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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Tough conversations

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Author Topic: Tough conversations
Molias
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In any relationship, no matter how great it is, there will always a time when there has to be an Important Talk or two. In fact, great relationships may even have more of these conversations than others, because a habit of honest communication is one of the best ways to build and maintain a strong relationship with someone else.

The problem, however, is that these talks often can be really intimidating. Whether the issue at hand is a question of sexual wants and limits, the future of the relationship, disclosing past sexual abuse, or something else that's on your mind, sometimes it's a lot easier in the moment to push it aside for a while and put off talking about it.

What, if anything, has helped you initiate those hard conversations with a partner? Or is this something you struggle with? I'd love to hear what y'all's experiences have been with this.

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moon_goddess
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I'm pretty awful at initiating such conversations, and so is my significant other. After we'd been dating for only a couple of months and things had been moving a lot faster physically than I (and s.o.) had anticipated, I decided we needed to talk about sex and our thoughts about it. We met in a neutral space, just the two of us, and it was probably the most awkward hour of our relationship, not really knowing what to say, because neither of us had any experience other than us together, and we didn't really know how we felt.

Now, about a year later, I'd say it still comes up every couple months where we talk about sex and different kinds of it, and whether we're happy with what we're doing and the risks associated with certain activities etc. It's gotten a lot easier, but it's still pretty hard to talk about.

I like to try to cleverly segue into something to talk about (s.o. never brings things up which is one of the things that frustrates me incessantly) such as talking about other people I know and their experience with x,y, or z. Like, my two friends (dating for over a year) had been talking about the future together and thought getting married and having kids together would be nice, and then he broke up with her, saying he was afraid of commitment. I used that as a way to say, you know what, if I ever talk about something and you're not sure how you feel about it, just tell me, I'd really rather you not lie and spare my feelings because it's going to be worse in the long run. And then I was like, oh, btw, what are your feelings on getting married? [Razz]

Also, I'm off to have one of those Talks right now. I always have a glob of points I would like to make when I feel I have something important to say, and I try to make sure I make them all, no matter how long it takes or what direction the conversation goes in (because it usually goes into really strange directions).

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Molias
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Moon goddess, I'm glad you're able to have those talks even if they're stressful or awkward. It's so hard sometimes for big conversations not to be awkward!
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Cricket
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When I'm in a long-term romantic relationship with someone, I try to just keep a habit of regularly checking in about how we're doing, but in the context of the relationship and in general. Having a regular pattern of talking about our relationship whether or not there is a huge, pressing issue at hand makes it easier to initiate conversations when there ARE issues. My other general tools are pretty standard - talk about sexual concerns sometime when we're not in the middle of sex, talk in a space that's comfy for everyone in the conversation, don't interrupt, use "I" statements rather than accusatory language, etc. I'm a really chatty person so I generally don't have too much trouble starting conversations, but I try to make sure that the other person feels supported and like they have space to speak what they feel, too.

If I'm not romantically involved with someone but we're physically close, I often find it easier to be really blunt (though in a friendly way) about what is and isn't working. I think that when romance isn't in the picture, I find it easier to avoid getting my brain clogged up with social messages about how I'm "supposed" to run relationships and just say exactly what I want or need. It probably also helps that I don't become friends with benefits with anyone unless they're honestly a good friend and I know they listen to me and want to respect my boundaries. What that looks like differs from person to person, though - one buddy of mine likes to be relatively spontaneous and use mostly nonverbal/simple and short communication styles since we know each other well enough to give and get clear consent that way, while another likes more detailed plans and happily agreed to go over a whole boundaries/interests worksheet with me before we did anything sexual with each other. Still, the overall bottom line is that someone has to be very willing to communicate clearly if they want to do stuff with me.

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Molias
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Cricket, I LOVE the idea of the worksheet. I would definitely be up for using one of those with a new partner. I've seen some of those floating around online but haven't had an opportunity to sit down and fill one out with someone.
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catlover1997
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hey there! Just wanted to pop in my few cents on this subject!
I think a talk like what you described is so important in a serious relationship! I have been with my boyfriend for almost five months, and we are still crazy about each other. I felt that we became more closer as we began to talk about our pasts too eachother, neither of us have exactly had easy childhoods. We also discussed previous sexual abuse, and boundaries in our relationship. (: I think it is important to keep nothing major from your partner, as they are likely to be the person who knows the most about you. I think communication and trust are essential in a relationship, it's like oil in a car...if you don't have it...it won't work. (:

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copper86
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Wow, what a great thread! I'm actually trying to initiate a talk with my partner about a major family change, and I'm trying to figure out how to tell him and how to stay calm. I find when I'm talking with him or anyone else about something major, I try and push myself to remain calm or at least not emotional (as I have troubles with confrontation or bringing up heavy subjects). If they're close friends, I usually try and be honest but also say things in a light way; so if I'm blunt, I'm not coming across as mean. It doesn't always come out right - or I just keep it inside, which doesn't work at all - but I'm trying to get better about standing up for myself.

The worksheet idea sounds cool, and I love these tips on being honest and how you guys work out these talks! [Smile]

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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Molias
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I often have a hard time staying calm/unemotional during important talks; I'm the sort of person who can start crying at really intense emotion even if I'm not actively sad. I tend to feel pretty self-conscious about this when it happens.

Several times I've interrupted a conversation I'm having with my partner to say "oh wow, I've started crying but it's just because I feel really strongly about this" and just acknowledging it in the moment helps me feel less ridiculous and helps my partner have a better sense of how I'm feeling (several times they've thanked me because they were worried I was really upset before I said something). Now that I'm more in the habit of it, I feel less worried about the thought of it happening in the future.

I think taking a moment to tell your partner you're about to talk about something that's big enough that you might have a hard time having the conversation exactly as calmly and smoothly as you might hope can make things go a little better.

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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I think for me I've realised that I have a lot of fear of bringing up difficult subjects. This can bring a degree of awkwardness into the conversation which I'm probably doubly scared of.

I think three things I have learnt from my experiences have been:

1, That maybe if I'm having a really really tough time communicating with someone then perhaps there's a problem with our compatibility and for me personally it can be a sign I should perhaps look a little deeper into the situation and the relationship and work out if my expectations or the direction of the relationship itself is something I should deal with.

2, That if I do want to have a certain conversation it may be no good to simply wait for the fear to go away... because likely it won't, and initiating a conversation even though it's scary doesn't have to mean oblivion. It's also ok to wait, but I know that it's important to be realistic in my expectations of what an opportune moment to speak about a tough topic looks like.

3, To know that it's ok to take it slowly. We can begin a conversation, take long pauses to think about what we're saying, say that there are things we don't know yet, that we can shelve the conversation and even spend a number of months occasionally returning to it, depending on the topic.

Those are all things that have really helped me.

[ 04-13-2013, 03:47 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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Haleigh H
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I have a hard time opening completely up and knowing how I'm feeling as a conversation progresses. From reading above I've picked up some good tips [Smile]

I like the idea of checking in often. I think my partner and I do this already but more informally. I'm going to try to make a point to regularly check in and make it more of a routine. Thanks Cricket!

I'm with you! I have a hard time staying calm and when I don't it always sets my partner on the defensive. I definitely need to work on this.

My partner and I both need to let things kind of simmer for a while before we are able to fully process it and figure out how we are feeling. I've found that having important or pressing talks while we're on a walk has the best results. We're outside and being active, it's calming, there is fresh air and it feels really natural to walk in silence if we're trying to figure out how we feel.

The host of my favorite podcasts often advises people to tell on themselves...example, I have something that I want to talk to you about but I'm having a really hard time getting it out, etc. The person hearing this may be really supportive knowing it is hard for you or maybe they wont be. If they're not, that is information for you about their character, your relationship etc. I use this in my relationships all the time now. It helps me spit it out.

Since the beginning of our relationship my partner has been really adamant that we are open and honest and share with each other. At first I wasn't at all comfortable with this but 5 years later I am so glad that we have been open and honest with each even though sometimes (especially early on) it was so painfully hard for me to do.

Great topic!

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Haleigh

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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That's so great!

What's the podcast by the way? It's always great to have something new to listen to.

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