Keeping Your Private Life Private
This post is the third and last part in my September series, Modern Manners. To see the first and second posts of the series, click here.
Let’s pretend you’re checking out at the grocery store. You’re standing in line, patiently waiting your turn. You search the nearby magazine rack to pass the time, and then, before you know it, your eyes are glued to the latest UsWeekly. Brad and Angelina are pregnant, not pregnant, in turmoil, not in turmoil…whatever the status, you continue to read.
There’s something about humans that may have existed for a long time, but it’s only recently been acknowledged: we’re all nosy, and we want to know about your relationship. E! News exploits celebrities’ relationships and even makes popular television shows about them. Media instills in us this need-to-know urgency about everyone else’s relationships, and in turn, we’re starting to think that we need to share everything about our relationships, too.
That’s where we’re really starting to get it wrong. Facebook statuses are riddled with gushing comments about super sweet, perfect boyfriends one minute, and then complaining about someone not calling back the next. We spill our guts to our mothers and best friends about our relationship problems. While we’re perfectly entitled to do so, it may not be the smartest move.
There are several reasons why. First of all, a relationship is to be cherished between two people. It is for you and one other person to enjoy. No one else needs to know the nitty gritty details of what’s between you and your loved one. When you start to share your relationship with your 800 Facebook friends or even to your mother, the relationship becomes distorted in others’ eyes. They compare it to their own or to others that they see as ideal. And in all honestly, it should be no one else’s business.
Say that you tell your mother about something terrible your boyfriend or husband did. She fumes with you and lets you vent to her. Two weeks later, you’ve moved on from the terrible thing that happened and you’ve forgiven your boyfriend or husband. But Mom may never let go. She may never be able to forgive your significant other. This could cause frustration and friction between the two of you.
I’m not saying don’t share aspects of your relationship with your mother or best friend, though. What I’m saying is to remember that some things are meant to stay between you and your partner, especially if it’s something the two of you need to work on and help each other with. Communication needs to be strongest between your partner and you; be careful that you don’t seek outward opinions to make personal decisions.
When you choose to share the intricacies of your relationship with friends and strangers alike, what happens is that it becomes devalued. It loses its specialness. Airing your dirty laundry might feel great at first, but don’t be surprised if it comes back to bite you. Do you really want everyone else evaluating your relationship?
Just as with cleaning up your language or keeping in mind the Golden Rule, learning to handle how to maneuver a relationship in 2011 can seem complicated when it’s really quite simple. Keep the cursing to yourself. Respect your partner as you want to be respected. And most importantly, cherish your relationship by communicating with the person who matters most in the relationship: your significant other.
On a day-to-day basis, we deal with tabloid journalism, social media, and television that has forgotten to have a sense of privacy. What I hope you’ve learned throughout my September series is that modesty, respect, and privacy can go a long way in all your relationships. If you pay mind to these lessons, you’ll be the most poised and graceful woman in the room. That I promise.
*Image via Tommy Ton for Style.com*
Hannah Adams Ingram (@sexyethics)
My friend’s father always said that he does not talk about his wife to his friends, that he promises to maintain that connection and respect between the two of them and not yield to temptation of venting to friends about something she has done or they’re going through. This was a good lesson for me on learning to be careful with what I choose to share and with whom I share. (Though I think there is a balance here, because your life can also be a good example or a display of solidarity with others- knowing that they are not alone in their struggles for health and wholeness in their relationships.)