How To Have The "We Need To Talk" Talk


How To Have The "We Need To Talk" Talk
Learn how to approach difficult conversations that results in true listening and deeper intimacy.

Most people dread those four little words when they hear them from the one they love. Yes, it’s the infamous “We need to talk” line. You know what it means. You know what you’re going to hear. You know that you’re about to hear one of the following messages—I’m not happy, my needs aren’t getting met, you were a jerk the other day, or we’re done. Now your defense mechanisms go into full gear. You either shut down, avoid the conversation altogether, start acting on your best behavior, or turn the tables and make your significant other the one who is to blame for anything and everything. Let’s face it—“We need to talk” usually is the beginning of a bad situation getting worse with each minute that passes.

So how do you approach these conversations in a way that will actually end on a positive note? There really is a way to approach difficult conversations that results in true listening and deeper understanding and intimacy. Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure that “We need to talk” doesn’t end up in “Go f*** yourself!”


1. Avoid starting the conversation with “we need to talk.” Instead, find a time when the conversation feels organic, not forced. Forced conversations already put people on edge and make them defensive. When the time is right, the conversation will occur naturally.

2. Take responsibility for your own feelings, needs, and reactions to your significant other. Don’t approach the conversation from the perspective of what they did wrong, but rather from the perspective of what occurred and how that affected you. For example, if he turned away when you went to kiss him, you could say “When you push me away when I’m trying to show my love and affection, I end up feeling rejected and unsure.”

3. Be concrete. When you are describing what they did or what you need from them, be as concrete and specific as possible. For example, if you feel she put you down in front of your friends, you could say “When you said _________ the other day in front of my friends, I heard that as an insult and felt embarrassed and upset. Was that your intention?”

4. Test reality. You may have interpreted your loved one’s actions incorrectly. Give your loved ones a chance to explain their intentions and their side of the story. Be open to listening with the intent to understand your significant other, not judge.

5. Be clear on what you need from your partner. For example, if you need her to make an effort to dress nicely when you take her to dinner, say so. If you need him to stop commenting on your driving, be clear. Remember, you have a better chance of getting your needs met when you both understand what it is that you need or want from each other.

6. For those deal breaker behaviors, such as, hitting, screaming, drinking excessively and driving, etc., be clear on the consequences if the behavior continues and follow through. For example, if your boyfriend or girlfriend has screamed obscenities at you in the past and you are clear that you will no longer tolerate this, you could say “It is unacceptable to me when you scream and call me things such as ______ or ______; if it ever happens again, I will end this relationship immediately.” If it does, make sure you follow through and maintain your personal integrity and boundaries.

If you are on the other side of the conversation, here are some guidelines for you.

1. Be willing to listen without defensiveness. This is the time for you to understand what is working and what is not when it comes to your significant other. This is an opportunity to get to know each other better.

Keep reading...

More Juicy Content From YourTango:

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Julie Orlov


Julie Orlov, MAOL, MSW, LCSW
Relationship Builder

Speaker, Psychotherapist, Coach and Author of The Pathway to Love:
Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In


Location: Hermosa Beach, CA
Credentials: LCSW, MSW, Other
Other Articles/News by Julie Orlov:

Don't Lose Your Cool: Top 6 Signs Of Dating Desperation


Nothing turns people off more than desperation and neediness. And if you are getting serious about finding love in 2015, you will want to stay away from people who need you to make themselves whole, fixed, or stable. And you certainly don't want to be a desperate dater yourself. Whether you are a seasoned dater or just staring out after a hiatus, here ... Read more

5 Ways To Get Your Power Back And End Emotional Abuse


If you've ever been in a controlling relationship, you know how easy it is to get caught in its web. It usually starts out with a simple suggestion like, "Do you think that outfit is the best you can do for the banquet tonight?" or "I think you're better off ordering the salad," or "You should get a real job and stop all ... Read more

Always Fighting? 5 Reasons You Shouldn't Give Up Just Yet


Every couple has their core issues. Some are relatively minor, some are quite serious. Some issues can be handled easily and resolved quickly with simple relationship advice like finding a compromise. For example, a couple may have different needs when it comes to spending time together. One person may require a lot of time on their own, while their partner ... Read more

See More

Latest Expert Videos
Must-see Videos
Most Popular