In a relationship, it can be challenging to ask our partner for what we need on an emotional level. Many times, we aren’t quite sure ourselves. All we know is that something doesn’t feel right in the relationship. During those times when we do know what we need, we become dissuaded by the thought of exposing ourselves to our mate. Instead of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, we sit back and secretly hope that our partner reads our mind and instinctively knows how to care for us.
The problem is, however, our partner can’t read our mind. Everyone experiences nurturing differently. If we don’t ask for what we need, we are setting our mate up to fail. When our mate fails, we are the ones who become angry, hurt, and enraged. Sometimes we become despondent and shut down entirely. Then we are left feeling isolated and alone.
The goal in a relationship is to feel understood and accepted. Each of us wants to connect and be recognized for who we are. For many, there is a fear that perhaps underneath we are not good enough. We worry that deep down we are either inadequate in some way or that our needs are too overwhelming for our partner. Ultimately, we end up censoring ourselves because we believe that our concerns are not important enough in the eyes of our mate.
So what do we do? We find a way to connect safely.
Three Ways to Connect in a Relationship
- First and most importantly, we figure out what we’re actually feeling and what it is we need from our partner. We also learn to trust that our experience is important and worth expressing. This is where therapy becomes an indispensable tool.
- Next we approach our partner with “I feel” statements to ask for what we need. We actively avoid “You always” or “You should” statements that can alienate and threaten our partner.
- Third, we strike while the iron is cold, which means not discussing hot-button issues when tempers are flaring. Approaching our partner when the waters are calm, creates a safe space where people are more tolerant and available to different points of view.