Quite often, communications problems in our relationships stem from the fact that we are trying to avoid answers we don’t want to hear. We may not bring up a problem to our partner for fear it will start a fight. We may not ask our partner questions for fear that the response will hurt us. Likewise, we may be afraid to speak our own truth because our partner may not like what they hear. Feeling like your partner will see you differently because of something you say to them can be a tremendous barrier to communication and relying on your partner’s validation will only cause your relationship to feel unequal. You probably like the feeling of being accepted, approved, and welcomed by your partner for who you are, but it’s a problem if you need it. That’s when you start to hide parts of yourself, change into what the other wants, or pressure your partner to at least act like they accept you. None of this helps your relationship. The better strategy is to develop the strength to feel good about yourself regardless of how you are received by your partner. You should still be open to input, willing to consider the feedback you get from people who are important to you. But fundamentally, desire for your partner’s acceptance should not dictate what you say or how you act. It is possible to know who you are and feel good about it, even if it doesn’t make your partner happy.

As you take the steps toward self-validation, you will feel anxious. There is a transition as you switch to validating yourself, and it can leave you feeling alone and exposed. You’ll have to sit in that anxiety and not do anything about it. Connect with yourself and what you know to be true about who you are. Confront yourself about your true motivations and deal with any parts of yourself that lack integrity. Once you know you are on solid ground, just stand there. That doesn’t mean you never compromise or collaborate with your partner, but you can do that from a place of knowing who you are, what you believe, and that you can feel good about yourself. Practice giving yourself permission to be who you are and finding the feeling of being okay with yourself. You are in a much more stable and strong position once you decide you’re okay than when you need acceptance from others to feel that way.

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