I stumbled upon a video this morning by Teal Swan that really resonated with me. She was talking about how we often make it impossible for ourselves to have healthy relationships. The reason this resonated so strongly with me is because it aligns with one of the bigger breakthroughs I’ve had this year.
The example she used in the video was a wife that complains about their husband never putting any effort or energy into them, or failing to spend quality time with them or the kids. This example is probably one that a lot of people can relate to, even without the marriage component. It can apply regardless of gender role too.
In the example used, the problem comes when she describes an interaction between the husband and the wife. He calls to tell her he is going away somewhere and will be unavailable, and she acts as though it is fine. Then she gets off the phone and rolls her eyes, as though this confirms what she was already thinking and feeling. Rather than talk about it with her husband, she complains to a third party.
This is problematic for a number of reasons, the biggest being that it doesn’t allow our partner to be aware of our needs or expectations for the relationship not being met. We can’t expect the people that we care about to know what we are really thinking and feeling if we don’t communicate. We need and expect them to communicate with us when something we do bothers them, so we have to recognize that they need the same from us.
We often have this story in our mind that if people really cared about us, they would know what we need and want to provide it. That they would know when we’re hiding that we’re upset and give us emotional support. We expect them to pick up on hints and clues.
In some cases, maybe they do know what we need and pick up on the hints and don’t care. That said, in most cases it is far more likely that they view the world and relationships differently than you do and simply are unaware that what they are doing (or not doing) bothers you. Maybe they even started to think that YOU don’t care about them because you’re acting like you’re fine when you’re not.
I think we often hide the things that bother us in dating and relationships because we’re scared of being rejected, abandoned, or causing conflict. This could be due to unhealed wounds from our past that are playing a role in our present relationships. What we don’t realize in the moment is that in trying to avoid rejection, abandonment, and conflict by hiding what we feel and need, we actually end up rejecting and abandoning ourselves in the process. Rather than causing conflict in the relationship directly, we cause conflict within ourselves instead.
Hiding our true feelings allows for resentment to build up toward the other person, and even toward ourselves unconsciously for not being authentic. We grow increasingly frustrated each time our partner says or does something that reinforces our belief that they don’t care about us or our needs. Eventually that is going to reach a breaking point, and likely end up resulting in major conflict down the road anyway.
That resentment and false narrative that we create about the situation in our mind can also lead to us using manipulative tactics to try to get what we want. For example, maybe you try to make the person jealous to get them to commit more fully. If they don’t answer your text for hours or days, maybe you try to “punish” them or “train” them by doing the same. I can tell you from past experience that using these tactics never works out well. These are all control games, and they only create more distance. You can never control another person, and what you think is going to happen is often not the outcome you end up with. All you can do is control yourself.
It all comes back to communication. In order to have a healthy relationship, we need to become self-aware to a point where we understand our needs and can communicate them with our partner. We need to give them an opportunity to recognize that we have needs not being met, and decide if they are willing or able to meet them. This is the part that is scary for a lot of us because it means needing to be okay with the possibility that they may walk away. That was something that I struggled with for a long time, and I am still working at it.
All of this applies strongly to the dating world as well. People often worry about scaring off those that they are interested in by being too vulnerable too fast. Honestly at this point in my life, I would rather be open and honest about my needs early and scare people away than hide how I feel and be unhappy. Our needs don’t go away, so the result to hiding those things is having it present much later after an attachment has already been formed. It hurts a lot more to lose someone once you’ve been emotionally invested with them for a long period of time, so you’re better off putting your cards out on the table!
Moral of the story: be authentic with dating prospects and partners. Open up, communicate, and allow the opportunity for mutual growth to unfold. After all, I think that is what relationships are really about. Having that one person that drives you, inspires you, and supports you in doing and being better each and every day.
Know that you are worthy of that type of love.