You Do Not Have To Tell Your Partner Everything You Are Thinking And Feeling
There is a pretty common sentiment out there in romantic relationships that it would somehow be dishonest or inauthentic to hold back certain thoughts or emotions. Even when these thoughts or emotions are destructive to the relationship, damaging its foundations, disintegrating trust and intimacy, some people feel like it’s their obligation to communicate the information.
Often the mentality is a rationalization, used as a way to justify the discharge of cumbersome negative emotions. They are a burden to carry around and so the relationship acts as a sort of receptacle for that emotional garbage.
But even when the sentiment is sincere, when people really do feel a sense of duty to be honest and open about how they’re feeling, from the existential point of view we argue that there is an experiencing Self at a deeper level, that emotions and Self are not identical even though they can certainly feel like it in the moment. But this experiencing Self can observe thoughts and emotions and decide upon a reaction to them. The question Thich Nhat Hanh would probably ask here is “How are you going to let yourself be controlled by something as transitory, something as illusory, as an emotion?”
Emotions come and emotions go, thoughts come and thoughts go. How we felt yesterday is not necessarily how we feel today or how we’re going to feel tomorrow. Emotional states are transitory, the Self experiencing them is not. In the context of romantic relationships, the fundamental questions to ask are, “What kind of relationship do I want to cultivate? What type of person do I want to be towards my partner? What are my hopes and dreams for us both?” and then resolve to enact the behaviors that further these intentions while withholding those that do not.
People talk about expressing everything they’re thinking and feeling as if it were synonymous with authenticity but the paradox from our point of view is that blindly throwing these thoughts and emotions out there is inauthentic while the true authenticity lies at the deeper level of consciously deciding upon a way of being and then acting accordingly in the world, using thoughts and emotions as important guideposts but never allowing them to sit in the driver’s seat.