I almost cringe when I hear those words – “I didn’t want to hurt their feelings” or “I didn’t want to make them feel bad” or “if you love someone you put them first” or “I didn’t want to burden them.” And I hear them a lot. People that don’t make their own feelings known because they fear their partner won’t be okay with them.
That may seem like a thoughtful thing to do. In small doses it may even work. If something really doesn’t matter to you then not sharing your emotions might be inconsequential. But more often than not, it doesn’t work that way.
The obvious problem that comes from not sharing your feelings is that you will often feel hurt that decisions are made that go against what you want. That builds into a sense of feeling disregarded which leads to resentment. And what I hear then is, “I do so much for them and they never care about what I want or do things for me.”
How can they? If they don’t know how you feel or what you want, how can they respond to them? If you don’t share your emotions and constantly give in to their wishes, why would they assume you don’t agree? You are teaching them to follow their wishes and feelings.
You are doing something else as well. You are being unfair to them…in a couple of ways. First, you don’t give them credit for being able to handle their own emotions. You are saying that if your feelings make them sad or hurt or disappointed or whatever, they won’t be able to handle it. That you need to protect them from that. You are in effect deciding what emotions they get to feel.
Second, you are robbing them of the opportunity of doing for you what you do for them. Relationships are a two-way street. That means everyone should give and receive. If you don’t share your feelings and emotions with your partner, you are robbing them of the opportunity to be caring and giving towards you. If you give in to your partner because you feel it is the loving thing to do, when do they get the opportunity to do the same for you? They don’t if you don’t express your emotions and desires.
We are each responsible for our own emotions. We may not like what our partner feels or wants, but it isn’t their job to manage that for us. They have a right to have their own emotions and to have those respected. That doesn’t mean we have to do what they want, but they are allowed to feel the way they do. And so are we. It is not anyone’s responsibility to manage another person’s emotions.
Connection happens when we have the opportunity to not only treat another person well but when they also have the opportunity to treat us well. That can’t happen when we are busy managing their emotions. So create the opportunity to have real connection. Be honest and authentic and allow your partner to respect your emotions and to be responsible for their own. You’ll be happier in the long run!