The Importance of Transparency in a Relationship

The difference between honesty and transparency, and why it matters for your relationship

Romantic relationships demand open communication and honesty from the start. 

Even though this may sound simple, in practice it can be very daunting to be so vulnerable with your partner — especially as we tend to want our partners to only see the best version of ourselves. 

Despite its obstacles, practicing transparency in a relationship is one of the best ways to build a healthy foundation and create a connection that lasts. 

What does transparency mean in a relationship? 

Transparency in a relationship revolves around open and honest communication. It involves proactively disclosing information with your partner by sharing your thoughts and feelings in an unfiltered, honest way. 

By being transparent you can build trust and get to know each other on a deeper level.

“Building a foundation of healthy communication and trust is the key to creating transparency in your relationship,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist and In-House Relationship Expert at Paired.

“As a couple, you establish healthy patterns of communication, where transparency is not about blurting out everything you think or feel, but rather feeling comfortable sharing openly with your partner. This creates an opportunity to deepen your emotional intimacy.”

What is the difference between honesty and transparency? 

Honesty refers to the act of telling the truth. For example, if your partner asks you a direct question, you would answer truthfully and not actively deceive or mislead your partner. 

Transparency goes beyond honesty. It involves actively sharing your feelings, thoughts, and opinions without being asked. 

“Sharing every single thing that happens all day is not the goal when it comes to healthy transparency in your relationship — that would be unrealistic and cause other strains,” says Seeger DeGeare. 

“Instead it’s about feeling truly at ease with your partner, bringing up thoughts and feelings that would potentially bring value to the relationship.”

This approach does not need to impede on your own privacy — with a transparent approach simply encouraging you not to actively hide things from your partner. 

“This allows your partner to get a deeper insight into who you are and what you think while knowing that you are safe to openly share these things with your partner.”

This attitude toward transparency encourages a healthier relationship, where trust builds naturally at your own pace.

Is transparency important in a relationship? 

Transparency is crucial to the success of healthy relationships. 

Lack of transparency causes miscommunication and conflict — which can be avoided by choosing to be upfront and honest in the first place. 

Trust is not built overnight, which is why fostering a transparent relationship is so important. For example, instead of waiting for your partner to ask, think about what you need to feel comfortable to open up voluntarily. 

“As you build a deeper insight about yourself, one way to start this conversation is to ask your partner if they are open to setting some time aside to talk about what you have realized,” says Seeger DeGeare. 

“Sometimes transparency comes down to finding your words in moments of hurt or shame when it could be easier to just bury it inside to avoid conflict.” 

Setting aside this time to start a conversation allows you to establish healthy boundaries around transparency. As if you just decided to ‘dump’ all this information on your partner at once, it could be very overwhelming and have a negative effect. 

“We all know that we are in a relationship because we want partnership – we want to know someone deeper and for them to know us deeper,” says Seeger DeGeare. “It takes brave moments of transparency to grow a deeper connection.” 

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How to be transparent in your relationship 

The prospect of sharing everything with your partner is very daunting, especially if you are in the early stages of dating. So the question arises, how much should you share with your significant other? 

Transparency in a relationship can be tricky terrain, with some people having a hard time introducing transparency into their lives. Even though transparent communication can feel like a big ask — there are a few simple ways to encourage transparency in your relationship. 

Honest communication 

At its most basic, transparency is about open and honest communication with your partner. 

By making honesty a priority, you can establish open lines of communication where each partner is encouraged to express themselves. Even though you may want to hide certain things, choosing to open up builds trust and earns respect from your partner. 

Set healthy boundaries 

One of the many benefits of transparency is that it allows you to discuss your relationship expectations healthily. 

Research indicates that there is a certain expectation around relationship rules for honesty, but the meanings of honesty may vary. For example, one partner may view transparency as unconditional, whereas the other believes only certain information needs to be disclosed. 

“Establishing healthy boundaries means agreeing on a suitable time and place to communicate comfortably,” says Seeger DeGeare. “Collaborate with your partner to establish these boundaries, so both of you can have a successful conversation.” 

Putting healthy boundaries in place and setting your expectations for the relationship ensures a comfortable environment for you both to thrive. However, it is important to know how to handle your emotions in a constructive and healthy way. 

“For example, suppose your partner is leaving for work as you begin to reveal your thoughts,” says Seeger DeGeare. “In that case, it is crucial to communicate your needs to avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings.”

“Setting boundaries isn’t about controlling your partner but rather focusing on what you require in these situations.” 

Be vulnerable

The level of honesty that transparency demands can feel very exposing. This vulnerability should not be viewed as a weakness, but as something which showcases the strength of your relationship.

Create a safe space with communication exercises and honest conversation, allowing your partner to be wholly themselves. 

This level of radical transparency encourages you to open up to your loved one in a new way, with difficult conversations not to be shied away from. 

Be accepting 

Honesty produces truth, and sometimes the truth isn’t always easy to swallow. 

“To truly listen to our partner and understand their perspective, we need to work on developing healthy ego strength,” says Seeger DeGeare. “This means being open and thoughtful while they express their views, and being able to receive feedback without getting defensive.” 

Relational transparency holds you accountable for your thoughts and emotions — and if not handled correctly it can feel like an attack on your inner self. 

“During challenging conversations, strive to remain centered and calm,” says Seeger DeGeare. “This is an important piece of foundation in order to have a healthy transparency in your relationship.” 

What are the benefits of being transparent in a relationship? 

Whether you are entering a new relationship, or working on starting over again with your partner, transparency is everything. 

“Working towards transparency in a relationship can be a deeply rewarding experience when done well,” says Seeger DeGeare. “It involves both partners working together to establish healthy communication patterns, which includes being curious about each other's behaviors and learning how to provide transparent and kind feedback.” 

This attitude encourages trust, vulnerability, and honesty — which is why transparency is so important in a healthy relationship. 

“By developing these skills, the relationship can continue to be both honest and secure.” 

If you want to be more transparent with your partner, why not download Paired? Open the line of communication and start the conversation today. 

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About the writer
Zoë O'Connor
Zoë is the Content Writer at Paired, working on all of our Magazine content.
Covering a wide range of relationship topics, Zoë works alongside our In-House Relationship Expert (as well as a diverse range of outside experts) to create content tailored to our Paired audience.
From fun relationship questions to thought-provoking expert pieces, Zoë works in tandem with our in-app content team to help couples strengthen their relationships!
With a background in content strategy, journalism, and marketing, Zoë has worked across several titles and brands in her writing career. Before she graduated from Trinity College Dublin, where she studied English Literature, she was a freelance columnist with extensive experience writing about lifestyle and relationships.
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