BY JEANNE CROTEAU
When we couple up with someone, there’s this tendency to think that we should know everything about them. It’s perfectly natural to want to share intimate information with your significant other as your relationship solidifies, but do you really need to know every single detail?
As I’ve explained to counseling clients in the past (and have learned from my own relationship), there are things that really can be left unsaid without having a negative impact on your relationship. To help clarify the difference, here are seven things that you should know and seven things that you probably shouldn’t know about your significant other.
How they really feel about you
No one wants to play the guessing game in their own relationship. In the early days, it’s important to give your partner space to sort out how you feel about each other. Once you become an established couple, having a conversation to determine where you stand is totally acceptable.
Of course, you don’t want to badger them all of the time but it’s fair to ask what they like about you. If you are brave enough and ready to hear the answer, you may also ask if there are things that they dislike. Many couples find this type of honesty a good thing, even if it’s sometimes hard to hear, because it allows them to work on things and strengthens their bond.
Pro tip: If you feel the need to have your ego stroked all the time by soliciting compliments from your partner, it’s possible that you are feeling insecure. If so, explore the reasons why you’re feeling that way so that you won’t need constant validation from anyone but yourself.
What they do when you’re apart
If you’re part of a couple, it’s reasonable to assume that you will keep each other informed about important activities and events as you go about your day. If you’re running late, for example, you should check in and explain the situation. It’s a simple courtesy.
It’s not necessary, however, for you to get a report on every single move your partner makes or every person they talk to. As long as you are in a committed, respectful relationship, it shouldn’t raise alarm bells if you aren’t getting status updates and replies to your texts every ten minutes.
Pro tip: If you’re feeling the need to closely monitor your partner, you may be feeling uncertainty about your relationship on some level. Rather than try to keep close tabs on them, address any trust issues that are making you uncomfortable.
Their vision of the future
If you’re hoping to build a life with someone, it’s pretty important to make sure that you’re on the same page. You need to talk about how they envision the future and address details such as where they’d like to live, to how they plan to spend their retirement.
If everything doesn’t line up perfectly, don’t worry! A little variation is not only acceptable but can enhance both of your lives if you’re willing to compromise. Decide what your own deal-breakers are and then be open to your significant other’s wish list. Make it an adventure!
Pro tip: Never assume that someone wants to have children. Becoming a parent is a very personal choice. If your partner says they don’t want kids, believe and respect them. Don’t hatch a plan to change their mind. It probably won’t work and will likely lead to resentment.
No one you should feel like they need to make a detailed list of every person they were ever involved with in the past. It is, however, worth talking about some of the noteworthy relationships since, in all honesty, they could impact your current situation.
One reason for this stems from needing to know how your significant other handled themselves with former partners. Did they play a role in the breakup? Have they found closure, or are they still harboring feelings for someone else? It’s uncomfortable but important for your future.
Pro tip: If your partner brings up a particular person or situation on a regular basis, it might be a red flag. They may not even be aware by how often they mention it. Encourage them to explain why this is so frequently on their mind and give them the opportunity to really think it over.
How they budget
While money isn’t everything, it can cause a lot of problems in a relationship. How you each manage your finances is hugely important, especially if you’re going to be contributing to a shared household.
Have these conversations before getting married or moving in together. Use the opportunity to disclose any debts, bankruptcies, savings accounts, or obligations. No one likes to talk about budgeting, but it’s not a topic that should be ignored. Over time, these talks will get easier.
Pro tip: Don’t take this lightly. If you become connected to someone else’s money problems, you could be held responsible for repaying debts long after your relationship ends. Think it through.
When we get together with someone, we rarely think of what could happen if our partner suddenly became sick or incapacitated. While the unexpected can arise, it’s vital that you each are honest about any underlying health issues you’ve already been dealing with.
This includes medical and mental health issues but also covers sexually transmitted diseases. You might be embarrassed by whatever you need to disclose, but if you have been treated for any type of intimate infection, your partner deserves to know before you sleep together.
Pro tip: How you handle this discussion can really impact the level of trust you have in your relationship. Be as honest as you can, even if it’s just about some nagging pain you’ve never had checked out. A perk is that you may end up addressing a health issue as a result of your partner’s support.
It’s always good to make sure that each party is willing and able to commit if the relationship becomes serious. For this reason, it’s a good idea to talk about whether your partner has struggled in this area in the past. The last thing you want is to feel like your relationship is going down a certain path only to discover that your significant other is unwilling or incapable of making it a priority.
Pro tip: Rather than immediately jumping into this conversation (which could scare anyone away!), pay attention to how your partner discusses their romantic history and ask pertinent questions. If it seems like a pattern exists, ask about it.
Family drama history
While you definitely don’t want to get drawn into some family drama, you do have a right to understand the dynamics, even if it’s just so you can avoid stepping into a minefield.
Just as you don’t need all of the nitty gritty details on what you partner thinks of your family, avoid dishing out your detailed opinion (and criticisms). A little restraint in this area can go a long way.
Pro tip: If your significant other seems reluctant to share certain things, respect that. If there is tension, be honest about what you are feeling and then ask for guidance on how to navigate the situation.
How they really feel about your mom
As the old saying goes, “You can’t choose your family” — and that includes your partner’s parents. Sometimes, we get lucky and everyone just clicks and the world is a glorious, wonderful place. Other times, we’re not so lucky — and that’s also okay.
Your significant other might not love your mother but may have found a way to be respectful and cordial towards her. They may even be able to but their differences asides in order to appreciate her (or any of your family members) for having contributed to the person that you are today.
Pro tip: Don’t dig too deeply on this. We all have complicated relationships with our own parents, and chances are, you probably already understand how your folks could get under someone else’s skin.
Favorite sexual partner
In counseling settings, I’ve been blown away by how often a current partner wants to know which ex-lover their significant other liked best. It is such a loaded question and the answer usually leads to more questions (and lot of jealousy).
Then the vicious cycle begins. The more details you know, the more you will torture yourself with visuals. The more you can picture it all in your mind, the more it will bother you. It’s not something that can be changed so why even waste energy on it?
Pro tip: Focus on the here and now instead of the past. There’s a reason why you’re in the present and the exes are in the past. Trust in your relationship instead of dwelling on ancient history.
Every mistake they’ve ever made
Has your partner ever been arrested? Fired from a job due to suspicious activity? Banned from Vegas casinos for a gambling problem? Even if there’s a good explanation, those are all the types of things that you absolutely must know about your partner.
On the flip side, you don’t need a laundry list of every single one of your significant other’s misdeeds in order to say that your relationship is secure and transparent. We all make mistakes and the last thing anyone needs is someone holding theirs over their heads.
Pro tip: If they have trusted you by disclosing some of their lowest moments, don’t ever use that against them. It might be tempting to bring up during an argument but don’t betray your partner’s trust by taking the low road.
How often they have “personal time”
You might be sexual partners, but each of you has your own personal relationship with your respective bodies. That means that whatever private activities you are doing do not need to be shared or accounted for.
Of course, if there have been issues with sexual addiction or an agreement made about pornography in your relationship, your interest in this area may be warranted. Otherwise, it’s not really anyone’s business.
Pro tip: Think about how you would feel if someone wanted you to detail and justify any moments of self-pleasure. Most people find that being comfortable with their own bodies makes them better lovers so, maybe, you don’t want to discourage that!
As long as boundaries are respected and in place, it’s pretty normal for most people to have a secret crush on someone. This could be a celebrity, co-worker, or even a family member. For many, these are just harmless feelings that pose no threat to their primary relationship.
Since, deep down, we know that, if we have these little crushes, our partner must also. Curiosity can get the best of us and we might ask to know the identity. This one is such a bad idea, but for whatever reason, even I’ve fallen victim to it (multiple times — you’d think I’d learn).
Pro tip: Having this information is probably going to make you jealous and critical of that person. Why cause a problem where there isn’t one?
Whether they stand to wipe
This is so ridiculous sounding but knowing every last detail about your partner’s personal hygiene rituals is probably TMI. While it can apply to anything from shaving to flossing, my personal horror story surrounds how my partner wipes after using the toilet.
First of all, it might sound crazy but the idea that anyone might stand to wipe never crossed my mind until he shared an embarrassing story from work. Since then, every time he goes to the bathroom, I’m horrified picturing him wiping the “wrong way.”
Pro tip: Everyone does their business a little differently from each other. We just don’t need to know about it.
Have good boundaries
When you’re all about “togetherness,” it can be easy to forget that each partner deserves to have their own privacy and respect. Chances are, you wouldn’t want to divulge every minute detail about your life so you shouldn’t expect that from your partner.
Instead, focus on nurturing your relationship, building trust, and enjoying your shared journey.