What Does It Mean To Be Emotionally Safe In A Relationship, Says Shivani Sadhoo?
We all have seen in movies, or read love stories, where the protagonists say that love is everything to survive with their lover. Is it actually, everything? Is it truly possible to love someone but not feel emotionally connected? Do you have a desire to connect? But your (deep yearnings keep making you frustrated without knowing the reason).
Wistfully, there is mostly a gap between the love you feel in your heart and the emotional intimacy you experience with someone. Shivani Sadhoo says the connection one desires may seem so close, so they keep trying, yet it might remain sadly elusive. It is maddening when you love a person but do not experience the trust and safety that is paramount for the relationship to thrive. This emotional safety is a vital foundation for an intimate relationship.
This blog by Couples Therapist and Relationship Counsellor Shivani Misri Sadhoo sheds some light on reasons when love is not enough for your relationship to thrive. Read on to know why?
Components of an Emotional Safety
When you feel emotionally safe, you feel internally relaxed with a person. Your guard is down and your shields do not go up when you interact. You feel truly free to be authentic, which includes expressing your hurts, dissatisfactions, and desires without worrying or fearing that you will be criticized or shamed.
As per John Gottman’s research on marital success, one out of the four factors that lead to disturbed relationships is defensiveness (besides criticism, contempt, and stonewalling). You defend yourself against the painful feelings that may pierce your heart if you are blamed, judged, shamed, and even rejected. Maintaining this invisible wall turns into a barrier that does not let your heart remain soft and open.
There are multiple possible manners to protect yourself when you do not feel safe. You may shield yourself by shutting down and remaining distant; you may minimize contact with your partner or friend. Or you might become critical of others before they have an opportunity to criticize you. Or you defensively turn the tables on them when they show any dissatisfaction with you. (For instance, “well you are not a good listener either” or “you are the one who always forgets not me”).
When you feel safe with a person, you do not have to be defensive since there is little to defend against. When you feel constantly treated with respect and kindness, you can relax internally with a partner. As you trust that your partner or even a friend has the intention and ability to see who you truly are—to hear and understand you, even if they might fall short a few times—you relax more and more with them, which boosts the trust and forms intimacy.
Forming a trusting, non-defensive relationship needs that you provide to another what you desire. Love demands reciprocal sharing—extending yourself toward another’s world in a manner that lets the other one feel emotionally safe with you. Enjoying the wonderful dance of intimacy—the aisle of “undefended love,” the way Jett Paris and Marlena Lyon say it: requires two self-aware, undefended individuals who are emotionally honest with themselves and each other.
Being Yourself and Being Truthful
One of the blessings of forming safety in a relationship is that you feel free to be yourself. If you have been hurt in the past, you may have vowed to never be so trusting and open again. Your heart might flash the signal: “not available for love and to be loved.”
Life is richer when you find a partner with whom to enjoy the special bond that comes from being yourself and feeling accepted as you are. As two people feel secure to be vulnerable with each other—showing tender feelings and desires without the worrying of criticism or rejection—the connection enhances.
Emotional safety also needs telling the truth and keeping agreements. You cannot feel safe with an individual who is deceiving you or when their actions are not in line with their words. Authentic, open, trustworthy communication is the life energy of an intimate relationship.
Certainly, nobody is perfect, and it is much simple to perceive others’ imperfections than to see your own. It is inevitable that sometimes trust will be broken, even in the best of relationships. But emotional safety is something that can be restored if two individuals can find the courage and is determined to address the breach through open, non-defensive communication.