Is It Ever A Good Idea To Hide Your Feelings In A Relationship?

"Play it cool." These three words sum up how most of us were taught to act when dating. Almost nothing tops the embarrassment of having a crush find out you're lovestruck, especially when you have no idea if the feeling is mutual.

Even after a relationship develops, though, keeping your feelings under wraps might feel more comfortable than spilling your heart out. That's why that initial "I love you" can be so hard to say, or why you might not directly express your desires. Choosing to hide your feelings could be related to a bigger web of relationship patterns, such as an avoidant or fearful-avoidant attachment style. But it could also be out of fear of being rejected or dismissed. You may have also noticed in past relationships that voicing your opinions often led to conflicts, so you've learned to keep quiet instead.

There are several reasons why you may choose — whether consciously or subconsciously — to hide your feelings in a relationship. However, suppressing your inner thoughts and feelings can have dire consequences.

The problem with hiding your feelings in a relationship

If you often catch yourself biting your tongue in your relationship, you may be doing more harm than good — including to your health. Dr. Colleen Mullen, Psy.D., LMFT, explains to Verywell Mind that bottling up emotions can trigger physical stress. She says, "The stress caused to the body can lead to increased diabetes and heart disease risks." A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research takes this one step further, indicating that there's a link between hiding your emotions and mortality. Yikes! And unsurprisingly, holding your feelings in can trigger emotional stress, anxiety, and depression (per Time).

Some people may accept these consequences because they believe that hiding their feelings is beneficial to the relationship. This might be especially true if you fear that your feelings will hurt the other person or lead to arguments. However, bottling things up can damage your relationship, too. A study published in the journal Emotion concluded that people who suppress their emotions feel less connected and positive toward each other. Another study published in Emotion also suggested that couples who hide their feelings experience lower levels of relationship satisfaction.

When is it okay to hide your feelings?

Letting your partner in on what you're feeling can benefit both your health and the quality of your relationship. However, there are some instances where pausing before divulging can pay off. First, if you feel unsafe opening up in your relationship, prioritize your personal safety. If sharing your feelings has led to mental, emotional, or physical abuse of any kind, or if you fear that it could, it's okay to limit self-disclosure while taking measures to protect yourself.

Another time when you may want to wait before sharing is when you're experiencing multiple triggers. "How you're feeling in the moment can be the product of all these unrelated things," psychologist David Caruso tells Quartz. Taking a time-out to assess what's really bothering you can make all the difference.

Finally, when your feelings involve an issue within the relationship, it can help to first consider the outcome you want, rather than jumping to express your dissatisfaction. The Gottman Institute recommends stating a specific need that you'd like your partner to meet. Offering a desired resolution not only makes it easier to discuss hard feelings, but it also helps the other person know how to best respond.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.