Transparency In Relationships: Meaning, How To Show & Some Secret Tips

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Ever felt so loved that you could tell your partner about anything under the sun? No secrets, no lies, no games. This magic of transparency in a relationship creates an emotionally safe environment for your love story.

You may be wondering: How much does transparency in a relationship actually matter? Can I heal my love life with trust and transparency? To answer your questions, we connected with Dr. Shefali Batra, a renowned psychiatrist and relationship coach. So read this article till the end to help your relationship blossom like never before.

What Does Transparency In A Relationship Mean?

Dr. Batra shares with our readers at Bonobology, “Transparency in a relationship, particularly a romantic relationship, means that both partners find it easy to be honest as well as vulnerable with each other. A transparent couple knows that they can share everything with their partner. Most importantly, they can do so without anticipating a negative judgment or a negative emotional reaction from their partner.”

We asked her to give us a simple example of transparency in close relationships. “Imagine you’re going out for a party and your husband is wearing an ill-fitting suit. You look at him and tell him gently what the issue is, and suggest that he wears another suit. This proves the following: 

  • You can tell him your thoughts without any hesitation
  • If your husband agrees or at least respects your suggestion, it shows that your relationship is emotionally transparent
  • You both feel you’re in an emotionally safe environment
  • You expressed how you felt about the suit with the secure knowledge that your comment would be taken in the right light

Now, if you knew that your statement could lead to an argument, you would probably not have said anything. You would still go to the party with him, but these little things show that you cannot be transparent with your partner.”

How Can You Show Transparency In A Relationship?

How does a romantic relationship achieve openness? What is the magic potion to build transparency in your love life? How do you connect with your partner on a deeper level? Dr. Batra shares, “To be honest, I don’t think there is an exact strategy to be emotionally transparent. It’s more like a part of your personality. It is often stated that radical transparency in relationships is like emotional nakedness. This dates back to Adam and Eve at a time when there was real nakedness and faith. Exposure and vulnerability may have come easy to those two. But perhaps, today we need to work on it.”

If you lack transparency in a relationship, you can work on healing the wounds. If your relationship is already an honest one, you can make it even better. Wondering what’s the secret? With her years of experience with couples and relationships, Dr. Batra tells us five ways to show transparency in a relationship. Read on!

1. Ask each other’s preferences

For our date night, would you like to go for a long drive, or have a meal at a restaurant? Do you want to discuss this matter right now or do you want some space for the time being? Are you really okay with me canceling our trip for my work commitment, or would you prefer an alternative? Couples who ask each other such questions about their preferences are happier in the long run.

Dr. Batra says, “You actually have the trust and faith in each other to say what you feel. You are building a healthy relationship. Radical transparency in relationships is not about telling every little secret to your partner. Transparency is about not hiding anything. I know they may sound the same but they are not. You can decide not to share everything and your partner may agree with that. This is called transparency.”

Related Reading: 160 Ultimate What If Questions About Love For Couples

2. Prioritize your partner

What are the biggest priorities in your relationship? Dr. Batra tells our readers, “Remember, there are a lot of important people in your life. But your partner is a notch above them. Your boss is important at work, but ideally, there would be nothing that you share with your boss that you cannot share with your partner. If there is something going on with your boss that you cannot share with your partner, it means your partner is not getting true priority.” How do you prioritize your partner? Follow these steps:

  • Spend quality time with each other and plan sweet surprises like date nights 
  • Appreciate your partner and thank them 
  • Ask for their opinions
  • Find out their love language and express your feelings through that 
  • Flirt with your partner and show them you’re interested in them 
  • Be honest with your partner and communicate well without trying to hurt them 
  • Cherish your loved one through thick and thin

3. Communicate openly to show transparency in your relationship

Ever saw a transparent romantic relationship where the couple does not communicate well? No, right? Because honest communication in a relationship is the key to a healthy love life. Dr. Batra shares her golden tip, “Don’t make assumptions about how your partner feels. Most likely, your assumptions will be wrong. Instead, have an open discussion and learn about your partner, their feelings, and actions. Do not change yourself based on your partner, but try to reach a compromise. Make honest communication your strongest tool to build a happy relationship.”

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4. Discuss any challenging situation with your partner

It’s your date night. You get an important work call and have to cancel on your partner. You know they have been waiting the whole day and it would make them really upset. Do you discuss your situation calmly and apologetically? Do you promise to make up for it by discussing a day for the next date? Or do you simply leave your partner by texting about the sudden work call, and avoid any discussion whatsoever?

Now, imagine a more complex situation where you found your dream house and want to buy it. Do you buy the house and surprise your partner? Do you pressurize them to go along with your choice? Or do you sit down with your partner, and discuss it calmly before you make a decision?

When is the right time to discuss challenging situations with your partner? According to Dr. Batra, “The best time to do this is at the outset of the challenge. But if you can anticipate the issue already, then discuss it beforehand – even if it is at the start of the relationship. This allows you to learn what your partner likes and doesn’t like.”

Related Reading: 7 Expert Tips To Resolve Conflict In A Marriage

5. Be vulnerable

How does the writer and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown describe vulnerability in relationships? She says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.” This means that vulnerability gives us a sense of hope, makes us feel we belong somewhere, and helps us develop empathy. It adds more meaning to our relationships and our lives. When Brown asked people to give an example of a vulnerable situation, some of the answers were:

  • Sharing an unpopular opinion
  • Asking for help
  • Initiating sex with a partner
  • Going on a first date after a divorce
  • Falling in love
  • Getting fired
  • Waiting for an important medical report to come back

As you can understand from the above examples, vulnerability is a common part of our everyday lives. However, we often struggle to be vulnerable in our close relationships. Dr. Batra explains how to be more intimate with your partner or spouse:

  • Let your partner feel close to you and do not hide things from them
  • Do not be embarrassed to share your flaws as well as your strengths with your partner 
  • Tell them your deepest fears and avoid getting defensive
  • Let them know that you’re okay with them knowing everything about your past, stressors, triggers, and boundaries

Privacy Vs Transparency In Relationships

Somewhere in your journey as a couple, you must have pondered upon the inevitable question: Should I tell my partner everything about my life? Or should I keep a few things to myself, such as my Instagram password, my latest encounter with my ex, or my financial details? To help you sort out this dilemma, Dr. Batra sheds light on privacy, secrecy, and transparency in a relationship.

“Privacy is all about setting boundaries to make your relationship stronger. In contrast to this, secrecy is hiding something because you think what you are doing is wrong. Total transparency in relationships, on the other hand, is offering full access. The fight is never between privacy and secrecy. Privacy is allowed and secrecy isn’t. Transparency is a conscious decision based on the trust between a couple.”

She adds an example, “If you do not want to share details about what was discussed at work or with a friend, it may be called privacy. This is because those interactions could be confidential or just nothing to do with your partner. This is not because the partner was doing something wrong or cheating. In such situations, privacy should be respected.”

Now, what about couples who do not enjoy sharing every little detail with their partner? Dr. Batra says, “This is more of an agreement with the partner. Every couple in a romantic relationship should have sufficient faith in each other. Even if there are interactions that you don’t share with your partner, you both can still be a transparent couple.”

Related Reading: 10 Must-Follow Healthy Relationship Boundaries

9 Tips To Maintain Transparency In A Relationship

Why is it important to know some special tips on transparency in a relationship? Dr. Batra explains, “Building transparency is extremely important because it is a primary tenet of trust. And mutual honesty is the only thing that can ever build trust in a romantic relationship.” She shares the following points:

  • If a couple does not have a transparent relationship, they may be plagued by doubts 
  • Doubts eat away at the foundation of a bond and add emotional distance 
  • Instead of spending time strengthening their relationship and enjoying their life together, time is lost on doubting and watchdogging the partner

Now that you understand the importance of openness with a partner, here are 9 tips to maintain transparency in your own relationship:

1. Open up about your inner lives

Whether it is a colleague or a gym buddy, anyone can see our outer lives. However, our inner lives are what we carry inside and what define us. Allowing our partners to know our core selves makes our relationship intimate and real. We can share our deepest fears without any worry. This leads to growth, happiness, and relationship success.

Related Reading: 9 Signs You Have Serious Communication Issues In Your Relationship

2. Try couple’s counseling

Romantic movies often give us the idea that falling in love solves every problem. However, to cultivate a healthy relationship in real life, it is extremely important to build trust and transparency with your partner. If you find this challenging, couple’s counseling can heal your strained relationship. It can teach you and your partner how to communicate and work through problems calmly.

A Reddit user shares their experience with couple’s therapy, “Worked well in our one year anniversary “hit the bump” stage. Of course I did a lot of blabbering and it was over 20 years ago, so I don’t remember much. And she has been going to a counselor for over 5 years and it has helped her (different issue). So we are big fans of counseling. Oftentimes they give you a different way of looking at the problems.”

If you’re looking for professional help in creating a successful relationship, you may approach our licensed counselors at Bonobology. They can help you find the answers you are seeking, build transparency in your relationship, and heal your love life. Our panel of experts is just a click away.  

3. Discuss phone transparency in a relationship 

Have you ever wondered about phone transparency in a relationship? Dr. Batra shares a special tip, “Personally, I don’t think that partners should have each other’s phone passwords. One school of thought would be, why not? Is there something to hide? On the other hand, the school of thought that I follow is, why do I need to check? Do I not trust my partner?”

She adds, “I think that faith is built upon actions and behavior. If you spend time with your partner, make them feel special, do things together, make important decisions together, respect each other, I don’t think your partner needs your phone to check if you are cheating on them. Trust is never built on one action. Trust is a foundation stone.” Here are a few ways to enhance phone transparency in your relationship:

  • Talk to your partner about your past to avoid trust issues 
  • Leave your phone while spending quality time with your bae
  • When you’re not around each other, check in with your partner through a sweet text 
  • Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want your partner to do 
  • Let your partner know beforehand if you keep your phone silent for a day or head to a remote area
  • Respect each other’s boundaries related to your personal devices

4. Recreate transparency after cheating

Transparency after cheating in a relationship can be quite a tricky affair. Most people find it challenging to build total transparency after such an experience. How can you transform this into a successful relationship now? Dr. Batra explains, “I’ve dealt with a lot of couples who have endured a cheating partner and are trying to build the faith back in their strained relationship.” She suggests the following steps:

  • Rather than checking each other’s phones and whereabouts, the focus should be on what you do with each other 
  • If you really want to rebuild your relationship, go on a holiday, cook and eat together, and take important decisions together 
  • Feel and express the love that you have for each other regularly
  • Make amends, talk about how you feel betrayed, talk about how you understand the impact on your betrayed partner
  • Work on the issues that led to the infidelity

Related Reading: 11 Strategies To Stop Being Jealous And Controlling In Relationships

5. Don’t try to control your partner 

No one can feel secure in a controlling relationship that is toxic or abusive. For example, when a partner demands access to your social media accounts or tries to control you in any other way, know that it is a red flag. This isn’t a bid to be transparent, it’s an insecure demand. Set healthy boundaries to build trust in your relationship.

6. Meditate and introspect

Maybe you have to lie about your bank accounts or hide things from your partner. The first step to building a transparent relationship is to do some deep self-reflection. No more stupid fights, no more secrets, no more lies. So what should you do if there is a lack of transparency in a relationship? Try dyadic meditation!

Research out of the Max Planck Institute in Germany suggests that practicing dyadic meditation, where two people meditate together, increases feelings of closeness. It also enhances the willingness to self-disclose with partners over time, even though the partners changed each week. In this way, dyadic meditation can also help strengthen your relationship with your loved one.

7. Avoid being overly critical of your partner 

Are you constantly fighting in your marriage? If something about your partner bothers you, it is healthy to be transparent and open up to them. This can certainly create relationship success. However, be gentle when you point out a concern or even a flaw in your partner. This will make your partner hear you out and work on that issue. 

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8. Stop comparing your partner to others

Comparing your spouse with someone else’s spouse can certainly lead to stress and conflict in a relationship. Comparison in relationships creates a divide and prevents us from seeing our partner clearly. Instead of focusing on what your relationship brings to the table and valuing it, you end up wasting your time in futile and toxic comparisons. Avoid being harsh or telling your partner that they are inferior. This will make them insecure and hurt, instead of inspiring them to be emotionally vulnerable with you.

Being transparent in a relationship means that if you want your partner to cultivate a habit that someone else has, communicate openly about the habit instead of referring to that person. Like, “Hey, can you please be honest about how you feel about my job transfer? I think it can be helpful for us to know where we stand on this, to avoid any conflict in the future.” Don’t mention your friends who did the same with their partners.

Related Reading: Comparison Trap – What It Is And How To Get Out

9. Be honest during fights, but be respectful

Being transparent with your partner does not mean that you can belittle and disrespect them when you have a disagreement. If you feel angry, communicate that with your partner. If you need to set healthy boundaries to feel secure, discuss that. But understand when to pause, sit, and reflect. This will help you cultivate emotional safety in your relationship. Acting in the heat of the moment can actually harm your relationship instead of making it a transparent one.

Key Pointers

  • A transparent couple feels safe to share any viewpoint, feeling, emotion, idea, or opinion with their partner
  • You can show transparency in your relationship by prioritizing your partner, communicating honestly, and being vulnerable about your flaws
  • Dyadic meditation and couple’s therapy can be beneficial if you want to enhance the transparency in your love life

Honestly speaking, transparency in a relationship is not rocket science. Of course, it requires significant effort and time, but you can definitely cultivate it with your loved one. With a generous dose of honesty and trust, you can create the strongest bond with your special one.

FAQs

1. Is transparency important in a relationship?

Transparency is crucial in a relationship. It allows you to feel secure and share your innermost feelings with your partner. Such a relationship is more likely to be healthy, happy, and meaningful.

2. What is a good example of transparency?

Imagine this: You have a fear that you haven’t talked about with others. E.g.: You have been scared of heights ever since you met with an accident on a bridge ten years ago. If you’re able to share it with your partner without anticipating any judgment or negative emotional reaction, this would be an example of sufficient transparency in your relationship.

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