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janbb's avatar

Is it ever helpful in a relationship for a partner to hide their true feelings?

Asked by janbb (57165points) January 28th, 2016

This is spurred by the ongoing thread about fear and fearlessness. It seems that sometimes one partner may hide their true feelings of fear in a situation to aid their partner or kids to get through it. Another situation might be hiding feelings of attraction to a third party even though one has no plans to act on them. Is it beneficial to either partner to hide these feelings or more useful to acknowledge them?

Obviously, there is no right or wrong here. Your thoughts?

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21 Answers

Mariah's avatar

I’m interested in seeing the answers to this. I’ve been very open with my serious boyfriend lately about my current medical situation. It’s starting to make him nervous, which I feel bad about, but his nervousness is probably warranted and I want him to be prepared if things get ugly. I don’t really know what’s best though. I don’t want to scare him off. I realize I have a stupid amount of baggage for someone my age.

janbb's avatar

Oh – and by the way, I don’t mean that that means exposing every random thought that goes through your mind but really more like hiding major feelings such as fear or falling out of love.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Your question reminds me of my relationship with Adi, especially those last days we spent together. He had always hid his problems from me. When we were still new he never told me what was wrong with him. He kept the details very vague – he said he didn’t feel well and that was it. Even when we got closer he still didn’t tell me what exactly was wrong with him, though he gave me more details. Those last day he occasionally told me he got pain somewhere on his body, but kept on assuring to me that it would pass. This is the reason why his death was such a shock to me.

I guess he just want to calm me down and keep my mind clear, because the truth might be too painful for me to take. That was thoughtful of him, given the fact that I got my end-of-term exam ahead at that time. But I still wish he had given me more details of his condition. It could have saved me from the shock and I could have worried for him more like a good friend should.

janbb's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Yes, that’s true. I knew about gailcalled’s illness and the ups and downs of her treatment while it was happening so I had a long time to grieve her loss and prepare myself for her end. Sometimes people’s protecting you is not helpful although I’m sure that’s what Adi was trying to do.

ucme's avatar

“Darling, does my bum look big in this?”

The answer to your question is yes!

filmfann's avatar

When I was in the hospital waiting for open heart surgery, I had a few moments of terror. I didn’t share that with my wife, because I needed her to be strong, and if I showed how scared I was, it would have fed her fears.

janbb's avatar

@filmfann But did you both miss out on an opportunity for her to comfort you? Or for you both to bond over shared fears?

I wish my Ex had been able to be vulnerable more. It would have helped to balance our relationship.

picante's avatar

I can only speak for myself, and I am, by nature and nurture, a very private person. I hold many feelings deep inside, and I’d generally say this process has been harmful to me, both physically and emotionally; but there have been outcomes I’d term as positive. For example, I present as a leader with an even keel, not easily rattled.

Unfortunately, I tend to have an explosive outpouring of pent-up feelings when very stressed or very angry, and the expression of those feelings will likely be hurtful to the other party and make me look like a freakin’ loon.

I have friends with whom I can share my darkest secrets, my craziest feelings, my most outrageous fantasies; my fears, both rational and irrational. But I don’t have a marriage that allows for that type of sharing, and that is something that I’ve chosen to endure. Frankly, the information he “shares” with me has been very hurtful to me.

And what is the lesson here? I can only guess that it takes the right pairing of individuals, in any type of relationship, to have an existence of total openness where both parties benefit. When there is an imbalance or imperfection in that pairing, the outcomes will not be good. At least, that’s my take.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I am nervous when I speak in public but you would never know it. I hide any fear or lack of confidence because sometimes the delivery is worth more than the message.

When dealing with my customer anything less than 100% confidence is unacceptable.

marinelife's avatar

My husband tends not to voice his anxieties until I dig it out of him after his behavior changes obviously (can’t sleep, tossing and turning). Not voicing them causes problems for him. Usually he has let them multiply to be larger than they are. Once we do talk about it, things are better for both of us.

rojo's avatar

Yes, sometimes it is helpful. Remember what Thumpers’ father told him

zenvelo's avatar

My general opinion is to err on the side of full disclosure. However, it needs to be tempered with appropriate timing.

If I were in a situation that involved me and my kids going through a crisis of some sort, I would not disclose in the moment. But once it had passed, I would talk to them about it, and let them know I was fearful or worried, or concerned.

And ”...hiding feelings of attraction to a third party…” is, again, a matter of timing. In the middle of a party when you say to your partner, “Jane is looking so hot tonight” or ” I feel liking jumping Paul’s bones right now” is not what I consider a very wise move.

And neither is “if I wasn’t dating you, I’d…” very smart. But in a conversation, “I never understood her being with him, she has so much more going for her” communicates attraction without being threatening to one’s relationship.

somewomenarenicemaybe's avatar

I’ve been married a long time and I used to tell my wife every thought and feeling and we would fight a lot. Now I keep a peice of paper in my pocket and when I feel like sharing my thoughts and feelings I just walk away and look at the paper. It says “keep your mouth shut, you’re in the best possible position to raise your child.” So it’s been helpful for now I guess? Maybe I could share my feelings more freely before we were married with children.

dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

I don’t think so. I can think of many times my husband or I kept true feelings from each other and nothing good came from it. Keeping your partner in the dark only causes problems.

This is my experience being with the same man for 25 years

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes. If I said everything I wanted to to my husband about how I felt, the fighting would never stop. I just suck up most stuff, blow it off, and go on.

dappled_leaves's avatar

No. At least, I don’t want to live that way, and I don’t want to live with a partner who would. If you’re not going to be honest with me, you’re not the person I want to be with. This applies to the big things and the little things.

filmfann's avatar

My strength comes from my humor.
If I can joke about it, my wife knows I am not worried, and she is calmer. Also, joking about it can defang the terror from it.
For example: after waking up after surgery, my sister walked into my room, and I weakly said “Hi, Linda!” then added “Hi, Dad!” My father died 30 years ago. My sister knew I was fucking with her, and felt better.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m old school: Never complain; never explain.

Also, I joke much … and then have to explain the goddamn jokes, and complain about that.

What was your question, again?

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

If my partner was very sick, I would be frightened but I wouldn’t want to show him my fear. I don’t think that would help him to deal with his own illness. Similarly, if he lost his business he would be stressed by that. Having me going on about how frightened I am would only add to his stress. I’m not saying I wouldn’t say I was worried or upset, but I would certainly try to minimise increasing the other person’s stress by loading them down with mine.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

From a faith-based spiritual side, maybe not. From a secular side almost everytime.

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