“Just be yourself. Let people see the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful, magical person that your are.”
~ Mandy Hale
It is the rare individual who has no qualms about fessing up to fears and insecurities when dating. We can’t help but want to come across as perfect or nearly perfect and, sadly, want to see potential partners that way as well. However, if we’re serious about finding and maintaining healthy long-term relationships, it behooves us to let people know who we are—and find out exactly who they are—from the get go. This means taking a deep breath and sharing our doubts and worries.
Here are some tips:
#1. Think about what you want to say ahead of time.
If you can help it, try not to blurt out, “I’m terrified to love you because I know you’re going to leave me like everyone else has” in the middle of a nice dinner out. Consider not only what you want to share, but a proper time and place in which potential partners would be receptive.
#2. Get a sense of how someone might receive what you wish to share.
Be a good listener, not only hearing the words dates speak, but the tone used and the way they generally react when people talk about emotions. If you pick up a pattern of your date shying away from discussions about feelings, don’t be surprised if this happens when you bring yours up. This is crucial information about what the future holds for you in this relationship.
#3. Let someone know that speaking up is difficult for you because you don’t want to be viewed as needy or clingy.
Say that you have important things to share and that you believe talking about them will make the relationship stronger. Begin by briefly sharing one feeling and waiting to see what the response is. If you think it’s appropriate and your date seems to want to hear more, try deepening and expanding your sharing.
#4. Do not go on and on, even if you feel flooded with emotions if you are not getting an appropriate response.
Alternately, if your date seems disinterested in what you have to say, don’t make the interpretation that you’ve misspoken. You may be with someone who’s uncomfortable talking about feelings. This is great information if you’re looking for a relationship.
#5. Once you’ve shared, look for equal sharing on the part of your date.
If there is none forthcoming, or if you feel belittled or invalidated, this person is unlikely to be emotionally mature enough for a healthy relationship. Intimacy can only develop when you feel validated and your partner is able share at a similar emotional level to you.
Remember that we all have emotional needs and that we’re all needy. That is not a bad, but a good, thing. Believe in your right to have and express emotional needs and have them validated and respected and you will find dating much easier.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
As women, we are mired in the dichotomy between sharing our personal needs and retaining our independence.
Our society places intense pressure on women to be the best of both: sexy yet modest, strong yet dainty, bold yet soft, open yet independent. We are expected to share our deepest vulnerabilities but not be too “needy.” That perfect balance is impossible and runs us ragged if we try to reach it.
What pushes us to destroy ourselves while chasing this “perfect” balance?
We are afraid that if we do not achieve balance, we will show the carefully hidden skeletons in our closet, we will not please our partner, and we will ultimately end up alone. In reality, we need to find the balance that works for us and our partner. We need to find the place in our relationships where “We allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known” (Brene Brown).
Fear drives us to be closed and ashamed.
When this happens, our connections with our most intimate relationships begin to crumble and dissolve. One of our most emotionally difficult experiences is to step on the ledge and say to our partner, “This is me. This is my heart. This is my vulnerability. Will you catch me?” We are terrified that the answer will be, “No.” However, we must cultivate this type of vulnerability in relationships.
Here are a few recommendations for cultivating a relationship where you can share your fears, feelings, and insecurities:
1. Accept and validate your fears, feelings, and insecurities as well as your partner’s. Expressing even the trivial things such as fear of heights or disappointment that your favorite team lost are moments where you build trust and connection.
2. Ask yourself what roles these fears, feelings, and insecurities play in your life. Why are they present? What is the purpose? How can your partner help? Asking yourself these questions may provide insights both you and your partner can use to find solutions to help.
3. Own your fears, feelings, and insecurities. Be open about yourself in a way that illustrates your ownership. Vulnerability becomes easier when we are more secure and comfortable with our whole selves. Also, using “I” statements creates space where your partner can be more receptive to really hear what you are trying to share.
4. Ask your partner for support with facing your fears and insecurities. Ask them for help – and be specific. Our partners want to help, but they need guidance at times. Let them be a part of determining what can be done to help you, but do not hesitate to tell them what you need from them in that process. This can create that nice balance of independence and togetherness.
These types of conversations will help you cultivate an atmosphere of safety where you can share your vulnerability and where you may find the balance that works for your relationship.
Michelle Overman, Marriage & Family Therapist Intern, MMFT, LMFT-As – www.michelleoverman.com
The first 90 days of a budding romance are vital in a number of ways as it sets the tone for the relationship. From setting boundaries to how a woman expresses her feelings and needs is crucial to teaching her partner how she wishes to be treated. A man who sincerely wants to be in a woman’s life will always be willing to listen and meet her halfway.
Understanding how men communicate will help considerably in conveying your feelings and needs. Men are straightforward in their communication, so, you’ll need to be, as well. He also needs to understand what your need would provide you since he is wired to provide, protect and procreate (the three P’s).
The woman who is successful with this five step process sends her message in short sentences - positively and respectfully, uses I-language and makes no criticism of her partner.
1. Set up the conversation
Ask for talk time by setting up an appointment.
i. “Could we set up a time to talk about______?” (fill in the topic)
ii. “I think it will take ________minutes / hours.
iii. “Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong/I’m not upset/You’re not in trouble.”
2. Starting the conversation
i. Always begin by expressing appreciation for what he provides for you. Don’t let this be the only time you do this.
ii. Then say: “There is something I need that I just found out about.” OR “There is something I need that I’ve been reluctant/afraid/hesitant/forgetting to tell you about.”
3. Your Great Ask
i. A simple statement of “I need______.” (Don’t give the history or details behind the ask unless he asks).
ii. “It would look like_______.” (Be specific as possible about when, where, how long, etc)
iii. Tell him what he would be providing for you if he gave you this.
iv. Ask, “Is there anything you that you need in order to give me what I’m asking for?”
4. Your Follow Up
i. When he provides what you need, express appreciation by saying THANK YOU for his efforts, whether he succeeded or not; for his results without any criticism or correction and the difference they made and continue to make in your life.
ii. When something he provides is a gift that keeps on giving, make sure he knows!
This is a process that requires practice. As it becomes part of your communication flow, you will be heard in a way that deepens his understanding of you so that he’s able to give you what you need.
Nicole DiRocco, Dating Coach – www.datingwithgrace.me
No one single "right" way exists on how to share your inner self with a lover. But certainly some ways are better than others. As a personal example, many moons ago, I went on a date with a guy I had a big crush on. Because of the out-of-control butterflies in my gut, I lost all of my composure and blurted out every skeleton from my closet as if giving him a costume preview for an upcoming horror movie! Outcome? No second date!
So how do you express your hidden truths without being overwhelming to another? Below are six tips:
1. Share feelings in a simple fashion. Most people will welcome knowledge of your feelings as long as you don’t express them within an accusation.
2. Take ownership of yourself. While others influence what we think and feel, ultimately we are responsible for who we are.
3. Don’t give power to your insecurities, especially those you developed from past relationships. Instead, try presuming that he will see the positives in you rather than the negatives and make room for new beginnings.
4. Develop a keener sense as to the difference between your "needs" versus your "preferences." While we all need acceptance, attention, affection, etc., we don't need these from any one particular person. Once we become independent, we can get our needs met by a variety of different people. By accepting this reality, we reduce the chance of coming across as “too needy.”
5. Gauge your expressions according to your listener’s response. If you share a vulnerability and he grimaces, then best to zip up and note the red flag in front of you. But if he leans with words of compassion, and wants to learn more, you can increasingly divulge more. Just don't purge all at once like I did!
6. Encourage him to share about his deeper self as well! If it's all one-sided, you’ll likely create a fear of having said too much. "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours" can be a valuable practice.
Most importantly, as you begin your love affair remember that true intimacy requires fully knowing each other’s insides! So happy sharing!
Dr. Debra Mandel – www.drdebraonline.com
Sharing your feelings and needs with your partner can be scary, especially in the early stages of a relationship.
Openly sharing your feelings, fears, and insecurities is vulnerable. There’s a chance that your partner will ignore, misunderstand, or reject your needs and feelings. There’s a chance s/he will judge you or use your honest sharing against you.
There’s also a significant chance that sharing your inner thoughts and feelings will bring you closer to your partner. We all have a deep need for being understood and belonging. We connect with others best when we share our vulnerabilities – our insecurities, fears, and shame-filled experiences.
If you’ve been hurt in a previous relationship, it’s only natural to want to protect yourself by erecting a strong wall around your heart. This wall will effectively keep you from getting hurt, but it will also keep you from fully loving and connecting. Others can’t love you unless you let them in!
Boundaries are essential.
They inform others of how we want to be treated. We tend to think of them as useful in keeping out harmful treatment, but when they are unnecessarily strong, they also keep out healthy connection.
There is no easy or risk-free way to share your feelings.
However, once you decide that you want a deep connection and accept that sharing more of your inner world is how we connect, you can gradually share more of yourself. In a healthy relationship, sharing feelings is a gradual and mutual process. Acknowledging your fears about sharing your needs, desires, and feelings can be a great place to start. Your partner may very likely be fearful of expressing his/her vulnerabilities as well.
Sharon Martin, LCSW – www.sharonmartincounseling.com
Society feeds us at a young age that women are "feeling-oriented" and that men are "logical" and don’t like feelings. As a result, us women believe that we need to mirror men by being “logical” and not express our feelings. As a result we don’t express our needs, become unhappy in relationships, feel anger and resentment, and this either eats away at us or the relationship fails.
In order to get our needs met in relationships we MUST communicate our feelings.
As much as we would like our partner to "just know” what we want, it is an unrealistic expectation that will only result in you feeling disappointed. It’s scary to open up, but happiness requires risk and hard work.
Here are 3 tips to use when opening up to your partner to help your needs be heard and understood and hopefully be received positively so that change can happen and your needs are more likely to be met.
1. Time of day and location.
When your partner is stressed out, distracted, watching TV, or tired, those may not be optimal times to have a discussion about your vulnerable feelings, wishes and needs in life. First ask “do you mind if I turn the TV off?” or “want to go out on the porch/for a walk and talk?” Set a calming, peaceful atmosphere with minimal distractions for the conversation to take place and make sure your partner is agreeable to talk.
2. Avoid “you” statements as they can appear attacking to the other person.
Don’t say “you make me….” Rather focus on “I statements.” “I feel like I don’t matter” rather than “you don’t appreciate me.”
3. Demonstrate that you understand your partner.
“I understand you didn’t intend to hurt my feelings, but I wanted to share my experience with you.” Showing you understand the other person helps him to be more receptive to you and develop a deeper connection with you because he will feel you joining with him rather than feeling attacked and that you are against him.
Using all of these tips together of demonstrating understanding, using “I” statements and setting a calm environment will help your needs to be received well and you will be more likely to get your needs met.
Stacey Steinmiller, LCSW – www.ascounseling.com
Sure it’s important to talk about your feelings with your partner, and I encourage you to do so, but not at first.
You are probably reading this article to find out how to best communicate your feelings to the man in your life because you want to get closer rather than drive a wedge between you. If I’m right then my best advice is to give those feelings-talks a break.
When you lead with your feelings, your fears, and your insecurities to try to deepen your connection, the man in your life will most likely get overwhelmed. If you know how to communicate effectively and have those discussions about your feelings in a calm and rationale way, it still won’t do you much good at first. Sure, your man will be very well informed about your feelings and state of mind (if he didn’t space out half-way through), but you’ll still both be frustrated with the progress you want to make.
The need to talk about your feelings with your man is most likely a symptom of a greater problem: loss of connection and love. Think about it. When you started dating, did you feel like you needed to have a difficult conversation about your feelings? No. Talking about how you felt about one another wasn’t that big of a problem. I know this because love was primary then. No matter how misguided either of you might have been back then, your love felt strong and you both felt connected regardless.
Now how do you feel? If you feel like you can’t open up to your partner without driving him away with your feelings, your love is suffering. If you feel like you aren't being heard, your love is suffering. If you feel resentful, angry, hurt, or ambivalent towards your man, your love is suffering.
You need to create great love again with the ability to share your feelings in an open and honest way without the fear of repercussions. Despite traditional psycho-therapeutic beliefs, processing feelings with your man is not the answer, at least not the entire answer and certainly not the first tactic you should use.
If you’re feeling disconnected with your man, why would you lead with statements like, "Here is what's wrong. Here is how you're messing up. Here is how bad I feel about it." Doesn’t make much sense. You need to do something different.
1. Ask yourself: How did you treat your man when you first started dating? What did you do differently? What did you do for him back then that you don’t do anymore? How did you speak with him back then? Make a list of past behaviors that worked so well in your relationship.
2. Then work on rebuilding some love. Start to engage with your man the way you did back then. Laugh more at his jokes. Take interest in his hobbies again. Say, “I love you” more often. Whatever worked well, do more of that.
3. THEN you can start to communicate your feelings...when you and your man are enjoying one another again. When you can talk about your feelings not as a problem but as a part of who you are, the woman your man adores.
If you need help starting this process or are totally lost on how to do this, you can go to my website and view some instructional videos. I show you how to accomplish all of this step by step. I wish you all the best!
Dr. Kat Peoples – www.drkatpeoples.com
Own Your Feelings
While there is a time and a place for sharing difficult feelings in relationship, it is important to understand that a romantic partner is not responsible for your healing. Healthy relationships are created when two reasonably healthy adults choose to continue to move forward together on a daily basis. When healing does happen it is a result of each partner doing their own work.
Not doing your own work leads to the biggest mistake you can make in relationship:
Assuming that something you fear, perceive or are insecure about regarding the interactions within the relationship are based on mutual reality. There are some things you should take care of on your own.
For example, negative feelings you have about yourself are better responded to in your personal work than as part of a relationship. Otherwise, you could end up blaming your partner for your negative feelings about yourself – which will always come off as needy and out of context – and you will push people away from you.
Avoid jumping to the first conclusion your fears and insecurities create for you and do some problem-solving before you speak about what you are guessing to be true.
Do Your Own Work First
The best way to make sure you can share your feelings, fears and insecurities successfully when they do come up is by making sure that you have your own self-care and self-management strategies set in place and use them before you say anything. This way, you are not asking for help in dealing with these feelings, fears and insecurities.
Instead, you are checking your perceptions. You are doing your own work and checking in with your partner to find out if what you think they may have meant by something they said or did was actually their intention or if you read something into it from your own unfinished emotional business.
A good way to start is: "I'm thinking about something you said and wondering if you meant this ____________________ or _____________________? Make sure you keep "maybe it's me" as a potential option for discussion.
The answer and discussion that follows your question will help you decide if you have created something in your own perception that isn't shared by your partner (something you should work on individually) or if your fears and insecurities are real (helping you evaluate if this is the relationship for you or if more relationship work should be done with this person).
Every relationship comes to the place where developmentally each partner needs to heal his or her own "unfinished business" at just the same moment that their partner is coming up against the same crisis. Relationships create this dynamic. However, it doesn't usually come up early in relationship. If this happens early on, it’s a sign of probable incompatibility. Or that you need to do more of your own work before seeking relationship.
Tamara Bess, LMFT – www.2btru2you.com
When exploring feelings and thoughts, check in with your intentions, be mindful of how long you have known him and listen to your wise mind or intuition on whether sharing your feelings and thoughts is to enhance and create a connection or if it is a way to try and rush or attach.
The way to do this, is to be aware of or at least want to know if your feelings are fear based or have an alternative motive.
Many times, women are seeking to be understood, hoping they can find understanding in their partner and then find that he becomes overwhelmed or not interested. Therefore, slow down, take your time, and listen to your heart.
Begin to explore how to be present with someone without talking.
In fact, if you can be with someone and not feel pressured to talk, just enjoy each other's company, that is a clue you have a receptive partner. Ironically, the less you say can create a more meaningful conversation, this is not to say healthy verbal communication is not as good, it will just have more depth. Therefore, practice just being with him. Notice when you are eager to fill in the quiet with verbal nattering or feeling anxious if you are both not talking.
Be mindful of what that impulse is saying to you, perhaps process with your therapist or if you are at a point, you could perhaps share with him "isn't it funny how I feel the impulse to say things when I have nothing to say." Then inspiration can come and words can express perhaps more your feelings and thoughts.
Lisa Bahar, MA, LMFT - www.lcbahar.wix.com
Intimacy is being seen and known as the person you truly are.
--- Amy Bloom
Although sharing your innermost feelings, fears and insecurities to the man you love is essential to developing at deeper connection with him, it can be frightening at times.
You don’t want to come across as needy or clingy, which may have the affect of pushing your man away. You do want to come from a position of inner strength where being vulnerable is a way of showing your commitment to the relationship. You are, in a sense, sacrificing yourself for a deeper connection as a way to resolve differences, getting your needs met and increasing the intimacy in your relationship. Knowing how to share those feelings is essential because the process can either make the relationship better or destroy it.
What can a woman do to resolve this dilemma?
Follow the tips below to increase clarity of communication, deepen your connection and be seen as the woman you truly are.
First of all, know what you are feeling and why.
Feelings, negative as well as positive, are acceptable and valid for you. They come and go. Feelings just are part of your life experience. When trying to identify what you are feeling, pay close attention to your bodily sensations. There is a definite mind-body connection related to feeling states so take notice what your body is feeling. Blushing of the cheeks, for example can represent embarrassment. Do you feel tension in specific areas of your body? Unexpressed feelings may go inward and cause physical symptoms.
The three most difficult feelings to talk about are anger, sadness and fear. Tension felt in the upper back, neck and shoulders can signify anger. Chest and throat congestion can signify sadness, while stomach discomfort can represent fear.
As you scan your body for feeling states, it’s best to write down all of your concerns so that you can choose which one’s to talk about.
What do you fear? What is making you sad? What is making you angry? If you have fears of talking to your partner, where is that coming from? Has he given you a reason to fear him or have you had a bad experience in the past that you’re bringing into this relationship? You may need professional help to figure this out.
As you formulate what you want to talk to your man about, make sure your statements begin with “I feel…” or “I felt…” and fill in what you are feeling (i.e, sad, disappointed, neglected, happy, angry, scared) when you……..(identify the behavior displayed or omitted). By avoid using the term “you,” such as “You made me feel...…” at the beginning of your statement, you avoid blaming your partner for how you feel as this will likely cause defensiveness rather than empathy. “I feel sad that your long working hours don’t leave much time for us to be together and I miss that” is a better statement than “You never spend time with me anymore.” The former statement while most likely result in a caring, empathic response while the latter one may get a defensive one.
Do not make him responsible for your feelings.
You are responsible for your own feelings and, thus, have the power to find solutions to make yourself feel better. Approach him from a place of wholeness, where you will be fine with or without him. You want to be your real self with him, to be authentic and vulnerable. This will encourage him to feel safe and be vulnerable with you.
Choose a time when your man is in a receptive mood for talking.
Ask him when it would be a good time to talk. If he’s tired, grumpy or hungry, it’s not going to be a good time to get his undivided attention. Make sure you are in a calm, relaxed state of mind, using a soft voice tone as your partner will more likely be receptive to listening to you. Practicing deep breathing exercises before your discussion can help you remain calm.
When you do decide to share your concerns with your partner, start out the conversation with something positive about your relationship and then, say that you’d like to discuss something that makes you a bit nervous but that it’s important to share your feelings him. Remember to breath deeply as this will help you communicate your thoughts more clearly, leading to a deeper connection and enhanced trust between the two of you.
Dr. Joanne Wendt – www.drjoannewendt.com
Let’s imagine Mary is going on a 3rd date with a man she likes. They have common interests and have had fun on their dates. But Mary would like to share more about her thoughts and feelings. She also fears doing so might turn him off. How should she proceed?
First, Mary needs to be clear on what kind of a man she wants.
If she wants someone who connects emotionally, she will have to be willing to find out if he is capable of intimacy. This takes courage and some confidence.
How might Mary go about this on their next date?
As preparation, Mary worked on her confidence. She reminded herself that she deserves someone kind; and someone who has a capacity for empathy. She reminded herself that if he wasn’t the right guy, she’d rather move on. She vowed not to indulge parts of her that felt desperate that she would never find someone. Instead, she actively chose to trust that if this guy were not right, she’d find someone else.
So, Mary on the 3rd date decided she would ask a probing question.
After they ate, Mary, light-heartedly said, “I think you’re really great. I have enjoyed spending time with you. I want to get to know you more. I thought it might be good, before we go further, to share what we are both looking for in a relationship.” Very direct!
Mary breathed deeply to calm her anxiety. She knew she’d learn a lot about him if she just remembered to listen and watch how he responded.
When we make ourselves vulnerable, like Mary did, we fear judgment and become self-conscious. In those moments, we often stop paying attention to the person we are with.
Here’s a trick I taught Mary to avoid feeling self-conscious and to help her stay present and strong in herself.
“Make sure at all times you are looking at him through your own eyes. You need to judge him (watch him, listen to him. Etc.) to see if he’s worth another date,” I suggested.
Mary made sure she was observing him.
Seeing how he responded to her suggestion would tell her a lot about him. This was the moment she would learn if he passed HER test, not the other way around.
“I am looking for someone who wants a true partnership. I want someone to share my thoughts, fears, and dreams with and who wants to do share in the same way with me. Then she asked him, “What do you look for in relationships?”
She listened to his response and also how he said it—his non-verbal behavior. Did he act put-off by question? Did he seem interested or pleased? Did he smile? Did he look tense or uncomfortable? Did he come back with a sarcastic or nasty quip?
The way he answered told Mary a great deal about her date. Then she must ask herself, “Did I like his response?”
The rest unfolds from there.
Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW - www.hilaryjacobshendel.com
The most powerful elixir for real love is YOU.
To find, keep, and build a lasting love, you just need to be you - your authentic, unadulterated self. This is what I call essence, because it’s really true, nobody can be YOU like you can.
Unfortunately, it is easy to think if we were smarter, thinner, richer or funnier, then a man will love us. Or, if we hide our complaints, our baggage, our pain, our hurts, then he won’t run away. But none of that, I promise you, is what a good relationship is based on.
All the best marriages and longest relationships that you will ever see are the ones where both people can really be themselves. When we are in love, we love who our partners really are. We love how they are, how they think, how they feel. We love their funny little mannerisms and quirks, the way they walk, their crooked smiles, and the way they say our name. We might even love their snoring! Pretty much, when a love is right, we love every little thing about them. And vice versa!
If you want a relationship like that, then you need to go into the relationship like that – by being real.
Be you. Tell the truth. Tell him what you like. Tell him what you love. Tell him what you care about, what you dream about, tell him what you’re scared about, too. Share with him your innermost feelings, your doubts and your fears. Let him show up for you. Give him the chance to be there for you, to encourage you and support you. If he is the right man for you, he will want to. He really will.
Love is based on trust. And, honest communication is the bridge that builds that trust. Where that line is drawn describes the level of how much real intimacy there can be.
So, here are the 3 rules to help you learn to be yourself, share your feelings, and be YOU.
1. Tell the truth of how you feel.
2. Use feelings to express that truth – this is really important. A man prioritizes by feeling not by logic. They will tell you the opposite. Explain it, they will say. Tell me the logic, they will insist. But they are simply trying to be in control. For what really moves your man – are your emotions.
3. When he understands, let him know. Kiss him, love him, SHOW him, how much you appreciate his understanding. This will encourage him, not degrade him, and make it worth his while to listen to your feelings.
The bottom line is: deep intimacy requires deep trust.
The more you can share your heart with your man, the more he can show up for you. And, if you share these intimate feelings with him and he isn’t interested, then that becomes valuable information too, and will also help you know if he is right for you or not. A good man will want to be there for you. A man that really loves you, wants to get to know you, and wants to know you more and more.
So, be brave, ladies. Take the chance to speak your heart to your guy.
“I like it when...” “I don’t like it when...”
Tell him. A good man wants to get it right. He wants to be your hero. He wants to share his life with you...TOO.
Diana Lang, Counselor and Author of Opening to Meditation – www.dianalang.com
Do you want to know what men really think? I asked a few, single men their opinion on this topic. I was surprised to learn that men want emotionally intimacy too, but may be afraid to ask for it for fear of rejection.
Below are four key elements to consider as you take the leap, and share your feelings, fears, and insecurities with your potential partner.
1. Make it safe and simple.
Do not force your date to share his feelings if he is not ready. Share a little at a time and see how he responds. How does he handle it? Does he shut down or does he seem open to hearing more about your feelings? Use “I” statements such as I feel sad, scared, confused about X, Y, Z. Show him that you can label your own feelings, and you have the capacity to manage them.
2. Be responsible for your own feelings.
Men do not like it when women complain or whine to get their needs met. It feels manipulative. Be aware of HOW you share your feelings. What is the tone? Do you lash out? Do you fall apart? Practice sharing your feelings without blaming him for them. For example, “I feel insecure when you don’t call me back at the time you promised. I want to feel secure in our relationship. Could you please call me back at the time you promised.” A quality man will hear this, and make adjustments. If does not improve his behavior, then you have learned some valuable information about him, and can decide if it the relationship is worth the continued effort.
3. Be comfortable with your own needs.
Everyone has needs. Everyone has insecurities and limitations. Learn to ask for what you need in a respectful manner. If he cannot provide it, then decide if you want to compromise and how much. Ask him about his needs, and how you can accommodate them. Each of you may have some needs that are MUSTS and others that are PREFERENCES. High quality men value communication and want to contribute to your happiness.
4. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
So many women hold back or are afraid to show their vulnerable side. All relationships require some level of risk to go to a deeper level. This is why it is critical that you first learn how to take care of yourself, respect yourself, and have good boundaries. Practice being vulnerable with little things and see how he responds. What do you notice about him? This will build your confidence and allow you to deepen the relationship at a pace that feels safe and comfortable for you.
Some men find strong women sexy. There is strength in having the courage to share your feelings, fears and insecurities. Surround yourself with good friends and family who can support you. Educate yourself, increase your skill set in how to create and sustain fulfilling relationships, and then take the leap.
Dr. Shannon Tran – www.shannontranphd.com
Anger and resentment occur in relationships, often because we have expectations or feelings that we don’t express.
There is a difference between expressing insecurity in the relationship and sharing your thoughts, feelings and normal fears. Tone and body language are important, often more than the actual words you use.
A demanding or anxious woman is not attractive. Excessive possessiveness is a turn off. Consider whether or not your expectation is reasonable. In a healthy relationship each has independent goals and friendships and is able to support the other’s independence. If you are depressed or anxious, you may need to consult a therapist. Your partner can’t fix these.
Both of you need to be happy with the amount of togetherness and distance in the relationship.
There is no problem in expressing what you need, but an unwillingness to compromise on the part of either is a red flag. A deal breaker is another thing. If you absolutely need something in the relationship and your partner is unable or unwilling to provide that, the two of you will not be happy together.
I would like to recommend a Couples Dialogue or Imago Dialogue originally conceived by Dr. Harville Hendrix and his wife, The Art of Seeing Things from Your Partner’s Point of View. You can also find online “How to Use the Clearing Model” on youtube.com. This video illustrates clearing between two co-workers but can be applied to a clearing between two intimate partners.
In an intimate relationship it is necessary to be assertive, but if your partner isn’t open to your expressing your feelings in a respectful way, he may not be the one for you.
Dr. Mary Ella Viehe, PhD, LMFT - www.makingloveinmarriage.com
When thinking about the relationship, make sure you are being present focused and ask yourself what point is the relationship actually at.
Men and women often think differently and might move at different paces. Women have a tendency to jump ahead when dating a guy they are interested in. They start picturing a long term future together and are steps ahead of where their partner is. Sometimes when this happens, one's expectations are not realistic to the current state of the relationship. That is where you find yourself scaring a guy off. When you feel upset about something in the relationship or feel a need isn't being met, first just check in with yourself and make sure your emotions are based on the here and now.
Listen to what your partner is saying.
People sometimes have selective hearing and hear what they want. In the movie "How to Be single," one of the leading men proves this by going up to a girl he is casually dating and giving this whole speech about how he really likes her but he wants to keep things casual and see other people. At the end her response is "Aww that is so sweet I really like you too." She completely ignored the second part of what he said and only focused on the first. While this is a movie and a little bit extreme of an example, it has a basis in reality. Often times if you really listen to what your partner says and the feedback they give about the relationship you will be able to gauge accurately where their head is and what they think about the relationship.
It is also important not to project meaning onto things your partner does and says.
A problem that is not there can be created when this is done. Therefore, make sure to react to facts, not assumed meanings. For example, someone was just telling me that her boyfriend is at camp for the summer. The camp is a 3 hours from her house and they talked about her coming up to visit him. He told her that he feels that she has to travel all that time just to see him. She then started thinking "Oh My God, he doesn't want to see me, he must not really like me." When checking the facts, she can see that he never said or implied that.
Once you have done all of this, how do you then express your feelings, fears, and insecurities?
Describe, express, assert, reinforce. This means describe the facts of the situation, express your feelings, assert what you want, and reinforce the other person, showing them what they can get out of meeting your needs. This makes it very clear what you want without putting the other person on the defensive.
Alyssa Mairanz, LMHC - www.alyssamairanztherapy.com
Falling in love, what a wonderful feeling! It’s hopeful, exciting, euphoric -- and terrifying! Does he feel the same way? (Will he still after he knows the real me, quirks, insecurities, and all?)
Here are Laurie Curtis’s best practices and tips for connection, congruence, and optimal confidence that just may lead to lasting commitment:
1. Take responsibility for your own happiness and your part in building this relationship by laying a strong foundation. Making choices that protect and preserve happiness will lead you to fulfillment in your relationship more than struggling for fulfillment through the relationship will lead you to happiness.
2. You aren’t the only one with insecurities here. Create a connection that is real, solid, and grounded. Respond to your partner with companionship in mind. Passionate love is wild and wonderful, but the love between companions keeps you passionately intertwined.
3. Be a friend, act like a friend, have a gentle, optimistic approach. Set the tone as soon as possible by always turning toward your partner in conversations and attempts to connect. Don’t back away, ignore, or minimize his sensitivities. Listen with the same attentiveness you appreciate when you are the one talking.
4. Seek to be known in your relationship rather than validated. This is excellent advice throughout life. Spend time going within, realize, and own your values. Do what YOU feel right about doing and resist doing anything your gut doesn’t positively resonate with. In time it becomes easier and easier to recognize the difference staying true to yourself makes. You will feel it in your breathing, heart rate, posture, etc. when your decisions and actions are authentic. Positive resonance also keeps your thoughts clear and allows you to express yourself more fluently.
5. Stick with your solid sense of self and recognize when an insecurity stems from something you might be over-reacting to that is based on past experience unrelated to the current situation. If you are reacting to something from your past, help your partner understand that and address it so that you won’t revisit a problem your current partner had nothing to do with.
6. See your partner as an ally. Approach needs for improvement, differences, and problems with the idea that you are seeking harmony in the relationship as a team. Though you want to be in a place of mutual connection before you address a concern or problem, the sooner you tackle any conflict, the easier it will be to solve it without adding built-up resentment.
7. Always express what you want, rather than what you don’t want, and express it with some information that explains your specific need and reasoning. Learn to say, “I need you to really listen to me right now.” You might add, “And I thank you in advance.” Approach a request with your desired outcome in mind. “I would like… because…”
8. Learning to interact and assert yourself positively, actively, constructively, and authentically assures that you make your genuine needs known, builds companionship, and leads to reciprocal trust that will keep you intertwined!
Laurie Curtis, CPPC, CiPP – www.curtisease.com
We know everyone has fears and insecurities.
I often hear women express fears about sharing their wants and needs with their partner. They worry that doing so will drive them away. Yet there is usually no evidence in the relationship to support that fear.
Despite the lack of evidence, we aren’t alone in this self-doubt and worry. But, we are alone in the moment when those feelings arise. It seems so much easier to just avoid those feelings and forget all about them.
Unfortunately, avoiding fears and insecurities, only grows that story of self-doubt or that you are not enough.
It fosters the belief that your partner won’t listen to your needs, or that he/she will think “I am too ____ (fill in the blank).” The more we understand our old fear stories, the better we will be at rewriting them.
Acknowledging your fears about a relationship helps you know yourself better.
It also helps build stronger foundations in your relationships. By giving yourself permission to go inward and be curious about your fears, you gain more insight into you. You can learn how to be more compassionate toward yourself and your fears. We don’t always realize the importance of self-compassion when we’re trying to overcome our fears and build relationships.
Relationships are all about practicing.
Practicing being vulnerable. Practicing self-compassion. Practicing the belief that no matter what happens you are enough. Practicing assertiveness versus passivity and avoiding conflict. Practicing setting healthy boundaries versus not holding others accountable for their behaviors.
If the other person is unaware of your needs, how can they meet them? Expressing our needs and want to someone else can feel scary and vulnerable. However, avoiding fear and remaining silent about your needs only keeps you stuck in your pain. For example, I feel hurt or disappointed when you do not call me and you are going to be late to dinner and what I need from you is a phone call or text letting me know you will be late. I think you take me for granted or I am not important to you when you are late.
To improve self-compassion try practicing mindfulness.
Some examples of mindfulness exercises are meditation, yoga, moving meditation, journaling, and deep breathing. These various methods can improve your awareness of where you feel the fears in your body. They can help you explore the fearful thoughts and increase your ability to respond vs react to a fear or insecurity. When fear comes knocking, which it will, say “Hi” and let it know you want to understand what it is you’re so afraid of. You will continue to gain confidence in yourself by sharing your feelings and thoughts.
Nicole Burgess, LMFT – www.nicolecburgess.com
Communication is not always easy, and it can be especially tough to share your thoughts and feelings if you grew up in a home where your caregivers were not particularly comfortable sharing their own openly and honestly. Many individuals (myself included here) did not learn this growing up. For them, this means learning to communicate needs to be a conscious and deliberate effort not to just repeat what you’ve seen growing up.
Healthy communication of thoughts and feelings requires a practice in mindfulness to tune into your own thoughts and feelings before you can really become adept at sharing them.
Such mindful awareness allows you to become more familiar with your needs. The more you communicate these the greater likelihood at getting them met, but there is a certain level of courage required as your partner always has the right to say no.
Most humans are uncomfortable with the idea of risking such rejection. This fear of vulnerability can be greatly normalized though with the recognition that such fear is universal.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable by sharing your thoughts and feelings is what creates deeper connection as it invites others to do the same.
This can require some patience and compassion with yourself and your partner. You may not get it perfectly right as you are beginning. Just as a child may stumble awkwardly a bit as he or she learns to walk, so too might you fumble. This is necessary. This is part of the learning process.
Be gentle with yourself and practice identifying your feelings first followed by simply stating ‘I’ statements such as “I feel ….when this happens” or “I feel …..when you say ….” The key is to keep a healthy perspective on your emotions.
Since emotions are neither good nor bad, right or wrong, you can let go of judgment around them.
Feelings exist as messengers for our needs, so acknowledge them and what they are trying to tell you.
Do not get caught up in feeling shame about your fear or fear about your pain. Just use them by asking ‘What am I feeling and what do I need?’ It is also important to remember there is a difference between having an emotion and acting on the emotion. Emotions don’t last forever, so it can often be helpful to wait at least 5 minutes if the emotion is strong before responding.
Emotions are also not facts, so although they can feel powerful in the moment, you do not have to agree on an emotion but rather accept your own and your partners.
Be willing to radically accept your emotions as they arise and you will become better at accepting others.
Having this type of supportive climate and culture around emotions in your relationship allows both individuals to be themselves without the need to mask or hide the unpleasant or the pleasant. It means accepting the whole picture and full range of feelings in order to know each other fully and more deeply. This level of intimacy can only strengthen your connection and deepen the bond.
Alanya (Lanie) Smith, MPS, ATR - www.integrativearttherapy.net
Women ask me all the time, “How do I express what I need from my man without being pushy or demanding?”
This has to do with making requests from your feminine energy. Being feminine has such a huge power attached to it, especially once you learn how to communicate from that place.
Everyone has the dynamics of both masculine and feminine energy inside of them – and we draw upon those each of those energies in different areas of our lives.
Masculine energy is all about doing, planning, thinking, and making decisions.
Feminine energy is receptive. It’s all about being, receiving, experiencing, and expressing.
In order to get your needs met while staying in your feminine energy, it’s all about the way you express those needs.
The basic template is: “I feel __________.”
Fill in the blank with an emotion – don’t say, “I feel that you should __________.” Try to not even use the word “you” here. Keep in mind that men don’t like to be told what to do or what they “should” be doing.
This works best when it’s a POSITIVE emotion. An example would be, “I feel cherished when my car door is opened for me...” – rather than, “I feel uncared for when you don’t open my car door.”
This isn’t about manipulating a man into doing whatever you want – it’s about expressing your needs around things that TRULY matter to you.
When a man does what you’ve requested, you want to express your appreciation. This is the fuel that’s going to drive him in the relationship.
Remember, it’s not about him and what he’s doing or not doing – it’s about YOU and what makes you feel good.
Once you make your request in this way, you want to lean back and watch what he does.
Does he step up or not? Does he take your feelings into account, or does he dismiss them?
If a man doesn’t take your feelings into account – or if he doesn’t want you to feel cherished by him – move on! That’s not a good guy to be with.
A good, masculine-energy man will want his woman to feel cherished by HIM specifically. This is biological.
If you’re with a good man who wants to make you happy – and you make your request but he doesn’t step up right away, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about you.
Sometimes it may take a man a little while to get into the habit of doing something new.
If that’s the case, don’t keep dropping hints – make direct requests while staying in your feminine energy. Generally men are pretty literal and aren’t that inferential – they don’t always “get” your hints.
Don’t make him wrong because he hasn’t been doing something – make it about YOU and what you like, and how it feels when you get it.
If he's the right man for you, this will bring him CLOSER when done correctly!
Helena Hart, M.A. - www.helenahartcoaching.com
Creating intimacy and connection in our relationships requires us to be vulnerable.
Is it scary? You bet! Does it create the potential for us to be hurt? Absolutely!
Despite the risk of being criticized, judged, or rejected, vulnerability is at the very core of how we cultivate and create connection and belonging in relationships.
In order to receive what we need, we have to ask for it. We have to find the courage within to be seen as who we are, despite the potential for being hurt.
When we refrain from expressing ourselves out of fear for how our partners may view us, we create a lose-lose situation. For one, we deny ourselves the opportunity for self-expression, and two, we hide who we are in order to further a misconceived perception of ourselves. When we buy into the notion that by expressing our needs, wants, or desires equates to being clingy, we create unhealthy relationships.
We are all hardwired for connection in relationships. It is how we survive and it is how we thrive.
When struggling with when and how to share your emotions with your partner take some time to reflect on what is holding you back, what your concerns may be and how past experiences either support or negate your concerns.
Explore how to make small, consistent and direct changes. Use simple "I" statements (ex. I appreciate when you text/call me to ask about my day).
Avoid blaming, attacking, or becoming passive aggressive in your attempt to share your feelings. Create opportunities for you and your partner to share your feelings, fears, and insecurities with an open mind and heart.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion as you navigate the murky waters of vulnerability. The path towards self-expression may not be comfortable or easy, but it is possible and worth it!
Elana Schechtman-Gil, LMFT - www.elanaschechtman.com
Though it is sad to say, many women have a tendency to hide their true feelings in a new relationship, because they are afraid of appearing to be too “needy.”
Interestingly, men do not seem to have nearly as much trouble stating their needs! So who do you think is more likely to get their needs met?
Ding! Ding! You guessed it! Men!
This is an imbalance that does not bode well for the rest of the relationship – it’s NOT that men should NOT get their needs met – only that women ALSO deserve to have their voices heard about what THEY need.
So how do we do this, you might ask?
Well, first of all, even though you may be nervous about asking for something, say, emotional support when you are going through a bad time, you still need to do it. This is called Acting As If. Acting As If means that you Act As If you feel like you deserve a certain thing from your loved one – EVEN if deep down you feel that you don’t. Then you Speak Up.
Another way of thinking about this is that it is pretending for a good cause – and that cause is YOU! Your needs are important – and if you don’t start practicing asking for what you need your chances of actually getting what you need go down significantly.
Getting down to practicalities – here is some language to help you– so think of it as a two-pronged approach: first you have to change your thinking (Acting As If) and then you have to change your language (Speaking Up).
Here are two examples– one that goes badly and one that goes well. See if you can tell the difference…
You: Honey, Hmmm…when I am feeling really blue, can you please just hold me tight and tell me everything’s going to be okay?
Him: I don’t know…that seems pretty weird, cause what if everything’s NOT going to be okay? Then I would be lying.
You: Oh…okay…that wasn’t really the point but – oh, never mind.
You: Honey, Hmmm…when I am feeling really blue, can you please just hold me tight and tell me everything’s going to be okay?
Him: I don’t know…that seems pretty weird, cause what if everything’s NOT going to be okay? Then I would be lying.
You: (Acting As If) No, what I mean is that I just need you to give me a hug and TELL me that everything is going to be okay – JUST because it makes me feel better when you do that – (Speaking Up) could you do that for me?
Him: Oh, okay, if it’s THAT important to you.
You: Yeah – it is – and thank you – this means a lot!
See what I mean? Not this this is necessarily easy to do, but it IS possible!! And the more you practice, the better you’ll get. And the better you get, the stronger your relationship will be. So start practicing!!
Kirsten Lind Seal, PhD, LMFT - www.kirstenlindseal.com
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” These famous words penned by Henry Ford are as applicable to relationships as they are to cars. To deepen connection and commitment and overcome fear, we must do something different.
The challenge: “What can I do differently?”
Four things influence us: motivation, positive feelings, negative feelings, and fears.
Often, two different motivations happen at the same time; one of which I’m consciously aware, and the other I’m not. Bringing that secondary motivation to the surface and voicing it positively impacts relationships.
As my kids were growing up, I was constantly checking to see, “Do you have homework?”
Never once did I vocalize: “I love you and I want you to do your best in school so you can have a fulfilling life. Completing homework is an important step.” I think if I had said the latter instead, there would have been less nagging and more self-motivation.
The same is true for partners.
Vocalizing my motivations deepens connection.
Besides identifying my reasons for why I want or don’t want to say or do something, recognizing those co-occurring positive and negative feelings brings more awareness to the range of emotions experienced about any given topic or situation.
“Part of me wants to do this, another part of me wants to do that.” “I want to go to the movie, but at the same time, I’d like to curl up on the couch in my pajamas eating popcorn.” Have your ever felt that way?
I have. Lots of times. As I think about sharing best practices and tips on how to share thoughts, feelings, fears and insecurities, realization hits. Far too often only the negative feeling got expressed, or just the positive, not both. Going forward, dedicate yourself to listing all the feelings, simultaneously for and against, and sharing them with significant others, during the same conversation.
Then there are those hidden fears.
When they exist outside of awareness, they usually drive behaviors. Bringing them to the surface and talking about them shrinks how big the fear feels. Talking about them takes us out of powerlessness and we can figure out what action to take to eliminate them. “I’m afraid you will not want to be with me if I tell you about my fears and insecurities.” That’s the old us talking, and where has it gotten us? The person leaves, probably because we were avoiding vulnerability. We lacked courage to be honest about those fears looming large inside.
Identifying and leading out with your motivation, vocalizing both positive and negative feelings, naming and bringing to light hidden fears is easy to grasp, yet hard to apply consciously and consistently.
Because this approach is new and different, it will take months for it to become a natural part of how you communicate. It’s worth the effort! If you say what you’ve always needed to say, you’ll get the relationship you’ve always wanted.
Charlene Benson, LPC, NCC - www.bensontherapist.com
There is no doubt that relationships can be difficult. Further complicating things is society’s suggestion that, when two people fall in love, they magically meet all of each other's needs. As women, we can become particularly disappointed when we realize the romantic fantasies we grew up with are a far cry from real life experience. Love alone is not enough to sustain a relationship.
For a relationship to work, you must be willing to have tough conversations that involve sharing feelings, fears, insecurities and expectations. We often assume that because there's chemistry, everything else will fall into place. Hesitating to share our feelings, we run the risk of wasting time and energy on a partner who is either unable or unwilling to meet our needs.Most relationships end because someone’s expectations aren’t getting met. This can build resentment and create distance.
These kinds of conversations can often be awkward and difficult.
Here are a few tips for expressing yourself with clarity and confidence:
1. Get Clear. Before express yourself to your partner, spend some time exploring your fears, desires, expectations and insecurities. Start to ask yourself what part of my feelings are about my past and childhood and what parts pertain to my relationship today? Grab a piece of paper and write down a description of your ideal relationship.
2. Be Honest. Women often hesitate to share their true feelings because they fear it will push their new partner away. Being vulnerable and transparent in the early stages of a relationship is a great way to set the tone for open and honest communication going forward. Try not to minimize your feelings and expectations. You want your partner to know the real you, not some mask you're wearing.
3. Be Consistent. Our needs and desires can evolve over time. Our fundamental beliefs and values, however, tend to stay the same. It can be tempting to change or shift your beliefs in order to please your partner. If you want a relationship that is genuine and authentic, it's best to remain true to the values and core beliefs that make you the person you are. You want your communication to come from a place of strength, so your 'yes' is always your 'yes' and your 'no' is always your 'no'.
4. Be Self Referred. This means use “I” statements instead of blaming “you “statements. In order to create an atmosphere of safety between you and your partner you need to approach them from a place of sharing from self and not blame in order to be heard, validated and understood which is what we all want. Stating direct needs instead of complaints will get your needs met with much more success.
Relationships can challenge us in ways we never thought possible and enable us to grow. New relationships in particular can serve as an opportunity for us to get clear on what we truly desire for ourselves. We can save ourselves unnecessary hurt and disappointment by identifying and expressing our true feelings, being honest about our needs and expectations, standing in the truth of who we are at our core. Never underestimate the power of authenticity in your relationships or yourself.
Dr. Dori Gatter - www.drdorigatter.com
Expressing our feelings, fears and insecurities in relationships can feel scary and overwhelming… it takes true strength to embody the vulnerability necessary to truly relate with another. Once you can push past those fears, the richness you experience personally and in your relationships from truly communicating is amazing.
So how does it happen?
With awareness, with love, with respect, with truth, and with real compassion,
Let’s explore these key words;
Awareness is about stepping back in a situation & really objectively exploring it, looking at it from different sides, truly coming to an understanding of how you feel. Once you have that awareness you can then express yourself from that place of clarity which will assist your partner with feeling considered rather than attacked.
Love and Respect… put the two together, because they truly go hand in hand. Sometimes when expressing ourselves in relationships we come from a reactive space. Relationships are giant mirrors and it can feel painful when we are triggered by our partners. Maybe they are mirroring old patterns in your life, jealousies, fears, feelings of unworthiness, challenging your ability to express your truth, or you have a huge decision to work through, etc.
Things can get intense in relationships and they require work that is why it’s so important to remember that they are your partner! You are in this situation because this is a person you love. When you can remember that you will always move from a space of respect in relating. From that place, though there may be conflict, you can work through it with love & reverence. When you do work through it, it’s totally worth it and profoundly filling and enriching, nourishing for the soul.
Another important aspect is truth…by that I mean being really honest. True honesty is the deepest intimacy you can experience with a person. To truly connect requires honesty, starting with you. You have to truly know and receive yourself fully, before anyone else can. When you have that relationship you can be completely transparent and receive the fullness of your partner, intertwining your hearts together as one.
The last piece I feel is having ultimate compassion, for yourself & your partner. It’s being brave just being here on this journey. It takes great strength just to show up and share your heart, so don’t make it any more difficult. Have endless compassion and you will continue to deepen your bond.
Ashley Davene, Relationship Counselor - www.ashleydavene.com
In every relationship, there comes a time when you may want to tell your partner something important, but aren’t sure how to bring it up to them. You don’t know how they may react and you don’t want this to negatively influence your relationship. However, it is important to say how you feel versus keeping it inside and allowing it to build.
Knowing a few simple tips on how communicate what you feel towards a new partner, may help you really create a longer-lasting bond.
1. Being in a good mindset: The best thing you can do when trying to communicate something important, is to take a step back and calm your mind. If you are in the middle of a heated argument or are too upset, you can ultimately diminish your argument because your emotions are clouding your statements.
By taking a step back you are allowing your mind to be in the driver’s seat while your heart and emotions take a nap in the back.
2. Trust in your partner: So you love this person and for good reason. They treat you right and you want to tell them something sensitive in hopes that it will create a longer future with them. So why do you believe that they will not want to hear it? We trust them in other aspects of our lives, but when not in this instance?
If we truly believe that this person is someone we want to continue to have a relationship with, we must trust that they want to know what is bothering us and how to fix it. If they don’t then that tells us something else…that maybe the person we thought we wanted may not be it. Either way, we gain some valuable knowledge about our relationship.
3. Change your language: so you probably heard this one before…use “I” language instead of “you” language. I feel the eye rolls as I type this, but it is a POWERFUL tool to use when trying to communicate something important to our partner. Especially because it opens our partners up to listening to what we have to say instead of being defensive. It allows them to feel your pain without feeling attacked themselves.
One good way to think about how to use “I” language is to think about what is the underlying problem. For example: if you are trying to tell you partner that you wish they would take more initiative, instead of saying “you don’t do anything to show me you care,” you can say “I really enjoyed when we would go out every weekend, how can we get back to that?”
Even that example places the responsibility on both partners which shows your boyfriend/girlfriend that you are willing to make changes with them.
While talking to our partners about something important, especially in the early stages of our relationship may seem scary, but it is essential in EVERY relationship to have open lines of communication.
Jessica Jefferson, MA, MS - www.cloud09therapy.com
When it comes to relationships many of us feel burdened by our fears and insecurities. We strive to be loved in spite of our fears and insecurities, instead of viewing them as precious pieces of who we authentically are.
Our willingness to be vulnerable determines our potential to build deep connections, and we as humans have a deep need for such intimacy. Some of us bury this need because society stigmatizes vulnerability and brands it as weakness, but this doesn't make our desire to be truly seen go away.
When we consciously deny ourselves of our needs, our subconscious mind doesn’t give up the hunger. We will unknowingly manipulate and build resentment towards our partners until we either cave in and allow ourselves to be vulnerable or completely push our partners away and ruin the relationship.
When we are open and honest about our fears and insecurities we bring the full truth of who we are to the table. We are not separate from our insecurities, so when we try to omit them from ourselves we are not being completely genuine, and we deny ourselves the opportunity to gauge true compatibility with our partner.
When we surrender to vulnerability we set a standard for open communication and give our partner permission to be vulnerable as well. When we decide to take the leap and confess our fears, the following tips are beneficial.
1. Listen to your feelings. Being triggered in relationships is a sign that we’ve re-injured an unhealed wound. When we try to suppress surfaced feelings it feels restrictive and tension builds. When we express feelings we experience release. Allow yourself to move in the direction of relief by expressing your fears and insecurities as they emerge, even if it feels counter intuitive.
2. Own your vulnerability. Respect yourself and your feelings and don’t be sorry for having them. When you present your fears and insecurities as if they are detriments to being accepted, they are much more likely to be received as such.
3. Don’t cut corners. Don’t hide behind humor or downplay the significance of your fear. Muster the courage to look your partner in the eyes and honestly confess your insecurities. Your partner will respect this brave and straight forward approach.
Unfortunately, when it comes to being vulnerable, there are no guarantees ensuring a positive reception, that’s why it feels so scary. When we confess our fears we risk losing our partners, but when we don’t we risk much more. We risk living a life where we are divided from a part of ourselves and will slowly begin to feel like a stranger to not only our partners, but ourselves. When it comes to sharing our fears, happiness is always worth the risk.
Holly Niederhofer, BA - www.yourbrilliantlight.com
It is hard to talk about feelings. It takes courage to sit with another human being and expose your vulnerability. Women often fear that expressing their feelings will overwhelm their partner and cause him to retreat from the relationship.
We ache to have our whole selves seen and loved but we also carry this fear that if we are truly seen, warts and all, we will be rejected. The dance that ultimately leads to long-lasting love and commitment involves moments of meeting in which our truth is revealed.
Revealing ourselves and expressing our truth to our partners is essential to the establishment of intimacy and commitment. But how do we start to talk about our difficult feelings?
1. Know your own feelings
In moments of fear, anger or shame we are often so full of raw feeling that we struggle to know what we’re experiencing and why. If you want your partner to understand you, it is best if the message is clear and clutter-free. Speak to your therapist or your friends. Talking it through will help you process the feelings and mentally sieve out the bits that don’t need to be expressed. Uncover the essence.
2. Be practical
You might want to express your feelings in the moment you feel them – like in the car on the way from his mother’s – but it is probably best to pick a more suitable time. Think about your partner’s emotions, what he is going through and when he is most receptive. This could be while you’re out walking or at home relaxing but don’t choose a time when he is preoccupied or dealing with his own difficult emotions.
You might be thinking this is unfair, that you should be able to express your feelings whenever you want to. Well yes, you can, but it might not go so well. It is a mature woman who can sit with her own difficult feelings and not have to dump them on her man in order to feel better.
3. Don’t expect immediate results
If your feelings are presented in such a way that there is no easy solution, the man in your life might be stumped. He might not know what to say or do immediately. Don’t take this as a sign that he doesn’t care or that he is going to run away. Give him time to think it over. Make it clear to him that he doesn’t need to provide a solution and that all you need from him is to hear you and understand you.
Carly Danielle Abramovitz, Psychologist - www.onthecouchwithcarly.com
Dating in 2016 is hard. Most people find mates online these days. With Tinder, Bumble, Its Just Lunch, Match, Plenty of Fish, E harmony, and I’m sure plenty of others; meeting people is most likely the easy part. If you are using the internet to find a partner; it is important in your profile to express what you are looking for as far as, a long term relationship, marriage/kids or just casual dating. Choosing people who are looking for the same things will take away the anxiety of coming on to strong, or scaring the man away.
Even if you meet someone through a friend or at a bar or social event; the conversation of “what are you looking for?’(in terms of a relationship, casual dating or perhaps a friendship) usually comes up sooner than later. Remember just because you both might be looking for the same thing in terms of a long term relationship; this does not necessarily mean you are the perfect match for each other.
Try to stay in the present moment and enjoy getting to know each other. When we can practice mindfulness (staying in the here and now) we can avoid any anxiety of the future and the unknown.
If we spend too much time second guessing ourselves as far as asking yourself:
Should I call him?
Should I text him?
Should I wait to hear from him since I text him last; we don’t let ourselves enjoy the newness and exciting feelings of a new relationship.
Let yourself enjoy it and feel the giddiness and euphoric feelings that come with a new relationship.
If you are worried about coming on too strong and scaring off the man; remember to keep your independence. You had your own life prior to this relationship. Try and remember to continue to nurture other friendships and relationships in your life. It is healthy even if you are in a relationship, to do some things that are separate of each other.
With all this information remember, if the relationship is meant to be and you both feel the same way about each other then it doesn’t matter how many times you call or text; you can’t and won’t scare your man off!
Trisha Swinton, LPC, LMFT – www.trishaswintoncounseling.com
Dating and relationships are wonderful parts of life and can also be challenging. Perhaps you are dating someone you are developing deeper feeling for, which you have been hoping to manifest but now that your relationship is evolving in that direction, you find yourself holding back. Revealing yourself in a romantic relationship can be scary and that fear can prevent you from moving forward in the way you would like, particularly when you have been previously hurt.
We all have different aspects of our personalities which serve us in different ways. There is a part of you that performs in your career and a part of you that is a daughter or mother. When it comes to fear, this is most likely a part of you that is holding back because it is the wounded part of you from a bad break-up or from your parent’s divorce or your own divorce. If this resonates, you may be wondering what to do.
First, acknowledge this part of you exists, honor that you have been previously hurt and choosing to be more open and vulnerable is scary.
Now, recognize there is a difference between being scared and your intuition – the inner voice that whispers or yells for you to pay attention. There may be a good reason you are holding back - you may be aware there is something about the relationship that needs your attention. If so, it would be wise to be mindful about how you move forward until the reservation is clear to you.
Second, if after tuning into this part of yourself, you feel it is a fear of being hurt again or a fear of something else, you’ll need to decide if you are ready to manage that fear yet.
This is where you honor your fear by naming it. I am afraid of….you may even try writing some answers to that prompt in a journal. In doing so, you may discover you have outgrown the fear or are ready to move forward in spite of it!
Finally, learn how to use assertive communication skills to share what you are experiencing with your romantic partner.
Assertive communication uses I statements when sharing.
I am afraid of letting my guard down.
I was abandoned by my father when I was a kid and I am working on trusting you.
I am enjoying spending time with you and need more time to feel more comfortable.
You can fill in the words following the “I am” - this too is a good journaling prompt.
Most importantly, before you can foster trust in a romantic relationship, you must work on the relationship with yourself. You can invite your scared parts to begin feeling heard as you develop a greater understanding of their needs in order to heal and release them.
Deb Del Vecchio-Scully, LPC, CMHS - www.debdelvecchioscully.com
When you’re faced with feelings, thoughts, and fears that you’d like to share with your partner, it can be overwhelming. Sometimes you may not know what exactly you’d like to say, or what these feelings really are, or they may be so unpleasant and difficult that you just want to blurt it out and get it over with as soon as possible.
One of the most important things you can do before blurting it out is to slow down and take a moment.
Just take one moment to breathe – inhale and exhale fully. Mindfulness – the practice of being in the present moment – can help you notice your own thoughts and emotions and how they affect you. Know that it is perfectly okay to have these feelings (whatever they might be). Perhaps say to yourself exactly how you feel, as a way of embodying and validating the emotion, ie. “I am feeling so overwhelmed right now”. Just sit with the emotion for a moment, and notice what comes up for you emotionally, physically, mentally. Notice if whatever’s coming up may want you to either pull away from your partner or seek comfort and closeness.
Sense the moment
It can be hard to wait when you feel a rush of emotion, but take a moment to sense the moment. Are you alone with your partner? Heading out the door? Beyond tired? Are they overwhelmed from a long day at work? I’m not saying to keep in your emotions, but simply be mindful that a connected and productive conversation can sometimes be better had in the right moment. Notice the impulse to plow through or inundate your partner the minute they walk in the door. Sensing the moment allows space for their own needs as well.
Say what you need to say
Use sentences that start with “I”. Ask your partner’s opinion of what you’ve said. Pause for breath, and notice if your partner looks completely inundated by what you’ve said. Take a break to sit quietly together or ask for a hug. Try to speak as kindly as you can, while still staying true to what you’d like to say. If you’re angry or disappointed in your partner, find a way to say it – keeping it in only serves to let feelings fester.
Connection is a two-way street
Be open to your partner’s thoughts and feelings – either in response to yours, or as they come up naturally. Allowing for an even exchange of thoughts, emotions and feelings within a relationship can help each partner feel equally heard, valued, and loved.
Maya Benattar, MA, MT-BC, LCAT - www.mayabenattar.com
Typically, women are more open, expressive and emotional in their communications within a romantic relationship than their male counterparts are. We connect by sharing our feelings with our significant other, though fear of coming across clingy or needy often holds us back from opening up.
On the flip side, by not being comfortable enough to share our thoughts and feelings openly and honestly we may rob ourselves of the deep intimate connection we seek and over time watch our relationship unravel from pent up resentment and anger. Sharing too little or too much can be a fine line we walk with our partners.
So what can we do about this?
Here are five tips on how to share your thoughts, fears, feelings, and insecurities with your partner in order to deepen your commitment and connection and build a happy, healthy relationship.
1. Define your goal. What is the purpose of opening up to your partner? What are you ultimately hoping to change or accomplish? Know exactly what you want from the start. In open, honest, and authentic relationships, very little is hidden from one another.
2. Timing is everything. Don’t expect to get your man’s full attention, for example, when his favorite sports team is on television, when he’s just gotten home from work, or when he’s heading out the door. Before diving into a touchy subject, ask your mate if it is a good time to talk and if not then, when.
3. Location, location, location. Making sure that you are in a place that is private, comfortable, and void of distractions should make the sharing of intimate thoughts and feelings more successful. The more controversial the topic to be discussed, the more careful you should be with “where” it occurs so that he’ll be more receptive.
4. Be respectful. No personal attacks, yelling, or name calling. If he is doing something that bothers you, be sure to address only the behavior and not attack him as a person. Talk to your significant other as you would your boss or best friend.
5. The “how” is just as important as the “what”. The content of a message—the actual words—make up only 7% of what is communicated. Most of what is expressed comes from body language, tone, and facial expressions. Being calm, factual, and prepared will help convey love, caring, and safety to help your partner be more open to what you have to say.
Use the tips above to develop solid communication skills for better conversational outcomes. Respect for your partner’s desires, feelings, and state of mind will increase the chances of him being open to hearing you and participating in the discussion.
Contrary to popular belief, men do want to hear how their women feel—they aren’t mind readers—so a little insight can go a long way in building a blissful relationship.
Deb Daufeldt, MA, NCC - www.newchaptersolutions.com
When dating it can be tricky to figure out how much or how little to share on dates and then in relationships. Often an overshare can cause someone to be scared away and under sharing can seem like you are distant, guarded and not ready for a relationship. It is important to follow an appropriate timeline for sharing so as to progress and get closer in an appropriate way.
First dates as a rule should generally be minimal sharing.
They should only include important parts of your life, deal breakers, and feelings regarding dating. Some examples of this are children and guidelines regarding dating and children. Expectations about dating whether it is preferred to go slow, is exclusive from the beginning or dating multiple partners is fine with both involved. Also as far as deal breakers of what would be a no go in the relationship. Deep feelings even surrounding these topics do not have to be added in at this point as this person is just starting to know you.
As dating occurs feelings can start to be added in as appropriate but in limited amounts.
Overshares could be seen as moving too fast and trying to elevate the level of the relationship beyond where it sits. As conversations start to get deeper then you can let your feelings be known in line with the person you are dating.
As the relationship begins to be committed and serious then feelings should be shared as felt with honesty but not be a constant to where the person feels they are being asked to provide a role that would akin them to a counselor. They are your partner but not your therapist. Also realize they may have different ways of expressing feelings or need time to process feelings prior to being able to discuss them. This does not open the doors to emotionally flood the person but should allow for space for them to share as they are ready and have a calm conversation when they have processed. The outcome will much likely be better as they do not feel pressure to be emotionally ready just because you are.
It can feel like a tightrope sometimes but will leave you feeling more comfortable in your situation as you have not had emotional flooding or feel so disconnected from your partner due to being guarded and not sharing emotions at all.
Neesha Lenzini, MS - www.relationshipsinneed.com
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