You and your partner are one emotional unit. So when you are taking your needs into consideration, you are also taking care of your partner’s needs.
2. No blame game.
If you make your partner feel incompetent, inadequate or selfish, they will withdraw. Being vulnerable is not about accusations or highlighting your partner’s shortcomings. That leads to a dueling match birthed by insecurities.
Remember, when emotions become tense, intellect becomes non-sense.
Using vulnerable communication when you’re really pissed off will cause you to sound angry and use judgmental language.
When something bothers me, I tell my partner how I feel. To do this, I need to calm down and process how to frame my emotions in a way that won’t attack them. When I do address my needs in a calm manner and express the emotions I am feeling rather than the faults, my partner and I get closer.
3. Use verbs
…that express the emotions you are feeling such as need, feel, or want. This focuses on what you are trying to accomplish rather than your partner’s shortcomings. “I feel like you don’t care when you don’t text me for 3 days. I need to feel that you care about me.”
4. Be detailed
If you talk to your partner in generalities, your partner is going to miss what you really need, thus lowering the chance that he or she will get it right.
Say precisely what is bothering you. “Last night you said you loved me and then you took it back. That made me feel inadequate.”
5. Be completely honest and genuine about how you feel
Your feelings are very real and they should be addressed. At times they can be distorted, but feelings have a purpose. It’s your unconscious trying to communicate with you in an effort to protect you. Don’t ignore them. If you’re feeling an emotion, there’s a reason for it.
After being involved in multiple bad relationships, I developed a fear that committing to a relationship would cause more pain. So my emotions became defense mechanisms so I would be protected from being hurt again. I’d find myself really liking a girl, only to find myself suddenly indifferent. Unconsciously, I was pushing her away so I wouldn’t be hurt or risk myself.
Since I was aware of this, I would tell the woman I dated about this and ask that she be understanding. This tends to deepen a relationship.
6. Be unapologetically assertive
Your needs matter. They are valid. You’ll date various partners with different attachment styles, and some of them may see your concerns as illegitimate such as avoidants, but as the authors of Attached point out, your needs are the foundation for your happiness.
Being assertive of what you need is crucial, especially for people with an anxious attachment style. According to the authors of Attached, it’s easy to fall into because the culture we live in shames us for our needs and makes us feel illegitimate in the process.
Whether your needs are legitimate for someone else or not is besides the point. They MATTER for YOUR HAPPINESS. Therefore, they are legitimate.
Vulnerable communication is done in secure, healthy relationships, and it also creates secure, healthy relationships.
It’s important to resist the temptation of indirect methods of trying to get your needs met (such as making your partner jealous). I highly recommend anyone who is struggling to feel secure in a relationship to write down how you feel.
Not only will this make the story in your head more clear about your desires, but it’ll help you get over the fear of having cold feet or forgetting what you need to say. It will make it easier for you to talk to your partner with confidence.
1) What am I feeling? What specific events make me feel this way?
2) What specific actions by my partner would make me feel better (your positive need)?
The difference between vulnerable communication and non-vulnerable communication is clarity. Vulnerable communication only has one meaning, but non-vulnerable can be interpreted in multiple ways. In Attached, the authors demonstrate the difference between fuzzy communication and vulnerable communication
|What’s Happening?||Fuzzy Communication||Vulnerable Communication|
|She seems more focused on the TV than listening to you when you’re talking. This makes you feel unimportant and unloved.||Stop talking mid-sentence and walk into a different room (hoping she’ll follow to apologize).||Can you turn off the TV for a moment? I feel like you’re not listening to me and I really value your opinion and want to know what you think.|
|She talks about her ex-boyfriend, which makes you feel insecure.||Talk about your ex-girlfriends to make her feel insecure. Or shame her for talking about her ex.||Let her know that the conversation makes you feel insecure and unsure of her feelings towards you and that you need to feel secure to be happy with her.|