Why You Can Never Be Your True Self In A Relationship
You’ll be holding back much more than you’ll be expressing.
Few things require a healthy relationship to work, other than constantly restraining yourself and holding back whatever you have to say. Would so many marriages stand the test of time if someone were to constantly express their genuine opinions on worldly matters without thinking of what their partners would think about them? I guess not.
On dozens of occasions, I’ve found myself withholding my personal opinion on various matters for fear of jeopardizing or nipping at the sanctity of the relationship. And I’m sure many of you might be employing the same strategy to avoid uncomfortable discussions over such contentious topics as well.
So can it then be said that we sacrifice individuality and personal opinion at the altar of marriage/relationships?
Many a time, a couple can be seen squabbling over such issues, with one side assuming that the other was on the same page with them all along. Little did they know that their spouse’s opinion on the matter happens to be the polar opposite of theirs. It usually takes unusual situations or special circumstances for these differences to surface, by which time the couple is already too deep into the relationship to get out.
People who think they can breeze through a marriage and continue living passively are the ones most prone to misery and sadness. It takes a lot of purpose, intent, and courage to stay in a relationship.
Relationships where one or both of the parties are in it just to avoid the insecurity of being single seldom last very long. And this is often found out the hard way. There is only a certain extent to which you can dumb yourself down and withhold your thoughts and feelings just for the sake of a relationship. Such relationships are bound to fail, as it is a well known fact that repressed emotions manifest themselves as physical ailments if they’re allowed to fester over a prolonged period.
An article on Medium talks about how it’s a good thing to have interdependency in a relationship, but also about how it’s something that seldom happens, as most relationships are bound to get infected by codependency:
“Interdependence is good and codependence is bad. This makes sense in theory, but having no elements of codependence in a relationship is very unlikely”
Another one says:
“When you rely on others for your self-worth it damages the relationship and gives them too much power over you.”
Drawing the insights presented in both of these articles, it would be wise to not lean towards either interdependency or codependency, but follow a middle path.
It isn’t about patience or tolerance
It really doesn’t matter how much patience or tolerance one has, as misunderstandings cannot be prevented with such qualities. However, they are the most useful qualities to have once the shit hits the fan, and greatly helps in facilitating a de-escalation of the situation.
The only time-bound way to solve issues that crop up in a relationship is to get over those bumps, potholes, and broken bridges, then turn back and find out exactly what went wrong, and fix it. Get back to the drawing board and create a system to deal with differences in the future. It makes absolutely no sense to endlessly keep fighting for eternity, does it?
Also, it sets one up for failure if they continuously hand over the leash of their emotions to their partner and expect them to be taken for a walk every single day. That’s never going to happen. So whether it's a marriage or a casual relationship, it's good to always iron things out then and there, take a step back together and see what went wrong objectively. In this way, no one’s ego is hurt, a lesson is learned from the argument, and a future precedent is set on how to prevent arguments on recurring issues again.
Like the author of one of the above-mentioned articles says:
“There is no point in spending time fixing by-products. It is tireless and never-ending work. However, as soon as a misunderstanding is clarified, the by-product of the misunderstanding is immediately and effortlessly resolved. But, the opportunities to clarify misunderstandings are infinite so you don’t want to wait until everything is clarified to enjoy life.”
There is no point dwelling on the same matters over and over again. If you as a couple have no intention of learning from an argument (which the author calls “by-products”), then there is no point in spending time to fix it.
And again, he brings to light another aspect worth mentioning, which is on clarifying misunderstandings. Since there can be so surefire way to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings in life, it would be futile to even try to do so. You cannot wait to discuss every single aspect of a relationship that could probably go wrong in the future, and only then start enjoying life. It just doesn’t work that way. Just like how employees make mistakes at work, and then work with their managers to rectify them, so it is with relationships.
You don’t leave a job just because you have minute misunderstandings with your boss, do you?
Likewise, it would be very prudent to follow the same strategy for relationships as well, without jeopardizing its sanctity. When ego and self-respect is on the line, then no issue can be solved in a relationship. But once both parties realize that they’re both imperfect human beings, and are able to stand at the same level to discuss issues from a vantage point, then the bone of contention is shifted from personalities to the issue itself. Now there is a greater chance that issues will be resolved amicably without anyone's ego getting hurt in the process.
But the challenge now gets shifted onto another part of the equation: Getting both sides to agree to stand on the same plane, from which they can take stock of the situation together.
So how exactly is one supposed to get around that?
Compromise is the name of the game in any relationship, whether it be between a company and its employees, a husband and wife, or a girlfriend and boyfriend. By default, we all come with our own personalities, our own quirks and eccentricities, which the other must tolerate or yield to for the greater good.
Sometimes, it’s letting go of an argument and being the bigger person because you know your spouse already has a lot on his plate to deal with.
Sometimes, it’s working overtime for your boss not because you want to keep your job, but because you know he’s going through a hard time at home and an unsatisfied client is the last thing he needs.
Sometimes, it’s withholding your energy when your spouse is in no mood for fun and just wants to rest and recover over the weekend.
Without compromise, no relationship can stand the test of time.
A relationship is the average of all those compromises, the good moments, the bad ugly ones, and everything else in between. But never, never let a relationship stop you from speaking your mind. If you feel intimidated or threatened by your partner for speaking your mind, you really got to ask yourself if it’s worth living forever this way. Sometimes you shut up because you’re getting something much better in return, where you wouldn’t in another liberal relationship. But some compromises are just not worth it. Know the difference.