It doesn’t matter if you’ve been together for years, decades even –there are things you will never know about your partner. Don’t be angry or even sad about it. It’s not even about you and it’s not about hiding things from you, but rather it’s about keeping some things private and maintaining some semblance of individuality while in a relationship. It’s hard to straddle the partner-self with the single-self; both are highly valued and both deserve space in this lifetime. We keep certain things secret out of shame, but the main instinct is to preserve our independence. Just because we become a partner to someone doesn’t mean we must suddenly surrender all to her or him, devote everything to her or him, or confess everything about ourselves to her or him. There’s a fine line between being a solid, supportive, decent partner and still being a sovereign person. Don’t feel threatened by or offended by the fact that your partner does, and will have in the future, secrets from you. It means that she or he feels a strong connection to him or herself and that’s wonderful. It also means that she or he is protecting you from something that might hurt you. Either way, don’t judge too harshly because if we look close enough we’ve all got skeletons in our closets.
15 Secret eating
Unlike anorexia or bingeing, secret eating is harder to detect because, ahem, it’s done in secret. Many times such eating will be accompanied by purging. Bulimics are known to be highly secretive and maintain a routine that abides by a strict schedule; this schedule knows where you are at all times so as not to get caught red-handed. Secret eaters hide food in the house in the strangest locations, between clothes in the closet, in pockets of winter jackets, underneath beds, inside tissue boxes, and even inside rubbish bins. A secret eater will also eat away from the home to avoid getting caught. They are embarrassed by their actions; eating is a struggle for them period, but letting others see or even know they gorge on food is beyond anything they can fathom. Such behavior stems from a childhood belief system about food; it’s a trauma related to food, weight, and emotions that has trickled into adulthood. It requires attention such as therapy and consultations with holistic healers.
We all do it. Come on admit it. There’s no shame in self-stimulation. It’s natural and has happened since the beginning of time and will continue until time ends. Who knows, maybe there’s such a thing as afterlife or spiritual stimulation, but that’s super new age-y and we don’t really wanna go there. While we all do it, we’re never quite certain how frequently our partners actually do it or if they even do it at all. There is a huge percentage of people who, despite being in a relationship, continue to masturbate because one, they like it, two, it’s been a part of their life and habits since like forever, and three, it teaches them about their bodies. Masturbation is not about the other person, it’s not about good sex versus bad sex, and it’s not about a lack of frequency; it’s more about learning what turns us on and how to apply that to a real life partner ruled bedroom interaction so that everyone involved reaches ultimate pleasure. Those who masturbate are said to be better lovers because they are more in touch with and less ashamed about their bodies.
13 How they really feel about your family
There’s certainly protocol when families meet our partner for the first time; there are even unspoken rules of amiability and etiquette for at least the first few meetings. Both sides play nice. Most sides will continue to play nice and never show their true colors or true feelings. It’s just a side effect of the boyfriend/girlfriend meets family factor. Some might not even reveal how they really feel about your family not because they are afraid or, worse, are fake; it’s really because they don’t want to make waves. Your partner might hide how she or he feels for years or for the rest of her or his life; making family gatherings uncomfortable might severely hurt your feelings and ruin your relationship with your family, hence your partner's silence. For those who can’t hold back either the situation is really out of control or the person is selfish and/or immature and cannot manage her or his emotions to make life a less stressful for you.
Most of us know our number. Most of us have a list somewhere that includes the best and the worst; it’s either written in our diaries or stored inside of our brains. Most of us know our number, more or less, give or take –you know what I mean. There might be a few we’ve left out because, well, we want to; either it didn’t count, we’re embarrassed, or we might not even remember the encounter or the name and thus it really doesn’t count. That number is not accurate and when we talk to our partners about that number it’s surely not accurate. Rule of thumb says that for any number a woman gives, add ten to it; for any number a man gives take away ten. The fact of the matter is, we’re not even sure about our number. It’s highly likely that it doesn’t matter once you’re in a serious relationship or considering marriage, but if it does become an issue, you might want to consider someone who isn’t so caught up by something so trivial as a number.
11 Shower time
No doubt, you’ve spent time with your partner in the shower. We all have. Showers are sexy. Movies and music videos tell us so. Therefore, we try them ourselves. We can see our partner in a pure state where the water washes away any pretense or makeup or whatever. It’s a really safe yet vulnerable space. It’s also a space that, when no one is around, is quite private. We do not make a habit of showering with our partners on a daily or weekly basis; well, some might, but the majority of us enjoy our quiet shower time. This, for some, might be the only peace and quiet in an entire day. This, for some, is a sacred space for thinking and meditation. Showers are personal and you may never know what your partner does when you’re not around, but quite frankly, it’s none of your business.
10 First time
Sure, you’ve heard about your partner’s first time a few times. You know the story so well that now you could tell it as if it were your own story. And while this story is, more than likely, fact and not fiction –one can never be certain. Perhaps the skeleton of the story is accurate, like the age and person, but even those pieces of information can be falsified. Your partner’s story of her or his first time is not and does not have to be true –it’s their interpretation of something that happened and their record of a memory from so many years ago. People embellish. That’s what we do, especially when it comes to a coming of age moment like losing one’s virginity. Don’t fault your partner. And before you judge, take a look at your own first time story and see if things aren’t a bit exaggerated.
9 Work relationships
You’ve heard stories about your partner’s work environment, the colleagues, the meetings, and all the stuff in between. You’ve even met many of these people, you’ve been to the office or the studio, you’ve seen how your partner interacts with everyone. However, that’s the person you’re partner wants you to see. When you’re not around, it’s highly likely that your partner is a little different. The difference does not have to be drastic, it can be minimal, but no doubt your partner is changed a bit when she or he maneuvers the work space sans partner. This does not make your partner fake. Unless your partner is a completely different person doing things a partner shouldn’t do while at work, you’re relatively safe. But it’s totally normal that your partner will have a work personality that varies from the relationship personality you know and love so much.
You might share your dreams over breakfast or dinner. It’s a typical conversation between couples to talk about what they dreamt last night; we even discuss nightmares if we’re brave enough. Our dreams are little windows into our subconscious, they share secrets about who we are or who we want to be. When we share our dreams, we are sharing our deepest, darkest self –a self that we don’t always recognize or even know very well. When we recall dreams, we usually recall clips, nothing too concrete; even when the dream seems complete, there’s always something missing. So when we tell our dreams to our partners, there is something naturally missing. However, there are some things that we chose to leave out when recounting our dreams. It could be a dream about death or sex, it could be a traumatic experience you relived through the dream state, it could be a reoccurring secret that you’ve been hiding. We don’t share all those details because some things, in all honesty, need to feel like ours; there is no requirement to share every little detail in a relationship. That’s totalitarian.
Many of us are in relationships with someone who is the survivor of a trauma. Maybe even both people in the relationship are survivors of trauma. The trauma is not the secret, not in most cases. While some do decide to leave the trauma out of the relationship or have not found the strength to face it, others find the best way to deal with trauma is to talk about it, not hide from it, and face it head on. What you may never know is how much the trauma affected your partner. It could be that you met your partner after the trauma –you don’t know who she or he was pre-trauma. It could be that the trauma changed something inside of your partner’s brain –you can’t know everything that happens there. The changes could be subtle or drastic and many of them are visible. But what isn’t visible is that which your partner decides to keep inside, those moments, those parts of the trauma that may never ever be revealed or discussed.
If your partner is a recovering addict or still an addict and you are not, you can never understand the struggle of addiction. You can sympathize all you want and that, no doubt, is accepted and welcome; but you cannot empathize if you have not been there / done that. Addiction, like trauma, is very personal and at times some of those feelings are hard to extrapolate. Sometimes the addict doesn’t even register some of the emotions that are anchored to the addiction. It could also be that you don’t even know that your partner is an addict. When one wants to keep a secret, there are surely ways to make that possible despite your level of intelligence, despite the closeness in your relationship. Addiction is tricky as hell and it’s tricked your partner. You might not ever know about it or understand, but the best thing you can do it be a genuine source of love and support. Compassion is what keeps us tied to each other.
5 Mental health
Perhaps you are aware that your partner suffers from a mental health issue, perhaps you are supporting and loving your partner while she or he manages life with a mental illness, but perhaps your partner has decided to hide that part of her or himself from you. It’s not easy to discuss a mental issue in the first place. There tends to be shaming, judging, and misunderstandings that can further compound issues for those with a mental problem. Many prefer to keep it a secret. But if your partner has shared that private part with you, you can never fully know what it’s like to struggle with these issues. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety are some common mental health issues; no one can fully comprehend the weight each carries. And perhaps you are suffering from one and have yet to accept or share it with a loved one. Naming, accepting, and talking about any mental health issue leads to healing and learning the best ways to manage the problem. Hopefully, you or your partner are open enough to share and open enough to love each other through it all.
4 Social media messages
You can see posts, you know who her or his friends and acquaintances are, you see likes and loves and everything in between. But what you don’t see are the private messages, the chats, or even the calls. This is the doubled-edged sword of social media. While we can be connected to hundreds, even millions of people, from all over the world and in our own backyard, there is a sinister side to all of this friending stuff. The ability to message or call someone has never been easier; and people are definitely taking advantage of the easy access to more humans. We love human contact and while the concept has changed from physical to cyber, the craving for connection still exists. And we make it happen whether our partners agree or not. You may never know who she or he talks to, but you still must have faith in love and loyalty. For all your partner knows, you’re doing the exact same thing. It would be highly likely that you both are equally guilty. Let’s keep it real.
If you really know your partner, you probably know their likes and dislikes, you probably also know her or his fears. It’s quite common to be afraid of certain things like spiders, snakes, clowns, the dark, misogyny, hate crimes, rape, etc. People often talk about these fears without feeling too exposed or awkward. But deep inside of us dwell other fears. These fears are rather personal and are typically related to an event that has left us with an emotional or physical scar. Fears from this group could include fear of failure, of death, of not being good enough –these types of fears are not dinner table chatter and most of us hardly even recognize that we have these fears. If you do recognize your own fears and are working towards eliminating them, good for you; but don’t expect your partner to be in the same place with her or his fears. For many, these fears don’t exist because they haven’t gotten that deep or honest with themselves.
This can be a fun topic for some couples, should they be open enough to talk about bedroom fantasies. Today couples are growing more comfortable with talking about sex. This helps us explore our truest selves and adds an element to relationships that is irreplaceable. Talking about and experimenting with fantasies can be fun, but not for all couples. Some couples have hang ups that stem from an uptight upbringing or religious beliefs or social systems. Whatever the case, know that even if your partner shares, she or he may not be sharing everything. And if she or he is not one to talk about such topics, know that you may never know that side of your partner. If you are OK with that, fine. If you’re not OK with that, you should look for a better suited partner who is willing to share and embark upon fantasies with you.
1 Who they really are
Studies have found that if you don’t make it to the three year marker, you may never really know your partner. Therefore, those who call it quits after a few months or even one year didn’t know her or his partner completely. Of course, we can never completely know our partner because our partner will not know her or himself completely, but experts have proven that after three years we begin to let down guards and tear down walls in order to reveal who we really are. Anything before that is probably just part of the courting process or a sham. We all wear a mask in the beginning of the relationship. We want to put our best foot forward. We want to dazzle and charm. But behind all of that is the fact that everything is being done for show and the fact remains, you will not know your partner unless you reach that three year marker and even then you will have to work at uncovering who your partner really is. Sometimes, this can be a lifelong endeavor.