How To Be Completely Honest With The Person You Love (Without Hurting Their Feelings)

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How To Improve Communication Skills & Build Trust In Relationships By Practicing Complete Honesty

"No, nothing's wrong. Everything is fine."

Have you heard this before, even when you know something is actually wrong? Or, have you said this before when really, some unsettling emotions were brewing just below the surface?

Too often, we hide our true feelings from the person we love in order to be nice or avoid conflict.

We all want harmonious, healthy relationships, but sometimes you have to go through the hard stuff in order to get there.

The more you incorporate the practice of complete honesty in your communication skills toolbox, the more you build trust with you partner and develop lasting peace in your relationship.

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Of course, this is easier said than done. There are many reasons why we don’t practice honesty.

Perhaps we’re afraid if we say what we actually feel, we’ll lose our lover. Maybe we want to be the "savior" and take care of our partners at the expense of our own needs. Maybe we simply don’t want to start a fight and just want everything to be "fine".

However, it is always easier to say what you’re feeling when you’re feeling it, rather than to let unease or resentment build.

With practice, we can get the hang of expressing ourselves in a way that is both respectful and truthful.

One of the main reasons people don’t communicate honestly is that they’re afraid of what might happen. Will the person be mad? Does this mean their relationship will have to change?

Take a look at this example: John and Emily have been together for about a year. Their relationship has had ups and downs and John is starting to feel that he doesn’t want to be in the relationship anymore. Emily has sensed this and has expressed this concern to John. John’s response has been denial, saying, "No, everything is fine."

This has created distance and further discontent in their relationship. John doesn’t want to hurt Emily’s feelings or lose the comfort of the relationship. He is also afraid that Emily won’t receive his feelings without getting really upset and overreacting.

It is normal to have conflicting feelings and be afraid of loss. However, maintaining the status quo and not honoring our truth is very detrimental in the long run.

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In order to improve communication in relationships, we first need to learn how to be OK with ourselves, no matter what happens on the outside.

Your first and primary partnership is with yourself. The more you love yourself, the more you can honor your own truth.

With this practice, you become less attached to the outcomes and more able to be honest with another person.

It's also critical that you learn how to receive someone's true feelings without flying off the handle. Too often, we take things personally and don’t accept where the other person is coming from.

When someone feels safe, they are more likely to communicate their truth.

Here is a ritual you can practice to improve your communication skills and create safe space for authentic honesty with your partner without fear of hurting each other's feelings.

1. Set the space

Find a room or a space in which you are comfortable and create a comfortable seat for each person, either on the floor with blankets and pillows or in chairs.

You can play soft music, light a candle, adjust the lighting, adjust the temperature, or any other thing that would create comfort.

2. Synchronize the breath

Sit across from your partner. Look into each other’s left eye (we call this the left-eye/left-eye gaze) and start to synchronize your breathing. This doesn’t have to be too complicated and happens quite naturally.

Breathe in and out together, until both people feel that their minds have calmed down.

3. Practice speaking and listening

Establish clear roles as the speaker or the listener, which you’ll switch back and forth. First, take turns vocalizing concerns. The person who is speaking first may say, "I am concerned to share what I am feeling because I might hurt you," or, "I am concerned that if I share what I’m feeling you’ll leave me."

Feel free to express any fear that you are feeling. What you may find is that both of you are on the same page and, once expressed, fears start to dissipate.

As the listener, practice receiving what your partner is saying without reacting. This is hard for most people, as they want to immediately respond or react. As your partner speaks, take the time to really hear what they are saying while observing your own reactions. It is very important to not speak or interrupt while the other person is speaking. Once the speaker is done, you will switch roles.

After you express fears, take turns expressing your desires. For example, "My desire is to connect more deeply with you." Or, "My desire is for us to grow closer." Through expressing fears and desires, you are creating an intentional space to get the best outcome out of the conversation.

4. Share your truth

Again, you will take turns as the speaker and the listener. As the listener, you will simply listen to what the other person is saying without outwardly reacting. You will practice speaking the truth about your relationship, honoring any fear that is coming up.

Once the ritual is complete, you are welcome to discuss how it felt to listen and to speak. You can begin to address any concerns from what the other person shared. From this space, you will be more able to address issues in a safe and respectful way.

With practice, communicating in this honest way will become second nature.

RELATED: How To Make Even The Most Difficult Conversations With The Person You Love Easier For Both Of You

Dr. Elsbeth Meuth and Freddy Zental Weaver, best-selling authors of Sexual Enlightenment: How to Create Lasting Fulfillment in Life, Love and Intimacy, have assisted thousands of couples and singles create lasting intimacy and fulfillment in their relationships. Contact them to find out how these intimacy practices can support you in your life and relationship.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.