Must We Share EVERYTHING To Have A Good Relationship?

couple taking a bath together
Partner
Love

Being in a relationship means openly sharing a part of yourself with another person. There's a fine line between intimacy and privacy, so the question is, do you and your partner know where to draw the line? AOL Love and Sex Coaches Dr. Bethany Marshall and Elina Furman weigh in on bathroom etiquette, sorting laundry, masturbation and more.

Open-Door Policy

Problems arise in relationships when diverging open-door policies evolve into intimacy issues. Just because your partner doesn't want you watching them commune with the porcelain throne or vice-versa doesn't mean they're not committed. Especially at the beginning of a relationship, people have a tendency to "let it all hang out" in order to feel totally loved and accepted by their partners, says Marshall. But it's okay to keep some bathroom habits hidden, especially if the other person is uncomfortable. "You need to respect that boundary," says Furman. "As long as one person is not okay with it, there's never a point where it's acceptable," she says.

Dirty Laundry

In any serious relationship it's inevitable that domestic chores will come up. But if watching your partner sort dirty underwear is enough to make you gag, it doesn't mean there's a problem with your relationship. "As a couple, you don't have to do everything together," says Furman. Sometimes insecure couples will spend more time together to prove that there's nothing wrong. "The more secure you are in a relationship, the less compelled you feel to do everything together," she says.

Masturbation

"Some couples feel that any sexual act is something that should be shared," says Furman. Issues arise when one partner feels like the other is fulfilling an unmet need through self-pleasuring. "Masturbation shouldn't be taken as an indication that your partner isn't interested in you. It's a personal thing," says Furman.

If your partner is uncomfortable with you doing it, keep it to yourself or explain that you use masturbation for stress relief and that it doesn't impinge on your sexual drive.

Communal Bed

Sleeping together is one of the most intimate acts a couple can share, even more so than sex. Falling asleep next to your partner means that you're comfortable being completely vulnerable with that person. While cuddling together night after night can strengthen intimacy, people still need their own space. "Until you've made a final commitment to be together, going apart and coming back together is a part of good mental health," says Marshall. "People overvalue the bed, like they overvalue the ring," she says. If your partner wants to sleep alone on occasion, don't read hidden messages into it unless it becomes a recurring theme, which could mean an intimacy breach. You need to understand that the other person has separate needs and that separateness and autonomy is not the same as rejection and abandonment, says Marshall.

Sexual Fantasies

Sharing your sexual fantasies can be a big step in any relationship, especially if you don't know where your partner stands. "You have to feel out the situation before you launch into giving them every play-by-play." Furman suggests broaching the subject by talking about one of your tamer fantasies and gauging your partner's reaction. "If they're embarrassed or uncomfortable, they're not ready," she says.

Quirks

If you're pushing 35 and still sleeping with your baby blanket, do you have to tell your significant other? "It's okay to keep things personal so long as it's not something that can hurt your partner, such as infidelity or addictions," says Furman. "If you have a teddy bear or a vibrator stashed somewhere, you don't have to share," she says. "It's not show-and-tell." It's important to keep part of yourself separate from the relationship, so you can say, "This is me, and we're together. But I still have my personal identity."

Showers

Showering together or sensually bathing one another can be an overtly sexual act for any couple. But when showering becomes a daily ritual and loses its sexual zest, the relationship could be negatively affected. "There's a danger when engaging in personal hygiene acts together," says Furman. "It's an overly close intimacy, and a brotherly or sisterly relationship can develop." Unless you're pressed for time in the morning, it's best to shower alone when you want to get clean and bathe together when you want to get dirty.

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Meet the Parents

Every family has its quirks. But even if yours teeters dangerously close to the edge of dysfunctional, it's generally not a good idea to hide your partner from mom and dad forever. "If your family is a big part of your life you're not sharing, then that's a problem, even if you think they're insane," says Furman. It's only okay if you have a relative, say your crazy Uncle Curly, who you rarely see and who you doesn't have a direct influence on your life, to delay an introduction, says Furman. "But if you accept your family's insanity, that's a reflection on you, and you should be forthcoming," says Furman. "He or she will find out your quirks eventually."

The Fart Factor

Farts happen, and at some point in your relationship, they'll happen to you or your partner. "People shouldn't be living like they're mannequins," says Furman. But just because you're comfortable enough to pass gas in front of your partner doesn't mean it should be a free-for-all. You or your partner should try to remain discreet and, at the very least, say excuse me. "It's a small little thing, but it helps remind us that we're civilized people," says Furman.

Bathroom Regimen

Brushing your teeth and washing your face together is one thing, but seeing your boyfriend apply Rogaine or your girlfriend wax her upper lip can deflate passion in any relationship. "Have your little space, your little drawer," says Furman. "Everyone finds each other's secret stashes in the bathroom, but try not to do it in front of each other." Marshall suggests closing the door to symbolize that there's still some separateness in the relationship. "If you lose all privacy and become too enmeshed with each other, that lack of privacy can kill sexual desire," Marshall says. "It's not an insult if you still want to be attractive and have a mystique."

Written by Ashley Neglia for AOL Health