I have some good news I want to share with my partner. It's nothing too major. However, they have been struggling with their career and self-image, often drawing comparisons to me, as we are in the same field. I've struggled much less with school (which we are about to finish) and job search. I don't want to lift myself up at their expense, but I don't want to be secretive about my life either. We've hit some bumps previously when I've shared news of academic success or finding work. To be clear, it's not that they are malicious, but they have genuinely had a hard time.

Can I phrase the news in a manner as to deliver the information without seeming too proud, or on the other hand, too apologetic?

So far I've tried to preface news with something along the lines of "I have some news I want to share, but it may make you upset". Other times I've simply delivered the news being honestly enthusiastic: "Hey, I got a job with X!". The reaction varies from them congratulating superficially while visibly drawing away, to breaking down.

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    Are you able to help your partner improve professionally? Does your partner accept help from you on this matter? That is where I see the long term solution.
    – virolino
    Jun 15, 2020 at 9:36
  • @virolino That could very well be the case. Intuitively, having a stronger self-image leads to them taking a lesser hit seeing someone else succeed. I'm able to and they do accept, although it isn't really something we've strived to do together consistently. Jun 15, 2020 at 10:36
  • @virolino Sill, I'm very much interested in having these kinds of conversations while developing our relationship, even though this could be the long-term solution. Jun 15, 2020 at 11:36

1 Answer 1


I had a somewhat similar situation. My partner was not angered / depressed from my successes, but still, things did not always go in the good direction.

We were lucky that we had an open way to discuss everything. And we discussed the difference in our education, and how to improve it. She decided to go the way of reading books, attend classes of her interest - and I think she actually made good, mature choices. In parallel, we continued to trust each other and share what was going on in our lives.

The result was that more and more, my partner had experiences to share in exchange for my experiences.

How it happened (more or less)

Whenever we met, after the initial interaction (saying hello and stuff), we found out that we did not talk much. So we tried to "push" the discussion. Suggest one topic. Then suggest another topic. And so on. It soon became obvious to both who had less to talk about. Then we had together a short informal brainstorming session about what she can do.

Some of the outcomes were:

  • read books;
  • read on the internet;
  • watch educational videos;
  • attend free classes (when available);
  • attend paid classes;
  • talk to other people, ask about their interests, find their ways of improvement;

We also agreed that the best course of action was that she started with whatever seemed attractive and interesting to her. She made her choices by herself, and the improvement was then visible. She requested feedback from me about her choices, and it happened that I was very happy with her choices. I never felt that any of her choices needed to be rejected or altered.

Note: we never treated the situation as a problem, but as an opportunity to improve. We concentrated on the ways to improve, and not on finding who was "guilty" for the situation. We never fully assessed the (then) current situation. It was irrelevant for us to find out how "bad" her knowledge base was, or how unprofessional her teachers / professors were.

As a result, I was talking about my things, she was talking about her things, somehow finding a middle ground to have a fulfilling conversation on both sides. The need for a monologue disappeared.

For your case, I would advise you to have a discussion with your partner and let them decide how to go on. Two alternatives are:

  1. continue sharing the experiences, they will behave as adults and accept the reality;
  2. stop sharing the experiences - which is sad if this is the chosen way.

Together with your partner, you might be able to find other ways as well.

You might want to say something like:

Look, I know that these situations make you uncomfortable. I need your feedback about how to proceed in the future. On one hand, we need to cover your need to not feel uncomfortable, and to cover also my need to tell someone about my everyday stuff - especially when something "major" appears.

And you can add:

I would feel uncomfortable sharing the important stuff of my life with strangers, I prefer to trust you.

In parallel, make a more detailed plan about your partner growing up. Something along the lines:

  1. Until September 1st, be able to easily do ABC;
  2. Until December 15, be able to deal with XYZ.

In that way, the partner will have things and successes to talk about. At the beginning, their topics will be the "internal" ones (regarding the progress of learning) and then, more and more, about their job.

You might let your partner lead the making of the plan also, something like:

Which are the things that make you most unhappy? And what are the things that you would like to improve most?

It is possible that you will have two lists, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

And after you have the lists:

And what needs to be done to improve all these things? How can I support you?

Add a few words descrbing the solution for each issue. And at the "end":

OK, let's see when you (we) can actually fix each issue.

And at this phase assign end dates to the topics on the lists.

NOTE: Make sure that the time allowed for each topic is enough for successful completion, otherwise the good intention will tranfsorm into a source of failures, which will make matters worse in the end.

  • Thank you for the answer. I think telling them to "grow up" and "behave like an adult" is a bit unfair, although I get your point. As I said, they are not intentionally difficult, but have genuine issues. I'd be interested to know how you communicated the need of growing up? Perhaps without essentially telling them that they are immature. The plans sound solid. I think I'm simply afraid of coming across too demanding or instructive. Jun 15, 2020 at 13:12
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    Actually, I did not imply you to tell anyone to "grow up" or to "behave like an adult"!! That is just the result. Telling those things might actually be the ugly end of the relationship - which is far from what you want.
    – virolino
    Jun 15, 2020 at 14:40
  • Thanks again for the clarifications and suggestions for conversation! Now it seems a lot more feasible as a short-term strategy as well. Jun 15, 2020 at 14:57

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