When you keep your relationship private, it doesn’t mean that you never talk about it or share what’s going on in your love life.
It doesn’t mean that you have to bottle anything in either.
Keeping your relationship private should never feel like you are depriving yourself of part of the joy of being in a relationship. You should, however, make sure that your definition of relational joy is more about your relationship and less about pleasing/triggering/wow-ing other people. If it’s even slightly more external, you will be robbing your relationship of the very intimacy that you complain about (and question your worth over) an absence of.
Outside validation used to dictate the success of my relationships. Keeping my relationship private was out of the question. I would prioritize the opinions of friends and family over my mental and relational health.
As a kid, it was ingrained in my head, both at school and at home, that I had/was nothing without other people’s approval. I ended up becoming a very superficially dependent, people pleasing and insecure young adult whose sole source of validation came from the outside. I always felt like I had something to prove because I was never taught that true validation can only come from within.
There was no way I could keep my relationship private. I was so desperate to make it known that I was good/sexy/smart/attractive enough to land whatever guy I was with. (No matter how narcissistic he was, I would pedestal).
The goal was to make everyone either jealous that they didn’t have a Happily Ever After relationship as fantastic as mine or put them in a state of crippling regret for blowing it with me and hopefully, make them all feel as inadequate and lonely as I did deep down.
And I did this in such embarrassing ways. I would do this while posting quotes about gratitude and self-love and not comparing yourself to others. I was a contradictory, self-sabotaging, compulsive liar whose desire to prove everyone wrong and be one of the cool kids, outweighed the self-love that I had no idea how to jumpstart.
None of those relationships ever worked out.
As I got older and matured, I calmed down a bit. There were relationships where I felt so genuinely happy, I just wanted everyone to know. What was so wrong with that? I was able to keep my relationships private in ways I had not been able to before but most of the time, there was some new argument or drama that I needed to run by everyone I knew and get their advice on. I had a terrible tendency to overshare.
If your emotional core is not solid and your boundaries are not intact, your relationships will only be able to feel (falsely) solid if insulated by the applause, (social media) attention, and validation from everyone other than you and your partner.
Just over ten years ago, I met a man who was everything that my triggers were not attracted to.
This included being very private.
He never wanted me to be anything other than happy – even if it wasn’t with him. Through the years, he watched me fall on my face and sabotage myself as I broke my own heart and got it broken, time and time again. He’s older than me and when I first met him, he was in his late twenties but even then, he was always a very private guy.
I was very young and immature.
And as much as I claimed to want it, I wasn’t attracted to how confident and comfortable he was in his own skin.
I wasn’t attracted to the fact that he was completely available, agenda-less, and didn’t feel like he had anything to prove to anyone. He wasn’t into controlling other people or triangulating. There was no game playing and he didn’t get off to putting conditions around basic human kindness and decency.
I didn’t have to work or compete for his attention, honesty, kindness, availability, and respect. He not only taught me the value of a more private life but encouraged me to share and start this blog. And as contradictory as that sounds, I started to realize that being a more private person had absolutely nothing to do with withholding information or being secretive. This is what inspired my post on a private life being a happy one.
We remained friends through the years and whenever I was with him, I never felt the need to announce it or post about it. Part of this was because he is such a private guy but also, I simply didn’t feel that urge to advertise like I usually did. At first, I saw this as a red flag. Not because it was an actual red flag but because I was more used to being in the certainty of having to prove myself/show-off than I was comfortable just being.
We started dating and for once, I was too busy enjoying myself and our relationship to even think about keeping everyone updated on every little detail. I love him more than I’ll ever be able to express, so I stopped trying to. I just let my happiness and interest in other people (instead of feeling like I have to go on and on about myself) do the talking.
I share so much here on the blog about my life, my past, my trauma, insecurities, fears, failures, and experiences. But as far as my current love life goes… it’s the one thing that I hold the closest to my heart and keep more private than anything else.
This doesn’t mean that I’ll never post a photo with him, never share anything about my relationship with you guys or that I deny I’m in a relationship when asked. It doesn’t mean that I don’t share anything with anyone. Just like there is a difference between confidence and cockiness, there is a big difference between being private and being secretive.
Privacy is a relational immune booster. Secrecy is malignant cancer.
Everyone is different. I know people who have one single social media account for them as a couple (I could never do this but for them, it works). Friends of mine post their relationships daily on social media and it works for them. I love seeing updates and couples that I admire/care about loving life and each other. Keeping your relationship private is a personal decision that needs to be mutual. But no matter what you and your partner share or don’t share, the only thing that matters is that you both genuinely value each other more than the opinions of other people.
Putting your relationship on display is like adding salt to a meal. You can always add more but it’s impossible to undo once you’ve shared private details and put your relationship out there. You may regret oversharing and letting people into the inner-workings of your relationship, but you will never regret protecting your peace. Remember, you can always add salt. And salt is much more effective when used in moderation.
“Three things to keep private: your love life, your income, and your next move.”
There’s more I can think of but the three in this quote are spot on. When you are truly legit, you don’t have to go around advertising your legitimacy – whether it be relational, financial, or professional.
I have coached thousands of people from all around the world. I’ve coached celebrities, a billionaire, psychologists, students, professional athletes, stay-at-home Moms/Dads… you name it. And not one of them has ever regretted keeping their relationship private. What’s meant to be yours (and yours alone) does not need to be everyone else’s.
Sometimes, less really is more. Of course, things come up and we talk to our friends but you should always do so with having your partner’s back. We get triggered and want to tell our friends everything. We want them to tell us that we aren’t crazy and that our partner was wrong (but still loves us).
Even if you tell your friends every detail, no one truly knows what goes on behind closed doors. When you run to your friends and family every time there’s an issue, it becomes a very slippery and unhealthy slope. More often than not, disagreements and arguments will get forgotten but not as easily for the people who dropped everything to be there for you. These people get invested and then become even more protective over you (and in some cases, are already lonely, triggered by your love life, and bitter).
Bottom line: the less you share, the less bullsh*t you deal with.
In a world of constant distractions, it’s tough enough to find and keep a healthy relationship. So, why open the door to even more drama and distraction? Especially if you are the one who gets to control that door.
When you keep your relationship private, you close it off to the superficial and open it up to the kind of substantial benefits that can only grow between TWO people.
Your relationship is no one’s business other than you and your partner’s. Retain some mystery. Be a class act and remain on your white horse.
If there is anything I’ve learned growing up and dating as a millennial, it’s this:
The less people know…
- the less f*cks I give
- the more peace I feel
- the more intimacy I experience, and…
the happier I become.
Five reasons to keep your relationship private:
- Your relationship will be yours. Not your parent’s, your friend’s, his sister’s, her mother’s, his ex’s, your aunt’s, and your coworker’s. Just YOURS. And no one can take that away from you.
- You will have the kind of genuine connection with your partner that most people have to use social media to portray. This is the true definition of a “power couple.”
- Breakups are much cleaner and less dramatic.
- There is less pressure on the relationship and therefore, more of an opportunity to connect.
- You get a chance to solidify your relationship before it can be torn down.
And the most beautiful thing about this all?…
The choice is (and will always be) yours. Listen to your intuition and always do what is best for YOU.
+ If you need further and more personalized help with your relationship, please look into working with me here.