Transparency in a Relationship: How Much Should I Share?

Transparency in a relationship is crucial for its success. Honesty in a relationship or honesty in marriage is impossible without sharing some of your innermost thoughts and feelings with your partner.

How does that look in real life? The thought of being transparent with your significant other can be scary even for the bravest soul. You may begin to wonder if you’re better off being “opaque” or just “reasonably” transparent.

How much should you share with your significant other? How much should you hold back? Let’s explore relational transparency a little more.

Trust Before Transparency/Transparency Before Trust

All successful relationships are built on trust. That means even a new relationship needs a healthy dose of it to survive and, ultimately, thrive. The amount of transparency you provide your partner should be in direct relation to how much trust you have for your significant other.

It’s sometimes a complicated dance. You need trust to feel comfortable enough to be transparent with your significant other. At the same time, you need transparency if you hope to deepen your trust levels.

Regardless of the length of time you’ve been together, trust isn’t a set-in-stone thing. Each day, it’s either increased or diminished by the way we interact with our partner.

That’s why someone who’s only been in a relationship for a year may have more trust for their partner than someone who’s been together for 3o years. It all comes down to how safe each person feels in the relationship at any given moment. If you don’t feel safe, you won’t be as transparent. If you feel safe, transparency in marriage or in your relationship will be far easier.

Transparency Doesn’t Mean Sharing Without Discretion 

It’s important to make something clear. Relational transparency doesn’t mean you should operate without a “filter.” That you should just blurt out whatever comes to your mind in its rawest form for the sake of “honesty.”

How you frame what you share matters. Whatever you say should always be for the benefit of your partner—to build them up. That also means developing the wisdom to know which thoughts to share and which ones not to bring up.

Although you want to be as honest as possible, honesty doesn’t mean saying everything that passes through your brain. Doing such a thing would be a disastrous move in any kind of social interaction!

Transparency with Your Partner Like No One Else 

Having brought up the importance of using your filter, it’s important to balance out that piece of advice. If you have a healthy relationship with your spouse or partner, you should be working towards interacting on a deeper level with them than with anyone else on earth.

That’s the most beautiful aspect of your romantic relationship. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually speaking, transparency should be carried out at a greater level than it is in any other relationship you have.

A major danger of an affair happens when someone else steps into a relationship and at least appears to meet that transparency need better than the significant other—when one in the relationship begins to feel safer with someone outside of the relationship than their existing partner.

That’s why it’s so important to continually foster deep transparency in your bond. Douglas LaBier Ph.D. discusses this in his “Psychology Today” article entitled, Is Radical Transparency the Key to Relationship Success?

Here’s a valuable excerpt from LaBier’s article: 

Mounting research supports the value of Radical Transparency, including studies that find that people who are truthful about themselves experience more relationship intimacy and wellbeing, and better romantic relationships.”

Radical transparency is exactly what should exist inside of your most important human relationship. A transparency stronger than any other alliance you have.

That doesn’t mean perfect transparency. Perfection is something to strive for, but there will always be room for improvement. There will always be the opportunity to feel even safer in your relationship.

Transparency is a Two-Way Street 

Up until this point, we’ve discussed transparency as something you share with your partner but that’s only half of the matter. Transparency also means allowing your significant other to feel safe enough with you to share their deepest hopes, fears, struggles and triumphs with you.

In other words, it is a deep and vital give and take between two lovers. In sex, both lovers need to vulnerably give of themselves for it to be the most fulfilling. That is also true mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Both people in a relationship give on the most meaningful level possible without casting judgment. Both overlook faults and flaws and focus on the positives.

Couples Counseling Can Build Transparency in a Relationship 

Although relational transparency is a beautiful thing, it can become lost in the constant pressures of life. Sometimes, the best way to improve transparent communication is through marriage counseling or couples’ therapy.

If you’d like to see how your relationship can grow stronger through therapy, feel free to schedule an appointment with the OC Relationship Center. We provide counseling in Orange County, California. Our offices are conveniently located in Mission Viejo, CA and Newport Beach, CA.

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