Privacy Vs Secrecy in an Intimate Relationship iDiva – Times Of India
As featured in the Times of India – iDiva :
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1st July 2013
Life Coach Malti Bhojwani on Privacy, Secrecy & Trust in Intimate Relationships.
Two wrongs do not make a right. Many years ago, in a relationship that soon went diving south, my ex boyfriend confronted me about discussing the problems in our relationship with my best girlfriend! How did he know this? He snooped through my text messages on my phone.
Indignant about what he had done and the betrayal of trust, I lost control and the ability to see eye to eye with him. All while he manipulated the situation to still making me “wrong” for confiding in my best friend in the first place. ?@%&&#^!$!!!
Are you as flabbergasted as I was?
1st up: girlfriends always discuss their relationships and we do discuss things that boyfriends or husbands should never know about! My litmus test now is to check how much I need to complain to my girlfriends about the relationship I am in. If I am complaining too much, then it means I am unable to trust him with the truth and that is not a good thing.
2ndly: In the olden days, people kept private diaries and it was never OK to snoop into anyone’s diary. Today, email and text messages may not be seen as private as a diary. But, the same rules of privacy apply.
3rdly: Digging leads to finding a lot of crap you were better off without! By digging, I am referring to both probing with interrogative questions directly and snooping behind the persons’ back.
Seek and ye shall find, curiosity killed the cat!
Snooping is playing with fire, so don’t do it if you don’t want to get burnt! The danger of snooping in the present is that often, some conversations are from people processing their own feelings. We don’t blurt out every thought as we think them, so this privacy should be treated with respect as well – some things are simply NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! If it is the past that you are snooping into, read on….more on this in the later paragraphs.
Honestly, can you safely say that every conversation you have with your family or best friend will not hurt or upset your partner, if they happened to be eavesdropping or if they stumbled upon it?
How would it feel if you felt you could not be 100% honest with anyone, just in case the wrong eyes or ears may be watching?
Past Future Present
No this is not an English lesson. Your past is history, and your future is a mystery. But work on your present, and make it this relationship the best. The best of relationships are based on trust in every sense of the word. It is not just the kind of trust that upkeeps fidelity, but also the trust that your partner is strong enough and discerning enough to decide what they share with you, what they withhold and what kind of help or support they need from you. If you trust them then you should not cross those lines no matter what.
We have many reasons for not wanting to reveal all of our experiences, thoughts, fears, plans to a partner. You shouldn’t have to defend not revealing embarrassing or hurtful moments from your past, it is really and truly none of their business!
Why are you tempted to snoop?
How much about this curiosity is about you? How do you feel about yourself? The need to spy can be a sign of insecurity. Perhaps you feel you are not good enough for your partner compared to their exes and that they may leave you in time. Remember that in adult relationships, if you are together it is because you are all they want. Your partner is with you in spite of his or her past because they CHOOSE to be with you. In fact, don’t feel bad about their or your own past lovers once you’ve settled down with someone you truly love – you’re with this special person today because of the coincidences and relationships you’ve experienced before.
If you are tempted to snoop because of his or her current behaviour and you are suspicious then ask them honestly instead. Be careful not to jump to accusations and speak from where you are, using “I” – “I feel as if you’re secretive. I notice you leave the room to talk on the phone. I feel like you’re working late a lot.” (Advice derived from Dr. Terri Orbuch – (research scientist at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, psychologist, and Oakland University professor.)
Keep the Past Where it Belongs!
If you are curious about their past then ask yourself how important this information really is to you. If you feel that you won’t be negatively affected with whatever is revealed, then why ask? If you think it could be a turn on, then you are playing with fire and unless this is a relationship you are willing to risk for the sake of this experiment then I strongly suggest you stop it right there!
It is natural to be curious, but it will bring up all sorts of issues if they discuss parts of their past that they are uncomfortable to talk about with you, and no one should have to. Leave it up to them if they are comfortable with it and if not then it’s not necessary. In return, don’t probe, what you need to know will come out in time, through general conversation. If you don’t like being interrogated, try not to do it to others. If your partner is probing into your past too much and you can’t see a satisfying ending by exploring it, seal the doors of your past and throw the keys.
Draw Your Lines
Don’t confuse intimacy with ownership. You can be very close to your partner but your privacy is precious, and it’s your right to choose the limits of your privacy. If you are with someone who does not understand how to respect your boundaries, don’t attack them, but rather be understanding as well and educate them. You may not have drawn your lines clearly enough. An ex colleague walked into my office once and she could see my passport sticking out of my handbag and without asking me, she reached for it to see my passport photo. I took deep offence but later realise that she didn’t have the same reservations about privacy and personal space. She was just being cute and I was very harsh on her. Sometimes, we need to take responsibility and communicate where our lines are. Just be firm and make it clear to them that you have limits.
A relationship is made up of two parts: each individual and their life together. If either of these components gets lost, you no longer have a relationship.
Love between two people is having a passionate interest in each other’s lives and thoughts, and yet respecting each other’s mystery. We will never know our partners completely, and that’s the way it should be. The past is just that “the past” and nobody has the right to pry into it or force their partner to tell them everything that happened. When there’s talk about past relationships, there’s always bound to be comparisons. Don’t get into the “comparison game”. It can drive you and your partner crazy.
Give your partner some breathing space. There are some things that should remain hidden and unknown after all. I’m sure your relationship will not be different if you leave some things like that. Don’t let envy and jealousy ruin a beautiful relationship.
The past is the past. Nothing can change that. All you can do now is accept it and it is easier to accept what you don’t know! The past to them would be old irrelevant snippets from their past but making them rehash it just to satisfy your curiosity is bringing buried stuff to the forefront that your partner has deliberately left in the past. Sometimes we have to burn the bridges behind to make the present successful.
“And stand together, yet not too near together. For the pillars of the temple stand apart.” Kahlil Gibran