Navigating romantic relationships can be difficult, starting a new one is especially hard. One of the bigger dilemmas people face when it comes to their relationship is when to have the talk and how to do it. Here are some things you can do to help you navigate this process:
1. Focus on your needs
It is important that you advocate for yourself rather than have the focus be on “what does my partner think?” “how do I not scare them away?” Come prepared with the awareness of where you think the relationship currently stands and where you want it to go. Then express that in a clear, direct manner.
The key is to find the balance between being assertive for your own needs and respectful of the other person’s needs. You can’t have that unless you first have clarity about your feelings, wants, and needs. Follow the next steps to help with respecting the other person and not being pushy.
2. Avoid assumptions
We are not mind readers and cannot know what is going through someone else’s mind. Don’t assume that you know what your partner is thinking and how they see the relationship and its status. Don’t assume how they will respond to the various things you say. Additionally, trust what the response is.
Sometimes we are so caught up in what we think the other person is thinking that we don’t actually hear what they say or, even if we do, we don’t trust in it. Overall, going in with assumptions puts you automatically on the defense, which inhibits your ability to have a productive conversation.
3. Think about the presentation
Stay calm and relaxed and think about what you want to say. Think about how to get your point across in ways that your partner can hear. Generally, this means presenting your thoughts in a way that does not feel like an attack to the other person. “I” statements and avoiding assumptions help with this. This is a way to respect both of your needs and allows for the other person to feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts.
Be open to the thoughts, feelings, and needs of your partner. Remember that it is ok if you are not on the same exact page. The bottom line is to be open about your needs and give your partner room to express their needs. Then you can evaluate if this relationship is worth it for you to continue investing in.