By in Relationships

Please Don't Tell

In polite society, I am told, some topics of conversation are off-limits, namely religion, politics and sex. Sure, in informal gatherings or one-on-one, all topics are fair game -- or are they?

What could be so potentially disastrous to discuss that many people never broach the subject, even with their nearest and dearest friends? What could the disaster be if such conversations took place?

As you might guess, most of what remains unsaid has negative connotations, whether the topic itself is actually negative or not. Addiction of any sort, whether of oneself or a loved one; being the recipient or caring for someone who is a recipient of abuse or neglect; having or loving someone with a diagnosed mental health issue; poverty and more.

To speak of any of these things is to open yourself to criticism, ridicule, being ostracized or pitied. Somehow to speak of these concerns or experiences some how makes us less that the person to whom we are speaking.

These are just some of the rationale that keep people silent. How do you talk about your feelings, your concerns without feeling more vulnerable than before you spoke? Will there be understanding on the part of the listener? Will you be able to verbally express your thoughts?

In order for our friends and family to feel safe enough to talk about anything, we have to have projected that we are non-judgmental, open to new ideas, willing to hear the other side. We have to demonstrate that we will honor confidences, no matter the size and refrain from giving advice when none is sought. This is a tall order. I struggle with it mightily, but hope that should anyone I encounter have the need to be heard, they will find me a safe haven.

| | |

Image Credit » niekverlaan Public Domain/CC0 1.0 via Pixabay

You will need an account to comment - feel free to register or login.


Kasman wrote on January 10, 2015, 5:32 PM

Not everyone is capable or comfortable talking about perceived taboo subjects but there is always organisations such as the Samaritans for people to turn to.

Feisty56 wrote on January 10, 2015, 5:53 PM

I've not heard of the Samaritans. Is that an organization in the UK?

I don't feel that these are taboo subjects, but you're right, not everyone is going to be comfortable talking about at least some of them. I don't see anything wrong about that, no more than some people understand astrophysics and I haven't a clue. : )

beachchair wrote on January 10, 2015, 6:17 PM

I have several people in my life I know I can tell anything to! I am blessed beyond words to have people like that. It is a wonderful thing to have.

Kasman wrote on January 10, 2015, 6:18 PM

Feisty56 - The Samaritans originated in the UK but are now worldwide. Read about them here:

Feisty56 wrote on January 10, 2015, 6:58 PM

Thank you : )

Feisty56 wrote on January 10, 2015, 6:59 PM

You're right about that -- you are fortunate to have such people in your life. I'm guessing they feel they can share openly with you, too.

Feisty56 wrote on January 10, 2015, 7:13 PM

What a wonderful idea and organization! Sadly, the only chapters in the U.S. are on the east coast.

PeggyWds wrote on January 10, 2015, 7:18 PM

One has to have a certain amount of trustworthiness and should feel the same about the other person before venturing into topics that are normally taboo.

Feisty56 wrote on January 10, 2015, 7:41 PM

I am wondering now if the message I intended to share here didn't get miss-communicated by me - or maybe the way I look at some things is very different from other people. Part of what I was trying to say is that there is no reason for any of these topics to be taboo. No, I wouldn't talk about these things at the water cooler at work, but in a conversation with a good friend I feel s/he or I should feel open to do so.

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on January 10, 2015, 8:36 PM

We all need at least one good friend with whom we can talk about things we wouldn't be comfortable discussing with anyone else.

agvulpes wrote on January 11, 2015, 12:15 AM

This sure is a tricky one to come up with just one 'right' answer ! Growing up I was well and truly 'brain washed' to not talk about certain subjects:)
However I have noticed that the 'children' of today have been given more latitude and seem to discuss these once taboo subjects more openly with their peers :)

AliCanary wrote on January 11, 2015, 3:51 AM

I used to be a lot more candid, but I have learned that many times it's best just not to offer information. People do strange things with it.

Kat- wrote on January 11, 2015, 7:55 AM

I think it all goes down to trust. You may have a friend that you love dearly and have great fun with, but wouldn't trust with your deep, dark secrets and then there may be a friend you trust dearly, but don't see often that you can tell anything to. We generally have many of the former, but few of the latter.

Koalemos wrote on January 11, 2015, 11:02 AM

I have always considered my self to be as open minded as it is possible to be.

VinceSummers wrote on January 11, 2015, 5:26 PM

Religion NEEDS to be talked about. For example, the scriptures (Bible) requires one to bear witness if they are to hope to attain to salvation. Politics is a total waste of time. Sex? There's no need to talk about it. As to homosexual marriage... the governments may recognize it. That does not make it acceptable.

maxeen wrote on January 11, 2015, 5:45 PM

As Kasman said the Samaritans are worlwide you should get them online,they are good. oops! You already have the website..

Kasman wrote on January 11, 2015, 5:56 PM

&TheresaWiza - I agree with you about religious discussions. Believers believe because the have faith and they have faith because they believe. It is a circle which cannot be broken.

Feisty56 wrote on January 11, 2015, 6:19 PM

Ideally, everyone has at least one person in his/her life like that. I don't know how true that is, but I can only imagine how lonely those people feel who don't have at least one relationship like that.

Feisty56 wrote on January 11, 2015, 6:23 PM

I think you're right. I think the younger people of today grew up without some of those filters we had instilled in us from the time we began to talk. Perhaps this generation and those that come after it will be more successful in uniting humankind with the bonds that make us the same, rather than focusing on what makes us different.

Feisty56 wrote on January 11, 2015, 6:25 PM

I'm afraid I am still too candid for my own good, at least much of the time. Sometimes I am sure my sensibilities are more that of a small child than of an adult. Maybe something didn't develop correctly in my psyche -- or maybe it did. I am quiet around those I don't know, preferring to watch and listen to them to gather information before I commit to conversation.

Feisty56 wrote on January 11, 2015, 6:28 PM

I agree with your descriptions. I consider those in the first group you've mentioned to be acquaintances. Our interactions are more superficial. Friendship, in my way of thinking, is a two-way street of trust.

Feisty56 wrote on January 11, 2015, 6:30 PM

I enjoy intelligent and spirited conversations about nearly any topic, as long as those who are conversing can agree to disagree. Oftentimes it is the "why" behind other people's thinking that interests me the most.

Feisty56 wrote on January 11, 2015, 6:33 PM

I sometimes have to censor my first reaction to something because it is judgmental. When I catch it, I go backward and try to reframe my thoughts so that if I have a negative opinion, I own that opinion and not brand a thing or person in a negative way.

Feisty56 wrote on January 11, 2015, 6:42 PM

I will have to respectfully agree to disagree with you in this area, VinceSummers . I respect that your belief system compels you to bear witness and I understand that you do so. Not everyone shares that belief system, making them no more right or wrong than you and those who believe as you do in the grand scheme of things.

I am familiar with the teachings of Christ and how he told us that the greatest commandment of all is to love one another as ourselves. In my belief system, one of the ways I do this is by not judging the words or actions of others. If there is anything another person does or says that is contrary to the laws of God, judgment will come from Him. As humans, we somehow feel compelled to stand in God's stead. I find that contrary to what Christ himself taught.

Feisty56 wrote on January 11, 2015, 6:43 PM

I read their information with interest. I would love to be trained as a volunteer for their program, but all of their locations here in the States are on the East coast, hundreds and hundreds of miles from me. What a wonderful organization!

maxeen wrote on January 11, 2015, 6:49 PM

That's a shame ,if I hear anything I will let youknow,I think they are probably always looking for the right people..

VinceSummers wrote on January 11, 2015, 7:24 PM

You are, of course, entitled to believe what you wish. I believe in the scriptures. We are all free will agents.

houserulesradio wrote on January 11, 2015, 10:02 PM

There is no such thing as taboo. Taking anything off the table as a subject of discussion is a one way ticket to the New Dark Ages.

AliCanary wrote on January 11, 2015, 11:22 PM

Uh-uh, don't lose that innocence and honesty--it's what makes you so wonderful! But I think that's a wise course of action. I still need to work on the "listen before yammering" part, lol

BarbRad wrote on January 12, 2015, 1:59 AM

You are so right. People need to talk, but won't if they feel they will be attacked verbally or be seen as inferior. if we want to help, we must be willing to really listen with our hearts.

agvulpes wrote on January 12, 2015, 5:57 AM

I agree with your sentiments , however to do have a grave misgiving with the way 'drugs' have crept into our society undermining much of the good work that is being done :)

trufflehunter wrote on January 12, 2015, 12:52 PM

I top hope to be a safe haven for people. Often those who feel they have nothing more to lose will comfortably share.

seren3 wrote on January 12, 2015, 8:33 PM

It is a tall order! I aspire to it as well.

Feisty56 wrote on January 12, 2015, 8:50 PM

I know nearly nothing about the street drug scene, being several decades past all that, but I can't imagine that drug use is any more prevalent now than it has been since the 1960s. The drugs of choice change, but sadly the feeling of the need to escape reality has not. I don't foresee a generation in the near future that won't struggle with the abuse of drugs, but if that day comes, it will bring freedom untold.

Feisty56 wrote on January 12, 2015, 8:53 PM

The attentive listening was something I began developing as a child because I did not like to be around conflict, so I learned to listen not only to be able to tell when trouble was brewing, but also not to become the source of any turmoil.

Feisty56 wrote on January 12, 2015, 8:53 PM

Thank you, maxeen .

maxeen wrote on January 12, 2015, 8:57 PM

Are you a jehovah witness ,Vince?

Feisty56 wrote on January 12, 2015, 11:50 PM

I agree with you that any subject should be open for discussion. The only way I know to allow that to happen is to be open to any topic of discussion and do my best to listen not so much to the details of whatever the topic is, but how the person feels about it and respond to that.

I would never pretend that there are probably some subjects that would make me uncomfortable. Depending on the closeness of the relationship to the person talking, I would either try to deal with my own discomfort and keep it to myself or be honest about it and see if the person still wanted to confide in me.

Feisty56 wrote on January 12, 2015, 11:52 PM

It isn't always easy to be a willing listener, but I've found it is worth the effort.

Feisty56 wrote on January 12, 2015, 11:55 PM

I think having an open heart and mind and being willing to listen is a gift. Some people are naturally that way, but those of us who aren't can get there by trying. That's all any of us can do.

Feisty56 wrote on January 12, 2015, 11:56 PM

It sure is. I think it's something we can improve upon but will never be "perfect" at. We're human beings, after all, and have our own biases and opinions.

houserulesradio wrote on January 13, 2015, 7:03 AM

I generally make people uncomfortable as my engagements with some go to the meat of the matter, and not the garnish next to it.

But dialogue like life can be uncomfortable and should be. It life was easy, we all would do it.

angelaterese13 wrote on January 13, 2015, 11:27 AM

This is very well written. It shows the thoughts of a very introspective thinker. I think you would be a very precious friend to have.

Feisty56 wrote on January 13, 2015, 1:31 PM

Do you consider yourself deliberately provocative then? I am not condemning or condoning, but I am wondering how effective you find your method.

Feisty56 wrote on January 13, 2015, 1:37 PM

Thank you, sincerely. I know how I would like to be received by others, so I try to practice that. I think most people want to be good friends but don't always realize how to communicate in an open, accepting way.

houserulesradio wrote on January 13, 2015, 5:40 PM

I was quite obscene for the sake of being obscene when I was a teenager.

That said, now I speak frankly and directly. I am of the mind that if one has ideas but never tests then, then what worth do those ideas hold?

If one can demonstrate value in their ideas that pass scrutiny, then good for them.

Feisty56 wrote on January 13, 2015, 6:51 PM

I was asking because I think that the approach is as important as the message itself. I recall being provocative during my early teen years. It did get attention, but it didn't seem as if people were very receptive to whatever I said when I did it that way. Through the years I've found that diplomacy yields more in the way of receptiveness. I was interested in what your experiences have been.

houserulesradio wrote on January 13, 2015, 6:59 PM

Free Will Agency sounds like Mormon vernacular.

houserulesradio wrote on January 13, 2015, 7:03 PM

Now, it is a matter of when the people find out about me on a personal level, not even what I present myself as or the subject we are addressing. On a discussion about abortion/patient rights, the discussion came to an abrupt stop when a woman declared, "You sound too intelligent and to polite to be an atheist."

This is what I work through on a daily basis.

Feisty56 wrote on January 13, 2015, 7:10 PM

Wow! I imagine the mention of atheism triggers certain emotions and thoughts. You know, there are words and phrases that as individuals we react to and our mind stops right there to process whatever has been said. It's like going to the doctor's office and hearing something like "heart disease" or "cancer." Everything said after that is lost because the mind has been jolted.

seren3 wrote on January 13, 2015, 7:16 PM

I am very careful what I say to almost anyone. And the older I get the less I think I have to say to anyone in terms of feedback - but will listen, if I'm not taken by surprise.

maxeen wrote on January 13, 2015, 7:20 PM

Thought it was that sort of thing,thanks.

houserulesradio wrote on January 13, 2015, 7:21 PM

Atheist are pariah nationwide. Why? Well, that is a discussion all its own.

arthurchappell wrote on January 14, 2015, 8:16 AM

we should always be open to discus such ideas - the blocks tend to be no politics that disagrees with ours, no talk of sex that we don't have or approve of or telling us about gods other than ours - reality - nothing should be taboo

Feisty56 wrote on January 14, 2015, 9:47 AM

I find that I am a better listener as I grow older. Gone are those early years when I knew so little yet the smugness of youth assured me I had all the answers. I actually enjoy listening and learning. I hope it enables me to become a more well-rounded person myself and keeps the brain cells churning. : )

Feisty56 wrote on January 14, 2015, 9:49 AM

I like to talk about ideas and learn so much when I listen. There's no right or wrong, just different views based on various experiences and education.

WorDazza wrote on January 17, 2015, 5:50 AM

Agreeing to disagree is the key to a healthy, spirited debate. Sometimes tackling the difficult subjects is the key to a better understanding of others. Unfortunately some people interpret the asking of questions to attain a better understanding of their beliefs as a personal attack.

Feisty56 wrote on January 17, 2015, 9:35 AM

I gravitate towards those who I find are open-minded enough to understand the difference between interest and attack. I would imagine that most of us do. It seems to me that so many of the touchy issues could find at least partial resolution when we agree to disagree -- and to suspend judgment.

WorDazza wrote on January 17, 2015, 3:50 PM

VinceSummers - You missed the words "to me" off the end of your comment.

VinceSummers wrote on January 17, 2015, 4:23 PM

I a indeed a Witness.

VinceSummers wrote on January 17, 2015, 4:24 PM

If that was all it was, it wouldn't matter.

maxeen wrote on January 17, 2015, 4:59 PM

Good on yer!

maxeen wrote on January 17, 2015, 5:08 PM

Atheist,Communist,Outrageous,Jehovah witness-take your pick !

WorDazza wrote on January 18, 2015, 1:00 PM

That's all it is and it doesn't.

Deema wrote on January 27, 2015, 9:13 AM

This is so true. Many people, due to society, feel scared to be themselves and actually trust others. It is a shame...

valmnz wrote on January 30, 2015, 3:19 PM

I have two friends who are extremely judgmental - conversations can get uncomfortable when they're together. Therefore I tend to avoid controversial topics when with them.

Feisty56 wrote on January 30, 2015, 4:54 PM

That is true so often. The thing is, each one of us can decide to be the non-judgmental listener and friend that allows others to be open about their concerns and experiences.

Feisty56 wrote on January 30, 2015, 5:14 PM

That can make it difficult -- having friends that are that judgmental. Let's hope that those two don't need someone in whom to confide; they may have some difficulty finding someone willing to listen.

valmnz wrote on January 30, 2015, 6:08 PM

Lol, it often seems to be me!

Ellis wrote on February 1, 2015, 10:35 AM

It is, more often than not, not the subject under discussion that is the problem but the tightness of the ass with whom one is discussing it with...

Ellis wrote on February 1, 2015, 10:44 AM

You could start your own.....I tried to volunteer for the Samaritans back in the 70's....never did it though.

Feisty56 wrote on February 1, 2015, 11:54 AM

I agree with you completely. No subject in and of itself is off-limits for discussion when those involved in the conversation are non-judgmental and open. I try to be both and have reaped many rewards on a personal level when I've been able to do so.

Feisty56 wrote on February 1, 2015, 2:21 PM

I would like very much to see a Samaritan-type organization in my area. You're right -- I can look into creating one in this area. At this moment I have no clue where to even begin, but you've put an idea in my head -- thank you!

Ellis wrote on February 1, 2015, 8:58 PM

If you think your area needs this type of service contact the Samaritans head office and ask them to help you open a branch in your area.

Feisty56 wrote on February 1, 2015, 10:29 PM

I think every area could make use of such a practical and likely life-saving service. : )

cheri wrote on February 1, 2015, 10:49 PM

You spell everything right. We live in a society that sometimes force us to conform and its difficult at times. There are people who are bold enough to say things they want to say.

Hollyhocks100 wrote on February 3, 2015, 7:12 AM

Bottling things up does no one any good, but you are right, you have to choose carefully who you tell your darkest secrets to.

JohnRoberts wrote on February 3, 2015, 10:55 AM

There are reasons. Sex has always been considered offensive for polite conversation. Nobody is going to bring up How about that anal sex thing? Religion and politics have always been potentially volatile in social situations especially in this day and age of such hatred against those not following one's beliefs. There was a time for civilized debate when two parties could agree to disagree then share and a drink and a laugh. No, a viciousness pervades when two sides mingle.

bestwriter wrote on February 3, 2015, 8:13 PM

There are somethings that we carry to the grave never opened up to anyone.

RonElFran wrote on February 16, 2015, 1:13 PM

Some people are so threatened by having their beliefs questioned or contradicted, that they can't discuss those differences without rancor. I wish more people had your attitude.