Dear 100 Hour Board,
My boyfriend gets frustrated and confused when I don't say exactly what's on my mind.
Here's the thing.
I feel like talking about relationship issues or bringing up personal insecurities/problems will dull a relationship. I just don't want to kill a romantic spark by doing so.
First of all, am I faulty in my thinking?
Second, how can you find a balance of bringing up things and just letting things flow?
Third, should I only bring up an insecurity/provide an explanation of why I do certain things if the guy can help with it or do something about it?
Sometimes I just say something as a fact but I know guys feel stressed whenever a girl initiates a conversation unless she tells him what she wants him to do.
He's simply trying to strengthen your relationship, which you shouldn't fault him for. Your relationship can't progress if you're not willing to be emotionally honest, which is undoubtedly why he's frustrated. Let him see you angry, let him see you not at your best, let him see you when you're irrational, and it should bring you closer together (assuming you know how to let the crazy out in small doses). If he asks, tell him what's on your mind. Then, over time, you should start to feel comfortable opening up and confiding in him unasked, not so he can fix things, but so he can understand who you are as a person. Put your pride on the shelf. Admit your faults and fears and foibles and your relationship will be the stronger for it.
I was having a conversation about this with El Corazón Sólo, so I asked him to answer this:
Firstly, you are faulty in your thinking. It is much better to discuss issues than it is to let things slide. Obviously if the issue is comparable to the fact that he doesn't want to match outfits with you, then it doesn't matter. But if the issue causes you to be unable to share your deeper feelings and hinders deep conversation, then you are only hurting your relationship by not discussing the issue. As for your second question, if your boyfriend says he's interested in hearing your problems/issues, then it would be better to bring them up. This way, he feels that he is an important source of advice in your life, plus this will help when talking to him about issues the relationship may be having. Thirdly, you should tell him about personal issues. Though he may not be able to help, it is important for him to understand the issues so he can better understand you. Here's a weird example of why it'd be important for him to know: Say a girl has a particularly high level of discomfort with people touching her feet for reasons unknown. The boyfriend may offer to message her feet as a sign of affection, but is rejected many times. If the boyfriend doesn't understand that the discomfort is there (not particularly WHY it's there) then he wouldn't be in danger of feeling rejected by his girlfriend.
As a possible counterpoint to the above advice, one thing I've learned about relationships is that while it is good and right to be open and honest about feelings and frustrations, it is also very easy to read too much into things and take things too personal. For example, sometimes when we were dating, my wife would be having a bad day and then something I would do or say (or NOT do or say) would get on her nerves a lot. I would realize she was being weird toward me and I would force a conversation and we would duke it out. Only later we both realized that, while what I did or said (or DIDN'T do or say) probably was something that had been worth mentioning, we talked about it in a very bad moment. Sometimes things are important and worth talking about, even if you worry they will kill a romantic spark (which, by the way, they won't in the long run if it's a decent spark). But other times, it's worth being selective about when to hash those things out. If there is something on your mind but you don't want to talk about it at a moment when tension is high or feelings might be hurt, maybe try this: tell your significant other that you appreciate his concern, but it's probably just a weird day or a weird mood and if it's still an issue/on your mind, you'll talk to him about it at a certain time and place.
- Rating Pending (who has said this so many times in Board answers it's not even funny: set aside a specific, weekly time have a relationship inventory. Tell good things you appreciate about things the other person did. Then bring up anything that's still on your mind. Even if there's no big problems, still do this weekly. It's been the best thing we've done in our relationship and we still do it.)