Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
I get asked a lot in my therapy sessions about when you know that the timing is right (or not quite right) to engage in tough conversations, especially with romantic partners. Although only you can know if you’re ready or not for these deep conversations, there are some signs for both of you to look for before jumping in. Also remember that conversations don’t tend to be “one and done” as most of us want/hope, but tend to be a series of ongoing conversations about a hard topic or topics.
Let’s start with why it’s important to not just avoid these hard conversations in the first place. Avoidance of hard topics in relationships can lead to:
- Always deferring to the other person
- Minimizing your own wants and needs
- A loss of your sense of self, including your self-worth, self-love, self-value, self-esteem, etc.
- Looking for external validation only (and struggling with internal validation)
- Not standing up for what’s important to you, like being respected by your partner
- Fear-based responses
- Anger and resentment built up over time
- Loneliness and emotional disconnection in your relationship
- Not having your own thoughts and opinions
- Emotional reactivity
What else would you add here?
Signs you might be ready to engage in hard conversations:
- You feel centered and grounded
- You’ve processed your feelings already (in therapy, through writing in a journal, etc.)
- You’re had time for self-care
- You’ve filtered what needs to be said
- You feel calm internally
- Your basic needs like sleep, eating, etc. have been met
- You feel physically and emotionally safe
- You have privacy
- You have time to talk
Signs you might NOT be ready to engage in hard conversations:
- You feel untethered
- You haven’t processed your feelings
- No time for self-care
- What needs to be said is still unfiltered
- You’re emotionally reactive
- Your basic needs haven’t been met
- You don’t feel safe physically, emotionally, etc.
- Kids or other people are around
- You’re pressed for time
Anything I forgot here? If you’re not ready to engage, what needs to change/improve in order for you to be ready?
Self-care for when you’re feeling emotionally raw:
- Journal about how you’re really feeling
- Go to therapy
- Talk with a trusted friend or family member
- Cry/scream/feel your feelings
- Rest your body
- Drink something warm and soothing
- Snuggle with your pet/s
- Read something light and fluffy
- Watch your favorite show
- Exercise, especially something outdoors like going for a walk
What else helps you when you’re feeling emotionally raw?
Life can be really hard for all of us at times. If you’re currently struggling and need to have some hard conversations with a loved one, know that you’re not alone. I’m sending lots of love and support your way!