Do couples really need to talk about everything? Though we hear time and time again that communication and honesty are the bedrock of a relationship, is there actually such a thing as too much communication? Or too much honesty? In short, how much one shares in a relationship is something that will differ for every couple.
According to Wale Okerayi LMHC LPC, a licensed mental health counselor, communication is completely based on the couple and the relationship they've built. "I think that if safety and trust are there, there’s no such thing as oversharing. But if it’s your first or third date, there are definitely levels to sharing," she notes. Also, "if you feel like you're overextending or the other person isn’t reciprocating, then it may be important to evaluate what you are sharing with them."
Meet the Expert
Wale Okerayi LMHC LPC is a licensed mental health counselor practicing in both New York and Texas. She specializes in individual and relationship counseling, and can be reached directly via her website.
While one couple might talk about every detail of their day, others may have a more distant, but not less loving, communication style. It's truly dependent on each specific relationship, and the boundaries that have been set by each person. So, while there's no universal answer to the above questions, there are some things to consider when communicating with your partner, as noted by Okerayi below.
Can There Be Too Much Honesty in a Relationship?
Okerayi notes that there's rarely a time when someone can be too honest in a relationship. "If you are respectful and your intentions are to be honest and not harmful, there’s no such thing as too much honesty. If anything, honesty always opens up the conversation, which can lead to a deeper connection with your partner."
To further break it down, evaluate the intent behind the discussion you'd like to have. If you enter the conversation wanting to open an honest dialogue, then you should feel free to do so (if you feel comfortable, of course). However, if your words are meant to cause any type of harm, you may want to reconsider the exchange and truly decide if what you have to say should be expressed.
Is It Possible to Overcommunicate in a Relationship?
Yes and no. Okerayi shares that communication is defined by a couple, and thus, the threshold for over-communicating can only be determined by the two individuals in the relationship. She says that it's also largely based on how much trust and safety are in the partnership. "If you don’t feel emotionally safe in your relationship, it becomes almost impossible to talk about 'everything'. But if there is an immense level of trust and safety, talking about 'everything' is almost natural because there is no fear in your partner's response to what you bring up."
Okerayi continues, "I think that each couple defines what their communication levels are while acknowledging that it will ebb and flow depending on life and where the couple is in their relationship. There are some couples who share every part of their day with each other, and some that speak once a day. One couple isn’t better than the other because of that, it’s just what works best for them."
Has Your Partner Said They Need Space?
Circling back to boundaries, it's always important to respect the boundaries, whether mental or physical, your partner has placed in your relationship. If your partner has asked for space, sharing information at that very moment wouldn't necessarily be beneficial, depending on the situation. But if some time has passed, Okerayi suggests approaching your partner again by asking if they're willing to speak. Two questions she recommends bringing up to open the conversation are: "Do you mind if I share this with you?” or “Are you in the space to hear this right now?”.
If you're the one who happens to need a bit of space, according to Okerayi, enter the conversation with: "I know that you are in a space to talk about this right now, but I need some time. Do you mind giving me a day or so?" She further explains, "by validating their experience, sharing yours, and giving a timeline, it gives space for both of you to process your feelings and come back when you’re both in a better space."
Are Secrets Okay in a Relationship?
"I think this goes back to safety and trust," shares Okerayi. "Secrets end up causing a divide in the relationship which inevitably leads to resentment and distance. If we are in long-term relationships, we should feel comfortable enough to tell the truth to our partners. But we also have to be respectful in sharing our truth as well."