Can you be yourself in a relationship? Do you find yourself biting your tongue, holding back from your mate? Are you afraid to share your attitudes, beliefs, opinions? Are there some topics so near and dear to you, that are so important to you, that when you don’t express them, it feels like the proverbial “elephant in the room?”
For Instance …
We live in a volatile world with lots of crazy stuff happening on multiple fronts: politics, the economy, world affairs, human rights, and so on.
Let’s say you have strong views about some social issue that you haven’t shared with your mate because he/she has already expressed how they feel about those issues and they are diametrically opposite of yours.
Or, let’s say you have made comments or had discussions with your mate, maybe even ranted about something you heard on the news. You’ve shared your views with him/her and they tell you they would rather not hear any more about it.
What about when you and your mate are in the company of others: friends, family, a chance encounter with an acquaintance in public and a controversial topic comes up? Do you freely discuss it, share your thoughts with the group – despite your mate’s opposing views, despite his/her displeasure or strong distaste for those discussions?
Are your fears that he/she will find the subject upsetting, lose admiration for you, have doubts about the success of the relationship, take off and run?
Can you speak frankly with one another and in the presence of others? Do you feel you must reconstruct your relationship to avoid those discussions? Are you afraid she/he will see you as being too judgmental, overly dramatic, radical, a nut case?
Do you feel guilty expressing your thoughts because it makes you feel like you’re not taking your mate’s feelings into account?
Are you resentful that you are, for practical purposes, being asked not to express yourself fully?
Do you feel like you’re having to self-censor frequently when certain subjects arise? Do you feel like your mate is in a sense putting a muzzle on you by asking you not to share those topics that are important to you?
Do you feel so directed by your mate’s opposing views that you feel you’re losing touch with your own values, your own sense of self?
Balancing Expression and Harmony
A delicate balance exists between being authentic and open, being yourself, and holding back on certain feelings or attitudes so you don’t upset your partner.
We each have core beliefs. The awareness and expression of those core beliefs can be what creates meaning in our lives. What if your mate has very different core beliefs? What if she/he is intolerant of beliefs that don’t coincide with his/hers? Or what if the expression of certain opposing beliefs is so disturbing to him/her that they feel anxious, fearful, agitated, frustrated?
What if your mate is, in general, very open to discussion, even ones where you have opposing views but there are certain ones that are “hot buttons” and those come up a lot and you feel the urge to talk about them?
For the sake of harmony, are you ok with keeping your mouth shut about them? What if you thought you could at first, but as time goes by in the relationship, you find it harder and harder … you realize you have to talk about them or you’ll burst?
Could you hold those discussions for another time, delay them until you can express them freely with others besides your mate when she’s/he’s not around? Can you live with that?
Can you stay silent, follow your own truth, and accept that your mate is following his/hers?
It’s a process, as the saying goes … like most elements of a relationship. As you work through that process, you want to see what’s up ahead, that you’re heading in a positive direction, right? You have a right to free reign of self-expression. You want to feel like you are being authentic or working toward authenticity, not going in the opposite direction.
Is there a middle ground in all this? Can you find that happy medium where you both agree to disagree and feel comfortable having discussions in those cases– or not? Any successful relationship needs to allow for individual self-expression as well as some compromises. The goal of having a mutually satisfying relationship needs to leave room for your separate identities and keep them intact, so the YOU can shine through. It’s important to review these differences with yourself and your mate and come to some agreements.