Relationships are one of the few things in life that need more effort with time. It is also one of the things people tend to take for granted the most. While wants, desires and expectations in a relationship can differ from person to person, emotional safety happens to be a constant need.
No matter the relationship you are in, be it parent and child, siblings, or lovers, you want to be loved, understood, and accepted for who you are. If there is a lack of emotional safety in a relationship, then the quality of the connection deteriorates and can become very unhealthy. This can create a huge rift between the people involved and you might become estranged eventually.
We see so many relationships end on account of one or both partners not feeling emotionally safe in the relationship. So how does one rectify the situation? Dating coach Geetarsh Kaur, the founder of The Skill School which specializes in building stronger relationships, helps us understand what emotional safety entails and how best can we cultivate that in our relationship.
What Is Emotional Safety In A Relationship?
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Simply put, emotional safety is a state where two people are comfortable being their authentic selves around each other. Geetarsh explains, “It is the kind of relationship where a couple is secure in the knowledge that they have each other to fall back on emotionally without the fear of consequences or being judged. A relationship where your emotions are validated and not deemed unimportant.”
“Why don’t you ever tell me how you feel? Why are you so secretive?” If these are questions that you find yourself asking or getting asked all the time, then it is a sign that there is a lack of emotional safety in your relationship. In an emotionally unsafe relationship, you are unable to let your guard down. Try as hard as you may, you will not be able to connect with your partner at a deeper level.
It is just how human beings are built. We tend to run away or shut ourselves down when we feel we perceive hurt or danger. Even if the hurt is of the emotional or psychological kind. When there is emotional safety in a marriage or a relationship, you relax in the presence of your partner, safe in the knowledge that you are respected and loved unconditionally and that they have your best interest in their hearts.
Creating emotional safety is extremely vital to building a healthy relationship. The reason so many relationships disintegrate is not that people don’t care but that they are unaware of how to foster this kind of emotional security in a relationship. If you have felt that your relationship lacks this component too, let’s explore some emotional safety examples that you could implement to strengthen your relationship.
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8 Ways To Create Emotional Safety In Your Relationship
If only life came with an instruction manual, we would all have it much easier. Sadly, that’s not how it works. When we are looking for answers to our problems, it is only natural to look at the people around us. But if you look for emotional safety examples in relationships around you, you might end up with a headache. After all, there are as many types of relationships as there are couples. The meaning of emotional safety can vary for each.
Even so, certain core tenets help bolster this sense of emotional security in a relationship. We are here to explore what those tenets are and offer some tips that will help you build emotional safety in your relationship:
1. Reality check – The first step toward emotional safety
The first step to solving a problem is accepting that there is a problem. Which, to be honest, can be quite difficult. When our relationships hit an all time low, we tell ourselves that this problem is temporary and we will navigate this rough patch. “This is just a phase, things will get better after a while” or “It’s just a misunderstanding and I am sure this incident will not be repeated” are just some of the lies we tell ourselves.
But sweeping matters under the rug has rarely if ever, helped anyone. And emotional safety is something that you cannot disregard. “If you are worried that talking to the opposite sex will cause conflict, or if there are times that you hide your feelings because you feel no one will understand you or your fears will be trivialized, then it is time to admit that these are not emotional security examples and that it is time to address the issues in your relationship,” advises Geetarsh.
2. Validate your partner
It is very difficult to open up to someone if a person feels that their vulnerability will be scoffed at or they will be judged for expressing their thoughts and emotions. For creating emotional safety in a relationship, we need to understand that every human being is wired differently. How they react to situations, how an incident makes them feel, and how they deal with trauma might be very different from how you would handle things.
However, just because your experiences or way of handling situations does not match, doesn’t mean that your partner’s feelings and emotions are in any way trivial or irrelevant. “ You can improve your relationship by listening to your partner when they open up to you. Tell them that their feelings and emotions are valid and let them know that they are not alone in their struggle,” suggests Geetarsh.
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3. Think before you speak
“One very important thing to keep in mind while trying to build emotional safety in a marriage is to be mindful about what you say,” says Geetarsh, “Many a time, in the heat of the moment, we end up saying things that we don’t mean but our words have the potential to cause immense emotional damage.”
Words are powerful tools, they can make or break a person, so be very careful about how you use them. Refrain from name-calling or using exit sentences like “You are oversensitive” or “I can’t do this anymore and I can live with you anymore”. Sentences like this erode the security of the relationship and can make your partner feel insecure.
Instead of using ‘you’, it’s better to use ‘we’ sentences aimed at resolution. “We have got to resolve this” or “we are going to make this work” are some emotional safety examples. By replacing hurtful jibes with these reassuring words, you can make headway in feeling emotionally safe in a relationship.
4. Respect your partner’s boundaries
When you are dating someone exclusively, you are bound to feel a sense of belongingness. However, that belongingness can often turn into a sense of entitlement and that is where things turn problematic. All healthy relationships have boundaries and it is very important to respect them. When a person’s boundaries are ignored, they might stop feeling emotionally safe in a relationship and respond by shutting down or withdrawing into their shell.
To cultivate emotional safety in a relationship, it is important to be mindful and respectful of your partner’s boundaries and not breach them, no matter the circumstances. Recognize when a discussion is turning into an argument, take time off to calm down before you revisit the topic. Boundaries in relationships are not just to protect you and the relationship, it is also about honoring what is sacred to you both.
5. Stick to your words to build emotional safety
You will notice relationships that lack trust suffer from a lack of emotional safety too. “Building trust between partners is essential while creating emotional safety and that happens when both the partners stick to their words,” explains Geetarsh. Doesn’t seem like much, does it? Yet it is so important.
You might be thinking it is not always possible to keep your word and it is true. Once in a blue moon, things can happen and we might have to go back on our word. But, if you are most likely to prioritize everything else other than your promise, then there is a high chance your partner will lose faith in you entirely. Volatile unpredictability does nothing for emotional safety. So be consistent and stick to your promises even when it’s inconvenient.
6. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt and seek out the why
A lack of emotional safety in a relationship is bound to give rise to insecurities and suspicion. Xena would get anxious every time she had to introduce her male friends and colleagues to Ryan. More often than not, it would lead to heated arguments between the two. When this became a pattern, Xena realized she was dealing with an insecure boyfriend.
Xena sat Ryan down and talked to him. She told him how she was feeling and heard Ryan out too. Ryan explained that sometimes he felt Xena was too friendly and that guys might try to steal his girlfriend away from him just like in his last relationship. Xena and Ryan realized where his insecurities were coming from and decided to work on it.
Just because your partner has a different set of ideas than yours doesn’t make them a bad person. Instead of making assumptions and criticizing their ideas and belief system, try to understand where they stem from. Cultivating this one little habit will do miracles for your relationship.
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7. Actions speak louder than words in building emotional safety
“It is not just the words you use but also your body language and that helps build emotional safety in a relationship”, explains Geetarsh, “Checking up on your partner, calling them to let them know you are safe or that they are on your mind are all things that help build emotional safety in a marriage or a relationship.”
Little things like rolling your eyes or crossing your arms when talking hurt the conversation that you are having. It gives the impression of you not being receptive. Body language plays a role in relationships. It might be subtle and sometimes unconscious too but it has a huge effect on the person we are speaking to. Listen to your partner with an open mind and it will automatically reflect in your actions.
8. Seek counseling to address a lack of emotional safety in a relationship
It takes two to tango but sometimes relationships can feel like a warzone. The years of hurt and pain pile up and we are unable to see the smallest of things in an untainted light. Every sentence seems to have an accusation. Every opinion expressed feels disregarded. The more it happens the more you feel unheard and unloved. And a beautiful relationship suddenly begins to feel toxic.
Too often couples find themselves unable to get out of this rut, no matter how much effort both partners put in. In such a situation getting help from a professional counselor or mental health expert can help transform your dynamic. If you’re considering seeking help, licensed and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel are here for you.
It takes time to build emotional safety in a relationship. It is a major component of a healthy relationship that should not be compromised. There are multiple ways one can foster emotional safety in a relationship and different emotional safety examples works differently for every couple.
So open and talk to your partner and you will know how wonderful it feels to be in a relationship where you are heard, valued, and loved. And remember help is just a click away.
For a woman to feel secure in a relationship, she needs to know that she will be loved and respected come what may. She needs to know that she can depend on you to be there for her as a partner through thick and thin. That you are a man who keeps to his word, prioritizes her and accepts her for who she is.
All relationships have their ups and downs but what matters is your willingness to make it work. A woman will feel secure in the knowledge that you are as invested in the relationship as she is and will not run for the hills at the first sign of trouble.
A long-distance relationship can be difficult to maintain because a lot of times insecurities creep into the relationship due to the distance. It is these insecurities you need to address. And do that there needs to be ample communication. You need to spend quality time with your boyfriend over calls and texts. He needs the assurance that the distance will not make you waver.
Talk to him about what you like about him and your relationship with him. Little acts that say that he is on your mind or being there for him in his success and sorrows, will help your boyfriend feel secure in his relationship with you.
Emotional connection is the foundation on which a strong relationship is built. A relationship that is not based on emotional intimacy is termed a superficial relationship and such relationships tend to disintegrate over time. To connect emotionally in a relationship, both you and your partner need to feel safe.
Communicate and listen without judgment, these two things are the key ingredient to make the emotional connections in a relationship stronger. The more you listen to your partner without judgment the more your partner will be able to open up to you. Similarly, communicate even when you feel vulnerable. Holding back on things just because of messy emotions will hamper your partner in his attempt to connect with you.