Expressing Feelings in a Relationship

I leaned back into my big comfy couch, letting the soft, pillowy material surround me. My pit bull jumped up too, laying his large body right across my lap. My boyfriend, Zeus, sat next to me. I was looking forward to relaxing and talking after a hard day at work. We hadn’t had good quality time together in a while.

Here we were, together for the evening. Our kids were busy playing video games upstairs so that we could have a real conversation without interruption. Or so we thought. But then we heard the bickering and it became clear that this was not going to be the date time I had been hoping for.

I was frustrated and let all my emotion explode on my boyfriend. Zeus was stunned. He had no clue that I was feeling some of the things that I was feeling—after all he is not a mind reader, and I usually am a calm person. But I had a lot of pent up emotions that I’d been hiding from him. The interruption that evening might have seemed small, but I took it to the next level. All those bottled emotions came spraying out like a shaken can of Mountain Dew.

What were those things that I was bottling up?

For one, I was missing my boyfriend. I was working during the day, and he was in school at night, and money was tight, so planning dates was difficult. Our lack of quality time made me feel unloved. It made me wonder if we had lost our passion, our spark. And I was worried it couldn’t be rekindled.

It was a night of crying and wondering what it was that I could possibly do to not lose my love. I realized we were letting stress and circumstances get the better of us and hurt our relationship. And I was also causing a big problem by not sharing my feelings and instead stuffing them down until I exploded in an unhealthy way. 

The next day we talked. I explained, this time calmly, about how I wasn’t feeling loved—how I needed more attention and affection. My boyfriend understood where I was coming from and said that he would work to make sure he was showing me his love. We decided then that we would both put equal effort into the relationship to make it better again.

My biggest takeaway from this experience is that I need to share sooner when something is bothering me, instead of holding it in until I lose it and become irrational. So we’ve been talking more often, more intentionally, and I’m challenging myself to open up.

Working on sharing my emotions in a constructive way in a relationship will take time. But even in the short time we’ve been working on this, I can see a difference, and we feel closer. Communication is key in any relationship. It is important to let your partner know how you feel and what you need. How can they work on what you need from them if you’re not telling them, like I wasn’t telling Zeus?

After all, as I’ve learned the hard way, my boyfriend is not a mind reader (no matter how much I wish he was, sometimes), and I cannot expect him to be.

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