Showing up involves sharing your feelings about many things and especially when and how you are impacted by the behaviors and or words of your partner.

Here are some examples:

Example 1:

  • TRY THIS: “When you laughed while I was being teased, I felt hurt and angry.  It reminded me of when I was made fun of by my family, who thought it was cute and ignored my reaction.  I need you to hear me out and to know this is an area I am sensitive in.”
  • AVOID THIS: “You are so mean for laughing at me.  How could you do this to me.”

Example 2:

  • TRY THIS:  “I love when you hug and kiss me in the mornings and when I come home from work, I feel loved and connected to you.”
  • AVOID THIS: “I am so sad, you never touch me.”

Example 3:

  • TRY THIS:  I am sorry you were hurt when I _____.  I didn’t intend to be hurtful.
  • AVOID THIS:  “You are too sensitive.” “ You need to grow up”.

You may have noticed my TRY THIS examples focus on personal reactions and needs.

The AVOID THIS examples focus on being critical of behavior and what’s missing or not happening, the person is characterized in absolutes such as, you never, you always, you don’t, you won’t.  It is when you label the other in such a way that both or one of you will become defensive, withdraw or blow up. 

When attention is solely on the behavior of the other person and doesn’t include your reaction or what you need, you are not risking or being clear.

Being willing to risk vulnerability is to give up control and avoidance.  It is your willingness to not only share your reaction but also what you want and need. Sharing needs and wants adds direction and creative solutions to the dialogue.

When you risk sharing your feelings such as, sadness, hurt, anger, fear, joy and feeling sexual it helps to know that the receiver is open to hearing you out.  I call this commitment to dialogue.

A solid relationship is built on openness and commitment to dialogue even when it’s tough. 

Trust is built on repeated experiences of a commitment to dialogue. This commitment is apparent when people are able to say things like, I can talk to him about anything or she knows me well, she knows what I like, she knows what I don’t like.