‘Why did you tell him that?’, she enquired with her brows furrowing. Ready to shame me for spilling my mouth. Silence screamed inside the room; I looked at her innocently, mumbling I didn’t realise it was a secret. It didn’t seem like one… at the time. But with my good friend in front of me, I knew I had screwed up. What should you tell your partner about your friends and when do you cross the friendship line?
Involving others in your relationship
Countless articles tell you not to talk too much about a partner. They describe how it’s bad to let friends interfere and get involved. On the other foot however, it’s more complicated.
I consider myself private – comical I know, coming from a dating and relationship blogger. I’m open on many things; I’ll tell you exactly what happened when I bought my first vibrator. I’ll laugh about my terrible dates and cheesy lines I once thought the pinnacle of romance. With that said, there’s a lot I like to keep to particular people. Certain feelings and memories from the past I’d rather forget.
To imagine a friend sitting with her partner and unravelling these personal stories of mine with the ease of opening a near empty jar of strawberry jam, it feels like being naked on a crowded street. Exposed, vulnerable. Imagining the opinions that could be brewing at my expense. They’d have to look me right in the eye and pretend they’d only just found out my actual name, never mind my past.
As bad as it is, aren’t we all guilty? Whether a partner or another friend, it’s easy to say, this happened to so-and-so; my friend did this. It’s not necessarily spiteful and gossipy. Often, it’s an intimacy building act. We spend so much time with who we’re dating, naturally we discuss our closest worries, thoughts, experiences. There’s bound to be a confession on someone else. A couple deepens their trust knowing such significant information – does this added depth also loosen a friendship?
Because, when you tell a partner about your friends, they may keep such secrets. But you’ll know it’s out the bag. If or when you get together, the information you’ve shared is like a ballet dancer – tip-toeing somewhere.
Sharing everything with your partner
In a previous relationship, I thought telling everything was a given. Here’s my past; bruises, scabs, the continual dripping blood. By telling him each painful and embarrassing memory, I assumed I was somehow giving myself. We could claim an open and honest partnership. What we claimed was an imbalance. Me needing approval for my mistakes, me wanting reassurance over my insecurities.
As Very Well Mind state, ‘In a healthy relationship, you honor the sense of emotional and physical privacy needed for yourself and your partner. Otherwise, ironically, you end up limiting your intimacy with one another’. Rather than wanting to share everything (imagining your partner as the gatekeeper to your life’s history), surly we should see what part of our pasts will contribute to our relationships. Whether bad or good, what stories will lead to growth?
Maybe that’s how we answer how much should you tell a partner about your friends. What do they really need to know? How does sharing add or edit to how your partner perceives someone? Are you revealing to gain insight, to express concerns, to give a head’s up (look, they’re going through a hard time about this, please don’t ask questions)? Or, are you releasing anger after a fight, wanting to gossip, desperate to blurt a big secret?
Knowing exactly what to tell your partner about your friends
I’m guilty – I’ve unravelled intimate friendship details with the speed I’ve ate through bread. (As a head’s up – I’m a bread addict). Perhaps I can justify myself with the former – I expressed concerns; I was explaining a whole picture. Really, I’ve had times where I’ve just blurted it out. Trusting my partner and expecting them to carry out my confidentiality. Well, carry it out better than me as I failed by telling them.
Before you share, it’s helpful to ask:
- Am I giving my partner an unfair canvas – will this information negatively affect how they see a friend? With arguments for example, anyone can build an exaggerated one-sided portrayal if they only hear words said during a fight.
- Can what I share damage a friend’s work, relationships, confidence – will it humiliate them?
- Does confiding affect a friendship’s bond? Some moments are best when you know it’s you alone who holds the memory.
- Is what I share a big deal to my friend?
After deliberating and penning this post, I decided it’s okay to sometimes tell a partner about your friends. Providing you haven’t been told to not say anything. They’re occasions when it’s beneficial to reveal. Like asking for advice on a friend’s abusive relationship or eating disorder.
We have to trust our friends have our best intentions at heart – they’re not going to say what we’d flinch at. They’re not mocking or criticising our most vulnerable flaws. And equally, we should better hold ourselves accountable to both what we say and how we say it. When you tell a partner about your friends, including telling friends about a partner, you want to feel good about yourself. You don’t want words lingering regret.
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