Why It’s Important to be Open and Share Yourself in Your Relationships
MAUDE: The other night we were reminiscing and I had a strong memory of an experience that happened early in our relationship. Not only could I see the visuals of this scene, but I felt the emotions and meaning that accompanied it for me.
We had gone up the coast for a two day getaway and were settled in a motel at the edge of town (this was before Airbnb existed!). As we reclined in the bed, Phil brought out a stack of old journals, informing me these were his from when he was 15 years old. He had apparently just come across them. Asking if I would like to hear them, and receiving an affirmative, he began reading to me.
They were written for himself and told the tales of teenage love, inner thoughts and musings, worries and anxieties, home life, tales of bike rides and races and much, much more. They were almost brutally honest, as he examined for himself his motivations, desires and problems. I felt at once awed and honored to be trusted with such an inside view of his 15 year old person.
I was struck by his open honesty both within the journals and in his sharing them with me. He let me so deep inside him with this seemingly simple act. Yet, how many of us apply this kind of openness to our relationships?
When you can be totally open with another, you are not only showing yourself, but you are sharing yourself. In that openness, you are offering who you are to the other. When you can show your weaknesses as well as your strengths, and when you can both do that, it creates a direct sense of the “we” in the relationship. When barriers to connection are dropped, and when you are not hiding yourself, that is when a relationship can flourish.
In order to do this, you have to be at peace with yourself. This takes self-knowledge and self-acceptance. Both of these make it possible for you to offer openness and acceptance to another.In order to be fully in a relationship, you have to be fully open #relationships #quote Click To Tweet
PHIL: In order to be fully in a relationship, you have to be fully open. That includes showing your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Of course, this doesn’t happen at first; few people reveal all their phobias, sexual quirks and credit card debts on a first date because they want to make a good impression and attract the other person.
Openness and trust develop hand in hand; each one feeds the other as you get to know someone better. They grow according to how open the other person is as well. It’s difficult to share your emotional state with someone who only talks about golf scores and how bad the traffic was, but even if they are so scatter-brained that you cannot trust them to pick up the milk, when they’re fully open, you can trust that they do not have a hidden agenda.
We don’t show ourselves fully in society because hey, we have jobs to do and things to get on with. These are social inhibitions we all have – that’s a result of socialization, of being brought up to live amongst other people, but in a relationship, it is different. Why hide any part of yourself there?
This isn’t a license for cruelty or abuse. If that’s what social inhibitions cover up, then letting these loose is not openness at all; it’s a cue to work on yourself and look into what is behind them.
But a relationship is built on – maybe even is – connection, and who doesn’t want and need that? Being as open as you dare to be is the route there. (If too much connection triggers feelings of claustrophobia for you, then we’ve written elsewhere about how it is possible to feel both free and connected at once.)
The more open you and your partner are, the more you will feel seen and the more connected you will be.
Photo credit: Phil Mayes
Photo note: Phil’s journals
Read what some other writers have to say on this topic.
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