Why Is Talking About Feelings In Relationships So Hard? Here’s What Experts Say
It's the one piece of dating advice you've probably heard time and time again: "Communication is the key to a happy and heathy relationship." Honestly, it's pretty legit advice, but for some, genuinely talking to a partner — from your feelings for them to how you like to be sexually satisfied — can be a huge challenge. I would know, opening up is a constant struggle for me. But why is talking about feelings in relationships so hard? Well, the short answer is simple: It's about fear. But there's a whole lot more to it.
Fear can be a paralyzing emotion. Whether you're scared of getting your heart broken, being vulnerable with your partner, or truly opening up to someone, it can stop you in your tracks. "The primary reason why people find it so hard to talk about their feelings in a relationship is their fear of rejection," Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills-based family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent, regular expert child psychologist on The Doctors and co-star on Sex Box, tells Elite Daily. "The stakes soar sky-high when a person exposes their vulnerability. The one thing all living, breathing human-beings have in common is that everyone wants to be loved."
This fear of rejection can potentially stem from or trigger some unresolved childhood feelings you may have, without even realizing it. Dr. Walfish points out those unresolved feelings could've come from something as simple as a parent or guardian pushing you aside for whatever reason — maybe they were cooking dinner, on the phone, or tending to a sibling. "The natural emotion evoked in the child is sadness, hurt, and rage," she explains. "Recognize that these are natural emotions for kids to feel, and now that you are an adult, you have the option of acting out your anger or understanding yourself and others with compassion."
Fear of rejection is only one reason why talking about your feelings can be so challenging. "Often, there is a fear that if you say the thing you are feeling, that you will hurt the other person, or they will judge you or see you differently or treat you differently because of it," Diana Dorell, intuitive dating coach and author of The Dating Mirror: Trust Again, Love Again, tells Elite Daily. A part of you may be worried that your partner won't accept what you're feeling, or that it may do more harm to your relationship than good in the long run, which isn't necessarily always the case.
One of the best ways to ensure your relationship continues to thrive is to talk about everything and anything, even if it may be a conversation you're not exactly thrilled to be having. "Talk, talk, talk with each other," Dr. Walfish advises. "Taking turns listening and talking with each other is the seed that grows passion in relationships. Each one of us wants the same thing: to be seen, acknowledged, validated, loved, and accepted — flaws and all." In order to feel more comfortable talking about your feelings, Dorell recommends acknowledging the awkwardness you feel and getting it out of the way from the start. Tell your partner something simple like, "It's really uncomfortable for me to talk about my feelings, but I want to share something with you..." she suggests. "[It] can release pressure, and also, being that vulnerable helps the other person come closer to you."
If you still find yourself struggling with expressing how you feel, both experts agree it can be really helpful to start journaling. "You get practice expressing what's in your mind or heart in a safe place, then you can sort out if it's something you want to share verbally," Dorell says. "Oftentimes, it's that we have to process something first, and then express it to a partner."
If talking about your feelings in your relationships is hard for you, that's OK. But remember: Communicating with a partner is extremely important, so finding a way around this discomfort can be make-or-break. Trust yourself. You've got this.