Question: Yangki, I am a direct, open and honest person but struggle with the advice on being open and honest with the women I date. I am never sure of their motivations and sometimes I’m not sure about my feelings for them, so I hold back. Unfortunately, I have had a few relationships end because I waited too long to express my feelings and when I did it was too late. With my last ex, I made an effort to express myself more and she asked for a break because according to her she felt suffocated and smothered. I didn’t contact her for 6 weeks to give her some space. A couple of days ago, I sent her a text and it took her until the next day to respond. I tried to talk to her but her responses are standoffish. Now I read on your site that not contacting an ex sends the wrong message. There is no winning, is there?
Yangki’s Answer: First of all, I think people who are open, honest, and direct with their thoughts, feelings, and desires without being too blunt, rude, crude, confrontational, pushy or annoying are a very rare breed — in a good way… (:
Secondly, there is a healthy balance where you can directly, openly and honestly express your thoughts, feelings, and desires without making the other person feel suffocated and smothered. That’s the balance this site is about.
Thirdly, if I read you correct, she asked for a “break”, she didn’t ask you to stop contacting her for 6 weeks! That’s probably why she’s standoffish.
That out of the way. Most of us in the beginning of a relationship are never sure of the motivations of the other person unless they make their motives or intentions quite obvious from the start. So it’s normal in the early stages of a relationship to be cautious.
As we get to know someone better, we open up incrementally. It’s only by being open and honest with our own feelings that we can tell if there is something there to develop, or if you’re wasting your time.
In other words, being open and honest with our own feelings is not the problem. The problem is in how we let our intentions be “known”. .
If you unload on the other person too much or too soon, he/she’ll feel suffocated and overwhelmed.
If you give them the impression that you want more than they can give, are willing to give or are capable of giving, you’ll come across as needy and they feel pressured.
If they sense you’re not being completely open and honest (calculating and manipulative), they’ll become suspicious of your motives and intentions.
These are the things that run people off real fast. But just telling someone this is where I am at (without making it feel like you expect anything from them in return) frees the two of you to move on with the relationship without being suspicious of the other’s motivations/intentions.
It’s a quick way to start building trust. In many relationships, it’s that lack of trust (unsure of the other’s motivations or distrustful of the other’s intentions) that makes people play mind games, lie and generally mess it all up.
If you are not sure about how you feel “I’m not sure how I feel” is all the honesty you need. If they other person can’t handle the truth, that’s their problem. Better to find out who they are early in the relationship than get deeply involved and find you are with someone who does not appreciate someone who is direct, open and honest.