Sharing vs. Privacy: Showdown
October 16, 2012 8:32 AM Subscribe
How much should you expect to share in a relationship?
posted by fishingforthewhale to Human Relations (51 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Hello. First time poster here. You are all so wise I could keep quiet no longer.
I grew up in a pretty healthy environment. Had a great girlfriend for a few years as a late teenager/young adult; we probably learnt a lot from each other without really realising it. We shared a lot and I never really felt there was anything 'off limits' which she wouldn't tell or I couldn't ask.
Skip forward nine (solitary, single) years (I'm 27) and I again have a wonderful girlfriend of nine months - although this is a different kettle of fish altogether. She is huge talker, and it's all interesting and intelligent - she's not a witterer. Conversely, she's huge on privacy, something which slowly became apparent through little things like her keeping a list on her phone of songs she means to find online. This list is totally off-limits and under no circumstances can I know its contents. That seemed bizarre initially but is now fine as I know these little things can act as bellwethers for her views on sharing and privacy more generally.
Problem is, I always imagined a 'successful' relationship as one where two people completely open up to one another. We've spoken about this. She regards her personal space and privacy as sacred. She's been through some difficult things, including an extremely violent rape and resultant mental illness, which are naturally difficult for her to talk about. [As an aside, this has been tricky for me as I want to talk to somebody about it just to air the thing, but I don't want to bring it up with her and she's asked me not to tell anyone, so I pretty much carry it around in my head the whole time, which surely isn't healthy.]
I get that people have different ways and speeds of unfolding to would-be partners. I am pretty cagey - for longer than I need to be perhaps - and then I let my guard down completely. She is very open about some things (she asked how many people I'd slept with after 6 weeks or so - way too early for me, and something I'm still struggling with slightly) but at other times I get a really strong feeling that there are things going on in there which she just won't talk to me about.
I think at least to some extent my confusion is owing to a lack of experience in more mature (i.e. post-teenage) relationships, but has anyone else been in a similar situation? Is it simply that couples find what's right for them? The intimacy of sharing everything with someone means a lot to me. Should I look elsewhere for someone that can give me that? Or should I accept that (maybe in part due to her past problems) she may never fully open up? Is that need to share everything something which other people simply don't get? Is it something to do with power dynamics in the relationship? Am I being controlling?
As you can see, this breeds a lot of questions, and I'd be very interested to hear other people's takes on this and how much that sense of closeness means to others.
Thanks in advance.