Are some things better left unsaid?

Do couples in committed relationships need to be completely honest and open with each other all the time, or is it better to keep those passing thoughts to yourself? Here are some situations to consider:

Attraction/Lust for another person

You’re walking alone down the street and notice an attractive stranger coming in your direction. You feel sexually aroused for a moment, but have no intention of pursuing him. In fact, you even look away as he passes you. Does your partner need to know that you briefly lusted for someone else?

I don’t think it’s realistic to expect anyone to no longer find another person attractive after being in a committed relationship. In fact, I believe it happens, but I’d rather not know about it as long as my boyfriend has no intention of acting on his thoughts and those feelings are not interfering with our relationship.

What about those times when a couple is out together, and the woman notices and confronts her man ogling another female? “What girl?” he says, pretending to be clueless. She doesn’t believe him, of course, and continues to feel jealous. Despite knowing that he’s just looking because men like to look, I still feel offended. Obviously, ogling another woman in front of your girlfriend is rude.

Jealousy

Your partner has a friend of the opposite sex that makes you feel uncomfortable. You know that your jealousy is irrational. Should you still bring up your feelings or will that only cause strain in the relationship?

Jealousy drives people away. Revealing that you’re jealous might cause him to feel like he’s walking on eggshells, and could lead to him not be as open with you.

Some people say if you are certain that your jealousy is unreasonable—that is, it’s due to your own insecurities and not because your partner crossed a line—then you need to take responsibility for your feelings, instead of wanting someone else to change his behavior. Hold off from saying anything, until there is actual evidence that your feelings are warranted. That might be difficult to do if it’s bothering you so much that it changes the way you behave toward him. He might notice and wonder what’s going on.

If he cares about you, he’ll ask if you’re alright. Some people say that’s a good time to tell him, but I’m not sure if revealing it is a good idea. I’ve noticed that trying to understand why I felt the way I did helps alleviate the jealous feelings, and they’re gone after a good night’s sleep.

Annoyance

There’s something that he or she does that annoys you. He’s been playing TowerMadness 2 for hours instead of spending time with you. You’re not happy about that, but if you say so, it might make him think you’re clingy or demanding. On the other hand, keeping your thoughts to yourself might lead you to become overly frustrated, to the point where your anger could be hurtful or destructive.

What if the two of you disagree with how a chore should be done? It’s a petty annoyance and you’ll probably forget about it after five minutes, until the next time it comes up. Should you just try to brush it aside? Mentioning it might make him feel unappreciated. It’ll also make it highly likely that you will be the one who does that chore for the rest of your time together.

Ideally, couples should have similar attitudes about money and spending habits. What if you find him wasteful? He doesn’t stop to fill up when he sees cheaper gas. Instead, he waits until the tank is nearly empty and ends up filling at the nearest (and more expensive) gas station. You brought it up the first few times, but it keeps happening. At this point, you keep your thoughts (and frustration) to yourself.

I’ve read somewhere that those minor annoyances won’t go away over time—they just get more annoying, so either deal with them before you commit, or don’t stay together. I suppose if you bring it up as something to work on together, it might be less hurtful than if you were pointing it out like a fault. Also, habits do take time to change, so it’s possible that he is working on being less wasteful, but still slips up from time to time.

Once again, trying to understand the other person’s perspective has been helpful to me. Looking over my boyfriend’s shoulder as he plays TowerMadness 2, I was able to see the appeal of the game and understand why he plays it, even though I would prefer that he not spend more than an hour on it every day.

Those questions

There are those questions where an honest answer is likely to be hurtful. For example:

  • Does this make me look fat? Yes
  • What’s the best sex you’ve ever had? That time with [another person]….
  • What do you think of my friend? Wonder what she’s like in bed….

Do you let your partner read your blog?

If it’s a public blog that you let many people read, it might not matter if he or she sees it. Of course, I know bloggers who do not want the people they know in person to read their blogs. What if you have a blog that is limited to a few readers whom you trust? Do you let your partner read it? Or is it off limits so you can vent about him or her?

*      *      *

As you can see from the examples above, every now and then we have momentary thoughts and feelings that come up that might be hurtful to our SO and/or the relationship. It appears that in many cases it would be better to not express temporary frustrations or desires to your partner. Those thoughts would only be hurtful, and as long as they don’t matter in the long run, they’re better off unsaid.

I’m not advocating lying and cheating. If your doubts and desires are recurring, and you do intend to take action, then I think it’s important to have a good discussion about the relationship with your partner.

What do you think? Are some things better left unsaid or should couples always be open with each other?

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4 thoughts on “Are some things better left unsaid?

  1. “Does this make me look fat?” <— Answer: "You have beautiful eyes."

    Seriously, I think you should try to get closer and closer to the person you are with until you can be 100% honest, but it doesn't happen all at once. You are temporarily attracted to other people, and so is he.

  2. I think certain circumstances, things need to be kept to yourself. that whole thing about looking at other people in passing doesn’t bother either of us. The one about friends of the opposite sex… well, we are BOTH open with how we feel about THAT and it depends on the person. He has female friends I don’t care one way or the other about but there have been others that gave me a bad vibe. I let him know right off about it, I that feeling has, 100% of the time, been validated at some point later on by that person’s actions. We trust each other’s instincts on that one.

  3. I think it depends on the couple. Lust or attraction for someone else, that you’re not likely to act on, is something that I think some couples can discuss without either flying into a jealous rage, and some can’t. Some couples might even use that attraction as a way to improve their own relationship.

    A lot of what you mention in the “annoyance” section reminds me of a phrase: “pick your battles.” Is his playing video games a lot something you want to fight intensely about? I sometimes deal with feeling abandoned, but a lot of times I don’t mention how I feel because it will only make him feel bad to know I feel that way, and I don’t want to seem like a clingy girlfriend, or someone who doesn’t want him to have fun or anything. A lot of times if he’s working late, I think, well, it’s important. And I don’t want to be the sort of partner who whines about not being attended to all the time. So I usually don’t say anything about my feelings. I also know that some of my feelings are caused more by my own history than anything. If it was an every night thing where he was going out with friends or working late, I might say something, but an occasional compromise is totally fine.

  4. I’ve never felt myself attracted to someone else but have thought other men were ‘cute’ or handsome’..never hid that. But I don’t think it’s necessary to tell everything you feel or think.
    My husband and i are open and honest with each other and yes he can read my blog anytime he wants. He and I also share the same password on fB but we trust each other and I feel that is huge.

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