Don’t Say It

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Most of us have done it in one relationship or another. We start to have doubts about our partner, whether he or she is the best match, and we convince ourselves that airing these doubts is the responsible thing to do. Honesty is the best policy right? This person deserves to know how we are really feeling right? Wrong.

Actually the responsible thing to do is to keep these thoughts to yourself. The only thing that you are sure of is that you are unsure. This is really unstable ground on which to start tampering with the very foundations of a relationship. Consciously we might believe we are doing the other person a favor by openly admitting that we have doubts. But unconsciously it’s likely that projection is occurring. Feelings of uncertainty are difficult to cope with because they create existential anxiety. By telling your partner about them you are transferring some of these uncomfortable feelings away from yourself, lightening your own load.

The definition of abuse is instilling doubt in order to maintain control. Saying you’re not sure whether the relationship should continue shares some core features with abuse even though you’re trying to be an honest, good person. Specifically you’re instilling doubt at a fundamental level and making your partner question Self. From this point forward interactions between the two of you will be colored by this doubt, and the self-fulfilling prophecy of breaking up will probably come to pass as the relationship deteriorates.

Think of a tree. There might be some aspect of your relationship that needs to be worked on, and this aspect is one of the branches. It can be chopped off, pruned back, or encouraged to grow in a different direction without doing too much damage to the organism as a whole. But questioning the relationship itself is injecting poison into the roots of the tree.

Everyone has doubts from time to time. There is no such thing as the perfect relationship. The courageous thing to do might seem like voicing these doubts, but really it’s keeping them to yourself and managing the anxiety that goes with them until you are absolutely sure of what you want to do. Keep the foundation strong and you can build your house in almost unlimited ways. Take away the foundation and it doesn’t matter how pretty it looks, the house will end up collapsing.