In relationships, you behave in a certain way that equates to what you believe constitutes a ‘perfect’ (or as close to perfect as ‘perfect’ can be) partner. You do many things that you imagine will minimize drama, making you endearingly agreeable and a dream to date. But sometimes—most of the time—you find yourself broken-hearted and betrayed. Despite your good intentions, a vastly overwhelming majority of people you date are more twisted than they looked when you first laid eyes on them at the bar, innocently sipping their generously mixed drink. You start to feel like Communism or Lady Gaga—you should work, but you just don’t.
When people list the qualities they expect from their ideal partner, honesty is normally close to the top of the list. It certainly is at the top of yours. And you are honest. You are an honest person. If you’re angry you will say so: “I didn’t appreciate the way you spoke to me just then.” If you are confused: “I love you but I’m feeling lost and I’m not sure where my life is leading me.” If you’re happy: “LALALALALALA I’M GOING TO PLAY SOME BEYONCE AND DANCE AROUND WEEEE!” In fact, you believe that communication is pivotal to a healthy relationship and that without it true intimacy can’t exist.
Ironically, your counterpart may not appreciate your honesty when it’s right there in broad daylight, revealing some piece of knowledge that you feel intrinsic to the propagation of your love, but which they feel is an over-share, an inconvenience or a burden to bear. Sometimes, it seems like your partner is happier in the dark—happier not to know the dark secrets that have made you who you are. Maybe they like to brush over arguments, to pretend they never happened.
You become a nuisance in your propensity to vocalize your thoughts and feelings, despite your partner’s initial espousals in the name of honesty. Moreover, your frustration with the situation may lead you to constantly verbalize in a way that ceases to be sharing, and begins to be nagging. You set out with the best intentions, but somehow your closed, problematic partner isn’t the problem—your hysterical, incessant, ever-escalating verbal diarrhea is.
Likewise, when you first met your partner he/she let you know how much they used to hate it when they asked their ex “what’s wrong?” when there was clearly something wrong, only to be met with an obstreperous “nothing.” You make a mental note of this, and weeks later when you’re driving in the car, a silent annoyance festering inside you because of something your boss said earlier that day, an argument you had with your sister, your partner pissed you off, or you’re just feeling moody for the sake of it, and your partner asks you what’s wrong, you say exactly what.
At first your partner will enjoy this disclosure, will enjoy being able to help you with your problems, because these are problems your partner can grasp. But sometimes, your partner will take on your bad mood, especially when your mood is born of little more than hormones, hunger, or exhaustion. They will become fed up with the way your issues become their issues, and they will begin to take any sadness on your part, no matter how rare in occurrence, as a personal slight. They will coerce you into fights you don’t want to have in the moments when you’re trying to explain your feelings. They will tell you you’re boring and selfish. Next time they ask you what’s wrong, you’ll answer “nothing,” even if the sky is falling down upon you. You feel like you are no longer entitled to your emotions, from the rawest and the deepest to the most fleeting and frivolous.
When you first met, your partner was attracted to you for many reasons, one of them being some special skill you have. Maybe you can run really fast. Maybe you were employee of the month. Maybe you’ve read a lot of books. Maybe you’re a wonderful cook. Whatever it was, in the beginning, your partner was proud of you, and when he/she introduced you to their friends and family, they would always gush about the great thing you did last week. After all, doesn’t everyone want to love someone who inspires them?
Ironically, this swelling pride will turn to resentment as your partner beings to feel overshadowed by you. Maybe you’re earning more. Maybe you’ve won a prize for your efforts. Maybe your grades are higher. You notice your partner increasingly growing quiet when you achieve something new, especially if they feel your achievements are outweighing theirs. You notice that in groups when you’re asked about your last conquest and you divulge, your partner will gaze moodily into his/her drink, and later, in private, will inadvertently call you a brag. You begin to feel guilty for all the good things that happen to you, no matter how much blood, sweat and tears you shed to have them.
Tensions will rise, and ironically you will feel solely responsible, and will compensate by being extra understanding of your partner’s physical and emotional absences. When your partner suspiciously doesn’t answer his/her phone one night, you don’t think twice about it. When they’re in the shower the next morning, you don’t even think to check their text messages on the phone that’s beeping on the bedside table, inches away from your face. When your partner leaves for work, their laptop open on your kitchen table, you close it and put it away some place safe—it doesn’t even cross your mind to check their Facebook messages.
Ironically, you believe in your partner’s privacy. In some situations, this has worked for you. But every so often, someone comes along who will abuse your trust. And not only will they use your nature to indulge in their own lusty betrayals, they will complain incessantly about their ex and how jealous said ex was, constantly delving into their privacy. You feel assured that you are doing the right thing, that you are a great person to date. Ironically, you may never know any better.