One of the most distressing things for people is the failure to be recognized by their partner for changes that they have already made. It not only impedes “knowing” – it is often cause for anger and despair.
“He always treats me badly in front of my family.” vs. “That has not been true for years – how can you say that?”
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“We haven’t traveled much – she’s afraid to fly.” vs. “I can’t believe you are saying that – who was with you on the last vacation to California?”
One wonders if the failure to know a partner in a new way reflects the anxiety associated with any changes (good or bad) in the person you once knew.
Needing to Know Too Much
Texts or emails many times a day may be valuable to partners who both want to know the daily life of the other in detail.
For others, this may feel like a demand to know or disclose that actually impedes the wish to share or be known. What you know about your partner should unfold in a way that is natural and works for both.
It is worth recognizing and addressing the fact that one partner may have a greater need to know or be known than the other. While you are free to disclose what you want, think twice about demanding it from your partner.
Remember the lyrics by Police, “Every Breath you take, every move you make… every step you take, I’ll be watching you.” That’s not about knowing – it’s about stalking!
Not Wanting to Be Known
One of the signs that a relationship is shaky is a partner’s desire not to be known. This might reflect:
The relationship has stopped feeling safe as in the case of a possessive, abusive or intrusive partner.
There is no longer the desire to be involved or committed.
There is a betrayal or secret that is being withheld that could jeopardize the relationship.
There has been a traumatic event, critical incident, or combat stress experience that has made the partner feel unlovable, vulnerable, frightened, guilty or bereaved in a way that makes them protect their partner by not sharing – “ by not being known.”
As discussed in the blog “Secrets, Lies and Relationships,” the need to address such situations in crucial. In the case of trauma and combat stress – even sharing the “fear” of being known without the details is a giant step toward re-connection and understanding.
No Desire to Know
When there is no desire to know the partner, the spark, the joy and the possibilities of a truly close relationship disappear. Partners stay insiders to each other when they confide, take an interest and want to know more. It simply is not enough to once have known or to presume to know. Part of the vibrancy of a relationship is to cherish what was and look forward to what else can be.
Maybe it’s not just “to know” is to love but “to keep on knowing!”
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