WHY TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS IN RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE SO HARD.
After exchanging stories with one of my friends, I was inspired to write a quick post about communication in relationships. The piece of advice we hear time and time again is "Communication is key" but for some (I reckon most) of us, talking and being vulnerable to a partner can be a huge challenge. From expressing how you feel to how you like to be sexually satisfied — why is talking about feelings in relationships so hard? This area in particular has definitely been a constant struggle for me; but I guess the answer is simple... it's about fear, plus a whole lot more! After undertaking a bit of research this topic, the general consensus is that: if you're encountering someone/you are someone who has a really hard time being emotionally honest and open, it's likely they're/you are holding onto old stuff from the past; whether it's a previous relationships or an experience from childhood, regardless of the case, it should never be taken personal.
Fear is a very powerful, and primitive human emotion, it alerts us to the presence of danger or the threat of harm, whether that danger is physical or psychological. Fear in the context of relationships is scared of getting your heart broken and the possibility of being rejected; the stakes are high when a person exposes their vulnerability because in the end, the one thing everyone has in common is that we want to be loved. Without even realising it our fears trigger from unresolved feelings based on past experiences involving sadness, hurt, and rage. While fear can be a paralysing emotion, we can either take the steps to understand ourselves and others with compassion or continue avoiding difficult conversations and allow these emotions to fester. I used to do everything in my power to escape tough discussions, and if I was ever put in a position where I was made to talk things through, I'd either say something just to appease the other person or keep my responses short and vague. Back then I didn't want to hurt my partner or have them judge or see me in a different light — on many occasions I'd feel anxiety or worry that they wouldn't accept what I was feeling or I'd end up harming my relationship. If you are/were/have observed a poor communicator, you'll recognise some of these (useless) "tactics"... in other words, WHAT NOT TO DO IN A RELATIONSHIP!
Using the silent treatment (because I assume they know what's wrong)
Jumping to conclusions
Not listening properly (choosing what I wanted to hear)
Not concentrating on the major problem
Shouting and using far too much profanity
Some of the conversations we need to have aren't always the most exciting but addressing any concerns early on is one of the best ways to ensure your relationship continues to thrive and maintain high levels of healthiness and happiness. Talking and listening with each other allows both individuals to be seen, acknowledged, validated, loved, and accepted — flaws and all. As a grown adult, I still get awkward whenever I'm having a conversation about my feelings, not only is it out of my comfort zone but how the hell do you even start these discussions anyway? That's always the worst bit for me! I normally have to remind myself that if I don't get it out of my system then it'll play on my mind everyday which will eventually lead me to overthink, be miserable, then spiral out of control. I like to think I've made progress over the years... that is, I don't turn a blind eye or suppress my emotions now. Plucking up the courage and facing them head on has done me many wonders; now when I need to have one of those talks, I find it helpful opening with something along the lines of: "I'm not very good at talking about my feelings, but I want to share this with you...", it takes the pressure off and gives the other person a heads up in case you end up saying something ridiculous (🙋🏻♀️ guilty!) Another thing I've found useful is journalling. When you're expressing what's on your mind in writing it forces you to focus on a particular idea or thought. Not only is it beneficial from mindfulness perspective but it presents an opportunity for emotional catharsis and helps the brain regulate emotions, providing a greater sense of confidence and self-identity.
Basically what I'm trying to say is if talking about your feelings in your relationships is hard, that's okay, you'll just have to start with small steps and find ways to lean into it. Communicating with a partner is extremely important if you're serious about building a real, long-lasting connection, so navigating your a way around this discomfort can be make-or-break. At the heart of it, we need to communicate with each other in order to make a connection, sharing your joys and concerns are equally as crucial. Having a strong connection will allow both parties to feel more open, honest and safe. When you feel united in your relationship, all aspects should flow much more easily and effortlessly, including the communication side of things. Have you ever struggled with communication? What tips can you share? What have you learned from it?