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.