Talking about your feelings and needs is a healthy and vital part of any relationship. However, you have to be willing to make time for these conversations and your partner has to be receptive to them.
Before you sit down with your significant other to talk about your feelings, there are 2 inner reflections I recommend doing first.
1. You’re not happy
Unlike a car, there’s no wrench you can use to fix your feelings, but there are strategies that can help you and your partner work on them. The first step is talking about it – but not in the usual way, such as venting or accusing.
If you do bring up an issue that you’re unhappy about, start by stating your emotional needs and wants in clear terms. This will help your partner understand that you are speaking from a place of emotional distress, rather than from anger or blame.
Sharing your feelings is an important part of a healthy relationship, but it can be hard to do so without feeling anxious or afraid. To avoid this, make sure to speak from a place of honesty and compassion, says Connell Barrett, executive dating coach at Dating Transformation. It’s also important to focus on the unmet needs you want fulfilled, but to remember that not everyone will be able to fulfill your every need.
2. You’re feeling threatened
Many couples who struggle with emotional intimacy find themselves picking fights or nitpicking at each other. If left unchecked, this can lead to feelings of resentment and the belief that their partner doesn’t understand them. It can also lead to people looking for connection outside of their relationship, whether it’s platonic or romantic.
To resolve this issue, it’s important to talk about the needs you have and how they are being met. However, it’s equally important to respect your partner’s boundaries. Trying to save your relationship by communicating with anger or hostility is rarely productive and can be counterproductive in the long run.
If you’re struggling to open up in this way, try sharing your feelings with someone else first just so you can get used to letting them out. Then work up to sharing your feelings with your partner. Learning how to talk about your feelings is an essential part of any healthy relationship.
3. You’re feeling misunderstood
Misunderstandings can be a big problem in relationships. It can lead to conflict and even resentment. It’s important to talk about your feelings regularly and share them with your partner, so that they can understand your point of view and be able to clarify things for you.
It’s also important to avoid invalidating your partner’s feelings. Many people are not even aware that they’re doing this, but it can be a big problem in a relationship. It makes your partner feel like you don’t really care about them or what they have to say, and it can make them defensive and lash out at you in return.
Finally, you need to avoid bringing up unrelated grievances during your conversations. This will only muddy the waters and lead to misunderstandings. For example, if your partner forgets to wipe your feet before you enter the house, don’t bring up a previous argument about how they never remember to do it.
4. You’re feeling guilty
A normal sense of guilt is related to an action and can be remedied by apologizing and making amends. But some people experience excessive guilt that’s out of proportion to the harm caused and may even be disconnected from any real wrongdoing. This is called a guilt complex, and it can lead to anxiety and obsessive-compulsive tendencies if not addressed.
Often, the root of a guilt complex is in negative thought patterns, such as all-or-nothing thinking and jumping to conclusions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help people learn to recognize these distortions and replace them with more positive thoughts.
Other times, a person’s guilty feelings are connected to the larger world, such as social or political issues. This kind of guilt can be difficult to deal with, but it’s important to remember that you can’t control everything. Practicing self-compassion and engaging in methods like journaling can be helpful for overcoming this type of guilt. Finally, it’s a good idea to reach out to a counselor or therapist who can help you get to the bottom of your feelings and find a way forward.