Everyone has some level of difficulty expressing their needs in relationships. Many people have anxiety when it comes to talking about their feelings with a loved one because they fear rejection or being misunderstood, but when communication breaks down between you and a partner, things can go downhill very quickly. Unfortunately, many emotions have been labelled “bad” in our society such as anger, jealousy, frustration, shame, and sadness. But these feelings are often the ones that need expressing the most when building trust and a solid foundation with another human being.
Keep this in mind: you can’t say something wrong to the right person.
Tips for Expressing Your Needs in a Relationship
Timing is Everything
Unloading your feelings in a grocery store aisle probably isn’t the best idea, nor is it to have a serious conversation after a lover has had a miserable day at work. The best time to open up to your partner is when you are both in a safe and comfortable environment, and when you are both in a relaxed mood.
Stick to the Facts
When strong feelings are involved, it can be easy to spiral out in conversation which can lead to one of those “fights about nothing.” Sometimes it can help to rehearse what you want to say to a partner ahead of time. This will enable you be clear in expressing exactly what you want to say.
Identify your feelings. Are you angry or frustrated? Sad or disappointed? Also, determine the level of feeling you are experiencing before you speak to your partner. Tell them how long you have been feeling this way, as well as the event, if there is a specific incident, that initially provoked the feeling.
Use “I” Statements
This is important because it will prevent your partner from feeling attacked or shamed. For example, “I feel jealous when you talk about your ex-boyfriend.” Or “I feel stressed out when you just show up. I would really appreciate it if you would call first.”
Focus on Behaviour
Your partner isn’t going to change the essence, personality and values, of who they are, so when you are having a discussion about your feelings and needs, it’s best to focus on their behaviour, not them as a person. Instead of saying, “You’re a slob.” you can say “I feel frustrated when I have to pick up the wet towels you leave on the bathroom floor.”
Of course, don’t forget to express your positive feelings too! These help to pave a smooth road that can handle a few bumps along the way.
Do you find it difficult expressing yourself to your partner?