell what’s too much to share?

Maybe…

  • I look for the moment when your eyes glaze over before I stop speaking.
  • I gauge by the feeling of connection to myself, or to you.
  • I tell you what I think you should know, whether or not you want to hear.

 

I don’t think there is a ‘healthy’ level of transparency in romantic relationship.

I don’t think there’s a ‘healthy’ level of sex, or self-expression, or time spent together.

 

Relationship is whatever you, as a couple, decide it should be.

Maybe your healthy level is…

  • telling each other every time you feel attraction to another human being, or
  • never speaking these attractions, or
  • only speaking them when it’s affecting your connection.

 

Your healthy level could be saying everything that passes through your head, or agreeing to have portions of the day where you work together in total silence.

What does seem healthy is to talk about how much transparency you want to have. Are you worried that you’re being too open with your partner? Ask him or her how he/she feels about your expression. Do you want to tell them something but you don’t know if they want to hear? State why you’d want to share it and ask for permission. And, leave space for both of you to change: a yes or no at one point does not mean that the door is always open, or always closed.

Personally, in my relationship, I choose to share whatever I’m thinking, feeling, or sensing that is keeping me from close connection with my partner, or might bring us closer into connection if shared.

I try to share when I think my partner is actually open for it, and when I’ve sat with the feeling/thought long enough to know if it’s persistent or based on tiredness, hunger, lack of connection, or any other momentary state. I share when I think not sharing would hurt or limit me or my partner.

I often question whether or not I should have said something, especially when it’s a personal worry or feeling that I have but my partner doesn’t. In these cases, I connect with my intention for being in relationship.

I’m in relationship so that I can learn about myself, receive love, and serve my partner.
I don’t want to receive love for being a person I’m not. I can’t learn about myself if I’m not being myself. And I can’t serve my partner if I’m not open to his full self, which means I need to set the example of being open to mine.

These are my intentions. How transparent you choose to be in your relationship should depend on yours. If it’s most important to you that you serve your partner and have equanimity in the relationship, perhaps you’ll choose to share less. If your intention is to discover yourself and practice self-expression, perhaps you’ll share more. You may also each have different intentions and levels of comfort with transparency, and so each choose to share differently. Not everything in relationship has to be mutual.

When you get stuck, iterate back to your intention. Why are you choosing to share? And why, or why not, might your partner by choosing to receive?

Please let us know how this exploration evolves for you, Kelley!

   -Sara.

(Sara compiled this great collection of games, that can vastly improve your relationship skills.

Get yours HERE.  -Editor.)

 

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Rob Says…

 
 
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I am a believer in 100% transparency in relationship.

 

End of question, right?
Maybe I should just stop there and go along with my next project.

To tell you the truth, I’m feeling a little down today. These shootings of black lives and police officers and violence is just dragging me down. I woke up this morning and avoided my phone because i was worried about reading one more facebook post on it. It’s not that I think it’s anything new but the saturation of it.

Then, maybe I’m feeling down because of the transformation in my business and how it kinda ripped a hole in me these last two weeks. Or the heaviness with the discussion with my mom about her fear. My therapist recommends that I share my feelings about my mom’s fear to her directly to intensify our intimacy. But, what I…

Wait?
Are you still there?
Hello?
Oh, I lost you?

Aren’t my feelings important enough? I know you love me but you kinda get sick of me saying my problems over and over again?

I thought since you were my reader I could DEPEND on you to be my sounding board for all the thoughts in my head.

Oh, you don’t really care do you. I get it.
Well, f&*k you too.
Uh…
 

So, maybe the answer is 100% transparency with DELIBERATENESS.

In my world, the responsibility for delivering a communication lies solely with the communicator. Most people treat it like it’s a split deal. However, if person A wants to tell person B something then ultimately its person A’s job to ensure that the communication lands. When person A goes on and on about their internal workings then more often than not, you’ve lost your audience. Person B is now wishing you’d finish up so they can go back to their facebook feed.

So, I say share EVERYTHING but be succinct, to the point, and clear. Go slow. Make sure that your partner is keeping up with your monologue. Be open to questions and be clear when they don’t understand, it’s on YOU to make it clear. I want a relationship where I know i can tell my love all aspects of me and be received. Therefore, I want to ensure that she knows that I am open to all her inner thoughts.

 

Lastly, look at your MOTIVATIONS for revealing these different parts of yourself.

Are you telling your partner this intimate truth because you want to be closer? Are you

  • confessing a sin? Are you
  • actually trying to make them jealous?
  • Or push them away?

 

Look deeply at why you want them to know it. Before you speak it, be sure that you’re 100% sure on your reasons for doing so and then modify your approach to match it. We often just vomit our truths on loved ones and then feel betrayed when they don’t react the way we want.

We already live in a society based on disapproval. We are never doing it right or doing enough. We’re not thin enough, smart enough, pretty or working hard enough. Or maybe you’re working too hard.

Whatever, you’re doing it wrong.

When you knowingly withhold from your partner, you’re creating an element of disapproval in yourself. You are telling yourself, ‘I certainly can’t tell them that!’ which is a subtle way of making yourself wrong.

When you open the doors to an honest and transparent relationship, you are telling yourself that all your thoughts, no matter how ‘dirty’, or ‘icky’, ‘kinky’ or ‘weird’, they have value. Because I’ll tell you… these thoughts might just be the most interesting about you.

Rejoice in them and let your partner into your world. I suspect they might even get turned on and then who knows what would happen.

 

   -Rob.

 

(Appreciating Rob’s unique voice?  Click the image below to check out his podcast!  -Editor.)

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The best way to build relationship skills is to practice.  The best way to do that is to attend a Wabi-endorsed LIVE EVENT.

 

Learn some cool human connection tips, AND be in Wabi’s Family Circle…  Click Here.

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