So, it's time to sit down with your partner and have the big talk. You know the one I'm talking about...contraceptive options, STD testing, communication issues, "where is this relationship going", eating disorders, pregnancy, family problems, or any of a million other topics. How do you create a safe space to talk to your partner, your friend, or a family member about these serious issues?
For alot of us, it's difficult to bring these things up at all. That makes it so much more important to do so in a context that makes both you and the person you're talking to comfortable and at ease. Is there a special place you like to use for these conversations? Have you found that you have to be in a certain "head space" in order to have a positive outcome in these discussions?
What do you feel works best for you when trying to create that safe space physically, emotionally, and mentally?
Hmmm, well I guess I'll try to jump-start this thread myself then.
For my partner and I, the safe space generally isn't necessarily a physical space we create. We're usually about 600 miles apart or so, so being physically in the same space isn't even an option most of the time! The other night we managed to create a safe space completely by accident though.
We've been going over and over the same problem for about 4 months or so now and haven't been able to come to any sort of solution whatsoever. This discussion comes up at least a couple of times a month, and we both end up being hurt and upset by the time we're done. In fact, we had just had one of these discussions a few days before that ended with me crying and feeling ill, and him not sleeping for two days. So something had to be done about this. Well, we were talking on the phone the other night, and somehow we worked back around to the problem again, only this time it came from a totally different perspective. Usually this starts with one of us saying something that hurts the other, but this time we started out talking about what has been said in the past that has hurt. Somehow we managed to have this conversation without me ever getting emotionally stirred up, and thus he didn't get upset either. Nobody got seriously hurt, and we finally found a place to start compromising.
It was just so incredible because we both felt safe during the entire conversation. And having that sort of safe headspace created allowed us to step back and asess the problem and the solutions avaliable without getting frustrated, angry, or hurt. It was a very nice feeling.
Well first of all, we both have to be calm. If either one of us is really upset, we both end up yelling and we just hurt each other. Usually our safe place is when we're alone together or if we're on the phone, somewhere where no one will bug us. If we're together (physically), it usually works best if each one of us is sitting on one end of the couch facing each other. If we sit at a table, it's like we're having a meeting and it's very hard to have a serious discussion when we're cuddling. With the couch setting, we're both comfortable and can see each other and look each other in the eye. We also have some space, witch is good because some issues will upset one of us.
Mentally, like I said before, we both have to be cool. If we just had a fight, we always take a bit to cool off before we talk it out. It helps when we're both set on finding a solution, not just arguing. Even if we don't agree, being respectful is good. The first time he brought up having intercourse, I was really surprised and unprepared, so I just told him I wasn't ready to talk about that and I needed to think it through. That's all I needed to say because he respected me. He understood and a couple days later, after I had thought about things and done some research, we had a good conversation about it.
I guess that's what makes our safe place. As we've gotten to know each other better, we've learned how to have constructive converstaions better. Solving things without hurting each other gives us both a good feeling and it makes us stronger as a couple.
I've actually found that letters or e-mails can work well for some things that can be difficult to say face-to-face - a letter or e-mail means that someone can absorb it in their own time, instead of having to respond immediately.
Posts: 6944 | From: UK | Registered: May 2002
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I'm so with you on the email and letter thing.
Sometimes, when we have to discuss really hard stuff, doing it face to face (in the beginning) can be a little hard because of anger or tears. A letter or email allows you to make your point rationally, and it allows you to ponder and think before you hit "send" or drop it in the mail...
My husband and I have handled difficult issues this way, and find it works fabulously for us... "
i like the email idea... cept my bf is anti-writing emails... we've just recently tired to talk about really really serious issues...
we talk on the phone about stuff, but it doesnt seem to work too well cause if one of us is upset nothing gets said. face to face at this point in time is pretty much impossible, we are so busy lately we dont have time. not to mention neither would be able to say anything on our mind face to face... its too scary... i mean you dont know how they will react and if it will be good or bad... and what not...
so far online seems to be the best and safest bet thus far. i hate talking about important things online becuase there is always the chance that it will be taken in the wrong way. but it seems to be the only way to communicate at the moment. if we're upset it doesnt matter because you cna still type... and we can say more through the computer than on the phone or face to face.
i like the idea of sitting at opposite ends of the couch or somthing... i'll have to try that (when i get a chance to hang out with him... sigh...)
Mm, I've found, for me, that on-line doesn't work for the really big issues. We tend to misinterpret each other. Best is some comfortable place where we can be side by side, within touching distance. We can't communicate well about big issues while cuddling either (lol, who can?), but it's important, I think, for us to be within touching distance. As reassurance of the other's presence, perhaps?
Posts: 72 | From: NY, USA | Registered: Feb 2001
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I always seem to be the one to bring up problems, or times when I've been upset, and then when I asked him what he thinks when I'm done speaking, he just says that he's not one of those people who share what they're thinking or feeling. That really bugs me. But oh well, cause most of the time I get him to fess up in the end.
We both have to be calm. More me than him I think. And we have to make sure our minds aren't wandering around. No music or TV, or other people around, otherwise it's too distracting. I like it when we're sitting across from eachother so I can look straight into his eyes. It's easier for me to communicate when we actually LOOK at eachother.
I'm all for the e-mail and letter thing though. I completely agree. Especially if he isn't home to talk to, and I need to let off some steam, it's just easier for me to type it out, and send, and then later on we talk about what he read, and what he thought, and then we discuss it all over again. Kinda like a warm up.
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