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Seyedmohammad Kalantar, Ph.D.

Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC)

Expressing Emotions in Romantic Relationships: Strategies for What, When, and How with Emphasis on Accountability and Transparency

Sharing feelings and emotions with our partner

How courageous are we in expressing our feelings and emotions? How willing are we to confront our fears by sharing what we need to communicate with our partner?

Consider a situation where there are aspects of your partner’s behavior that you dislike or areas where you wish for improvement. You might feel the need to discuss and share these feelings with your partner, but you lack the strength and feel powerless to do so. In such instances, how much energy and strength does it require to keep those emotions bottled up inside?

At times, being honest with your partner can be a challenging and even painful endeavor. Opening up and letting your partner see and hear your inner voice may be difficult. Yet, it becomes even more challenging when attempting to maintain a constant fear or endure pressure from withholding something you genuinely need to share with them.

It’s crucial to embrace vulnerability with our partner and share our negative feelings, setbacks at work, concerns about the future, or lingering issues from the past. However, it’s essential to recognize that, although our partner provides support, they cannot replace the role of a therapist. In my clinical practice, I’ve observed and would like to explore the relevant concerns related to mutual accountability, transparency, and vulnerability of romantic relationships.

What we need to share?

There are various topics we feel certain about sharing with our partner, while others may leave us uncertain, prompting hesitation. When debating whether to share or not, two crucial criteria come into play:

Firstly, consider yourself as a criterion. Ask yourself how you would feel if your partner chose not to share with you a concern or issue similar to the one you currently face and are contemplating sharing. Would you be upset realizing your partner withheld a significant topic that holds importance for you? It’s essential to empathize and put yourself in their shoes.

Secondly, regarding the topic you are contemplating sharing, evaluate whether this information will have a positive or negative impact on your relationship with your partner. The degree to which it influences your relationship is a key factor in deciding whether to share it. Consider rating, on a scale from 1 to 10, how much this particular topic affects your relationship. The numerical rating serves as a guide, indicating the importance of sharing based on its impact.

Nevertheless, if you find yourself still hesitating to share or not, consider discussing your decision with your therapist for guidance.

When is the appropriate time to share? 

You can rephrase the question as, ‘What is the best time to communicate with my partner?’ Firstly, ensure that you are prepared to share. Secondly, if your partner is currently in a stressful situation, it may not be the ideal time to discuss significant topics. It’s important to identify a better time, such as when your partner is in a positive or good mood. Remember, we are all human, and it’s normal to have moments when we may not be in the best mood.

How we need to share?

When deciding to share with your partner, it’s not just a matter of opening up without thought. Consider the way in which you want to express yourself. Employ effective communication skills to convey the intended message. The responsibility for communicating lies with the initiator, who must ensure that the message is conveyed as intended. Seeking confirmation from your partner can help confirm their understanding and ensure you both are on the same page. To enhance communication, utilize strategies such as face-to-face interaction, maintaining eye contact, soliciting feedback, minimizing distractions, practicing patience, fostering self-awareness, checking for understanding, active listening, and interrupting politely when necessary. Incorporating ‘I’ statements and sharing your feelings about a particular topic can also contribute to better communication. It’s crucial to be aware of triggers that may prompt defensiveness in your partner, aiming to avoid using such triggers in your communication.

Just a sample dialogue with one of my clients:

“Client: I don’t want to tell my partner how tired I am of this relationship because I fear they might react inappropriately.

Me: Have you ever been in similar situations before? Is there a history of sharing with your partner that resulted in negative outcomes?

The client nodded.”

So, I would pose the following therapeutic questions:

If you decide to revisit this and choose to share with your partner for the second time, how would you approach the conversation?

Have you ever considered exploring different options for communicating with your partner?

Finally, sharing your feelings and emotions with your partner makes you a valuable and beneficial, yet vulnerable, partner. However, the challenging path is ultimately rewarding.

If you believe you need professional support, don’t hesitate to schedule a virtual or in-person counselling session. This will provide an opportunity to discuss the matter and receive valuable professional support.