Feeling emotionally safe in your relationship creates a level of comfort that allows you to be open and vulnerable with your partner. You can feel safe to be yourself and to share who you are with your partner with little fear of rejection, or abandonment. Emotional safety is the foundation for a healthy relationship based on mutual respect and understanding. Below are seven ways to create emotional safety in your relationship.
What Is Emotional Safety
Emotional safety is a belief and feeling that you can be your authentic self in your relationship without fear of judgment or harm. This allows you to be vulnerable, open, and intimate with your partner and to freely express your thoughts and emotions. Emotional safety creates an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance. There is mutual respect, trust, and compassion within the relationship, even during times of conflict. Emotional safety is the basis for a securely attached relationship. When you feel emotionally safe in your relationship, you can be who you really are and say what you need to say.
Benefits Of Emotional Safety
There are a number of benefits that couples experience when there is emotional safety in their relationship. When you feel emotionally safe with your partner, it is easier to share deeply and be more vulnerable. This allows your partner to really know and understand who you are. Feeling heard and understood helps strengthen your connection and increases intimacy. When you feel accepted for who you are, you can feel empowered to try new things and take some risks. This helps you grow and change with your partner instead of growing apart. When emotional safety is lacking in your relationship, communication can be difficult, conflicts can increase, and it can be hard to trust each other. Here are some things you can do to increase emotional safety in your relationship.
1. Respect Boundaries
All relationships require boundaries in order to function effectively. Boundaries teach others how you expect to be treated and what your limits are. In order to create emotional safety in your relationship, it is important to respect your partner’s boundaries. For instance, if your partner asks you not to call them a certain nickname, and you stop doing it, you enhance the emotional safety in your relationship. When you feel that your boundaries will be respected by your partner, it is easier to establish healthy boundaries which can increase relationship satisfaction and decrease feelings of resentment.
2. Communicate Often
Effective communication can help relationships thrive. In an emotionally safe relationship, it is easier to talk to your partner about your concerns, struggles, and needs. This is because there is mutual respect and the belief that your partner wants to understand you on a deeper level. The more you communicate, the safer it becomes to communicate openly. When you share yourself, your feelings, and your grievances with your partner, they can feel safe doing the same with you. If there is a safe space to openly communicate in your relationship, it can feel more comfortable asking for what you need. Talking with your partner about anything and everything, makes it safer to talk about the important things.
3. Practice Active Listening
In order to create emotional safety around communication, it is important to practice active listening. Active listening requires you to listen to your partner in order to further your understanding. When you actively listen to your partner, it helps them feel both heard and understood. Active listening is about being fully present with your partner. This means putting away all distractions, making eye contact, and withholding judgment. Open-ended questions can be asked to help further your understanding and it is okay to reflect on what is being said by summarizing what you hear. When practicing active listening, it is necessary to pay attention to non-verbal cues along with what is being said.
4. Be More Vulnerable
Being truly vulnerable with someone can be a little scary. If your partner knows who you really are, what you think, and what you need, they can hurt you, or worse, reject you. It is normal to want to hold back in order to protect yourself. However, it is impossible to feel loved and accepted if you are not being your authentic self. The more vulnerable and open you can be in your relationship, the more emotionally safe you can feel. Although vulnerability is always a risk, you can start small by honestly sharing your needs, wants, and desires with your partner. If you feel hurt by something your partner says or does, tell them this instead of holding back. Give your partner a chance to accept you, warts and all.
5. Respond With Empathy
When your partner opens up and shares with you, responding with empathy can go a long way towards creating emotional safety in your relationship. Empathy refers to understanding and having compassion for what another is experiencing from their perspective, not your own. Empathy requires you to listen without judgment and focus on the way your partner is feeling about what they are sharing. When you respond with empathy, you want to validate your partner’s experience at the feeling level. Saying things like, “that sounds hard”, or “I can see that this was upsetting”, lets your partner know that you understand what they are going through. Instead of trying to fix things, responding with empathy enables you to really get to know who your partner is.
6. Express Gratitude
It feels good when you know your partner appreciates you. Expressing gratitude in your relationship can help increase emotional safety. Expressing gratitude to your partner lets you share what you appreciate about your partner. This helps shift the focus from the things that aren’t going well, to the more positive things. You can write your partner a thank you note, verbally express your appreciation, or let them know what you like about their personality or character. When you express gratitude, it is important to explain why you are grateful. Doing this provides context that helps your brain accept and process the compliment, and makes you want to repeat the action. Expressing gratitude to your partner makes both of you feel good which enhances emotional safety in your relationship.
7. Show Support
You can feel emotionally safe in your relationship when you know that you have a supportive partner. Showing support to your partner can include expressing physical affection, letting your partner vent to you, and taking some of the burden off of your partner by doing more around the house. In a relationship, expecting equality at all times isn’t realistic. If you are sick, lose your job, or you are caring for a struggling loved one, you want your partner to be there to support you and pick up the slack. Without this support, things can feel overwhelming. In order to create more emotional safety in your relationship, you need to show your partner that you are there for them when they need help.
Creating emotional safety in your relationship can help enhance your couple connection. If you are lacking that feeling of emotional safety, you can try the above tips, or couples counseling. When you feel emotionally safe with your partner, you can feel comfortable being yourself, knowing that you are accepted and valued because of who you are.