Should You Let Your Partner in On Your Emotional Baggage?

August 19, 2010


It’s as simple as that.

But don’t you worry – I’ll elaborate, if only because I’m not really an answer-in-one-word-kind-of-girl, if you know what I mean, and since you read this blog, I’m fairly certain that you do.

This question has been sort of circulating around the internet as of late, particularly in regards to body image and disordered eating, with many wondering whether or not that is information to share with your boyfriend/girlfriend/lover/partner/hook-up/friendwithbenefits/WHOMEVER.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that one of my basic philosophies is: secrecy breeds shame. And thus MM places a heavy emphasis on being honest and having faith that someone will love you for EXACTLY who you really are, because you are just so very wonderful and lovable and unique.

Now, I’m an oversharer. I admit it. I have a tendency to bombard with personal information. And, while it has been a little bit of time now since I’ve been dating, I have faith that these tendencies haven’t changed much.

The reality is, how can you build a healthy, intimate relationship, if you don’t share your flaws, odd ends, and not-so-pretty-parts. Now, I do not mean harp on for days on end about each and every one of your exes, or what foods you at that day and how it made you feel, or a running inner monologue of your inadequacies.

And I beg you not to have conversations like that with yourself either. They aren’t doing you any good.

What I do mean is, checking in with where you are coming from. For example, I am just one person doing the best that I can. If you want to be in a relationship with me, you have to understand: I have had extreme body image issues and thus have a very difficult time trusting my body and it’s natural instincts. I have experienced sexual trauma, and there are occasions where this triggers my total fear and anxiety ridden shut down. My life has been unstable and I require nesting and regularity to feel loved and safe. Money anxiety completely debilitates me when pressed, and my life is based around my ability to pay my bills on time.

These are just statements. I do not feel any shame over these tender spots in my psyche, and I will not apologize for them because they are the products of my life to this point. They are a combination of my learned experiences, and they allow me to help people [and be a better girlfriend] on a daily basis.

If I kept all of these secrets from my girlfriend, she would be unable to truly know me or understand why I behave the way that I do. And honestly, when you are a person who has experienced any sort of trauma, it is impossible that it does not impact the way you act in any way. No matter how hard you attempt to submerge something, there are triggers that all of us have, and when pressed, we can often revert back to a very raw and fearful place.

If I kept all of these secrets from my girlfriend – how could she understand when the slightest touch or statement renders me useless, crumpled on the floor, hysterical and irrational? How could she understand what I mean when I say I can’t feel her love? How could she know how to love me in a way that hits me right in the heart, so real and spoken in my own language?

While I understand the argument for not bombarding a new relationship with all of your past hurts, there will come a time where you have to fess up if you truly want the relationship to have a fighting chance.

What do you think? Do you tend to lay all of your cards down in a relationship or hold them close to your chest for fear of what happens when someone truly knows your flaws?