Relationship issues: Is it necessary to be completely honest and frank with your partner, friends and family?
Anything else discovered on one’s own, or through others’ sharing can create a huge conflict
Do you believe that you are entitled to all the information about your loved one? Or, do you think whatever they tell you must be true, but they are OK to keep some things private?
Many conflicts between people in loving relationships occur over how much information is shared and in what way it is done. Sometimes, while dating, people go through a full-on sharing period where each person shares their deepest and darkest fears and secrets, their brightest hopes and dreams and everything in between before they commit to each other, the expectation often being that they tell each other everything that matters.
Anything else discovered on one’s own, or through others’ sharing can create a huge conflict. If one is meeting friends or family and after a relaxing time together, when someone starts to share bits and pieces about the person you love, it is a story you have not heard before, chances are you will be all ears, wanting to know every last embarrassing bit of information, and yet, at times, it may also trigger something more upsetting, and you might come back to your loved one demanding to know why they had themselves not told you about it, and why you had to hear it from someone else.
We think we are entitled to information about our loved ones, especially things about family dynamics or history, medical or legal information, financial information, and even personal histories such as people they have been with and any trauma they might have endured before they met you. On one hand, you might justify it to yourself saying these are important to know especially if you are planning to integrate your lives deeply, and yet, on the other hand, you might also want to uphold each other’s right to privacy – and the conflict between the two values, both equally important and valid values, can be very difficult to resolve.
Should we honour transparency as a value, or should we honour privacy? Can we allow for our partners to be just as honest as they want to be without demanding complete transparency, or is privacy subject to certain restrictions and for people in relationships, and can privacy be trumped by other factors?
Often, there may be parts of our past that we might be embarrassed about, or the hurt we went through is too intense to want to revisit even with our partners, and we might choose to not be transparent at all about it.
We might want to reserve sharing till we really feel committed to each other, and maybe even never want to disclose at all, and we want our privacy to be respected. If a prospective partner cannot honour that, and insists on full disclosure, maybe one needs to ask if this relationship is even safe. Honesty and transparency are very different aspects. We can be honest without necessarily being transparent, and often, being able to hold the boundaries between them is what makes for a successful relationship.