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How To Have a Difficult Conversation With Your Partner - 7 Amazing Strategies To Have an Open + Honest Conversation Without Fighting or Being Defensive

How To Have a Difficult Conversation With Your Partner

# 1. Be willing to speak your truth without fear, without lack and without the need for approval

Kristen-Brown

It starts from “hello”.

When we are willing to show up authentically from the beginning, we are not leaving our potential partners guessing our wants and needs and it will dramatically decrease confusion that would inevitably come down the road.

Our goal is to attract someone who jives with our essence, not something we have “sold” them in order to gain the relationship.

Good communication does not have a starting and stopping point. It is something we must practice congruently throughout the entire existence of our relationship. In my estimation, good communication is the foundation of a solid, lasting relationship.

Any conversation that is not forced and organically arises, is okay!

No topic should be taboo. The key is allowing for this and checking in with where you are resonating from at the moment. Are you pushing a topic because you are afraid? Or are you simply looking for more information to see if your potential partner and your goals and desires match? The energetic difference between the two will matter when bringing pertinent questions to the table.

I have found the people who feel lost in their dating relationships most likely have not been open/honest with themselves about what they desire in a partner.

Oftentimes, we tend to “hold back” in fear that we might push someone away. Subconsciously we may not feel truly worthy of the relationship we desire, or that to speak our desires is silly or ridiculous. A new perspective to consider is this:

We cannot receive what we are not willing to put out there. Period.

In actuality, we are selling a “false self” and we will attract people to us who are looking for the person we are portraying, not the true essence of who we are.

People respond to who we are portraying to the world. Relationships built on a false foundation most likely don’t stand a chance of survival. At some point, one side will realize the lack of cohesiveness and hit the road.

In other words, when we communication openly and authentically, we will attract to us those who are looking for precisely what we are displaying.

If someone departs our company because we said we are looking for long-term, marriage, children or any other desire, then that person is simply not for us.

We have just uncovered vital information that tells us all we need to know. It’s not time to try to change him/her; it’s your cue to move on. Next!

Be willing to speak your truth without fear, without lack and without the need for approval.

Have the courage to ask questions and to answer questions genuinely. Your desires are important! You are important! Not only will the truth open divine pathways of connection, truth breeds trust. When people see that our words and behavior match, they experience the trust they so deeply desire as well. Open, authentic communication is key.

Kristen Brown, Author of From Doormat To Sweet Empowerment – www.sweetempowerment.com

This video explains the secret reasons men LIE to women (even women they truly do love)…

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# 2. Follow the 4 tips below

Dr.-Annie-Ready-Coffey

When getting to know someone, many people naturally worry about what to say.

We concern ourselves not just with what kinds of things to share, but also with how much to reveal. In a totally open-minded world – where everyone had as much ability to understand and process more complex emotions and thoughts as the next person – I’d say, “Go for it! Opening up is nearly guaranteed to bring you closer!”

However, when we look at the way the world actually works, which comes to light on a daily basis in my private practice work, my clients and I discuss how the dating world has changed.

Most people cannot go at the “speed dating” pace of getting to know another person and make a wise and informed decision about them. They experience the pressure (and many of my clients would say need) to make some decision about the other person based on only a little bit of online and/or first date exchanges.

Within this context of starting a possible relationship, we can look at both ends of the spectrum to see how people respond to the pressure of dating

Some people think that saying nothing at all is a great strategy. They believe in the plan of “Say nothing (too) ‘heavy’ and you’ll risk nothing,” which translates into a belief that not screwing up is more likely to lead to a next date. At the other end of the spectrum, some people think that if they are fully transparent,  declaring, “Here I am – Take me or Leave me!”  From both a professional and personal place, I say that neither extreme is going to work if you’re interested in developing (or, perhaps, changing) norms in a serious relationship.

If you and your partner are further along in your relationship, and you want to begin to share more, you might want to explore how the person you’re dating responds to emotional depth and content that is safely removed from your immediate story and situation.

In this case, you want to test the waters or warm your partner up. I recommend connecting through your favorite potentially emotionally deep form of art. (Because I’m most familiar with movies, literature, and music, I’ll give some suggestions from those genres, but trust your own thinking or ask your partner to name their preferred way of “being moved and inspired.”)

If you choose to watch a movie together, I suggest both Stand By Me (1986) adapted from Stephen King’s novella “The Body,” published in Different Seasons (1982) and Good Will Hunting (1997) starring Matt Damon and Robin Williams. These are good movies to assess the emotional intelligence of the person you’re hoping to open up to more. You should be able to notice whether they have the ability to discuss real issues because both movies cover a lot of emotional ground regarding family of origin themes. The ages of the protagonists are 12 and 13 in Stand By Me (developmentally formative years for all of us) and the protagonists in Good Will Hunting are in their young 20s (another major life transition time).

If you’re both readers, you might try reading aloud together. My partner and I just finished reading Tim Gautreaux’s The Next Step in The Dance (1998), and we cannot stop thinking or talking about the complexity and quality of the protagonists’ relationship. If reading a novel sounds like too big of an undertaking, Gautreaux also has outstanding collections of short stories. (Signals (2017) and Welding With Children (1999), to name two). Gautreaux is a master at portraying emotionally rich characters and discussing their relationships is likely to stimulate conversation.

Finally, if you’re more musically-focused, listen to the lyrics of Lori McKenna’s album The Bird & The Rifle (2016). She explores so much through her words. Some of what sound like true stories can actually can be difficult or sad to hear. Nonetheless, I believe her album portrays people in a way that can shed light on how to decide whether to stick it out in a relationship. People – as portrayed in songs, movies, and books – are richly complex. If you’d like to hear the lyrics to The Bird & The Rifle, this link will give you a brief clip:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-bird-the-rifle/1121556699?i=1121557113

Bringing the topic back to how you might share your deepest feelings, you can simplify things by stating to your partner that you’d like to start talking about some important things that truly matter to you.

Ask them what’s the best way and when’s the best time to talk about these kinds of things. You might ask, should we break our routine and spend one night away together so you can talk deeply. Should we make a special dinner at home, set up the table, and create a gentle mood in a different room in the house?

Should we take a walk in our neighborhood? along the lakeshore? through the woods? so we can keep talking? Should we build the bonfire? rake the leaves? trim the hedges while talking?

Some of us prefer to see the eyes of our partners when we talk deeply whereas some people need to move and walk or jog side-by-side to keep the depth of the conversation going. Figure that out – in pieces.

As such, consider whatever the first thing is that you want to bring up and “test the waters” again. Maybe part 2 of this conversation is carried on in a different location and maybe part 3 happens on an overnight. Break down the conversation so you can continue to gauge your partner’s response to the emotional depth of what you’re sharing. If you think the person in mind could be a long-term partner, it’s worth trying to share more deeply.

Dr. Annie Ready Coffey – www.replenishmentandchange.com

# 3. Follow the 4 tips below

Amy-Sherman

In a significant relationship you want to feel comfortable sharing concerns.

This ability to share serves to strengthen and deepen the emotional connection and is the key to a healthy relationship. What you don’t want to do is avoid areas that are important to you and that need to be discussed. Leaving things to assumptions will only lead to miscommunication and greater problems down the road.

So how do you have those important, yet difficult conversations?

1. Pick a time and place where you can discuss things without distraction.

A restaurant, or while he’s watching the game and both not good venues. Find a quiet place where you can focus on the issue at hand.

2. Be sure your nonverbal cues are not sending a message that is confusing to your partner.

Your nonverbal language continuously sends conscious as well as unconscious signals and if you want to have a “heart-to-heart” discussion, be aware of how your body feels and looks to the other person. In other words, does your facial expression, tone of voice, posture and touch all convey the message you want to convey? You may not always know his triggers, so be aware of how your actions and body language might look from his perspective.

3. Keep the conversation on topic.

Don’t bring up past issues, concerns or examples that would cause a debate or controversy and ruin your opportunity to get what you want settled at this time.

4. Speak from an “I” position.

In other words, start the conversation by stating, “I feel concerned (frustrated, upset, happy…)” and speak from your heart. So, if you want to discuss exclusivity, you might say, “I feel really comfortable and content with the way the relationship is going and I am happy to be seeing only you. Let’s talk about this.”

Good communication is essential for a healthy relationship.

Don’t be afraid to say what you feel, but be sure that the time and place is right. A relationship that lets things brew until it “blows” is not only heading for disaster, but is causing you undo stress. Everything that gets discussed will not always please you, but when things get out in the open, it usually leads to a compromise or a positive understanding.

Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com

# 4. Know that mature people aren’t scared to hear from their partners

Sally-Leboy

There is no trick to having discussions difficult or otherwise.

Relationships at all stages require communication. Of course, the stage of the relationship will affect some of the content of your discussions, but a person that you can’t level with is always going to be problematic.

Defining yourself means being clear about what you think, feel and want regardless of push back you may encounter from another person.

Early in relationships it’s important to know if you and your new partner are on the same relationship trajectory. If you are looking for commitment, and your partner just wants to have a good time you are not going to be compatible.

Pretending that you want what he wants just gets you more emotionally involved in a relationship that won’t meet your ultimate needs. Talking about what you each are looking for is always a good idea. If you don’t know what’s going on you can’t make decisions for yourself. The same is true for him.

Mature people aren’t scared to hear from their partners.

They want to know what their partner is thinking or feeling. That is how they take the temperature of the relationship. Is your partner satisfied with the way things are going? Are you? Would either if you like to make some changes? How can a relationship grow if either of you is too afraid to speak up?

Being angry or hurt about something doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner did something wrong.

It means that what he did didn’t work for you. If you can talk about your feelings from an “I” position and not get accusatory, a good discussion might ensue.

At the very least you will each learn more about each other. “I was hurt that you didn’t call me on my birthday,” is good information for him to have. He may reply that he doesn’t do birthdays.

If that’s a deal breaker for you, it’s good to know now, before too many disappointing birthdays go by. He may apologize. You can decide if that’s enough for you, and he will know going forward that birthdays are important to you.

This may not be the biggest issue in the world, but the entitlement to speak up and be heard is an extremely important relationship dynamic. You both need to feel heard.

Some people think that if they don’t bring it up it will somehow go away. Or they’re afraid that if they do speak up, he will go away. The former is never true, and the latter is always a possibility, but it’s always better to know if you are with somebody who is mature enough to engage.

Being afraid to speak up is a difficult way to live. You end up avoiding conflict at the cost of connection and growth.

Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com

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# 5. Follow the tips below

Deborah-Cox

When you need to talk relationship with your partner, you have to jump two major hurdles: your anxiety, and his potential defensiveness.

The way you handle these hurdles can actually increase the intimacy between you. So, you need tools to (1) calm yourself and help you (2) speak clearly and disarmingly.

A little dictionary assistance…..To disarm: to allay hostilities or suspicions. To open a conversation. To set a tone of mutual respect and positive expectations.

How to Calm and Prep Yourself for a big Conversation

1. Decide what it is you really want to convey. At first, you may think, “I need you to spend more time with me!…..” But if you allow yourself to meditate calmly on your true emotions on the issue, you may decide it’s more like, “I miss you. I love spending time with you. I’d like more of it.” Notice everything starts with “I.” Keep it succinct.

2. Write the words (from #1) in your most beautiful journal. Read them several times.

3. Do some yoga or some stretching. Take a walk or a nap. Take six or seven deep breaths and exhale slowly.

4. Remember that emotions are the glue of relationship. Yours are good.

Use Words and Nonverbals as a Bridge Between You Two

1. Find a time and place that are free of distractions.

2. Give eye contact. Soften your facial expression. Avoid glaring or frowning or giving a look that conveys pity me.

3. Ask if it’s a good time to talk about something important. If it’s not good for your partner, wait until it is.

4. Say your words. Stick to the script. Put them out there. Then be quiet.

5. Listen.

Remember: just because he doesn’t immediately understand or agree – doesn’t mean he won’t, eventually.

Let him process your message in his own time. If he seems defensive, take some more deep breaths and tell him it’s okay – you can talk more about it later.

This approach may sound way too 1950s for you – too soft, passive. But remember, this approach works both ways. I give the same recipe to men and to women. I say share the affection that runs under the frustration. Lead out with the soft, nurturing part of the message. Save the agitated part for later……if you need it at all.

You want more intimacy, more affection, more time, more honesty, more commitment.

Because you really like or love this person. Allow your partner to see that in your eyes and hear it in your voice. Then, see what he does with it.

And by the way, you have zero control over his reaction. This may sound like a contradiction to all the above, but it’s true. You control the message, your partner controls how it’s received.

Dr. Deborah Cox – www.deborahlcox.com

# 6. Follow the 3 tips below

I will probably be the only person to suggest that there is no point for having this conversation.

Let me explain two important points. I have been seeing couples and individuals who are planning a marriage and I tell them that “what you see is what you get”. No one can change the nature and personality of another person, unless they decide to change. Trying to change a guy’s guy into a romantic will not ever happen.

On the other hand, it is important to find out if both of you have the same basic values (telling the truth, abortion, death penalty, whether to physically punish your children, what to do if one of you cheats, and what the “deal breakers” are, etc.)

If you do not agree on these basics, and money of course, your relationship will not survive.

I have two clients, one male and one female who married, after complaining about their girlfriend or boyfriend before marriage. I cautioned both to consider if they could live with the person, as is, for the rest of his/her life, and that “what see is what you get”. They married anyway. Now they are coming to me still complaining. Dating relationships are different because you can walk away any time. However, the same advice stands.

Now, how about you?

Something few people really understand (or believe) is that once you are out of high school it is up to you to: make yourself happy, in small ways, ten times a day; nurture yourself daily (this includes self-care to reduce stress and get plenty of sleep); and love yourself “as is”. When you do all these things your life and mood will not be dependent on something outside yourself. No one can “jerk you around emotionally”.

Below is a short list of ways I do these things.

1. I love pink and whipped cream so I paint my pink and put a dollop of ready whip on my coffee.

2. Two ways I nurture myself is by having “my place” where I can go and read, crochet, etc. Things I love to do. The second way is that I have the silkiest sheets, a very good mattress, and big soft bedspread. Tip: I iron my sheets and pillowcases to make them silky.

3. Self acceptance is critical. Self-exploration is helpful. Remember, if there is something in the past that you regret, close that door. You cannot go back and change it. You cannot hurt someone’s feelings nor can they hurt yours.Each individual on the planet attaches his or her own “meaning” to the words or actions of others.

You may not have found the right guy for you. Don’t stop looking until you do.

Dr. Morgain Hall – www.drmorgainhall.com

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It’s the #1 reason why men pull away. 

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# 7. Follow the 3 steps listed below

Amanda-Patterson

We all find ourselves in situations where we have to have a difficult conversation with someone.

Most of the time it is about getting around the feelings you have about the conversation and the situation, as opposed to the bulk of the information. Once you are able to work through your feelings, it’s important to practice what you have to say. Once you have that down, you can set an intention to have clear and concise communication with him.

With these three steps you will be well on your way to opening up even over the most difficult conversations.

1. Identify your true feelings

What are you really feeling about having this conversation? Are you scared to show him how you really feel? Are you putting his feelings before yours? If you can connect to what you are feeling, you will have an easier time finding out what those blocks are to you opening up to him.

If fear is getting in the way, work on your fear by feeling it and talking anyways. If you are taking care of his feelings, then take a step back and reevaluate how you can take care of yourself.

2. Rehearse what you want to say

Practice makes perfect. Talk out, in a mirror, the things you want to say to him. Practice with a trusted friend or a therapist. Work on getting the words out now so you can make sure it comes out smoothly in the future.

3. Be clear and concise in your communication

When you sit down to talk, set an intention to be clear and concise. That type of communication is much more effective, especially when communicating with a man. He will appreciate you getting straight to the point.

Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.amandapattersonlmhc.com

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