Wanting to talk about your romantic relationship is normal. Especially in the early stages of dating, you’re feeling all the feelings: Lust, anxiety, being unable to get him or her out of your head, you name it. And even if the relationship is a few years old, there’s still a lot to discuss, like whether or not marriage is in the cards for you and any arguments you might be having.
The problem, of course, is that talking about your dating life nonstop can sometimes be grating for the people around you — and it may even imply that you’ve got some serious work to do on yourself. To find out more about how to navigate these murky waters, we spoke with couples’ therapist Shira Myrow, LMFT. Here’s what she had to say.
Dialing It Back
There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline and dopamine rush that comes with a new relationship. The world is suddenly perfect, and it revolves around you and your partner. Except that it doesn’t, exactly, and as Myrow points out, you should be careful about who you air the details of your new relationship to.
“While the digital age invites us to broadcast the play by play of our daily lives on social media, there is definitely a potential danger in oversharing,” she says. “If things end poorly or abruptly, you may not want to broadcast the bad news or field the barrage of unsolicited advice, questions, sympathy, or judgement from the masses you previously shared with.”
As for the people in your inner circle, as long as it isn’t an inappropriate time, they will likely be more than happy to hear about the details of your love life — especially if it’s rare that you meet someone you’re actually excited about. If you have a pattern of falling in love and having it fizzle out shortly afterward, though, work on treading lightly. “It can be exhausting for those on the receiving end,” Myrow says. “Try to be sensitive here and dial it back.”
The Relationship Blues
Sometimes, talking about your relationship doesn’t mean gushing about your S.O. — it means complaining about the fact that you keep having the same fight over and over again, or wondering aloud if your partner will ever be truly ready to commit. In fact, it can be tempting to vent to anyone who will listen — coworkers, that random person in your lit class, the list goes on. But unless the conversation turns naturally to that topic, it might be best to keep it to friends and family.
And While Myrow says it’s important to feel like you can rely on friends and family members for support in difficult times, you should be mindful of their feelings, too.
“If you’re using friends and family to dump or vent on a constant basis, it’s not fair to them and will test the limits of their patience and compassion,” she says. “It can also be exhausting to be on the receiving end of a constant litany of negativity.”
Another thing to consider? Something called triangulating. “‘Triangulating’ happens when the person you’re venting to has a relationship with your partner, too. It may create awkward and unpleasant feelings during social situations or family gatherings,” she says.
Myrow also suggests taking a deeper look at why your relationship problems are all you want to talk about. “You may be struggling with mood swings, anxiety, and depression that your best friend may not [be equipped] to handle,” she says. “If your partner is being abusive, unfaithful, or has a [substance abuse] problem, for example, it may be time to consider seeing a therapist. Therapists can provide you with a deeper perspective on what’s going on, give you tools to deal with a perpetual conflict or problem, and provide strategies to rethink some of the serious issues that require more than a shoulder to cry on.”
While we may have the right information about how much or how little we should be speaking about our dating lives, actually being able to stop yourself from talking about your relationship nonstop is easier said than done.
Rather than focusing on compartmentalizing, Myrow suggests working on mindfulness. “Mindfulness is the practice of compassionately noticing what’s arising in your experience — your thoughts, feelings and sensations — on a moment-by-moment basis,” she explains. “[Try to] create a space between your thoughts and feelings — which can often turn obsessive when you’re infatuated with someone or conversely, if you’re struggling with someone…” This awareness will not only help how you relate to your partner but also how you speak to other people in your life.
She adds that no matter what, mindfulness is a mental muscle. “You have to develop some skillfulness around it. If you make a daily habit of taking a few minutes to observe your thoughts and emotions, you won’t feel quite so flooded every time you get hit by a wave of intense emotions,” she explains.
Remember, relationships are exciting — and your friends and family members do you want to hear about them. It’s just important to realize they aren’t the only valuable contribution you can make to a conversation.
If you are experiencing mental illness and are in need of support, please call the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence and are in need of support, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.