As a man raised in a patriarchal society where “strength” and “toughness” are seen as more important than emotions, I personally know how difficult it can be sharing your feelings in a romantic relationship.
At times, sharing your feelings can seem like trying to speak an alien language.
I also know the benefits and the importance of communicating your feelings with your partner. Learning how to share my feelings with Imani is one of my proudest accomplishments. When we first started dating, I was a genuinely terrible communicator. It was really hard for me to communicate with Imani. It was even intimidating because of how freely and easily Imani shared her own feelings.
Over time, I was able to improve my communication. It is a tough skill to learn, but it benefited our relationship greatly.
I’ve been reflecting back on my growth as a communicator and how it has impacted our relationship. I’ve realized just how important it is to share your feelings, and I have learned specific strategies that helped me improve my communication.
I hope this list encourages you to share openly with your partner and helps you improve this essential skill!
But first, (if you’re not yet convinced), here are
Plain and simple. How you feel is important and you deserve to be heard by your partner and the people around you.
Your partner wants to (or at least should want to) know how you feel. And matter how long you have been together, they can’t read your mind.
Sharing your feelings is a great way of preventing small issues from becoming big ones.
Keeping everything in is a recipe for disaster. Let it out before it explodes.
It is really hard to live the life you want to if you are not sharing your feelings with the world. Let your partner and everyone know how you feel and what you want/desire, so you can hold yourself more accountable and turn those words into reality!
If you share your feelings with your partner, it improves what I call “mental intimacy”. Sharing and being vulnerable creates trust and can bring you closer together.
And now that you’re (hopefully) convinced, here are…
I realized I was having thoughts and ideas that I often kept to myself, even with the people I trusted the most. Breaking this habit was an important step in sharing my feelings more freely. If you think something, and you feel any inkling to share it, do it.
Use your best judgement here if it’s something you think may cause harm, and/or you need some time to phrase it appropriately. But ultimately, don’t allow fear of your true thoughts to prevent you from sharing what you feel inclined to share.
Write down a list of promises, values, affirmations, and/or commitments that you will read each morning. You might include statements like “my feelings are important” and questions like “how do I feel?”.
Completing your daily reading each morning is a great way to remind yourself of what you want to accomplish and to ground yourself mentally, so that you can feel better equipped to build new habits (i.e. being more emotionally open).
Ask yourself, “how do I feel?” periodically throughout the day. You can’t share how you feel if you don’t know the answer! This is a simple and easy way to create the habit of identifying how you feel in the first place.
This is similar to meditation, but the goal is to try and do nothing, not even focus on your breath or on a particular thought like you may do when meditating. Find a quiet place, with no distractions or electronics or even music, and just sit with your thoughts for 10 minutes. Let your mind wander and see where it takes you.
When you do share your feelings, reward yourself! You can express simple self-gratitude (e.g. telling yourself good job), get a nice meal, or whatever else you consider as “treating yourself”.
You may find that the best reward is simply how you feel after being more honest with yourself, being more honest with your partner, and getting certain emotions/thoughts/worries off your chest.
Your partner can be a great source of encouragement, support, and accountability. They’ll also likely be thankful and excited that you want to open up more and share more of yourself with them.
If you’re having major trouble, don’t seem to be making much progress, and/or there’s a communication barrier between you and your partner for any particular reason, try talking to your friends, telling a family member, or seeing a therapist.
Don’t expect yourself to become a master at sharing your feelings overnight. Remember, sharing your feelings is a skill. It’s going to take time, practice, and patience to get better.
But it’s worth it: Learning to share your feelings with your partner can unlock the potential both in yourself and in your relationship!
If you have any additional tips, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below.
Loving the old; exploring the new,