We need to talk

Talking with your girlfriend or boyfriend about stuff that happens is important… but not always easy.

Talking about difficult or big stuff is important in a relationship

A big part of keeping any relationship happy and healthy is talking about stuff – including the stuff you’d rather not talk about.

Talking gets easier over time and with practice.

What’s your style?

When you feel hurt, disappointed or something’s bothering you, what do you usually do?

Withdraw, bottle it up or start yelling?

Knowing how you usually react when something’s up, and letting your BF/GF know is a good place to start (and vice versa).

If I’m upset about something, I’ll probably go all quiet. But I should be right to talk about it soon after.

And then you can try and change your style, and see how better talking and listening – by both of you – can improve your relationship and help you both feel more understood.

Listen up

It might seem strange, but the real key to good talking is listening.

  • Get rid of distractions: turn off the TV, leave your phone alone, stop playing computer games. If the time’s not right and you can’t give them your full attention, tell them, like

I’m too tired now but I know it’s important to you – can we talk in the morning?

  • Let them finish what they are saying before you jump in with your reaction. Sometimes this means putting your feelings aside, so that they can have space to share theirs.
  • Make sure you’ve understood what they’re saying – especially if you feeling angry about something they’ve done or said. Sometimes you just stop listening without even realising.
  • Try repeating what they are telling you in your own words. This lets your BF/GF know that you’re listening and that you understand where they are at. If you’ve got the wrong idea, they can try to explain again and make it clearer for both of you.

Speak for yourself

She made me made so we talked about it. From the "Choose Respect" campaign poster by CDC.

When you and your BF/GF have a fight or need to talk about something, it’s important to tell them straight out. Be as clear as possible.

  • Try to talk about things that upset you as they happen.
  • Don’t store up a big list and bring them up all at once – your BF/GF might get overwhelmed.
  • Talking about little things that annoy you can clear the air and give you practise for the big things.

I versus You

I was upset when I didn’t hear from you. If you’re going to be late, can you please text me?

Use sentences that begin with ‘I’.  That way you’ll be talking about

You’re always late, you never bother to ring.

As soon as you start saying ‘you’, you put the other person on the defensive. It’s harder for them to listen to what you’re trying to say.

Say how you’re feeling, as you’re feeling it

I’m finding this really hard to talk about. Are you?

If you‘re feeling upset and having trouble getting the words out, then say that.

Saying out loud that talking is hard sometimes reduces the tension and makes it a bit easier.

Be assertive

Being assertive helps you make sure you’re looking after yourself, as well as the people around you. You let other people know what you think, need and feel, rather than hiding it. It’s not always easy to speak up though – it takes practice.

Remember, we all have the right to talk about what we need.

We all have the responsibility to listen to others.

Related links

Photo from Flickr taken by disaster_area

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