So often people tell me that they don’t want to say their truth as they don’t want to upset their partner, but what they really mean is that they don’t want to feel bad about disappointing their partner. There’s a big difference between those two statements.
Of course, we don’t like our partners to be upset, but that doesn’t mean we should do anything we can to prevent them having a bad feeling. That is intensely co-dependant.
We are not responsible for our partner’s feelings. We are responsible for our own feelings. Now, let me clarify that a bit.
In a healthy relationship we are interdependent. That means we are both independent and relational. The relational part is that we are attentive and supportive of our partner. We are always responsible for being caring and polite and kind and respectful to our partner. Absolutely. The independent part of a good relationship is that we are also attentive and respectful to ourselves. That means we need to express our truth to our partner. The relational element of this is that we need to express that truth in a caring, polite, kind and respectful way.
Then the independent element on our partner’s part, is that they are responsible for managing their own response to your respectfully-presented truth. If that happens to be something that is disappointing to them, so be it, that’s ok! Feeling bad is ok. Life cannot be one long stream of happy emotions. Disappointment is a regular part of life.
The relational element of the partner managing their disappointment is that they are also polite and respectful to the one sharing their truth, who is then responsible for their response to the partner’s response, and on it goes. This is how you can discuss and resolve issues where you have differences, of which life is full. Including, and particularly, our sex life.
Trying to mind-read your partner, trying to make sure they’re happy even though you don’t want what they want inevitably goes bad. It’s confusing, it often seems manipulative, no-one gets what they want. You might think you’re aiming for win:win but at best it’s win:lose and more likely it’s lose:lose.
So, know your own truth, express your own truth cleanly and respectfully, receive your partner’s truth with an open heart. Discuss with curiosity and compassion, staying kind and polite, and you’ll be able to deal with any issue. The worse outcome is that one doesn’t get what they want, but at least they feel heard and understood; and at best you are able to co-create something that does work for both of you.