Emotional safety is the foundation for a loving and healthy relationship. It’s about establishing trust with another person and feeling safe enough to be open and vulnerable with them. When you feel emotionally safe and reveal your true self, it opens the door for your partner to do the same. And when both people in a relationship feel secure, it provides a safe environment where a deeper and more loving connection can form. Benefits of emotionally safe relationships include:
- You feel valued and valuable.
- You can truly be yourself without the risk of judgment.
- You can show your weaknesses without being taken advantage of.
- You can share boldly and express yourself freely.
- You feel seen, heard, and understood.
Six Ways to create Emotional Safety in your Relationship
Respect boundaries and consent
Setting and respecting boundaries can increase safety and security in a relationship by establishing personal limits. By communicating a limitation, you let your partner in on your preferences and invite them to share their own. Think of boundaries as not only protecting yourself but also protecting your relationship. Boundaries can be physical, sexual, intellectual, emotional, or financial — all critical to nurturing respect in a healthy relationship. Once you set a boundary, it’s crucial that you and your partner respect it. Some examples of boundaries that promote emotional safety are:
- honouring what is important to you
- sharing personal information gradually
- protecting your time by not overcommitting
- asking for space when you need alone time
- communicating your comfort level on intimacy
Pay attention to your nonverbal communication
Body language is essential for emotional safety. Vocal tone, eye shape, posture, and other micro expressions are continuously being interpreted by you and your partner, whether you realize it or not. “If you approach your partners with hard eyes, tightly pressed lips, and short words, they may not feel safe. The key here is to realize that we are each responsible not only for the words we say but also the way we send them. Consider asking yourself, “What is my body language communicating right now?”
Be an active listener
Active listening is a critical component to a healthy relationship because people need to feel heard and understood to feel secure and validated. Active listening is when you set aside your defences and distractions, and truly take in what your partner is telling you. The ability to actively listen means that whenever fears or issues arise, your partner will feel comfortable telling you, instead of the problem growing or your partner becoming resentful, you’ll be able to quickly and easily address it. Some ways to practice active listening include:
- nonverbal signs of listening like smiling, nodding, and maintaining eye contact
- asking your partner questions or asking for clarification
- summarizing or reflecting back on what was said
Transparency is an important part of building trust and emotional safety. When you practice transparency, you eliminate the potential feeling that you or your partner are hiding something from each other. While you don’t need to share every part of your life with your partner, general openness about your thoughts, feelings, and activities is a good way to build trust, communication, and security.
Give your partner the benefit of the doubt
Giving your partner the benefit of the doubt means removing judgment and, instead, being curious to learn about the motivation for their behaviour. Most people’s motivations are subconscious and often connected to their own baggage they bring to the relationship. When we stop judging and making up stories of why our partner did what they did, we begin to look at them favourably from a place of compassion and understanding. We may disagree with them, but we can at least create a safe environment without confrontation.
Foster accountability and follow through
Following through shows your partner that you are dependable and value the relationship. When you commit to something and follow through, you actively build trust by showing your partner your loyalty. Yet following through doesn’t have to happen overnight. Even when you take small steps, enabling your partner to see your consistent effort shows them your commitment to the relationship. Try keeping your partner in the loop, as this will help you hold yourself accountable too.