Most relationships fall apart because of important truths being hidden from each other. Often, hiding things becomes a habit because one or both partners do not react well to the truth, or have shame about their truth.
You can see this play out with cheating, where one partner is abusively accused of being attracted to other people, so they start to hide it to avoid conflict. This repression makes the attraction grow and is fostered by the animosity from their partner, until eventually they stray.
So there’s two angles this must be approached from. Firstly, both of you must be open, vulnerable and directly honest about everything that is happening with each of you. You must use honesty to force your partner to accept who you are. If they don’t, leave them, to create space for someone who will. Secondly, both must create an agreement of openness, whereby each will not punish honesty but will work to accept it.
If you can’t be this open and honest with someone, then don’t get into a relationship, because your shame issues will harm both you and the poor person you hook up (who will likely also be psychologically unhealthy). Work on your own self-acceptance and confidence first, then you can go look for someone who enjoys you as you are.
Dan Munro is a Confidence and Authenticity Coach based out of New Zealand, founder of the men’s mastermind community The Brojo, and #1 bestselling author of The Legendary Life.