Unexpressed Feelings Never Die

Unexpressed Feelings Never Die

I find it somewhat ironic that in relationships the tendency when people are first getting to know each other is to be what you believe will impress the other person and not what you truly are.  At first glance it may seem to make sense.  If you ask me it makes no sense whatsoever.  Perhaps if you aren’t looking for something long term it may be wise to “play the part” so you can enjoy those brief moments together.  But if you are looking for someone to spend your life with why on earth would you want him or her to fall for someone who doesn’t exist only to later to discover that they don’t really like you at all?  If you’ve just met this person you have nothing to lose by being yourself.  If they like you as you are then you just might have a chance at a satisfying and happy relationship.  If they don’t like you as you are, then they will most likely discover that quickly and you can both move on.

My boyfriend and I are engaged in what I believe to be a courageous endeavor.  Somewhat accidentally we began this undertaking when our relationship was just beginning.  It has evolved as time has gone on but still contains the core idea.  I believe it to have a great amount of value.  I would like to tell you about it. 

One day as we were talking on the phone the concept of “saying what was on our mind” came up.  We were discussing some sort of misunderstanding between the two of us.  One of us had done or said something that the other had interpreted as meaning one thing when in fact the intention of the other person had been something entirely different.  It was a minor issue but as we sat talking about it we realized how easy it is to misinterpret each other’s behavior or words.

We realized how dangerous this is.  Our minds get carried away and then we make decisions based on inaccurate assumptions and create unnecessary conflict in our relationship.  In that moment we agreed to always be upfront with each other regarding our thoughts.  We also agreed that we would bring up any unpleasant emotions we were feeling.  If I felt irritated or unappreciated I would say so.  If he felt ignored or frustrated he would tell me about it.  Anything that ordinarily we would refrain from saying we agreed to say.  Not only did this allow each of us the freedom to speak our minds.  It also freed us from wondering if the other person was upset because we knew if that were the case the other would tell us so. 

In the beginning it was uncomfortable but relatively easy.  It didn’t necessarily come naturally but we kept reminding each other that we both felt it was the best policy.  It was amazing how things that would previously have brought about intense negative emotion for me became relatively easy to let go of.  It was also amazing how frequently I misinterpreted my boyfriend’s behavior and how often I thought he was feeling one way when in fact he was experiencing something entirely different.  Talk about eye opening experience!  You mean I can’t read minds???  What the heck!! J  I believed we were definitely on to something.  The discomfort I felt lessened over time.  But as we all know it is relatively easy to get along with someone you haven’t known for very long. 

The day did come when we had our first argument.  Our emotions were engaged much more so than they had been over the course of our relationship but our disagreement was still of relatively little consequence.  It took more effort this time to really be honest about what I was feeling.  After a short period of time though we both chose to acknowledge our irritation and share what we were experiencing.  Rather than fighting we simply spoke calmly about what had irritated each of us that resulted in our contention.  As we talked the tension lifted quickly and we were able to move on pretty easily. 

As our relationship has progressed we have continued to “speak our minds”.  As we have become closer it is sometimes more difficult for me to bring certain things up.  It may seem that it should get easier and easier but as the bond between us builds the stakes get higher.  Allowing myself to be vulnerable while verbalizing my honest but perhaps painful truth is scary.  I don’t want to ruin my relationship with the person I love.  But while I want our relationship to last, I don’t want our relationship to be based on false pretences.  I know that a relationship of this nature would never satisfy either of us.  We continue to remind each other that as we share with one another we are always coming from a loving place; that we both want the same thing.  

Through this experience I have learned a few things.  First and foremost that my happiness has almost nothing to do with what someone else is doing.  My happiness has everything to do with what goes on inside of me.  If I can trust that my boyfriend is always coming from a loving place than I don’t have to have unnecessary stuff swirling around in my mind. My issues reside inside of me.  Secondly, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by being open and honest in our relationship.  Anything I hold inside only serves to disrupt my peace.  In the past I have held many things inside.  A large part of me believed I was doing the right thing by not voicing my negative feelings and emotions.  I now believe I couldn’t have been more wrong.   I have come to understand that when I hold on to negative thoughts and feelings they don’t go away.  Not only do they not go away they tend to build.  And ironically the things that “caused” those feelings in the first place are quite often misunderstandings and misinterpretations.  Had I given a voice to them I may have found that I was misinformed.  Consequently much of the upset that I experienced because of these misinformed feelings could have been avoided. 

As it stands I am still in the early stages of my relationship with my boyfriend.  I intend to continue down the path that we are on.  It’s new territory for me, and quite frankly quite scary at times.  I know that it won't always go smoothly.  Nevertheless I have never felt so much peace and ease in a relationship before.  And like I said before, I sincerely believe I have nothing to lose and everything to gain!