Just like your best friend's living room or your favorite late-night diner down the street, your relationship should feel like a safe space. If you aren't 100% comfortable in your relationship, it may be something you and your partner can continue to work on. Not only can a lack of comfort hold you back from growing as a couple, but it can also lead to larger problems down the road. "Without comfort, how can there be trust? If you are going to walk on eggshells around someone all day, [you can't be truly] intimate with them," Jorge Fernandez, LCSW, an individual and family psychotherapist, tells Bustle.
A lack of comfort can be a tricky situation to navigate, but it's one you both can begin to overcome with better communication. "One way to try to increase comfort is to do what therapists call 'talking about the talking,'" Fernandez says. "Begin introducing to your partner that you'd like to [start] talking about things that are bothering [you], but don't know where to begin because you want to make sure it's a positive conversation."
Remind them that you're coming from a place of love and a desire to improve your connection. Then, "ask them how you both can successfully have these conversations," Fernandez says. "What else would they need from you?" In what areas can you both improve? And how would you like the relationship to look going forward?
For a few more ideas, here are some things experts say you should be able to do and say in your relationship, in order for it to feel as comfortable and secure as possible.
Discuss What "Love" Means To You
According to Fernandez, we all come into relationships with different ideas of what the word "love" actually means, as well as how it should be expressed. "Your partner may not prefer hugs and kisses but, rather, that you remember to pick up [their] dry cleaning on the way home without a reminder," he says.
Everyone defines love differently, so you'll never really see eye-to-eye until you talk about it. "Couples can increase comfort by learning how to express thew
Strive To Be Your Most Genuine Selves
If you feel like you're holding part of your personality back — for example, maybe you aren't as open as you'd like to be, or as outgoing — you may want to ask yourself why.
"You shouldn’t have to pretend to be someone else around your partner," Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "This lack of authenticity is exhausting. Your relationship should be strong enough that you express your true feelings and opinions around your partner without judgment."
It can take time to get to this point. But by prioritizing being open and sharing your truest selves, you can drop the pretenses and feel more relaxed around each other.
Show Your Flaws
In the early days of dating, you and your partner might be tempted to put forward the best versions of yourselves. Think along the lines of dressing up for dates, and making sure things are just so around your house, before hanging out.
That's all perfectly fine to do for a while, but you will want to work on showing your messy, realer sides as well — including your quirks, bad habits, and anything else that makes you both unique — by slowly opening up to each other.
"It’s normal to want to keep up an image in the beginning and impress your partner," Bennett says. "But, at some point, both partners have to accept the authentic versions of each other, which includes 'flaws' and the normal aspects of life."
Help Each Other When You're Sick
Similarly, if either of you feels the need to hide when you're sick, it may be a sign you need to work on your comfort levels. And that's because nothing says "we're together" quite like sneezing and blowing your nose without shame.
"Sickness is a fact of life and, if you’re together long enough, you and your partner will go through bouts of various illnesses, some more gross than the next," Bennett says. "Ideally, you will both be comfortable enough with the grossness to support your partner and take care of [them] during times of sickness."
This might include not seeing each other at your best — and that's OK. Part of bonding as a couple means being willing to take care of each other in these less than ideal moments.
Talk About Money
Money can be tough to talk about, but in order to increase your comfort levels, you will want to talk about things like student loans, credit card debt, savings, and income, Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, a licensed psychologist, tells Bustle.
"It can bring up a lot of fear and anxiety to be open and vulnerable with your partner about topics that are hard for many to talk about," Witmer says. "However, vulnerability is a huge contributor to intimacy and connection so one must fight the urge to shut it down."
You can ease into it by having smaller financial discussions to start, and as your confidence builds, bringing up larger topics — like student loan debt — as your relationship goes on. It may not be easy, but the more often you talk about money, the closer you'll feel.
Share Your Opinions
While you don't need to talk about everything that crosses your mind, you should both feel OK safe enough to express your opinions without fear of judgment.
"If you do not feel comfortable doing this, it can lead to you not being true to yourself and this can cause resentment and later compatibility problems," Nicole Issa, PsyD, a psychologist and relationship expert, tells Bustle.
Again, you don't wan to be walking on eggshells around each other, as that's pretty much the opposite of a comfortable relationship. To get to this place, try to communicate openly and honestly, even if it's a bit clunky at first. Because the more you do it, the easier it'll become.
Talk About Your Concerns
It may seem counterintuitive, but in order to create a more comfortable relationship, you may need to discuss things that make you uncomfortable — including what may be bothering you in the relationship.
Do you feel misunderstood? Are you worried about how you argue? Or is there some other area that doesn't feel quite right? As Issa says, "It is essential that you are able to tell your partner what you need or voice discomfort. If you are not able to communicate openly and honestly, there is potential for negative feelings to build up and come out sideways."
Try New Things Together
If you've been in your relationship for a while, you and your partner may have fallen into a routine. Even though there is security in a predictable schedule, it can be good to shake things up on occasion, too.
"It's important to schedule time to try something new together," Risa Williams, LMFT, a therapist and life coach, tells Bustle. "Visit a new part of the city, try a new restaurant, or visit a new place in nature."
A mini-adventure can be a bonding experience, Williams says, and it'll allow you both time to feel more present with each other.
Weather A Few Arguments
While you may feel tempted to avoid arguing at all costs, withdrawing from conflict can actually damage your relationship in the long-run, Laura F. Dabney, MD, a psychotherapist, tells Bustle.
Even though it may feel tough at first, try to talk through your thoughts and emotions more regularly, even if that means having the occasional argument. Working through conflicts can mean learning to compromise and share your feelings, which can lead to a healthier relationship dynamic.
Chat About Your Sex Life
It can be awkward to talk about sex with your partner, Witmer says, much less identify sexual interests that may be outside your usual groove. And yet adding these topics into your lives can be incredibly fulfilling, and it can even create a sense that you're both safe and secure.
"Talking openly and honestly with a partner about sexual needs and desires can not only promote closeness and improve one’s sexual experience but can also translate into how a person openly expresses themselves with their partner in other important areas of the relationship," she says.
Being in a comfortable relationship in no way means you no longer maintain boundaries. Find time to sit down with your partner and open up an honest conversation about your emotional and physical triggers priorities, and be sure to remain respectful.
"Knowing your boundaries are non-negotiable will help your partner feel safer with you," Sharon Peykar, ACSW, a psychotherapist and relationship coach, tells Bustle. "Upholding a personal boundary shows the other person that you are self-trusting and know what you want and deserve."
Similarly, commit to practicing honesty with each other from here on out, and be clear about what your expectations will look like.
"Being honest with your partner, and knowing that your partner is able to tell you everything important, will give both of you a lot of reassurance," Robert Thomas, a licensed sex therapist, tells Bustle. "This doesn’t mean that people cannot have secrets, but being truthful and genuine builds trust and lets you feel comfortable in a relationship."
Support Each Other's Goals
Nothing builds a sense of comfort quite like supporting each other's goals and helping one another accomplish them. "When couples take interest in the dreams of each other, it strengthens the connection and sense of closeness within the relationship," Vanessa Watson-Hill, LCSW, a therapist and owner of Living In The Second Half, tells Bustle.
"Taking initiative and showing interest in your partner's dreams fosters feelings of closeness and understanding that will only increase happiness in the relationship."
Set Up Relationship "Check-Ins"
Scheduling regular check-ins with your partner, when designed to communicate openly and honestly, can create a whole new sense of security within your relationship.
To do so, simply set a time to sit down and talk about your needs, the state of the relationship, or whatever else is on your mind, Peykar says. Make sure to actively listen and resist offering solutions right away. This can build a foundation of mutual trust down the line.
Use More "I" Statements
When working through conflict, experts recommend using "I" statements over accusatory remarks, to shift the focus off of your partner and onto your feelings. "By using these types of statements, you can reduce defensive behavior and minimizes fights," James Marrugo, a registered psychotherapist and owner of Morning Coffee Counseling, LLC, tells Bustle. "An example is, 'I feel angry when you ignore me when I talk.' Basically, 'I feel blank when you blank.' Connect the emotions to the behavior."
Go On More Date Nights
Going on more creative date nights or trying new hobbies together can foster a sense of closeness by making new memories. "Both of you will definitely learn new things about each other and can spend quality time together," Thomas says. "It’s not so much about the activity itself, but rather just working on something together and having intellectual conversations. Communication is something that brings people closer together, so it is definitely something worth focusing on!"
If you and your partner want to create a more comfortable relationship, experts say it's all about working these types of habits into your lives, with the goal of staying as close as possible.
Jorge Fernandez, LCSW, individual and family psychotherapist
Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, licensed psychologist
Nicole Issa, PsyD, psychologist and relationship expert
Risa Williams, LMFT, therapist and life coach
Laura F. Dabney, MD, psychotherapist
Sharon Peykar, ACSW, psychotherapist and relationship coach
Robert Thomas, licensed sex therapist
Vanessa Watson-Hill, LCSW, therapist and owner of Living In The Second Half
James Marrugo, registered psychotherapist and owner of Morning Coffee Counseling, LLC
Nicola van Dyke, intuitive life coach
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